Rope in Private Hospitals to screen in Hotspots – Emergency Measures needed!

In this critical times, PSM calls on private hospitals to play their part immediately to provide screening and treatment facilities especially in areas designated as red zones and hotspots by the Health Ministry. It might not be possible to do mass screening of the population, but at least the private hospitals should assist the overstretched Government Hospitals to screen symptomatic patients. Symptomatic patients would be anyone with cough, sore throat, fever, shortness of breath etc.

The latest red zones published by Health Ministry are , Lembah Pantai (167 cases), Petaling Jaya (167 cases), Hulu Langat (132 cases), Seremban (78 cases), Johor Bahru (68 cases), Kluang (54 cases), Gombak (53 cases), Titiwangsa (49 cases), Kota Bahru (48 cases), Hilir Perak (48 cases) and Kinta (41 cases), – source KKM 25th March,2020 . These areas have many private Hospitals in their vicinity, namely renowned names like Pantai Hospital, Sime Darby Medical Centre, KPJ etc,

Why are private Hospitals still reluctant to come out in the open and offer their services? Is cost the only issue? Surely with a worldwide pandemic in play, the cost of reagents and equipment should have gone down. If the private Hospitals can work out a reasonable cost per patient (certainly not RM700 as previously cited by the Health DG), probably the government and the private Hospital can share the cost to quickly identify positive cases.

With a reasonable cost worked out and shared between the government and the private Hospitals, screening should be offered free of charge to patients having symptoms mentioned above. The government should ask all private hospitals to do certain quota of test, in order to spread out the burden equally amongst these Hospitals. But there must be strict control so that test is done only for those having symptoms. This is important so that these limited resources will not be abused by healthy patients demanding to be tested simply because they can pay for the test.

In a humanitarian crisis, it’s morally necessary for these private Hospitals to share the cost of test and treatment to fight this pandemic. What is the point of these private entities in carrying out CSR programs in calm times if they fail the rakyat in desperate times?

Furthermore most of the private Hospitals that have a wide reach throughout the country are GLCs. KPJ Hospitals are owned by the Johor State Economic Development Corporation. The Prime Ministers chairs Khazanah Nasional Berhad (the federal sovereign wealth fund) that holds a stake in Pantai group of Hospitals. Let’s not forget Sime Darby Medical Centres owned by Sime Darby Group, also a GLC of the government. So what is stopping the government from issuing an emergency order under Majlis Keselamatan Negara to take over and leverage on the medical assets and manpower in these private Hospitals?

Do they want to wait until the Health Ministry raises its hand in surrender, before we embark on such measures? PSM calls on the Prime Minister to immediately negotiate with these entities, if not apply emergency measures to open up facilities in private Hospitals to ease the burden in government Hospitals. These measures are crucial to suppress the spread of Covid19 amongst the population in hotspots.

Sivarajan,

Secretary General

Parti Sosialis Malaysia

27th March, 2020.

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