Archive for March 31st, 2008

Who runs the Ministry of Health?

by EJB

I refer to the newspaper report “Doctors to be disallowed from dispensing Medicine” NST 29th March where the DG of Health has apparently agreed to a pilot proposal where doctors seeing patients at their clinics only prescribe and patients will then have to locate a pharmacy where they will have to purchase their medications separately. Don’t ask when these negotiations started and who were at the discussions who finally agreed to this proposal. In all likelihood doctors’ representatives were either kept away or presumably threatened with the OSA (Official Secrets Act)

It seems the ruling party has learnt nothing from the last elections. More pertinently one must ask. Is this a dying priority for the Ministry of Health now especially when it reported only these last 48 hours about the lethal outcomes of the dengue scourge which it has repeatedly shown it is unable to control and the rising incidence of resurgent tuberculosis? We will not even discuss about waiting time for patients who queue up to see doctors at 4 am in the morning or of parents begging in the media for financial help to save their sick children.

The DG of Health, one would have thought, would have his hands full trying to pool his resources without digging further holes he cannot cover. But there you are. He appears to have caved in to the pharmacy lobby. This debate is not new. It is ancient in terms of healthcare provisions in Malaysia. The basic contention. Why should General Practitioners or other doctors prescribe when there are pharmacists around? Answer, for the convenience of the patient especially in the rural areas or in locations where pharmaceutical chains open ten stores to show a 30 million ringgit turnover so that they can get into the second board while employing only 5 pharmacists to cut costs. These pharmacists will only be in during shift hours and usually not available after 9pm where the rigors of a 24 hour practice will call upon the dedication and commitment of a medical doctor where treatment and prescription come hand in hand. Read the rest of this entry »