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Why the congestion at govt medical centres?
Published on: Sunday, October 22, 2017

By Joshua Y C Kong
ACCORDING to Finance Minister II Johari Abdul Ghani , Malaysia’s economy is doing well (DE page 8 – 18/10/2017).

I hope this is genuine. With that the people of Malaysia, especially in Sabah, would not be burdened unnecessarily in various basic facilities.

In this particular instance, I would like to highlight the status of the health and medical facilities in Sabah, especially in Kota Kinabalu.

I must say there had been much improvement in the health and medical services in recent few years so much so that the three major establishments namely Luyang Health Clinic (LHC), Hospital Queen Elizabeth 1 (HQE1) and Hospital Queen Elizabeth 2 (HQE2) are crowded and in some department over crowded with patients especially out-patients.

I would not know why the three establishments are much patronised every day and hardly any parking spaces–legal and illegal–available. There must be a range of reasons that there are so many patients coming to seek help at such Government hospitals even through there are a few private hospitals/medical centers in Kota Kinabalu.

I would not like to speculate on those reasons but only satisfied patients keep coming back for treatment.

There are a few observations. Some departments are really over–crowded most times daily and the staff is hard pressed to provide good service. Just a few very congested cases I would like to mention here are as follows:-

The first time I went to the blood test unit at the Luyang health clinic and had to wait for some time and it was there that I had a headache for the first time in many years.

Another case of congestion with out-patients is the eye clinic in HQE1, especially in the early morning daily where many patients have to be on their feet standing for some hours and patients on wheelchairs would be hard to move around.

Would such environment be healthy in such congested enclosed rooms?

Some patients may have contagious sicknesses or diseases undisclosed.

The pharmacy units in all the three major establishments would be very congested or over-crowded with patients to collect their prescriptions and a long wait in the queue would be inevitable.

It is at the pharmacy units that you can see at a glance who are the out-patients as representation of the society seeking treatment and regularly repeated over a long term for various long term diseases or sicknesses.

Largely such outpatients would be in higher age groups of all races. Such service is only available in Kota Kinabalu.

Such congestion at the three establishments can be evident as it is linked to the excessive parked cars in the roads around the hospitals.

Normally the car parking would peak from 9am to noon daily and, at most times, if you pass by HQE1, even at the late hours in the afternoon, there are still plenty of cars parked there. How would such hospitals perform with such “clientele” in pressing health problems?

I hope the hospitals or establishment concerned would assess or review its own shortcomings, if any, as to why outpatients have to wait so long for consultation/ treatment and prescription of medicines delivered?

I also understand some units work extra long hours daily to fulfil the needs of the many outpatients.

Are these observations attributable to hard times of the patients and the medical and health services and the personnel of the three establishments? Patients at most times just cannot complain but be patient for their turns even for very long wait.

With all the constraints, the medical professionals can be accredited for some very good work at times in dealing with the crisis of the patients. There is still some hope for treatment to be accomplished.

My wife and I are very appreciative that she had an urgent and delicate eye operation more than two years ago at HQE1 or she would be blind. It was a very low cost operation as compared to the market scenario.

It was done by the special skill of the top eye surgeon in Malaysia in Kota Kinabalu.

Today her eye is more than perfect without any post-operation complication but needs regular review for performance and care. It is for this hope that many people flock to the eye clinic.

Another observation in recent years is that the prescription of medicine for most treatments in the long term are delivered and collected in monthly instalments. I do not know when it was introduced.

Whether the patients like it or not, they just have to accept it and come back monthly for the medicine.

Such practice may make the crowd at the pharmacy units bigger daily while it may “solve” the three establishments to deal with the supplies and distribution thereof.

Recently, the health ministry did ask patients to return unused medicine to be recycled as sort of wastage avoided and saving to others in need.

I hope rumours are not true when the economy is doing well as shortage of supplies of imported medicines, etc.

I highlight this so that the authorities concerned would address them accordingly in shortest time possible as to not be a burden to the sick and very sick patients.

Any shortage of some critical medicine can mean death and life for some people. eyes can lose their sight.

If patients and outpatients have to go back to the pharmacy units to get their regular monthly supplies as in a quarterly prescription slips for various long term treatment, such patients would incur much costs in travel/transport and time of patients and their families.

Some patients maybe from outlying areas of Kota Kinabalu and as far as some west coast towns in Sabah it is very inconvenient to make such repeated trips and not to mention the costs and burden on such patients already under much stress.

It is unfortunate that not all treatments can provide cure to various diseases or sicknesses but only mitigate the impact of such age–related cases like blood pressure, cholesterol, diabetes, etc, hence a great drain on the resources of the patients and the health department alike. I hope the medical and health fraternity would find or discover complete cure for such cases so elusive of conclusive cure.

We are also aware that there are not many Malaysians with perfect health hence a drain on the medical and health annual budget.

With increasing number of people getting sick and going to the Government establishments, the financial needs can be infinitive although such establishments do charge nominal fees for some people.

I would not know the shortfalls in the annual budget allocations to the medical and health ministry nationwide and that Sabah would get its fair share of it in the face of much depreciation of the Ringgit in the exchange when the supplies are imported.

Does it convey a pressing message that the crowds in the three establishments are getting bigger and more concerted effort by the relevant authorities to resolve it by lessening the burden of the patients and people seeking help from the medical and health department?

Lets brainstorm for a transformation in the areas of health for a strengthened society.

Joshua Y C Kong

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