by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 13th March 1993:
Call on the Government to stop its ‘headache cure head, leg pain cure leg’ attitude to the national health and medical crisis and adopt a comprehensive and professional approach to give every Malaysian affordable quality health care
It is most ironic that at a time when the Government is asking the people to unite to realise the Vision 2020 of Malaysia becoming a fully developed nation, social and economic infrastructures have not been able to keep pace with current needs and demands and are breaking down one after another.
The national energy crisis is one good example. Another is the national health and medical crisis which has made affordable health and medical care beyond the reach of the vast majority of Malaysians.
Without many people realising it, health has joined educa¬tion and housing as crushing burdens of the people, when an equitable social and political system would have made them affordable to the entire citizenry.
DAP calls on the Government. to stop its ‘headache cure head, leg pain cure leg’ attitude to the national health and medical crisis and adapt a comprehensive and professional approach to give every Malaysian affordable quality health and medical care.
The recent spate of publicity on the health front are the best proof of the acute, health and medical crisis in Malaysia, such as the following reports:
• In the past two years, an average of 20 to 32 doctors resigned from the government service. The Health Minister, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, said last week that 391 medical officers resigned from the Government service in 1991 and another 230 last year. This means that last year, the exodus had reached the critical stage where every day, at least one doctor was resigning from the government service.
• The government is still 30 per cent behind in filling the 787 posts for specialists. On medical doctors, only 2,616 of the 3,486 vacancies had been filled – and there are still vacancies for another 870 doctors.
• The overall acute shortage of doctors for the country. The Health Director-General Datuk Dr. Abu Bakar Sulaiman said in January that some 15,000 doctors will be needed by the year 2,000 if Malaysia is to meet it¬s doctor-population ratio target of 1:1,500.
DAP calls for Royal Commission of Inquiry into the health and medical crisis in the country
• The proposed increase of private medical fees by Malaysian Medical Association, ranging from RM115 for minor consultation to RM100 for complex consultation.
I welcome the announcement by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Dr. Mahathir Mohamed that the Government prefers no increase in medical fees and that of other services.
That fact is that even without any increase in the MMA schedule of fees, quality health and medical care is already beyond the means of ordinary Malaysians as illustrated by the experience of the poor heart patients in the nine-month operation of the National Heart Institute.
DAP had in the past called for a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the health and medical crisis in the country. The Malaysian Medical Association had also previously called for such a Royal Commission of Inquiry.
The Health Minister, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, should marshal the facts and present a strong case to the Cabinet for the establishment of a Royal Commission of Inquiry into the health and medical crisis in the country so as to put an end to the ‘headache cure head, leg pains cure leg’ approach which will only make things worse.