IPOH, Dec 15 ― The Health Ministry is closing fewer than one in 10 of the 347 1Malaysia clinics in the country, Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said today.
He said the 34 earmarked for closure received fewer than 40 patients daily or below the ministry’s threshold to retain them; these were also within 5km of at least one other 1Malaysia clinic.
“We are not closing down 1Malaysia clinics located at low-cost flats,” he said.
Speaking to reporters at the sidelines of the Amanah national convention at Casuarina @ Meru here today, Dzulkefly also said the closures were first discussed with the Health Departments in the affected states.
He also stressed that his ministry was committed to delivering proper health services to the public.
“We will not take unilateral actions,” he said when responding to criticism from former prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Najib wrote on Facebook to question the rationale for the closures and said such decisions must not be motivated purely by cost savings.
Dzulkefly explained that it would be irresponsible to maintain such facilities when they do not adequately meet the ministry’s requirements for the provision of health services.
He also said that community clinics were being planned as a replacement for 1Malaysia versions and will feature doctors as well as pharmacists so that patients can be more accurately diagnosed.
“Currently, there are no doctors at 1Malaysia clinics to screen non-communicable diseases. With community clinics, we will be able to do so,” he added, noting that the people are aware the government is doing their best to help them.
The minister added that the long-term plan was to terminate the 1Malaysia clinic scheme, which he described as an “instant noodle” project that was poorly conceived and executed.
On when these community clinics will begin appearing, Dzulkefly said his ministry was targeting for this to be in the second half of 2019.
“We are in the process of obtaining allocations from Finance Ministry. For the time being, it is not a priority but the ministry is emphasising on it as it wants to strengthen community clinics,” he added.