Public-private partnerships to fight Covid-19 — MHC

APRIL 5 — The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) believes that victory over Covid-19 requires pooling Malaysia’s entire healthcare resources. This should start with the Ministries of Health (MoH), Education and Defence coordinating their human capital, financial resources, equipment and physical facilities.

Along with all-of-government coordination, we need robust public-private partnerships. We will have enough surge capacity to beat Covid-19 only if we combine public and private resources.

Therefore, we urge a partnership with the following sectors in our national effort:

1. Private hospitals and clinics

There is significant desire and capacity in the private hospitals and clinics and among private sector specialists and general practitioners to contribute. Eligible patients under MySalam and PeKa B40 should be channeled into private facilities.

MoH must find suitable avenues for non-Covid-19 patients in public facilities to be transferred (or “decanted”) to private facilities. For example, some types of surgeries can be in private hospitals, and long-term care for diabetes can be in private clinics. Payment rates for services can be devised, with both sides quickly finding middle ground.

2. Private insurers

If public facilities decant non-Covid-19 patients to private facilities, insurers should not increase the premiums for professional indemnity insurance for private sector doctors.

Insurers should provide more coverage for their policy- holders, such as reimbursing for tests following MOH and World Health Organisation guidelines and the precautionary principle. This will keep Malaysian insurers in step with global trends.

Insurers in other countries have responded generously, even in the United States where insurers hold disproportionate influence. If necessary, Bank Negara Malaysia can provide leadership.

3. Private community pharmacists

Malaysia has a network of 3,500 community pharmacists, who can dispense medicines as a provider for value-added services under existing PPP arrangements with MoH. As another example, patients in public facilities can receive prescriptions for medicines purchase and counselling by community pharmacists.

4. Private laboratories

An existing network of labs and personnel with no capital cost to the government can accelerate mass testing efforts. To ensure no wastage of kits, tests can be ordered only by MoH doctors following guidelines.

Bulk purchases will reduce costs and increase testing rates, while helping meet the operational costs of private laboratories.

During times of grave national crisis, we urge all parts of our health system to fulfil our professional and public health duty to Malaysia and Malaysians.

* Press statement from Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) issued on April 5, 2020.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.

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