Materia Medica Malaysiana

September 20, 2007

e-Kesihatan postponed

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:15 am

Sun2Surf: PETALING JAYA: Hit by a fierce chorus of protests from doctors and drivers, the health screening scheme called e-Kesihatan to build a database on the health status of commercial vehicle drivers has been shelved indefinitely.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said yesterday that the cabinet decided that the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) should coordinate its implementation.
“The cabinet has decided that in the best interest of this programme, it should be temporarily postponed as this kind of privatisation project should be referred to the EPU.
“The EPU will then coordinate the implementation (of the programme) with the various government agencies, including the Ministry of Health, for the screening of commercial vehicle drivers,” he told Bernama.
Earlier, Road Transport Department directorgeneral Datuk Ahmad Mustapha Abdul Rashid said in a statement the government had postponed the programme which was to start on Oct 1.
The scheme had created controversy after Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd got the contract from RTD on Sept 3. theSun front-paged the issue on Sept 11 (see flashback), questioning the decision to have an intermediary to handle the scheme.
The RTD had announced that all commercial vehicle drivers who wish to apply or renew their public service vehicle licence and goods-vehicle driving licence must undergo compulsory medical examination and urine test at 611 panel clinics through e-Kesihatan.
However, the ruling which also requires the estimated 800,000 commercial vehicle drivers to pay RM80 each at the post office, faced strongobjection from various quarters. The Malaysian Medical Association said the appointment of panel clinics contravened the Medical Act.
Supremme Systems was also criticised for imposing a high fee. The company retorted that it would get only RM8 from the RM80, with the lion’s share going to doctors and laboratories.
Primary Care Doctors’ Organisation Malaysia (PCDOM) president Dr Molly Cheah was delighted with news of the postponement.
“The RTD should not have tried to implement it in the fi rst place – trying to control doctors … it does not fall in their domain,” she said, recommending that the RTD work with the Health Ministry instead of giving it to a third party without the expertise to operate the scheme.
Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr Khoo Kay Lin welcomed the postponement but hoped that it would not be indefinitely.
“Indefinitely is not very good news. There should be a reasonable deadline. The RTD should work with the experts, but it must not take too long because we would be risking the population,” he said.
He said among the medical examination approaches to work on are checks for diabetes, high blood pressure and thorough examinations for elderly commercial drivers, besides detection of alcohol and drug abuse.
Among the concerns over Supremme Systemmanaging the scheme was that it could conduct
surprise checks on panel clinics.
Responding to theSun’s report yesterday, PCDOM’s Cheah said: “I’d like to ask (Supremme Systems executive director) Datuk Nordin (Yahaya) how he has authority to do that, under what Act and what law?”
Under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act, enforced last year, general inspections on private clinics can be conducted by only a designated Health Ministry officer.
“This (Supremme Systems’ claim of authority to conduct inspections) is the problem with dealing with a third party involving a ministry that is not even responsible for healthcare. If this is allowed, any Tom, Dick and Harry can walk into the clinic (to conduct inspection),” Cheah said.
Nordin had said inspections would be legal as long as the clinics were on the e-Kesihatan panel.
Cheah said that doctors felt compelled to submit to the scheme because they feared being blacklisted, and because there was no mechanism to protect the profession.
She said PCDOM – an organisation set up to address issues faced by primary care doctors – proposed last year a similar scheme to the RTD but there was no response. Cheah claimed that e-Kesihatan was a project that had been “hijacked by people who are not doctors and who are dictating to doctors how to do their job”.

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