KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 7 (Bernama) -- Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said private doctors needed not worry that their earnings would be affected with the existence of 1Malaysia clinics.
He said this was because the 50 1Malaysia clinics set up nationwide would concentrate on giving patients normal medical examinations like checking blood pressure level for hypertension, and sugar level.
"Actually, they (private doctors) will not be affected because the cases from here (1Malaysia clinics) will be referred to them for further examination or treatment, or the patients will then go to the government hospitals.
"So, I do not regard this as a win-lose situation but actually a win-win situation...it's easy for the people while the private clinics will receive patients as usual," he told reporters after launching the Kerinchi 1Malaysia Clinic in Lembah Pantai here Thursday.
The prime minister was replying to a question on the concern voiced by the Malaysian Medical Association (MAA) over the existence of 1Malaysia clinics as they felt it could affect their income.
He said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai would hold a dialogue session with MMA members to assure them on the matter.
However, he stressed that 1Malaysia clinics were established solely for the benefit of the people.
"It is all for the interest of the rakyat who are our number one concern... this is what the government stands for," he said, adding that there were already 44 1Malaysia clinics in operation nationwide.
Najib said establishing the 44 clinics within two months was a record for the Health Ministry under the 2010 Budget, as the target of setting up 50 such clinics was almost met within such a short time.
On the proposal to increase the number of 1Malaysia clinics, he said the government would evaluate the need based on the public response and the effects of the new approach in expanding public health care.
"If the response and effects are good, the clinics will possibly be increased...but let us evaluate first as 50 (clinics) is a big number. And we also need to determine the effectiveness of these clinics and this new approach. From there, we can decide," he said.
Najib said most of the 1Malaysia clinics were located in town areas as outside urban areas were 2,000 rural clinics which had existed since the country's independence.
He said the government had allocated RM10 million for the 50 1Malaysia clinics this year, but the amount was not for the buildings but for the internal fittings and medicines only.
Earlier, Najib who is also Finance Minister, said the setting up of the clinics was truly in line with the 1Malaysia concept mooted by him, as they were open to all races, especially from the low-income group.
He said the effort was introduced and implemented by the government to ensure that quality health services in this country could be justly, equitably and wholly accessed by the people. "That's the government's aspiration," he added.
"And access to the service (from 1Malaysia clinics) definitely involves a minimum cost, that is, RM1...the cheapest in the world or can be regarded as almost free.
"Besides that, patients don't have to wait long as the 1Malaysia clinics will provide fast service. In this situation, the Health Ministry also benefits as the government hospitals will be less crowded with patients needing just basic treatment."
Najib said the 1Malaysia clinics would operate daily, seven days a week, from 10am to 10pm, and manned by paramedics comprising medical assistants and trained nurses.