The State of Our Primary Care System: Part 1 by Dr Vivek Subramaniam

Primary care is the first point of contact for individuals seeking medical attention, and is often provided by general practitioners (GPs) or primary care physicians. It is an essential component of any healthcare system, as it serves as the gateway to specialized care and helps to prevent the progression of diseases. The Alma Ata Declaration, a 1978 statement made by the World Health Organization (WHO), emphasized the importance of primary care as the key to achieving “Health for All.” It outlined the role of primary care in promoting health equity and improving the overall health of a population.

The primary care system in Malaysia is currently structured with both public and private networks operating independently. The public system is primarily funded by the government and provides care through government hospitals, clinics, and health centers. The private system, on the other hand, is made up of private hospitals and clinics that are funded through patient fees and insurance.

The public primary care system in Malaysia is structured into three levels: the first point of contact is the community health center, followed by the district health center, and finally the referral hospital. The strength of the public system lies in its widespread coverage and ability to provide basic care to underserved populations. However, it has its weaknesses as well, including a shortage of health personnel and limited resources in rural areas.

The private primary care system in Malaysia is made up of private hospitals and clinics, many of which are owned by physicians themselves. One of the strengths of the private primary care system in Malaysia is that it is often perceived as providing higher quality care than the public system. Private clinics often have newer and more advanced equipment and are able to offer a wider range of services. However, the private primary care system also has its weaknesses. One major disadvantage is that it can be expensive and may not be accessible to all individuals, particularly those without insurance or those who cannot afford to pay out-of-pocket for care. This can result in financial barriers to accessing necessary healthcare services, leading to inequalities in care. In addition, private primary care providers may prioritize profit over patient care, leading to a focus on more profitable services rather than addressing the needs of the entire population.

When comparing the primary care systems of Malaysia to those of other countries, it is clear that there is room for improvement. For example, the National Health Service (NHS) in the UK has a strong primary care system with a focus on preventative care and the integration of physical, mental, and social health services. The Australian primary care system also places a strong emphasis on preventative care, with a focus on chronic disease management and the integration of primary, secondary, and tertiary care.

To improve the state of the primary care system in Malaysia, there are a few reforms that could be considered. One such reform is the integration of the public and private sectors to better coordinate care and improve access to services. This could be facilitated through the use of technology to share health data and establish protocols for communication between providers. Another potential reform is a focus on prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), such as diabetes and hypertension, through primary care. This could include initiatives to promote healthy lifestyles, such as tobacco control and physical activity campaigns. The introduction of GPwSI, or General Practitioners with Special Interests, could also help to improve the primary care system in Malaysia. This model, which has been successful in the UK, allows doctors to manage a wider range of health problems without the need for referral to a hospital. This can help to reduce the burden on the secondary health system and provide more specialized care at the primary care level.

In conclusion, the primary care system in Malaysia has both strengths and weaknesses, and there are several reforms that could be implemented to improve the quality of care provided. By integrating the public and private sectors, focusing on preventative care, introducing GPwSI, the primary care system in Malaysia could become more responsive to the needs of patients and more effective in promoting overall health and well-being. As the late Dr. Bernard Lown, founder of the Lown Cardiovascular Group, once said, “The ultimate measure of a health care system is how well it attends to the common illnesses and injuries of everyday life.” It is through these reforms that we can work towards improving the state of our primary care system in Malaysia and achieving better health outcomes for all.

Learn about GPwSI (General Practitioners with Special Interests), the game-changing primary care model that is revolutionizing healthcare in the UK and could transform the way we receive care in Malaysia. Stay tuned for our next article on GPwSI!”

Check out MediQ Hub, a service that helps manage all your clinic’s boring non-clinical admin needs.

Get your premium membership to get full free access to our Career Development Mentorship Programme and unlimited CV reviews from our team.

To find out more about non-clinical jobs for doctors in Malaysia check out our job vacancy and find inspiration from medical doctors who’ve made a career change in our case studies.

If you’re thinking of a career transition, do download Dr Selina’s Switching Careers for Doctors eBook here to get you started on your journey.

Check out other articles: