The recent case involving the death of the son-in-law of the Deputy Prime Minister who had been given anaesthesia by unqualified personnel in a private dental facility raises a big question with regard auditing of private healthcare facilities. This particular case received nation-wide attention because it involved a family member of a VIP. There could easily be many more such unreported cases among the lay public.
The healthcare care industry is supported by an array of disciplines each with its own training curriculum, standards and job descriptions – be it nursing, physiotherapy, dietetics, pharmacy or medicine. Each discipline supports the other and it is the seamless integration of the various disciplines that leads to optimal health care support for consumers and patients.
However the universal norm that doctors diagnose and prescribe while pharmacists audit and dispense is amiss in Malaysia and the notion to accord pharmacists their rightful duty to dispense medicines has always been met by contentious objections from the doctors. But what is most bizarre and beyond comprehension is the Ministry of Health’s stand on the issue in that they would not support dispensing separation. On what basis does the Ministry of Health deny a profession of its fundamental role?
We refer to the statement by the Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Hilmy Yahya that the “Government is in no rush to table Pharmacy Bill.” [The Star 25 May 2015].
We call on the Government to table the Bill in Parliament without any further delay and make it available for the public to comment. There are a lot of rumours flying around in the social media about the Bill which would be put to rest by its publication.
One of the subjects included in the Bill is Dispensation Separation scheme in the healthcare sector. There is no need to delay the implementation of this scheme as it is widely practiced and proved to beneficial to patients.
There has been a lot of discussion in the media on the old issue of Dispensing Separation lately.
Many of the arguments put forth are on areas like convenience, accessibility and even competency. While CAP feels that although these are important for the consumers, Medication Safety to patients should be of paramount importance and this should be the main consideration for the authorities to take into account for any decision on the issue of Dispensing Separation. The current vintage practice of the private clinic doctors prescribing and dispensing does not provide a safety mechanism for a qualified third party audit or check on the appropriateness or accuracy of the prescriptions. Absence of check and balance in healthcare rules out patient safety.
The Consumers Association of Penang refers to news reports regarding the procurement of questionable medical equipment by the Ministry of Health. We are shocked that the Health Ministry would even consider, let alone actually purchase medical equipment of dubious quality and origins to be used on and by patients. Now that the cats out of the bag, several things come to mind and we feel it is crucial that they be addressed.