‘Doctors won’t be able to form cartel’

10 Dec 2019 / 13:01 H.

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has given an assurance that doctors would not be able to form any cartel to fix high consultation fees after the Cabinet decided not to control how much private medical practitioners charge their patients.

There are close to 7,000 general practitioner (GP) clinics in Malaysia, with 80% of those clinics located in urban and semi-urban areas, its president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said yesterday.

“The demographic, fragmentation and also the nature of the practice don’t allow for GPs to form a cartel,” he told theSun.

“The practice is so fragmented that we are concerned more about undercutting in order to keep their practice afloat.”

Even if there are attempts to form such cartels in the country after deregulation, the onus should be on the patients and the consumer bodies to identitify them and report them to the rightful authorities, Ganabaskaran added.

Meanwhile, the government will hold engagement sessions with consumer associations and health practitioners to allay fears and confusion pertaining to the new consultation fees.

Health Minister Datuk Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said he is gathering feedback from various parties and admitted that not everyone is being positive as it involves their circle.

“Let’s say, for example, a doctor has to show his charges outside his premises so that each patient can see and evaluate the price or consultation fee,” he said in a press conference after attending the Health Ministry Innovation Day in Putrajaya yesterday.

“If the doctor charges a high fee, I’m sure no one will go to him. It is the patient’s right. This is why it is important that we explain how this is implemented.”

He added that the ministry would discuss issues that may arise, including doctors forming a cartel and fixing high consultation fees.

On the case of a three-month-old boy in Sabah infected by polio, Dzulkefly said it is suspected to be caused by a foreign source.

“So far, the most probable cause is the virus was brought in from outside Sabah as our investigation found the (victim’s) family had no record of traveling abroad,” he said.

Commenting on the baby’s condition, Dzulkefly said he is being treated at the intensive care unit, including having been given three vaccinations at a hospital.

Malaysia was last reported with polio in 1992 and was declared free from the virus in October 2000.

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