PETALING JAYA,Jan 13: The Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM) has sought to dismiss rumours that the sector will be nationalised.

Referring to speculation arising from Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin’s speech yesterday, APHM president Dr Kuljit Singh noted that he did not mention nationalisation.

Muhyiddin held a meeting with APHM officials in Putrajaya yesterday after he announced a nationwide state of emergency in a live televised address, during which he said the government was considering using private healthcare assets in the fight against Covid-19.

“He didn’t say private hospitals would be nationalised,” Kuljit said. “He wants private hospitals to help where they can in terms of infrastructure, manpower and other resources.”

He said private hospitals were “happy to help” in accordance with their capabilities but added that they had limitations in resources such as infrastructure and manpower.

He said government hospitals not only had “a battalion of people” managing cases, but also more capacity than their private counterparts.

“But we will definitely optimise whatever we have. We are waiting for more detailed instructions from the health ministry on the mechanism, but in principle, we will try our best to help out.”

In his speech, Muhyiddin said the emergency would allow the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to enact several emergency ordinances to curb the spread of Covid-19, which would cover the use of private hospital assets, the temporary takeover of land, buildings or properties belonging to private hospitals, and the the use, by request, of private hospital resources to treat Covid-19 patients.

He said the government would be able to get more “inclusive involvement” from private hospitals to help reduce the load shouldered by public hospitals.

The prime minister acknowledged that the country’s public health care system was at “breaking point” because of the large number of daily cases.

He said Hospital Kuala Lumpur and University Malaya Medical Centre were both using all of their beds in intensive care units and the Sungai Buloh hospital had reached 83% of its capacity.

ICU bed use for Covid-19 patients in Perak, Selangor, Melaka, Terengganu and Sarawak has surpassed 70% and the country’s 15 Covid-19 hospitals are using more than 70% of beds for non-intensive care.

Also yesterday, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said his ministry had placed asymptomatic and mild Covid-19 patients (Stage 1 and 2) in home quarantine since Jan 1 and they would be monitored by healthcare workers.

However, he said the policy applied only to patients with enough space in their homes to isolate themselves.

Kuljit said private hospitals will try to help, especially the Category 1 and 2 patients.

“If you are looking at mild Covid-19 patients, that’s not an issue. But when cases are more complicated, you need to look at the situation holistically and address it with a bigger team.”

He said the issue of cost had not yet been formalised and he voiced hope that insurance companies would reimburse clients treated for Covid-19 in private hospitals.


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