Health DG: Surgical services in primary healthcare facilities need to be expanded

KOTA KINABALU: Surgical services in primary health care facilities need to be expanded and strengthened, says Tan Sri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The director-general of health said that across the country, the surgical performance in primary health care facilities is low and the need to improve surgical care is due to the over-reliance and overburdening of hospitals.

“There are clinics that do biopsies (removing sample cells or tissues for clinical testing), minor surgeries for lumps and bumps, and other minor procedures, but not many,” he said.

dr Noor Hisham said so during a press conference following the start of the 24th Family Medicine Scientific Conference Thursday (September 22) here at the Sabah International Convention Center.

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He said by bolstering surgical healthcare at these facilities, services could be better and more widely delivered in the community and help relieve pressure on hospitals.

He also said around 8,000 Family Medicine Specialist (FMS) capacity is available, but so far there are only over a thousand on the ground serving the people.

“We have several hundred FMSs in training nationwide so far, but that’s nowhere near enough as we hope to place at least one or two FMS staff for every clinic in the country,” said Dr. Noor Hisham.

He said the government and health ministry may consider working with colleges from outside the country to help fill the labor shortage in the field, among other things.

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Earlier, in his opening remarks, he said that FMS staff had played an essential role in establishing primary care as an indispensable pillar of Malaysia’s healthcare system.

dr Noor Hisham said they provide effective and excellent community-level care by providing holistic, preventive, curative, rehabilitative and palliative care.

He said if the nation and health system had learned one thing from the Covid-19 pandemic, it was that everyone had come together to work together, adding that preventive measures work wonders in times of crisis and disaster.

He attributed the nation’s success in controlling the spread of Covid-19 following its outbreak in 2020 to the extraordinary work of primary health care workers and all frontliners.

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To that end, he reiterated calls for the government to allocate more funds to health care in the country.

He said this is an investment for the country’s overall well-being.

When asked if the health system was ready for the upcoming general election, he said the health ministry could only decide after the date was announced.

“We are always on standby for other crisis and disaster management. This is what really pushed us after the pandemic broke out to see the preparedness and really push through,” he said.

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