The federal government’s share of investments in our healthcare sector has been lagging behind the private sector in 2012 when compared to 2001. This can be observed in terms of the number of hospitals that has been built in the past 12 years and the number of beds currently being operated by the public sector. This is in contrast with the private sector where more hospitals have being built so much so that it outnumbers its public counterpart. There is also a noticeable increase in the total number of beds in the private hospitals although the public hospitals still hold the larger share of it in total. However, the increased proportion of beds in the private hospitals is a new trend worthy of further observation.
On the other hand, there is another observable trend between the proportions of beds and inpatients in the private sector. As our private hospitals increase their share of number of beds from 2001 to 2012, there is also an increase of the proportion of inpatients from 2007 to 2012. This is in contrast to the share of outpatients which is clearly in the decrease from 2007 to 2012.
Do these figures mean that our private hospitals are more comfortable than those in the public sector, for the patients at least?
1. Guess what? Number of private hospital is more than public hospital
As it was in 2001, the number of private hospitals (62.7% out of total 394) in the healthcare sector continues to surpass that of the public hospitals’ (37.3%) in 2012. This situation is a cause for concern as it shows that our government has been lagging behind the private sector in building more hospitals to service the majority of the Malaysian population. Though there is a slight decrease in the private sector’s proportion of hospitals in 2012 as compared to 2001 (63.6% out of total 352), the private sector still occupies more than half of total number of hospitals in Malaysia.
2. Private hospitals’ beds occupies more share
Like in 2001, the share of public hospitals’ beds (75.1% out of total 56,834) is larger than that of the private hospitals’ (24.9%) in 2012. However, the share of beds in the public hospitals has decreased in 2012 as compared to 2001. Since public hospitals have to cater to the majority of Malaysian population of low income and middle income earners, such situation is a cause for alarm. In other words, the trend shows that the capacity of our public hospitals has deteriorated over the past 12 years. As for the private hospitals, the share of beds has increased from 21% in 2001 to 24.9% in 2012.
3. Composition of healthcare staff in both public and private hospitals remain same in the past decade
Similar to 2001, public hospitals still hold the largest share (67.6%) out of total 49,441 healthcare staff in 2012 as compared to their private counterparts (32.4%). Of these, 27,478 doctors and 56,089 nurses are serving in the public hospitals that year while 11,240 doctors and 28,879 nurses are serving in the private sector. This situation is common given the fact that public hospitals have to service a large population of low income and middle income earners who are in need of cheaper healthcare services.
Overall, the number of doctors in the public sector has increased by 52.3% from 2001 to 2012 while the number of nurses increased by 39.1% for the same period. As for the private sector, the number of doctors increases by 19.8% from 2001 to 2012 whereas the number of nurses increases by 53.5% for the same period.
4. Outpatients tend to go to public hospitals, but…
From 76.6% in 2001 (out of total patients of 10.8 million), the share of outpatients in the public hospitals grew up to 89% in 2012 (out of total patients of 21.5 million). In contrast, the inpatient group now made up 11% of the total patients in 2012, down from 23.4% in 2001. This situation is common since outpatients are the majority group seeking healthcare services in Malaysia.
5. Inpatients tend to go to private hospitals
From 85% in 2007 (out of total patients of 3.2 million), the share of outpatients in the public hospitals decreased to 80% in 2012 (out of total patients of 4.8 million). In contrast, the inpatient group shores up from 15% in 2007 to 20% in 2007. This situation is common since private hospitals have better infrastructure and tend to be less crowded than in public hospitals.
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