Picture: Traffic at Hospital Sultan Ismail this morning

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I THINK everyone agrees that healthcare transformation in Malaysia is needed urgently. With more than RM30 billion allocated in Malaysian Buget 2020, what should we use the money for? Everyone applauds the move by our Ministry of Health to introduce free pneumococcal vaccination in Malaysia, as it is in line with other international health vaccination programmes.

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But, one crucial part of good healthcare system is “accessibility” and Malaysia lacks one and I believe is being ignored by current government. There is no point of having good hospital with good doctors and state-of-the-art machines, but, it is not accesible to the one who needs them.

Hospital Sultan Ismail, HSI is an example of poor planning. Imagine you are a patient with wheelchair, and you need to attend an appointment at HSI. Do you know how much parking spots for OKU in HSI? With current landscape planning in HSI, there is no parking spot for you to park and wheel yourself to your appointment. People with disability will be having very hard time to access healthcare.

What else? There is only one entrance to the hospital. Due to the traffic in the morning, it takes 10-15 minutes of heavy traffic to reach the entrance of hospital compound, not even the entrance of the building. Even ambulance is using the same entrance and no dedicated lane for its use. If you are having a heart attack where every second counts, is it acceptable to say that you will be easier to die if you are being rushed to HSI because of the traffic?

What should Malaysian hospitals do to improve the accesibility?
1.     Improve parking areas. This does not mean you need to build parking lot inside hospital compound. In a very crowded hospital, you can build a multi-storey carpark nearby and provide a bus to transfer patient between carpark and hospital.
2.     Public transport direct to the door of hospital. Current public transport, place patient outside of hospital and you need to walk 300m to entrance.
3.     Dedicated entrance for emergency vehicles to ensure swift transfer of emergency case to A&E.
4.     Multiple drop-off and pick up site around the hospital, so that family can choose which drop-off site is nearest to the clinic that they intend to go.

Building new hospitals is important, but, ability to access them is paramount. You choose.

Chairman of PAS Health Committee – HARAKAHDAILY 15/10/2019

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