The repercussions of poor maintenance in public hospitals will be felt by many patients, especially from the low-income group, observes Mustafa K Anuar.
Many Malaysians, particularly low and medium-income earners and the dispossessed, heavily depend on government hospitals for medical treatments.
To be clear, healthcare is one of our basic necessities as citizens.
That is why it is alarming that the Sungai Buloh hospital has been relying on its back-up servers for days ever since its main server broke down, resulting in chaos.
For instance, medical histories, and results of X-rays and MRI scans of patients reportedly could not be retrieved efficiently and detection of patient appointments was severely hampered.
While it may be prudent for the hospital personnel to stay or look calm in the face of such adversity, it is not comforting to learn that not only has the main computer server collapsed; the hospital has been using the archaic Windows XP operating system for a very long time.
Mind you, this is happening to a hospital that is supposed to be high tech.
Given the high speed with which information and communications technology has advanced, using Windows XP now indeed appears to be Jurassic in attitude.
If this is not a dereliction of duty, then it surely is at least unconscionable on the part of the personnel concerned to act in a way that seems to be lackadaisical, which has dragged the hospital to this sorry state of affairs.
Or, if this is the result of a lack of financial allocation, the Ministry of Health should see to it that this serious problem is addressed immediately.
After all, the 2020 budget has upped allocations to the ministry by 6.7%, from RM28.7bn to RM30.6bn.
The maintenance and updating of the computer system clearly ought to be one of the priorities of the hospital authorities because most modern medical facilities are computerised nowadays, which supposedly provides precision in terms of diagnosis and treatment.
This is also to prevent inconvenience to patients as well as inadequate and inefficient healthcare – and, heaven forbid, death.
Moreover, working patients have to spend extra hours of waiting at the hospital while those who hail from faraway places have to spend longer hours or, worse, come back another day.
For outpatients who are daily wage earners, a longer wait or postponement of appointment may cause an unfortunate loss of precious income.
It is obviously extremely inconvenient for those patients who rely on public transport – and not a chauffeur-driven Mercedes Benz, which seems to easily tickle the fancy of certain politicians these days. Never mind about a minister’s fancy of having flying cars to supposedly facilitate easy travel in the country.
As well, the consequent longer queue of patients and having to do certain things manually would add to the heavy burden of doctors and nurses at the hospital.
One should also be mindful that the volume of patients visiting government hospitals in general has tended to increase in recent times as the cost of living rises, making access to private hospitals a bit more difficult for some people seeking decent healthcare.
This incident is also indicative of the poor maintenance culture that we generally have in this country, resulting in subsequent damage to facilities over time.
This episode should also be a wake-up call for all other health facilities in Malaysia, given that the repercussions of poor maintenance can be disastrous to a lot of people, especially patients.
Hospitals, particularly the public ones, must not add woes that are essentially not the patients’.
Source: The Malaysian Insight