1/7 I had a corporate stint in the medical devices industry before. With some encounters, I feel called to describe the predicaments faced by our healthcare system in relation to medical devices. It may not be exhaustive, but I hope
such predicaments will prompt the govt, the lawmakers and the experts to enhance the present policy, making our frontliners and healthcare facilities are well equipped.
2/7 Malaysia is blessed with a long history and sound capability in manufacturing sector particularly of precision engineering, industrial parts injection molding, electronics, computing, equipment and hardware assembly, applied sciences and artificial intelligence.
In fact our R&D at universities and govt agencies are apt. We have lots of companies operating in Penang, Selangor, Cyberjaya, Johor, Perak and Sarawak which have been active in the global supply-chain.
3/7 Despite the strength, MOH still depends on foreign supply of ultrasound, ventilators, incubators, imaging, endoscopic devices, dialysis machines and many more. The practice had always been to buy from overseas, mainly the US, China, Europe. Local manufacturers had no chance.
4/7 Item prices fluctuate and rise every year, impacting our hospitals and machines availability. Prices never come down. Warranties range between 2-7 years. Equipment breakdown often requires 3-6 months for correction. Maintenance may be delayed due to the lack of manpower.
There are so many medical devices labelled beyond economic repair and pending replacement. Some were due to the expired warranty and the backlog of maintenance. But mind you, those items are actually still functional and require only simple recalibration to put it to use again.
5/7 Malaysia also has a strong TVET institutions such as Politeknik, IKBN, ILP etc. So many young technical and mechanical graduates with proven certification and diploma qualifications can be utilised in either manufacturing or maintenance of medical devices.
The medical devices industry offers a huge window of opportunity for employment. The local talents were hungry for opportunity but ended up working in other non relevant sectors.
6/7 Now, this Covid19 pandemic should ring a bell to the policymakers that business of healthcare and medical devices, is no longer usual. Besides creating more vaccines and drugs to combat illness; medical devices and equipments must be made a national project.
Please leave out the 3rd national car project and ‘flying cars’ for now. Make less cars and carbon on the road, but put more medical devices in our healthcare facilities nationwide.
7/7 Our healthcare ecosystem will agree that a national, comprehensive policy plus a sustainable masterplan must be introduced very urgently. But asking MOH alone to spearhead this, is not viable. MOH is about patient care and diagnosis, not manufacturing.
Hence, the govt and the industry must be sincere to each other. Should we continue depending on foreign suppliers or make localisation a step forward. Use our local talents and manufacturers. Beat the status quo. We start setting our own healthcare standards. Buy local. Period.
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