Posts misrepresent report about activist group's proposal to increase public clinic fees in Malaysia

  • Published on July 11, 2024 at 04:53
  • Updated on July 11, 2024 at 10:11
  • 2 min read
  • By AFP Malaysia
The Malaysian Health Ministry is not increasing prices at its clinics, contrary to misleading social media posts that claim the consultancy fee will be increased to 10 Malaysian ringgit (about two dollars). The posts misrepresented an old online news report with a headline about a proposal to raise the fee, which was in fact based on a suggestion from a healthcare activist and not a government initiative. The consultation fee at a government clinic remains at one ringgit, according to the Malaysian government.

"The era of making money. Nobody helps the people," read a Facebook post published on May 28, 2024.

It also included a screenshot of a news report that featured the logo of 15 Minit MMTV, a Malaysian online news programme (archived link). 

The headline and corresponding sticker text read: "Proposal of an RM10 increase in the price of public clinic consultations."

Screengrab of the false post, captured on July 11

The claim surfaced following reports of a shortage of doctors and medical graduates in Malaysia, prompting industry groups to warn the situation could lead to poor quality healthcare (archived link).

Similar posts about a purported fee hike also surfaced elsewhere on Facebook here and here

But the posts have misrepresented the online news report, which was based on the opinion of a healthcare activist.

Misrepresented report

Malaysia's Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad stated on his official Facebook page on June 14, 2024 that the proposal mentioned in the news programme was not from the government (archived link). 

"The proposed fee increase at Ministry of Health Malaysia (KKM) facilities is from a third party. The Ministry of Health has never issued a statement like this," read the statement. 

As of July 11, 2024, the consultation fee at all government health facilities remains at 1 ringgit, according to the Ministry of Health website (archived link).

A combination of keyword and reverse image search on Google found the 15 Minit MMTV report was posted on its TikTok account on May 27, 2023 with the headline "Proposal to increase consultation fee at public clinics to RM10" (archived link). 

"It has been suggested that the government should increase consultation fees at all public health facilities from RM1 to RM10 to cover the shortage of doctors and improve services at its health centres," the anchor said in the report.

At the 25-second mark of the video, she said the suggestion was made by the spokesperson for Hartal Doktor Kontrak, a group that advocated for permanent employment for contract doctors in Malaysia (archived link).

The news report did not include any statements from the Malaysian Ministry of Health or other relevant authorities.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the video shared in the misleading posts (left) and the original 15 Minit MMTV report (left): 

Screenshot comparison of the video shared in the misleading posts (left) and the original 15 Minit MMTV report (right)

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