A health co-operative system for Malaysia

In Malaysia a secondary provider-owned health co-operative, Koperasi Doktor Malaysia Berhad KDM was established in 1988 by doctors with the objective of protecting their professional and socio-economic interests. Today, more than 600 member doctors own their clinics that provide health care to the public and to third-party administrators. KDM’s mission and objectives are to uphold the economic and social interests of members and to implement businesses and services in the medical and health fields. Inside KDM, there is a Pharmaceutical Division with the purpose of bulk purchasing of medicines and providing member doctors with medicines at the lowest price possible. In this way, in the view of KDM, the cost of providing health care to the public can be reduced.

Malaysian government acknowledged the importance of the cooperative movement and launched the National Co-operative Policy, a strategy to enable co-operatives to have an active role in developing the country. Taking advantage of this supportive environment, KDM proposed a health cooperative system in the form of an inter-organizational network, with secondary cooperatives comprising diversified members (such as KDM and other medical cooperatives) and primary cooperatives active in health issues, community-based health cooperatives, etc. The proposed Malaysian cooperative health model should be feasible because on the one hand, provider-consumer collaboration is a concept favoured by the government, and on the other hand, promotion of a healthy lifestyle is consistent with the government’s vision, mission, and strategies. Furthermore, learning from Japan, Malaysia is seeking to enhance health promotion by way of underlining community involvement in self-care and a healthy lifestyle.