The Malaysian government has taken considerable steps in healthcare according to this year’s budget announcement
THE overall allocation for healthcare was announced to be at RM30.6 billion, an increase of RM1.9 billion compared to last year. The allocation to the Ministry of Health is geared more towards prevention of diseases, as assured by the Minister of Finance Lim Guan Eng.
“The government remains committed to ensure access to quality healthcare for all, as part of its aspiration to create an inclusive Malaysian society. We will allocate resources to intensify preventative measures to manage the burden on public healthcare expenses,” says Lim.
The authority has been listening
What strikes us the most for this year’s budget are the comments heard by professionals among the healthcare sector, in that they are saying the government is finally listening to the needs of the people.
To quote Dr M Murallitharan, Medical Director of the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) in his opinion piece published in a local news site: “The other piece of news that really pleased those of us in the healthcare sector was the fact that the budget showed how the government has really bothered to listen to the input of the people.”
He speaks about a few things the government has done right in this year’s budget for healthcare – particularly in the pneumococcal vaccination, centralising medicine purchases across ministries of health and defence and university hospitals, and the adjustments made for the two health-centric social protection schemes, MySalam and PekaB40.
A gap still left unfilled
On the other side of the spectrum, the allocation made for Malaysia’s public healthcare has a gap in it still unfulfilled.
According to social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, there is still no active efforts made towards improving the mental health support among Malaysians.
Lee expressed through media that the Ministry of Health should be allocated
more to develop better mental health support.
Lee is also of the view to have more substance rehabilitation centres dealing with mental health caused by synthetic drugs be built, encourage mental health personnel to work in rural areas through incentives and encourage them to further their study, and also to have more programmes held at hospitals, schools, and other premises to help increase mental health awareness.
In the right direction
With all said and done, the move by the government for healthcare budget allocation puts many at ease. The pneumococcal vaccine allocation especially provided a sigh of relief for many healthcare providers advocating it over the many years.
Dr Murallitharan of NCSM praises this year’s budget for healthcare as it shows that the government is putting emphasis on the needs of the people.
Budget 2020 for healthcare takes a more preventative approach to diseases and patient care, according to Lim Guan Eng.
ST of notable allocations for public healthcare for 2020:
- RM1.6 BILLION for the construction of new hospitals as well as expanding and upgrading existing ones
- RM319 MILLION for the construction and upgrading of health and dental clinics, as well as quarters facility in Kedah, Pahang, Sabah, and Sarawak.
- RM227 MILLION to upgrade medical equipment in hospitals.
- RM95 MILLION for renovation of medical infrastructure and facilities.
- RM60 MILLION to provide children below two years of age with pneumococcal vaccination.
- RM59 MILLION for the acquisition of more ambulances, in collaboration with non-governmental organisation for medical ambulance services.
- RM31 MILLION for upgrading and maintenance of ICT services, including pilot project for hospital electronic medical records.
- 45 DISEASESfrom the existing 36 diseases, raising the eligibility from 55-65 years, and covering those with gross annual income up to RM100,000 (M40 group) for the MySalam scheme.