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Sandeep Singh Dhillon
Malaysia’s healthcare budget below WHO recommendation – The Malaysian Insight
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By Noel Achariam

MALAYSIA’S budget for healthcare is 3% lower than the World Health Organisation (WHO) recommendation and needs to be raised, said a consultant.

InfoMed chief executive officer Mohan Manthiry said the nation’s current budget for healthcare was 4% of the gross domestic product, and the government must spend more to provide quality care especially in public hospitals.

“The general population, where a majority are hard-pressed by inflation, are now flocking to government hospitals.

“Malaysians can’t afford proper healthcare because of stagnant salaries, poor revenues and negative growth.

“The government needs to provide more services, improve facilities and reduce congestion.

“To do this effectively, the government needs to allocate more funds for healthcare,” he said after speaking at the Malaysian Insurance Institute on Medical Health and Insurance Seminar today.

It was reported that the Health Ministry would seek a bigger allocation under Budget 2018 due to increasing medical costs.

Its minister, Dr S. Subramaniam, said the RM23 billion allocated for this year was insufficient, which prompted the ministry’s request for an increased allocation.

He said the ministry was committed to providing the people with quality healthcare.

Budget 2018 will be unveiled in Parliament on October 27. In past budgets, the ministry had received between 10% and 15% more in the annual allocation.

Mohan said according to WHO, the recommended budget for healthcare in Malaysia should be 7%.

“Malaysia’s current budget (for healthcare) is 4% of GDP. Singapore, whose healthcare is among the best in the world, is only spending 5% of its GDP, and is still able to provide quality healthcare.

“This is because the funds have to be efficiently utilised. Otherwise, quality healthcare is not going to be felt by the public.”

Mohan said the healthcare sector should be geared towards prevention and enhancing the education system to reduce incidences of chronic diseases.

“There is a worrying trend in non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes and obesity. This is something we should focus on, which is consuming most of the resources in healthcare. ”

WHO had stated that almost 70% of the global mortality rate was due to such diseases, he said, adding that in Malaysia, the number of patients was on the rise, with the country being No. 1 in diabetes and obesity in the region.

“To manage this, we need to get individuals to take charge. We cannot leave it to the government, doctors and hospitals.

“This has got to do with lifestyle, and one of the major causes is the food we eat.

“We need to have a long-term plan, and I have been advocating the need for education in healthcare.”

Mohan said it was crucial for healthcare to be taught as a subject at the primary school level.

“It should be in the curriculum, where children are taught everything in healthcare and matters related to health, from food and the environment to exercising.

“Such education should start at home, but it’s not happening. So, it has to become part of formal education.

“It is good if this can be implemented in primary schools. Then, the government would not have to spend so much money (in its healthcare budget) because it’s part of the curriculum.”

The original article can be viewed at https://www.themalaysianinsight.com/s/16128/

Sandeep Singh Dhillon
WHO commends Malaysia’s medical research work – MIMS Malaysia
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Newly-elected WHO director-general, Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus has expressed interest in harnessing Malaysia’s medical expertise. The Health Ministry said the World Health Organisation (WHO) is truly impressed with the country’s medical research work and the accessible and affordable healthcare available here.

“WHO is looking into harnessing our expertise based on this unique model of the research ecosystem in Malaysia to bring down the cost of medicine. We highlighted crucial issues close to the heart of many in developing countries such as cost and access to diagnostics and medicine, where we are convinced that this new partnership model can close the gap of equitable access to medicine,” said Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the Health director-general.

He also took to social media to relay Ghebreyesus’s fascination with this country’s work on Hepatitis C treatment. This programme is in partnership with the global non-profit organisation, Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative.

Medical research a valuable field

Despite progression in research, the country still faces some barriers to producing high quality data. A healthcare professional weighed in on this issue recently and described that a basic skill set to conduct good research is required and should be identified in potential researchers.

The medical expert also explained that a large chunk of studies published comes from high-income countries with a Caucasian population. Thus, data from these places might not suit our population entirely and local research would prove beneficial. Another barrier faced here would be low number of cases per hospital and thus, effective research sample sizes are reduced and the study’s significance might be questionable.

Health minister advocates for zero hunger and good health

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said courageous steps are required as advocators to address the co-benefit of innovative public policy for health. Speaking at the 70th World Health Assembly (WHA) last week, he stated that a better, sustainable health system can be built when our view of the system goes beyond healthcare.

Subramaniam also said at the WHA in Geneva, Switzerland that pollution and climate change are not merely environmental issues once it changes the pattern of communicable disease. This is because Arbovirus infections such as dengue can spread beyond its usual temporal and geographical boundaries.

“A hungry world, a polluted world or a world where women do not stand equally cannot be defined or considered as a healthy world. Achieving zero hunger and good health goes hand in hand. In our passionate search for new vaccine and medical technology, we must remember that no vaccine can prevent the detrimental effect of famine and no medicine can replace the damaging effects of stunted growth,” he added. MIMS

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