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Saturday November 24, 2007

Smokers taking up half of annual health budget


KUALA LUMPUR: Smokers are taking up half of Malaysia’s annual health budget, according to a health economist. 

The Government has to spend RM3bil to RM3.8bil each year, from 2004 to 2010, on smokers treated in public hospitals for ischemic heart disease, lung cancer and chronic obstructive airway disease, said Prof Dr Syed Mohamed Aljunid, senior research fellow at the United Nations University International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH). 

The overall cost projected would be 0.8% of the Gross Domestic Product of RM480bil by the year 2010, said Syed Mohamed, who is collaborating with five other academicians on a study of healthcare costs. 

“It costs taxpayers a lot of money,” added Syed Mohamed. 

Currently, about 25% of the population smoke, including 49% of the male population and 5% of the female population, said the health economist.  

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