KUALA LUMPUR: As a cost-effective measure, the Health Ministry is looking into supporting haemodialysis centres run by non-governmental organisations (NGOs) rather than expanding its own facilities, said minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek.
He said it cost about RM10,000 annually to treat a patient at government haemodialysis centres compared with RM8,000 at NGO centres.
Therefore, in the future, it may be more cost-effective for the Government to continue to support haemodialysis treatment at NGO centres.
This would pave the way for more meaningful partnerships between the Government and NGOs and foster greater community participation in health and healthcare, he said at the Nanyang Press Foundation Dialysis Centre at the Tung Shin Hospital charity dinner.
A total of RM1.3mil was raised at last night's dinner from donations of haemodialysis machines and sales of tables. An auction of Hong Kong actor-singer Andy Lau's calligraphy works raked in RM34,000.
At an earlier function, Dr Chua said a consulting firm would be appointed to work out payment rates for people who fall under the affordable category of the proposed National Healthcare Financing Scheme.
He said discussion on the payment rates were still in the initial stage and he hoped the consultant would be able to complete the task in the next six months.
After the rates are fixed, we will discuss again. The scheme will be implemented as soon as it is ready, he said upon being asked when the scheme would take effect.
The proposed National Health Financing Scheme is expected to be based on a community-rated national health insurance scheme, with cost- and risk-sharing across the population.
This means the rich subsidising the poor, the young for the elderly, the healthy for the sick and the employed for the unemployed, he said after launching Kurnia Insurans (M) Bhds MediGUARD Express and MediGUARD policies here yesterday.
Dr Chua, however, declined to provide more details on the scheme except to say that a proposal was submitted to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi six weeks ago and the latter was quite supportive.
The aim is to stem spiralling health costs in the public sector.
He added that the scheme would be affordable, viable, equitable and sustainable apart from providing universal and comprehensive coverage to improve peoples quality of life.
Dr Chua said the scheme was importantbecause the national health budget had increased from RM1bil in 1983 to RM7.6bil last year, adding that the situation was not sustainable in the long run.
Adding on is the changing pattern of diseases in the last few years.
In the early stages, we had people with infectious diseases but now it is because of lifestyle and chronic diseases, he said, adding that cost for treatment was far more expensive than infectious diseases.