KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia plans to overcome the challenges of achieving universal health coverage (UHC), says Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
The Health Minister said this will be done by focussing on implementing Enhanced Primary Health Care programmes that will address increasing non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and mental health cases.
He also said the government was committed to achieving UHC especially for the vulnerable and underserved people within the population and this would be done through the Peka B40 programme for the low income group.
"This segment of the population needs to be treated with respect because access to health is a fundamental human right.
"Malaysia shall continue to do whatever it takes to deliver high quality healthcare to all its people, and to reach out to each one of them.
"We recognise that UHC is about equity and access to healthcare services for all, without them incurring catastrophic financial hardship," he said when giving his country remark at the 72nd World Health Assembly in Geneva Tuesday (May 21). The assembly is currently ongoing, from May 20 to 28.
Dr Dzulkefly said that the 2017 Global Monitoring Report on Tracking Universal Health Coverage showed that Malaysia scored 70% in the UHC service coverage index.
However, its out of pocket (OOP) expenditure stood at 38% in 2018 although the WHO recommends that the OOP expenditure should be at around 20%, he said.
He said the government will also strengthen public-private partnership with the establishing of the Health Advisory Council, which comprises eminent individuals including, but not limited to, the private medical fraternity.
"We will also address the sustainability of the existing health financing system, which is predominantly tax-based," he said.
Dr Dzulkefly said Malaysia will also enhance data quality and carry out data analytics on the available health indicators by utilising its centralised data storage system, MyHealth Data Warehouse (MyHDW).
Among the challenges that Malaysia faced in order to sustain UHC were the increasing disease burden involving communicable diseases (CDs) and NCDs, emerging ageing population and increasing workload in public facilities, said Dr Dzulkefly.
This is made more difficult with scarcity of financial and human resource which hamper efficient delivery, he added.
"Malaysia also faces continuous maintenance of health facilites, equipments and ICT infrastructure and the lack of capacity to monitor and evaluate the implementation of UHC," he said.
However, Dr Dzulkefly said that “leaving no one behind” has been the core of the government's policy-making.
The Sustainable Development Goals have been prioritised across the ministries in Malaysia and they are seriously looking at ways to help the people further, he said.