Ministry eyes health financing system revamp

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia is expected to see a revamped health financing system if the Cabinet approves the healthcare reform proposal by the Health Ministry.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (pic) said he planned to bring the Sihat Bersama (Health Together) 2030 proposal to the Cabinet before the end of this month.

A sustainable health financing system, public sector transformation through corporatisation and private sector regulatory reform are the three pillars outlined in Sihat Bersama 2030, a plan to transform the healthcare system.

“Unless you have the health financing system in place, there’s no point in bringing reform in the government and private sector, ” Dzulkefly said in an interview with The Star.He said Sihat Bersama 2030, which is the health sector’s version of the Shared Prosperity Vision 2030, would enhance existing healthcare services and address issues such as the lack of funds, long waiting period, lack of medical staff, the burden of non-communicable diseases and an ageing population. “It is a comprehensive plan that will address the health systems and healthcare delivery issues in the country, ” Dzulkefly added.

He said the purpose of the healthcare financing reform was twofold – to increase pooled and prepaid health financing in a sustainable, diversified manner that is equitable and affordable for households and employers, and to establish a well-governed health financing institution.

If approved by the Cabinet, a task force would be set up to look into implementation studies and communication strategies, he said.

Asked when the ministry would provide the details for public feedback, he said this would happen once the proposal was approved by the Cabinet.Meanwhile, corporatisation is expected to transform the public sector to become more empowered, agile and responsive.

In Sihat Bersama 2030, the electronic medical record (EMR) system that stores the records of patients in public health facilities nationwide would be introduced nationwide to cut down waiting times and enhance patient care and population health, he said.

He said the EMR would be made accessible to private medical centres too, and could be used for research and decision-making on public health issues, and that the ministry would request proposals from the private sector to undertake the project this year.

Meanwhile, the price control mechanism and pool procurement of medicine would be rolled out by mid-year, he said.

On other measures this year, Dzulkefly said housemanship training would be reduced from 24 months to 18 months, and there would be five postings for training instead of six.He also hoped to address service delivery issues such as reducing the waiting time and congestion in public health facilities by setting up 20 clinics, having more clinics with extended hours and expanding the use of e-registration and e-wallet payments.

The government will also increase the number of virtual clinics from the current five, while selected follow-up cases could use the virtual clinics manned by the same doctors. On the concern over polio, the ministry has discussed with its Filipino counterpart about addressing the issue of stateless children in Sabah and the Philippines has agreed to fund polio vaccination of the children, with Unicef providing the cheaper vaccine that will be administered by NGOs.

The ministry has put in place a real-time surveillance dashboard to monitor disease outbreaks, hotspots, as well as facilities and doctors available.

When needed, district health officers would go to the ground to immunise the population at the hotspots, Dzulkefly added.

As mentioned in the Budget 2020 announcement, pneumococcal vaccination will be rolled out this year, though no specific date has been set.

Meanwhile, the government will also expand the Skim Peduli Kesihatan (Peka B40) coverage to include individuals aged 40 and above from the low-income (B40) group.

Peka B40 provides health screenings and early intervention for non-communicable diseases such as cancer and mental health problems, and currently covers those aged 50 to 60.

A National Strategic Action Plan on Mental Health (2020-2025) will also be launched this year.

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