Health White Paper should be Malaysia's collective statement on health reforms, says KJ

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health White Paper which is expected to be tabled in Parliament in November should be the country's collective statement of intent on how it can make the health system more sustainable and resilient through a "whole of government” and "whole of society” mindset, says Khairy Jamaluddin.

The Health Minister said the Covid-19 pandemic had brought into sharp focus the need for healthcare reforms, where never before had the interdependence of health, finance and the social fabric been so visible and the demand for healthcare reforms been more apparent for the health and social needs of the people.

"Our direction and principles for healthcare reform in the Health White Paper should reflect these imperatives. We should not let the lessons and opportunities of the Covid-19 pandemic pass us by,” he said in his keynote address titled "The Need For Healthcare Reform” at the Health Policy Summit 2022 here on Monday (Aug 15).

Khairy said to ensure the plans for reforms are themselves future-proof and critically will outlast any incumbent minister, bipartisan support for the proposed reforms within the Health White Paper is also critical, as there will still be many details and plans of action that would need to be worked out in the immediate coming years.

"I hope that we will all play a part in supporting its tabling to Parliament at the end of this year. Your agreement and the agreement of Members of Parliament (MPs) are vital to secure the broad principles and direction of structural reforms for Malaysia's health system.

"Not only would this cement the moral and political position for the next 15 years of proposed reforms, but in a larger sense, it would also symbolise our solidarity for a future-proof healthcare system, no matter who is the Health Minister or which party is in power,” he added.

To further secure the reforms, Khairy said the Health White Paper will also propose a Health Reform Commission to independently monitor, advise and report on the status of implementation to the government, Parliament, and the people.

"I will also appoint a Health White Paper Advisory Council, comprising 13 diverse subject matter experts, to lend their assistance in challenging and refining our policy priorities.

"There have been several good inputs from many parties and channels, and I thank everyone who has taken the time to give their considered views,” said Khairy.

He further said it was important to ensure the Health White Paper focused on the most fundamental reforms to address major systemic and structural challenges faced by the healthcare system rather than a specific disease or an individual demographic group.

Following the development of the Health White Paper, Khairy also said the government was considering gradually increasing the healthcare budget up to targeted levels over a number of years while working out funding structures to make the system more sustainable and progressive.

"As Health Minister who is committed to healthcare as a public good, I want to increase the annual budgetary allocation for public healthcare to five per cent of gross domestic product (GDP) over the next few years. And that increase must be ring-fenced in every subsequent budget,” he said.- Bernama

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