Malaysia’s spending on healthcare falls short, says Khairy

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry is asking for public health expenditure to be increased to 5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) to ensure Malaysia has a world-standard public health system in the future, says its minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said for an upper middle-income country, the benchmark for public health expenditure is between 4% and 5% of the GDP.

Nonetheless, Malaysia, he said was only allocating 2.59% of its GDP for public health expenditure, thus causing many to complain of the long wait to get services such as magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) or computed tomography (CT) scans in government hospitals.

“I know all ministries are also seeking allocations from the Prime Minister and all ministries are equally important, but some ministries are more important than other ministries.

“As George Orwell said in his book (Animal Farm), ‘all animals are equal, but some animals are more equal than others’, and in the same spirit, the ministry is created more equal than others as our core business is about the life and death of the people.

“Just one figure I need the Prime Minister to remember is five.

“Not RM5bil, not RM5mil, but 5% of our country’s GDP,” he said at the opening the 2022 Health Policy Summit here yesterday, reported Bernama.

The conference themed “Future of Health Services Through the Development of Health White Paper” was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

Meanwhile, Khairy said all policies and programmes benefiting the people in the long run were not affected even though there was talk of an impending general election.

This was because, he added, in the one year of Ismail Sabri’s administration, much had been achieved by the government, including the success in controlling the Covid-19 pandemic as well as the formulation of several laws seen as crucial for future generations.

Among them are the Anti-Sexual Harassment Bill 2021 which was recently passed after being in the draft stage for more than 10 years, as well as the Anti-Party Hopping Bill which would see stability and integrity in politics.

“In the field of health, the Prime Minister had also given support to me to bring the Control of Tobacco Products and Smoking Control Bill 2022 as well as consenting to table a White Paper on Health to transform the country’s health system.

“Even though we were the government for not a very long time, we have succeeded in bringing long far-reaching reforms,” said Khairy.

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