Health Minister to oversee public health issues, healthcare services and facilities

First-term MP Dr Zaliha Mustafa was at a loss for words when she first learnt that she would be made Health Minister.

JOHOR BARU: First-term MP Dr Zaliha Mustafa was at a loss for words when she first learnt that she would be made Health Minister as part of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s Cabinet line-up.

However, the Sekijang MP from PKR said that after getting over her initial surprise, she knew she had a tough road ahead of her to helm such an “important and huge portfolio.”

“I am deeply honoured to be appointed and I know that it was done after much deliberation and Datuk Seri’s (Anwar) meeting with the health community, in which they suggested that the ministry should be headed by a healthcare professional.

“This is understandable, as the practitioners want someone who is aware of the needs and issues faced by the healthcare sector.

“I have a big challenge ahead to not only look into public health issues but also healthcare services, facilities and the runnings of the entire public health system,” she told The Star on Saturday (Dec 3), a day after Anwar announced his Cabinet line-up.

Dr Zaliha, a Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia medical graduate, also served as a political secretary to former deputy prime minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail during the Pakatan Harapan administration.

Aside from addressing the issue of contract healthcare workers and looking at reforms for the welfare of healthcare workers as outlined in Pakatan’s 15th General Election manifesto, the 58-year-old said she aims to look into the healthcare of women and children.

“I went on a few trips when working alongside Dr Wan Azizah during the previous administration and a visit to Qatar’s special women and children’s hospital left a deep impression on me and I want to look at the feasibility of such a facility in Malaysia.

“The past three years had been focused around the Covid-19 pandemic. Moving forward, as a minister, I want to re-examine the daily runnings of the ministry and also tackle issues that have been overlooked such as promoting a healthy lifestyle and mental wellness among the rakyat,” said the mother of four.

Meanwhile, it will be Domestic Trade and Cost of Living Minister Datuk Seri Salahuddin Ayub’s second stint in the Cabinet as he previously served as Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister during Pakatan’s 22 months in government.

The Pulai MP and Parti Amanah Negara deputy president said he was thankful for another chance to serve the people as a Cabinet minister.

“This is a unity government and a lot of cooperation is surely needed to uphold the people’s aspirations and boost the country’s economy.

“I am ready to take on my new role to ensure a more sustainable cost of living and welfare for the people,” he said in a Facebook post.

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