Zaliha to reform healthcare

PETALING JAYA: It is time to focus on giving back healthcare services after Covid-19 has been at the forefront in the last two years, says newly minted Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.

She said she will turn to Pakatan Harapan’s manifesto to work on reforming healthcare services and also look into placements for contract doctors.

“Of course, the immediate thing we have to do is from the manifesto,” she said.

Dr Zaliha said there was a slew of areas she would be looking into, including administration of the health ministry, infrastructure, health services and hospital services.

“That’s a lot of things,” the Sekijang MP from PKR told The Star.

In the 15th General Election, Pakatan’s manifesto included increasing public healthcare expenditure to 5% of the gross domestic product (GDP) in five years, mitigating the rise of non-communicable diseases (NCD) by focusing on primary care, health screening, education, welfare, public health, and reduction of harmful habits, setting up a health commission, as well as a national health services commission.

The coalition also promised service delivery reform, safeguarding the welfare of doctors and healthcare staff, expanding MySalam coverage, expanding the Peka B40 scheme to M40, addressing issues related to the ageing nation, suicide decriminalisation and mental health protection.

When asked to comment on NCD, Dr Zaliha said the matter had yet to be looked into in a more holistic manner.

“I have a briefing with the Health Ministry (today). I need all the statistics to be (presented) to me (before I can look into) the causes of NCDs.

“I know there is basis (to concerns over NCDs), but we have to really look into the matter deeply,” she said.

The Health Minister also emphasised the importance of wellness and prevention medicine.

Dr Zaliha has carved history after being the first woman to be appointed as Health Minister.

A medical doctor, she hopes her experience will come in handy in her new role, adding that Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim has heeded calls from the medical fraternity to appoint a medical professional as minister.

“Of course, the hope is that as a medical practitioner, I will understand better what the issues and things that we need to improve in the ministry are,” she said.

Dr Zaliha was among 27 ministers who were sworn in on Saturday.

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