PERKESO will launch the Tolak Gula campaign in March 2024 to educate the Malaysian workforce on the main factors that contribute to kidney health issues. – Filepic/The Star

ELEVEN years ago, PERKESO launched the Health Screening Programme (HSP) to safeguard the health of the workforce in Malaysia.

This initiative revealed the true state of their health, with alarming increases in diabetes and hypertension or high blood pressure.

During the first phase of HSP (2013-2021), diabetes was detected in only 10% of workers aged over 40.

After the implementation of HSP 2.0 and HSP 3.0, the statistics surged to 14% in 2022, and by the end of 2023, the situation worsened to 20% – which means one in five workers has diabetes.

Diabetes is a major contributor to chronic kidney disease (CKD), which can progress to end-stage renal disease (ESRD), which is kidney failure with no chance of recovery, leading to premature death.

PERKESO’s Health Screening Programme now also covers comprehensive kidney profile tests, says Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz.PERKESO’s Health Screening Programme now also covers comprehensive kidney profile tests, says Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz.

However, efforts to curb ESRD face time constraints. While kidney transplantation is the most effective method, organs are hard to come by.

The 2022 report from the Malaysian Dialysis and Transplant Registry (MDTR) indicates that only four out of 1,000 dialysis patients received organ transplants in that year – a concerning situation considering the five-year life expectancy of dialysis patients.

With a low prevalence of organ donors, dialysis remains the primary treatment in Malaysia, despite its significant financial impact.

Almost half of the dialysis funding comes from the government, and PERKESO provides an additional 25% allocation to assist dialysis patients in the country.

PERKESO’s expenditure on dialysis has soared from RM1mil in 1999 to RM330mil in 2023, with no sign of easing as it is projected to reach RM500mil by 2030.

Despite support from the government, PERKESO, zakat institutions and non-governmental organisations (NGOs), statistics show that there is a more than 20% gap whereby dialysis patients have to use their personal savings to cover expenses – which can go up to RM65,520 annually for dialysis purposes.

Behind these figures lies the bitter reality faced by the people. Financial constraints for dialysis patients go beyond medication expenses.

Health limitations often hinder their ability to work, leading to potential loss of income and decreased productivity.

To address this issue, PERKESO offers the Illness Pension and Disability Pension. Although according to the law, dialysis benefits are not a service provided by PERKESO, this assistance is necessary to support these ill workers.

Government institutions, including PERKESO, are now at a critical juncture.

On one side, workers grapple with health and financial crises, while on the other side, the increase in ESRD cases raises sustainability issues.

At this stage, PERKESO chooses the proactive health protection path to combat financially burdensome diseases such as CKD.

Tolak Gula campaign

PERKESO supports the National Action Plan for Healthy Kidneys (ACT-KID) 2018-2025, which aims to create a healthier population by reducing diabetes, obesity, and most importantly, kidney disease.

In line with these goals, PERKESO will launch a proactive health prevention programme – the Tolak Gula campaign.

Scheduled to launch in March 2024, this campaign targets the workforce to curb the main factors contributing to kidney health issues.

PERKESO is doubling its efforts in early screening programmes and interventions for high-risk groups.

HSP 3.0, extended through Budget 2024, now covers comprehensive kidney profile tests.

This expansion aims to aid in the early detection of advanced CKD stages, allowing for effective and timely treatment. Through early-stage detection, the decline in kidney function can be reduced by up to 50%.

PERKESO is committed to provide full support to achieve the government’s healthcare goals.

PERKESO not only allocates funding but also invests in creating a healthy workforce, sustainable healthcare management, and social security system sustainability.

In essence, everything revolves around efforts to cultivate a support system for community well-being.

For healthier kidneys and a more united Malaysia!


Group Chief Executive Officer


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