THE Malaysian Society of Ophthalmology (MSO) is the professional organisation representing eye doctors in Malaysia.
Cataract surgery is the most commonly performed surgery in Malaysia and is highly effective at restoring eyesight to patients.
When the cataract has been removed, an artificial intraocular lens (IOL) is put in the eye to replace the cataract.
The use of an IOL ensures good vision after the surgery.
The MSO is most concerned to learn that IOLs and related devices and drugs like viscoelastics and eye drops used in cataract surgery will be subject to the GST effective April 1, 2015.
This will greatly increase the cost of cataract surgery in both the government and private health sectors.
In the Fourth Report of the National Eye Database 2011, it was estimated that 30,611 cataract operations a year were done in government hospitals.
An additional 30,000 cataract operations a year are estimated to be done in the teaching hospitals and private sector.
The average cost of an IOL is RM500. If the GST is added to the cost of the IOL, this would cost the consumers about RM2mil a year. This is in addition to other GST charges of medications and consumable devices used in cataract surgery. This increased cost of cataract surgery will be burden to our ageing population.
Glaucoma is the most common cause of permanent visual loss and is preventable through early detection and treatment.
Patients have to use eye drops daily to lower eye pressure. The GST will also be charged to such essential medicines for glaucoma patients.
The MSO hopes that the Health Ministry will be able to address our concerns with the Finance Ministry regarding these issues.
According to the Association of Malaysian Medical Industries (AMMI), more than 85% of medical devices in Malaysia are directly imported.
We hope that IOLs and all related medical devices, and medicines, will be made GST zero-rated to reduce the burden of healthcare on the population.
Such medical devices and medications are sight–saving and should not be subject to the GST.
DR FANG SENG KHEONG
Malaysian Society of Ophthalmology
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