I’VE been in government service for slightly over a year now and the news that the critical allowance will be abolished for future intakes deeply bothers me. The allowance was introduced as a measure to keep the cream of the crop in service and to prevent brain drain. For us civil servants the critical allowance makes up approximately 15% of our take-home salary, so I am not particularly sure that abolishing the only incentive we have to continue serving the people would be in the healthcare industry’s best interest.
If we are looking for ways to tighten the budget where healthcare is concerned perhaps a revision of our national healthcare system is in order. The universal health care system that we have implemented has been our source of pride and joy over the years, irrespective of the political turmoil, simply because it has enabled healthcare to be easily accessible to even the poorest of Malaysians. Medications, procedures, consultations are at everybody’s disposal at a meagre cost of RM1.
As altruistic as its purpose was when it started out, I think the wear and tear of such a system on a country once on the brink of bankruptcy is beginning to show. I discharge patients daily with medication that most cannot afford if the government did not subsidise it. It’s not just medication, it includes services too, such as physiotherapy, occupational therapy and many other ancillary services that would cost the common man an arm and a leg. This has created a sense of complacency and a lack of responsibility towards their own health. Why should they care? They are not paying a dime for it. Many do not take their medication, go for follow ups, ignore medical advice and ultimately end up in the system again with complications, further adding to the economic burden on the healthcare system.
Preventive campaigns have been launched but it is time for a more rigorous approach to combat the ever increasing cost of the healthcare system. Start charging our patients a higher fee for medication and services, make them accountable for their own health. Not only will we see a reduction in complications, it will reduce the financial burden on our system as well. It is about time we came up with a long-term solution to our budget woes.
Abolishing the critical allowance is not only damaging to the morale of civil servants, it is also an ineffective short-term measure with dire long-term complications. Do not punish the very men and women who give their heart and soul to this system.
THANUJA A/P SUBRAMANIAM
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