KUALA LUMPUR, August 5 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) has expanded its Peka B40 screening programme to poor Malaysians aged 40 and above after hitting only 5 per cent of its target.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said the RM100 million Peka B40 health screening pilot project for the bottom 40 per cent of income earners (B40), which initially covered those aged 50 and above, has so far screened only 40,119 people, just 5 per cent of this year’s target of 800,000.
“To finish up our allocation, we have decided in a post-Cabinet meeting to reduce the screening age to 40.
“With that, we will get to cover a younger age, 40 and above, so we hope we can get double or triple [the number of screenings] for the next four to five months until the end of the year, so that we can finish our RM100 million,” Dzulkefly told a press conference after launching a “Kampungku Sihat” (Healthy Village) programme in Temerloh, Pahang, yesterday.
Dzulkefly said 69 per cent of Peka B40 screenings were done at private general practitioner (GP) clinics, with the remaining 31 per cent at public health clinics.
The highest number of Peka B40 screenings was conducted at Sarawak with 9,852 people, followed by Kedah (6,324), Penang (4,582) and Perak (4,209), Bernama reported.
When asked if the government would make it mandatory for workers to undergo the health screening, Dzulkefly said regulation would not succeed if people did not have self-awareness.
“I can do this and that prohibition,” he said. “But what’s important is that people are aware that taking care of their health is their own responsibility, and the responsibility of the heads of household, the mother and father.”
The Peka B40 pilot programme, which was launched last April, provides free health screenings like blood and urine tests to check blood sugar and cholesterol levels, as well as breast and prostate exams for women and men; aid to purchase medical devices; incentives to complete cancer treatment at MOH hospitals; and transport aid to get treatment at MOH hospitals.
Peka B40 — which is run by ProtectHealth Corporation, a non-profit run by MOH — was wracked with problems from the start when private GPs were initially reluctant to join the programme because the payments offered by the government were too low.
Physician groups had also told MOH that other government agencies provided similar health screenings, like the Social Security Organisation (Socso), but over two million screening vouchers by Socso were left unused.