KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 4 — The Health Ministry today defended the abolition of the Malaysian Health Promotion Board (MySihat), amid criticism from former board members of the preventive health body and industry experts.
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said that his ministry is firm in its belief that it needs consolidation and rationalisation of resources, adding that a government programme’s “branding” and name is not pivotal.
“For others to have said (the move to abolish MySihat is) regressive or whatever, it is their right and they are matters of opinion,” Dzulkefly told reporters after opening the First World Congress on Falls and Postural Stability 2019 here.
“If that function can be incorporated within our health education, we are more than happy to consolidate and rationalise our usage of resources.
“The important thing is (the) outcome. Could we even enhance that delivery? That is the challenge. It’s not about insisting on name or branding but more importantly, the work and the outcome.
“How do we get to enhance that (while) rationalising the resources that we use? So that’s where we are coming from.”
The Dewan Rakyat passed earlier today a Bill repealing MySihat, an independent health promotion statutory body.
Former Health Ministry official Dr Zahirah Mohd Zain and National Cancer Society Malaysia medical director Dr M. Murallitharan both said abolishing MySihat was a “regressive” move, and warned of problems in running large-scale health-related activities.
Dr Zahirah also proposed that Malaysia take a leaf out of Thailand’s book: by looking at how the Thailand Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), regarded as a world class body for health promotion, is run.
Parked under the Prime Minister’s Office, ThaiHealth receives funding annually, from two per cent tax that is earmarked from taxes paid by the tobacco and alcohol industries. For comparison, MySihat is a statutory body parked under MOH.
Asked about this proposal, Dzulkefly said he has received such a proposal in the past.
“We’d be more than happy to consider all other ideas,” he added. “I’m a minister that really likes to look at ideas. I would think (of) all ideas that matter.
“I like this kind of contest and dissent because, with this, we will get a lot more ideas.”
Dzulkefly earlier launched and spoke at the falls congress, an inaugural event worldwide that is aimed at raising awareness and bringing together international agencies to address “fall prevention” among older adults.