KUALA LUMPUR, June 5 — Muhyiddin Yassin today announced an additional RM50 million allocation for the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) Peka B40 health screening programme, amid a rise in non-communicable diseases (NCDs).
“The Peka B40 scheme will be strengthened with an additional allocation of RM50 million to finance health screening and medical equipment facilities,” the prime minister told a national broadcast on his National Economic Recovery Plan (Penjana).
The recently released National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019 by MOH showed a disturbing rise in NCDs, with the prevalence rate for diabetes among adults increasing from 13.4 per cent in 2015 to 18.3 per cent in 2019. An estimated 3.9 million adults in Malaysia had diabetes as of last year.
The public health survey also found that about 8.1 per cent of the adult population in Malaysia, or 1.7 million people, have all three risk factors for diabetes, hypertension, and high cholesterol.
The Peka B40 programme was created by the previous Pakatan Harapan administration to reduce NCDs in the low-income group, where eligible recipients aged 40 and above — an estimated 800,000 Malaysians — can get free health screenings at participating private clinics and public health clinics to identify the types of diseases, treatments, and medical devices that they can receive.
The screenings include mental health, breast and prostate clinical examinations — if needed — while laboratory examinations include blood and urine tests for diabetes, cholesterol levels, and kidney function. Peka B40 also gives recipients a maximum RM20,000 value of medical equipment like stents for the heart or hearing aids.
The programme provides a transport cash incentive of RM500 and RM1,000 respectively for travel to MOH hospitals in the peninsula and East Malaysia, as well as RM1,000 cash for cancer patients to complete treatment at MOH hospitals.
In Budget 2019, the government allocated an initial sum of RM100 million for the scheme.
Private general practitioners (GPs) earlier this year advocated for higher pay from Peka B40 to join the programme, currently set at RM40 for patients’ first visit to conduct a health screening and RM20 for the follow-up visit.
They also criticised the lack of payment to cover the cost of treatment at private clinics should the health screening pick up any problems, as GPs are told to refer their patients to public facilities instead.
According to January MOH data, Sarawak, Kedah, Penang, Perak and Sabah were the top five states with the greatest number of health screenings under Peka B40.
As of last December 3, 188,800 screenings have been done nationwide at both private and public clinics under Peka B40, while a total of 2,483 clinics have registered with the programme, comprising 1,589 GP clinics and 894 Klinik Kesihatan.