The Malaysian Health Coalition is disappointed with a mere 4.3% increase in the overall allocation for the Health Ministry (MOH) in Budget 2021, setting aside the additional non-MOH allocations in the Covid-19 Fund.
This increase is insufficient during a great pandemic, and we note that this Budget did not come close our proposed target of 4% of national GDP (as stated on 2 November 2020).
We urge the following:
Increase health allocation
We reiterate our call to raise the health allocation to close to 4% of the national GDP. We urge Members of Parliament from all parties to rally behind this call. There must be a higher allocation to manage non-Covid-19 care such as non-communicable diseases (NCD), mental health and preventive care, as well as public health systems.
We are especially disappointed that there was no mention of more permanent posts for frontline health professionals who are currently on contract. This Budget must address these issues.
Clarify the breakdown of expenditure
The Finance Minister has clarified on 7 November 2020 that RM4.29 billion of spending was reclassified under Code 080000 (Specific Programs). There is also a large increase in the Services & Supplies spending in the Development Expenditure category.
However, there is no breakdown by medical discipline or service. In both cases, the government must provide a clear breakdown by category, as transparency will ensure no inefficiencies, leakages or wastage. The government must also clarify whether the boost in Development Expenditure will strengthen much-needed health care access in rural areas, Sabah and Sarawak.
Provide a big-picture strategy
Budget 2021 must demonstrate a big picture long-term strategy, rather than a collection of temporary fixes. This pandemic is an opportunity to reform our health care system and strengthen it for future generations.
We urge the government to adopt long-term, durable policies toward sustainable health care financing, establishing oversight mechanisms, and public-private partnerships.
Malaysia’s public health care system has protected the rakyat during the pandemic, despite years of underinvestment. It is time to over-invest in our health system to strengthen it for future generations.
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