The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy welcomes the appointment of Khairy Jamaluddin as Malaysia’s 23rd health minister.
Khairy Jamaluddin’s appointment and the return of Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali and Aaron Ago Dagang as deputy health ministers come at a particularly crucial time for Malaysia. This is a make-or-break moment.
Due to the ongoing and increasing threat of the Covid-19 pandemic which has placed unprecedented strain, disruption and burden on the public health care system, it will take courage, firm and decisive leadership, and sustained commitment to maintain existing efforts to deal with both Covid-19 and non-Covid issues affecting the health and wellbeing of Malaysians.
We look forward to Khairy to bring the same focus and determination to succeed that he brought to the Covid-19 vaccination effort, and to address some of the complex and myriad issues which confront Malaysian health care.
For now, we would like to call on Khairy to support the following two points:
- Commit to strengthening Covid-19 public health measures into 2022, including surveillance and vaccination, to minimise local transmission of cases and deaths due to the disease, providing the health care workforce with necessary support and funding, and ensuring that infectious disease prevention and control continue to be a priority for health security beyond this current pandemic.
- Immediately review and address concerns related to non-Covid-19 related disease services such as cancer which have been severely disrupted during this public health emergency, causing missed opportunities to treat diseases earlier, the condition of patients to deteriorate, and the threat of premature death.
The gaps in the health service delivery and infrastructure in East Malaysia have been starkly revealed during this past 18 months. Sabah, in particular, needs urgent attention, especially with the deteriorating Covid-19 situation. Sabah is now at code blue, and needs the minister’s immediate attention.
With the support of our public and private health care professionals, we urge Khairy to consult widely with different government and non-government stakeholders, as he did in helming the vaccination effort.
Many of the decisions that need to be made, especially those concerning health financing reforms and contract doctors, are not popular, but they are long overdue.
Decisions and policies should be evidence-based but also guided by the ground realities, lived experiences, and the expertise of Malaysians who have worked in, accessed, been treated and cared for by the Malaysian health care system.
There is a wealth of knowledge and experience that is available to Khairy to tap into.
We hope the minister and his colleagues will be steadfast in their resolve to protect the health of all who make up this big Malaysian family.
Azrul Mohd Khalib is CEO of the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.