KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 — The Health Ministry’s public health allocation increased significantly by RM224.5 million from some RM5 billion this year to RM5.2 billion for 2022, as Malaysia continues to battle Covid-19 and chronic diseases.
The 4.5 per cent budget raise for the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) public health programme exceeded the marginal 2.9 per cent increase for the ministry’s medical programme that provides curative care for various diseases.
According to the Estimated Federal Expenditure 2022 document, allocations for health education and disease control under MOH’s public health programme increased by 26.6 per cent and 11.6 per cent respectively for next year.
The budget for health education was raised from about RM48 million to RM60.8 million, whereas the budget for disease control rose from RM835.7 million to RM932.4 million.
MOH’s family health development allocation under the public health programme increased slightly by 2.7 per cent, or RM93 million, from RM3.4 billion this year to RM3.5 billion for 2022.
MOH Maintains Consolidated Allocation For Treatments
MOH’s medical programme saw a minimal 2.85 per cent increase in allocation from RM11.3 billion in 2021 to RM11.6 billion for 2022.
The ministry retained its practice from 2021 in not allocating specific treatment budgets for most medical services for next year by consolidating allocations instead under Specific Programmes.
The allocation for health facilities’ medical supplies under Specific Programmes increased by about 4 per cent from RM2.89 billion in 2021 to some RM3 billion for 2022.
MOH allocated specific treatment allocations only for cancer, nutrition, mental health, blood transfusion medicine, and rehabilitation and traditional and complementary medicine in Budget 2022.
Under services and supplies, these specialties saw a minimal rise of approximately 0.1 per cent to eight per cent. Radiotherapy and oncology treatment received a specific allocation of RM21.02 million for 2022, just an increase of RM22,000 from RM20.998 million in 2021. For Budget 2020, radiotherapy and oncology received RM216.9 million under services and supplies.
Specific treatment allocations under Budget 2022 rose by 7.87 per cent for dietetics and meals, 6.48 per cent for psychiatry and mental health, 3.64 per cent for blood transfusion medicine, and 1.39 per cent for rehabilitation medicine and traditional and complementary medicine.
All other disease programmes did not receive any specific allocations for services and supplies, with their budgets only specified for staff emoluments.
Overall allocations for various clinical specialties under MOH’s medical programme were increased between 0.26 per cent and 7.59 per cent, except neurosurgery and plastic surgery that were the only specialties to get minor budget cuts of 0.21 per cent and 0.20 per cent respectively.
Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said the lack of particular allocations for curative services was problematic, as a consolidated budget would prevent analysts, stakeholders, and MPs from knowing how much exactly has been allocated for the treatment and care of various diseases, such as cancer, chronic kidney disease, and cardiovascular conditions.
Cuts For Research And Technical Support, Overseas Assignments
MOH’s allocation for research and technical support decreased by 12.5 per cent from RM411.8 million this year to RM360.5 million for 2022.
The budget for services and supplies for MOH’s research and technical support programme was cut 40.3 per cent from RM235 million in 2021 to RM140.2 million for next year.
MOH’s allocation for engineering and monitoring of medical radiation under the research and technical support programme declined by 25 per cent from RM232.7 million in 2021 to RM174.7 million for 2022.
The budget for research under the research and technical support programme, however, was raised marginally by 3.2 per cent from RM146.9 million in 2021 to RM151.6 million for 2022.
Under Specific Programmes, the allocation for assignments abroad was cut from RM800,000 to RM500,000. The Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council’s (MHTC) budget was reduced from RM20 million to RM15 million.
Peka B40, the government’s health screening programme, saw its budget remain the same at RM80 million.
Same Budgets For Most Teaching Hospitals
Allocations for teaching hospitals under the Higher Education Ministry’s 2022 budget showed an increase for only two of seven university hospitals nationwide — UKM Specialist Children’s Hospital (HPKK) and MARA Technology University Hospital (HUiTM).
These two new teaching hospitals saw a rise of 160.5 per cent and 39.4 per cent in their allocations of RM55.6 million and RM73.7 million respectively for next year, compared to 2021.
Other teaching hospitals — University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), National University Medical Centre (PPUKM), University of Sains Malaysia Hospital (HUSM), International Islamic University Hospital (HUIAM), and Universiti Putra Malaysia’s teaching hospital (HPUPM) — saw no changes in their allocations under Budget 2022.
University hospitals like UMMC provide new targeted therapies for cancer.
Minimal 1.5% Raise In MOH’s Overall Budget
Even as the country is still struggling with Covid-19 pandemic and its effects, MOH’s overall 2022 budget of RM32.4 billion was minimally increased by 1.5 per cent compared to RM31.9 billion in Budget 2021.
Covid-19 pandemic has impacted Malaysia’s health care system with delayed screenings for non-communicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes, as well as a huge backlog of over 59,000 surgeries.
That will lead to an increase in health care costs across the board due to more complicated cases to treat.
Azrul said the 1.5 per cent increase in MOH’s annual budget was arguably the smallest increment in over a decade.
Correction: This article was corrected to specify that plastic surgery had also received a budget cut under MOH’s medical programme, besides neurosurgery.