KUALA LUMPUR, August 9 – A new report from the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the World Health Organization (WHO) reveals that the direct health care costs from diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer in Malaysia exceed RM9.65 billion yearly.
According to “The direct health-care cost of noncommunicable diseases in Malaysia” report by MOH and WHO Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Singapore released today, the RM9.65 billion figure in direct health care costs of the three chronic illnesses was derived from hospitalisations, medical tests, medications, and primary care consultations, based on 2017 data.
“Even without the additional threat posed by Covid-19, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are a significant health burden and public health challenge in our country.
“And while they are not an acute emergency or rapidly-moving infectious disease, they are equally devastating to individuals, societies and economies,” Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a joint press release today with Dr Rabindra Abeyasinghe, WHO representative to Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Singapore.
NCDs are the main cause of death and disability in Malaysia. According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019, it is estimated that one in five adult Malaysians are living with diabetes, one-third are living with hypertension, and half are overweight or obese.
“The problem of NCDs in Malaysia is also compounded by the fact that the country has a rapidly ageing population, in which the failure to address adequately the challenge of NCDs could significantly impact health care costs and economic well-being of the community,” Dr Rabindra said in the press release.
Secured data in the MOH-WHO report was largely restricted to the public health care sector, with extrapolations to the private sector based on assumptions. Generally, raw data was only available for MOH facilities.
“While the cost estimates are based on the best available data, they no doubt underestimate the real cost of the direct health care costs associated with NCDs in Malaysia,” said the MOH-WHO press release.
The new report noted that coupled with lost productivity costs, the combined annual cost burden of diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and cancer was estimated at RM22.5 billion.
Malaysia is expected to reach the status of an aged nation by 2030, with people over the age of 65 making up more than 14 per cent of the population.
With an ageing population and more people expected to live with NCDs in the long term, MOH and WHO estimated an increase in the health and economic burden from chronic conditions over time.
“Increasing awareness about NCDs and their management among the general population and those at risk now will contribute to increased longevity and healthy ageing of Malaysians through a reduction of premature mortality due to NCDs and their complications” said Dr Rabindra.