KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 6 – At the first town hall on the Health White Paper (HWP) in Kuching, Sarawak, Khairy Jamaluddin acknowledged concerns over the lack of representation on the HWP Advisory Council.
Sarawakian doctors, pharmacists, and cancer organisations at the town hall session in Sarawak General Hospital yesterday highlighted the absence of representatives from Sarawak and Sabah, pharmacists, as well as patient groups from the 13-member HWP Advisory Council that mostly comprises medical doctors.
“On the Advisory Council, yes I heard some comments there could be better representation; we’ll certainly take that on board,” Khairy told the town hall in response.
“But I’ve also asked the Advisory Council for the White Paper to create working groups, where working groups will engage in depth with different stakeholders. There was never an intention to appoint different professions on the Advisory Council, then it’ll be too much.
“I understand the concerns with geographical representation from Sarawak, Sabah; major professional representation from pharmacists. We’ll definitely take that on board and we’ll discuss that with the co-chair of the Advisory Council.”
The HWP Advisory Council is co-chaired by former Health Minister Dr S. Subramaniam and former Employees Provident Fund (EPF) CEO Shahril Ridza Ridzuan. Ten of the council’s 13 members are MDs.
Dr Ong Eng-Joe from the Sarawak Malaysian Medical Association and the Sarawak Private Medical Practitioners Society told Khairy during the Q&A session at the town hall that public health professor and epidemiologist from Universiti Malaysia Sarawak, Prof Dr Andrew Kiyu, is very well qualified to be a member of the HWP advisory council.
“It’s laudable to have the White Paper with a very distinguished Advisory Council, but it would be more laudable if, YB, you can include at least one representative from Sarawak and one representative from Sabah.”
Sarawak Pharmacists Society president Susan Tang called for the HWP Advisory Council to include a pharmacist, recommending Sarawak Pharmacists Society advisor and Pharmacy Board Malaysia member Wong Sie Sing.
“There’s no representation for pharmacists, which is part of health partnership in Malaysia. We’re not represented. We need some pharmacists in the advisory board,” she told the town hall.
Society of Cancer Advocacy and Awareness Kuching president Chris Cheng, who is a cancer survivor, noted the lack of patient representation in the HWP Advisory Council.
“There are plenty of patient organisations out there; the voices of the patients need to be heard,” he told the town hall.
“Here, most are academics, most are doctors, but I don’t think there’s many patients here.”
Previously, the Malaysian Pharmacists Society, the Consumers Association of Penang, and the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia complained about the lack of pharmacists, patient and consumer groups, and health care financial experts on the HWP Advisory Council.
“Before I bring this to Parliament, I want this White Paper to go through extensive stakeholder engagement. I’m proud that the first town hall is right here in Kuching, Sarawak,” Khairy said during the two-hour town hall session yesterday.