KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7 – Khairy Jamaluddin has pinned hopes on the Health White Paper Advisory Council and Ministry of Health (MOH) bureaucrats to continue work on health care reform, in the event he doesn’t get reappointed as health minister after the 15th general election.
Khairy, who may not be fielded by Umno to defend his Rembau parliamentary seat, said every minister should emphasise on “business continuity” in case Parliament is dissolved, though he noted that civil servants were more than well-equipped and capable of running the show between governments.
“But for signature projects like the Health White Paper, I’ve asked the advisory council and also the senior management at KKM (Ministry of Health) to brief the new minister to ensure that there is buy-in from the minister.
“And that is the other reason why I also want to table it in Parliament – so that there will be a strong likelihood that, whoever the new minister is, it will already be in Parliament, or be represented by a party in Parliament so that he or she will feel that it’s important enough to continue,” Khairy told reporters today, after officiating a conference jointly organised by the International Generic and Biosimilar Medicines Association (IGBA) and the Malaysian Organisation of Pharmaceutical Industries (MOPI).
Khairy, however, may not be able to table the Health White Paper by year-end as scheduled if Parliament is dissolved and the 15th general election is held within the next few months.
The tabling of Budget 2023 was brought forward by three weeks to October 7, just a month away.
Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz reportedly said yesterday that the new elected government may decide whether to re-table the federal budget. This indicates that Parliament could be dissolved immediately after Budget 2023 is tabled, without debate and passage by the current 14th Parliament.
During his 30-minute keynote address at the IGBA-MOPI conference, Khairy outlined ambitious plans in the Health White Paper, aimed at reforming the country’s health care system, that included setting new public health metrics, adopting a preventive health care approach, getting 10 million Malaysians to be healthy in 10 years, and implementing electronic medical records.
Khairy said his “big agenda” as a “second-term” health minister would be to introduce a drug pricing transparency mechanism.
“We want to make sure that we give legions affordable access to medicines, and this will be a big agenda of mine in my second year as the Minister of Health.”
He cited the MOH’s success in bringing Hepatitis C treatment prices down from RM330,000 per course to RM1,000 by invoking the World Trade Organization’s TRIPS Agreement.
Khairy also spoke about utilising all health care assets and resources in both public and private health care settings to deliver affordable and better quality of care nationwide.
“Seventy per cent of outpatients come to public hospitals, yet 70 per cent of our specialists are in private hospitals. Public hospitals’ bed occupancy rates in some of the biggest hospitals are at 80, 90 to 100 per cent. Private hospitals have a much lower bed occupancy rate.
“We need to see how we can utilise both sectors in order to deliver on health care which is still affordable and can provide better quality of care for the people of Malaysia,” he said.
Building on Malaysia’s successful Covid vaccination efforts, Khairy said reform efforts could also see community pharmacists deliver vaccines in the future, in addition to private general practitioner (GP) clinics.