The health care scene is awash with news about the proposed Health White Paper that the Health Minister is working on to get tabled at the next parliamentary session.
Why the need for a White Paper with a vision to reform the health system of our country?
We have been aware for many years that the current health system is aging and will not be able to withstand the onslaught of modern society.
Despite many efforts by some to take up the agenda of reform, they all failed, the latest being the proposed 1Care for 1Malaysia in 2009/ 2010, which got severe backlash from the public as well as the medical fraternity.
We have been doing reasonably well all these years with a rather low health care spending, which is remarkable, but there have been glaring inadequacies which were unfortunately or fortunately exposed during the Covid-19 pandemic.
This was the impetus that we were all looking for to bring the subject of reform to the health system up for public discussion.
What failed us in the previous multiple attempts to bring up the subject of reform is that everyone was comfortable with the status quo. Avenues to engage the whole of society were also limited, unlike now where almost everyone has access to information technology.
Added to this is the fact that there is increasing health literacy of the people, again brought on by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Reform of health care is a political landmine where many politicians fear to tread and having a politician willing to bite the bullet is hard to come by. MMA recognises this and is appreciative of the efforts of the current health minister to come up with the White Paper on health.
The Health White Paper needs bipartisan support to ensure that it is accepted during its tabling in the next parliamentary session. Having a whole of society support needs no mention as the country will benefit from a reform of the health system.
Personally, being an advocate of health equity for all whereby everyone must have equal access to quality health care without the Sword of Damocles in the form of catastrophic financial implications hanging over them, I am optimistic that this time, reform to the current health system will see the light of day.
The voices of demand for a reform in health care must continue into the next government that will be voted in to avoid the failures seen with previous attempts to reform the Malaysian health system.
To rest on one’s laurel even after the White Paper has been tabled will see a failure of the push for reform.
Dr Koh Kar Chai is the president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.