KUALA LUMPUR, September 27 – The Ministry of Health (MOH) and Ministry of Defence (Mindef) today announced plans to pool and utilise their health assets as part of a new framework to strengthen the country’s emergency response.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said capitalising on the successful partnership of the two ministries in response to the Covid-19 pandemic, both ministries will be equipped with a new cooperation framework that will see their health assets “optimised”.
“For example, if there is a need for human resources at Hospital Angkatan Tentera (HAT) Tuanku Mizan, that may be accommodated by the MOH. If there is equipment or machinery in rural areas that the army has that the MOH requires, we can deploy it when it’s needed,” Khairy said in a joint press conference with Defence Minister Hishammuddin Hussein.
A national audit previously revealed that less than half of beds in three military hospitals were filled from 2018 to 2021 due to a shortage of health care workers, particularly nurses.
According to the Auditor-General’s 2021 Report (Series 1), the general bed occupancy rate (BOR) was under 50 per cent in that period across three audited military hospitals operated by the Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) for military personnel – HAT Tuanku Mizan in Kuala Lumpur (HATTM), HAT Pangkalan TLDM Lumut (96HAT) in Perak, and HAT Kem Terendak (94HAT) in Melaka – including during the pre-pandemic years of 2018 and 2019.
Hishammuddin said he looked forward to further cooperation between the two ministries and hoped that lessons learned from the pandemic will help both Mindef and the MOH better prepare for the year-end floods.
The defence minister earlier announced that all five ATM hospitals will be undergoing maintenance and upgrade works. Repair and upgrade works will also take place across all 19 ATM infirmaries, 48 ATM medical centres, and 40 ATM dental centres.
The army will also purchase an additional two field hospitals for RM47 million and acquire 50 more field ambulances.
Hishammuddin also announced ATM’s five-year partnership with the United States Indo-Pacific Command aimed at developing ATM’s health service capacity in various aspects.