For Budget 2023, Time To Invest More In Public Health Care — Malaysian Health Coalition

An adequate and responsive budget is essential to support the transformation to a more sustainable and effective health system.

The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) is concerned that Malaysia’s average life expectancy at birth has dropped from 74.4 years (in 2012) to 73.4 years (in 2022), as reported by the Department of Statistics. Malaysians now have a lower life expectancy than Brunei, Singapore, and Thailand. 

The reduced life expectancy reflects the impact of Covid-19 and the need for more ambitious public health funding because citizens live longer in countries that invest more in their health systems.

Therefore, we strongly support the health minister’s call to increase the budget for public health care from 2 per cent to 5 per cent of GDP, and we call for this to be reflected starting with Budget 2023. We expect an expansionary budget that significantly supports public healthcare and reverses the drop in the general health of the population. Additional funds must be spent in transparent and non-corrupt ways.

We recommend the following:

Systematically Increase The Allocation For Public Health Care

According to the World Health Organization, 5 to 6 per cent of a country’s GDP should be set aside to achieve universal health coverage. Most upper middle-income countries spend 3.2 per cent of their GDP on public health care, while Malaysia invests only 2.6 per cent.

Meeting global standards may be ambitious given Malaysia’s budgetary limits and growing inflation, but it is crucial to provide effective care for Malaysians. We expect a gradual increase in public health care allocation in the coming years, with predictable allocations accompanied by robust governance strategies.

Increase The Resilience Of Our Health System: NCDs + Financing + Digital Health

Investments must be made to increase the nation’s health system resilience, particularly during times of crisis. We highlight three strategies. First, we must strengthen our control for non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Therefore, we support the minister’s proposal to enact the Tobacco and Smoking Control Bill and the generational end game.

Second, we must consider a mandatory social health insurance programme for both Malaysian citizens and foreign workers in which a minimum contribution is devoted to a health insurance card or to a health care fund.

Third, we suggest additional investment to cater further digitalize health care to increase access. This must be accompanied by strong 5G and telecommunications infrastructure development. 

Align The Budget To The Health White Paper

Budget 2023 must be linked with the Health White Paper. (HWP) Although Budget 2023 will be tabled in October 2022 before the HWP that is only expected to be tabled in November or December 2022, we hope that the Budget will seek preliminary inputs from the HWP Secretariat and Advisory Council to address key policy priorities. 

This will enable Budget 2023 to begin supporting the long-term implementation of proposed reforms. The budget should have enough flexibility to accommodate the needs of the HWP once it is passed in Parliament.

We ask for an expansionary budget for health in 2023 along with better health system resilience, incorporation of the HWP, and strong governance and accountability. An adequate and responsive budget is essential to support the transformation to a more sustainable and effective health system.

  • Academy of Medicine Malaysia
  • Association of Malaysian Optometrists
  • College of Anaesthesiologists
  • College of Physicians Malaysia
  • College of Surgeons Academy of Medicine of Malaysia
  • Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia
  • Lung Cancer Network of Malaysia
  • Malaysian Association for Bronchology and Interventional Pulmonology
  • Malaysian Association of Clinical Biochemists
  • Malaysian Association of Dental Public Health Specialists
  • Malaysian Association of Enviromental Health
  • Malaysian Association of Medical Assistants
  • Malaysian Coalition on Ageing
  • Malaysian Dental Association
  • Malaysian Paediatric Association
  • Malaysian Pharmacists Society
  • Malaysian Society of Anaesthesiologists
  • Malaysian Society of Clinical Psychology
  • Malaysian Society of Geriatric Medicine
  • Malaysian Society of Ophthalmology
  • Malaysian Thoracic Society
  • Medical Mythbusters Malaysia 
  • Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia 
  • National Cancer Society of Malaysia
  • Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia
  • Perinatal Society of Malaysia
  • Assoc Prof Dr Uma Devi Palanisamy
  • Dr Amar Singh-HSS
  • Dr Jahizah Hassan
  • Prof Dr Zulkifli Ismail
  • Prof Dr GR Letchuman Ramanathan
  • Prof Dr Mohd Zamrin Dimon
  • Prof Dr Roslina Abdul Manap
  • Prof Dr Zaleha Abdullah Mahdy
  • This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.

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