KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 7 – Perikatan Nasional’s (PN) manifesto for the 15th general election pledges to raise public health care spending to more than 5 per cent of Malaysia’s gross domestic product (GDP).
This promise is similar to Pakatan Harapan’s (PH) election manifesto – unveiled earlier – that pledged to double public health care expenditure to 5 per cent of the GDP from the current 2 per cent.
But while PH put a specific time frame to its promise – 5 per cent in five years, or a single term – PN’s “Malaysia Gemilang” manifesto stated that a PN federal government would increase the health budget to more than 5 per cent “in stages”.
PN also pledged to form a Health Service Commission, similar to PH’s manifesto, to manage human resources and welfare of health care professionals in the public sector, including improving efficiency of management of medical officers and support groups, as well as positions for doctors; bullying cases and housemen’s welfare; and the lack of medical specialists.
“We offer to prepare a holistic framework and management of the country’s health care system by taking into account the health needs of senior citizens in preparation for an ageing nation,” according to PN’s manifesto.
The coalition further pledged a care economy agenda – listing this under the women’s section of its GE15 manifesto – similar to a key proposal by PH that aims to create a care economy by professionalising the caregiving sector to expand care for the elderly and incapacitated.
PH had also pledged to institutionalise caregiver assistance and allowances, besides mandating the inclusion of one-stop caregiving facilities in property development plans.
“We offer to introduce a care economy agenda, specifically to coordinate the care system for senior citizens, children, and OKU (people with disabilities) through MyPrihatin, including a scheme to boost the professionalism of children’s nannies,” according to PN’s manifesto.
Unlike PH that proposed third-party contributions to one’s Employees’ Provident Fund (EPF) to avoid a retirement poverty crisis, PN chairman Muhyiddin Yassin reportedly said at the launch of PN’s manifesto yesterday that a PN government would consider allowing targeted EPF withdrawals.
“We have to see first whether there is enough for retirement or has it been emptied during Covid-19,” he was quoted saying.
The Finance Ministry reportedly said last August that more than half of EPF’s nearly 13 million members aged under 55 had savings of less than RM10,000. An estimated RM145 billion in EPF funds were taken out from four withdrawal facilities during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Like PH, PN’s manifesto pledged to set up a Department for Senior Citizens to provide welfare programmes and services for the elderly.
PN also said it would introduce a scheme of doctors’ visits to senior citizens’ houses, besides improving senior citizens’ access to basic needs and social security.
PN listed a Kad Prihatin Nasional, which gives people free access to selected health care services in private clinics and government hospitals, among its 50 key offers.
Other health-related offers include developing Malaysia’s pharmaceutical and medical device industries to ensure sufficiency of treatment and health needs, besides reducing medical costs.
PN’s manifesto also promised to expand preventive care to manage non-communicable diseases (NCDs) amid Malaysia’s NCD crisis, besides improving access to mental health services at government health centres.
The coalition pledged to construct and upgrade health care facilities, equipped with support systems for patients’ families, especially in rural areas, besides increasing mobile health services in areas of high-density populations.
If elected into federal government, PN promised to expand community nursing services for incapacitated patients and children with special needs at home.
PN promised to prepare a special fund to expedite hospital construction works, to ensure that each hospital has a good public transport system and sufficient car parks, and to increase the number of specialist doctors and to upgrade district hospitals.
Lastly, PN’s manifesto pledged to separate items like the purchase and rental of sports equipment, gym memberships, and entry fees for competitions in one’s income taxation from lifestyle items, and to introduce a special Malaysia Sihat tax exemption of RM3,000 for sports and leisure activities.