KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 2 – Dr Zaliha Mustafa, a first-term MP from PKR, has been appointed health minister in Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim’s administration.
According to Sinar Harian’s biography of the 58-year-old Sekijang MP, Dr Zaliha currently runs her own private clinic in Bandar Putra Kulai, Johor, after serving some three years as a medical officer in district hospitals in Taiping, Perak, and Pekan, Pahang.
Dr Zaliha replaces Khairy Jamaluddin, who began efforts to spearhead reforms to Malaysia’s health care system during his short time in office of just over a year.
Her appointment comes at a time of multiple health crises, including non-communicable diseases, an ageing population, and mental health.
Health advocates previously urged the new government — now a unity government comprising Pakatan Harapan, Barisan Nasional, and Gabungan Parti Sarawak as the main component parties — to commit to complex issues like health care financing reform and human resources, including contract doctors’ problems.
Dr Zaliha, who is Malaysia’s first female health minister, will also have to deal with the continued impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on the health care system due to postponed follow-ups during lockdowns for two years, including long Covid cases.