KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 28 – Dr Zaliha Mustafa announced today an expansion of the controversial MySejahtera application to a digital appointment system for next year at government primary health care facilities.
The health minister’s statement came even though the month-old administration under Prime Minister Anwar Ibrahim, who is also the finance minister, has yet to announce if the unity government has already signed a contract with the app developers or operators to procure MySejahtera, or how much payment has or will be made by the government for the app.
Dr Zaliha said MySejahtera has already begun providing appointment booking services at 673 public health clinics (Klinik Kesihatan) in phases, starting with the National Health Screening Initiative (NHSI), Peka B40 health screening, and quit-smoking services.
MySejahtera appointment booking services at all primary health care facilities under the Ministry of Health (MOH) will be expanded to outpatient treatment, pre-employment or education medical check-ups, premarital screenings, family planning services, and procedures (wound dressing, tube replacement etc.).
“The MySejahtera application appointment system for the year 2023 has completely begun and bookings can be made starting today,” Dr Zaliha said in a statement.
The health minister said the appointment system via the MySejahtera mobile app would enable primary health care facilities to manage their schedules for services based on capacity and to reduce congestion at registration and waiting areas.
Visitors can also change their appointment dates on MySejahtera “easily” without needing to make a phone call to the health care facility.
“This system also has an automated reminder function so that customers will attend their appointments according to the time and date booked. For emergency cases, fever cases, or infectious disease, the general public can visit primary health care facilities without needing to make a booking,” Dr Zaliha said.
Citing MOH’s Digitalisation Strategic Plan 2021-2025, the health minister expressed hope that the digitalisation of MOH’s health care delivery system would promote health programmes in primary care facilities more effectively and increase the efficiency of the health care system.
Dr Zaliha’s announcement indicates that MySejahtera will be used by MOH for the entire year of 2023 at least.
However, the Public Accounts Committee (PAC) from the 14th Parliament previously said in its inquiry that the ceiling payment of RM196 million to MySJ Sdn Bhd – the private company currently operating the MySejahtera app – authorised by the Cabinet in November 2021 was for a two-year period from April 1, 2021 to March 31, 2023 in two annual payments of RM98 million each.
RM196 million for a mobile app (for just two years) – amid disputes over the ownership of MySejahtera intellectual property and the app itself that MySJ has claimed in two lawsuits with company shareholders – exceeds MOH’s entire annual radiotherapy and oncology budget for 2022 of RM137 million.
Then-Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin told reporters, immediately after the tabling of the PAC’s report on its inquiry into the development and procurement of MySejahtera last October 4, that parties involved would soon sign a contract to ensure that the entire app, including its data, is owned by the government.
Khairy, however, did not make further announcements related to MySejahtera, before losing the Sungai Buloh race in the 15th general election and the change of government to a Pakatan Harapan-led unity government.
He told Segambut MP Hannah Yeoh in a parliamentary reply last July 25 that MOH was awaiting approval from the Ministry of Finance (MOF) on MySejahtera after MOH concluded direct negotiations to procure the “management” of the app.
Finance Minister Anwar, who is also now the prime minister, was among the biggest critics of MySejahtera when he was the opposition leader. He heavily criticised the government’s direct award of the Covid-19 app (now turned health care app) to MySJ, besides highlighting data security and app ownership issues.
Anwar reportedly said last March that MySejahtera should be done away with, stressing that security of the app was a serious matter: “That’s why many people have been demanding (for MySejahtera to be dropped). Besides the vaccination certificates (in the app), there’s no need for MySejahtera anymore.”