KUALA LUMPUR, March 23 – Setiu MP Shaharizukirnain Abdul Kadir has expressed concern about the low level of awareness among households in the bottom 40 per cent (B40) income bracket on the Peka B40 scheme.
The second-term PAS lawmaker highlighted that the allocation for the Peka B40 scheme in the 2023 Budget, which is run by government-owned ProtechHealth Corporation Sdn Bhd, has been reduced by RM5 million.
This represents a reduction of 6.25 per cent from the RM80 million allocated in the 2022 Budget, leaving a total of RM75 million for the scheme.
“I would like to ask to what extent information about this scheme has been communicated to the B40 community, in terms of eligibility criteria, benefits they can receive, and so on. I believe that the allocation for this aspect should be increased to ensure that the campaign for this scheme is expanded even further.
“Surely, when people who are eligible in the B40 group become aware of this scheme, the number of applications and approvals will increase,” Shaharizukirnain said during his debate on the Ministry of Health’s 2023 budget at the committee stage in Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
The Peka B40 scheme provides a range of health benefits to individuals from low-income backgrounds, including complimentary health screenings, medical equipment aid of up to RM20,000, a RM1,000 incentive for completing cancer treatment, and transportation assistance of up to RM1,000.
The Peka B40’s 2021 report states that a total of 4.91 million beneficiaries and their spouses aged 40 and above are eligible for the scheme, equivalent to 14.9 per cent of Malaysia’s population.
Despite this, the uptake for all scheme benefits has remained low, with only about 10 per cent of eligible individuals utilising the health screening benefit as of March of last year.
The Setiu MP also expressed concerns about the shortage of staff in government health care facilities. “The issue of insufficient doctors and nurses has resulted in some having to work non-stop for up to 14 hours a day. The high number of patients no doubt exhausts them.”
Shaharizukirnain posed several questions regarding the status and prospects of contract nurses who were hired during the Covid-19 pandemic.
He has asked whether they have been absorbed into permanent positions or were terminated once the pandemic situation improved. The Setiu MP further inquired about the placement of nursing students from private institutions in government hospitals and clinics.
Shaharizukirnain also proposed for the government to appoint one or more shariah officers in each government hospital to provide guidance to patients on practical aspects of performing ablutions and prayers while ill, as is done in private hospitals such as the Kuala Terengganu Specialist Hospital.
He also made a suggestion for hospitals to provide accommodation for patients’ relatives or those who are taking care of them.
“This is because many people still sleep on chairs or in corridors, inside and outside of the wards, and some even spread mats or prayer rugs next to the patient’s bed to sleep on,” he said. “Hospitals should provide dormitories or rooms near the patient’s bed and ward, especially for chronic patients.”
The Setiu MP also raised the issue of limited prayer facilities in small wards that can only accommodate one or two people at a time. He suggested that larger prayer rooms be provided on each level to provide comfort for patients and caregivers to perform their prayers.
Shaharizukirnain also highlighted the issue of insufficient parking at Hospital Sultanah Nur Zahirah (HSNZ) in Kuala Terengganu, and proposed the building of a multi-storey parking facility at the hospital.
“The existing number of parking spaces is insufficient and has become critical, forcing visitors to double park. I have received many complaints on this issue,” he said. The PAS MP also noted that many elevators in government hospitals are frequently out of order and take a long time to be repaired.