KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 30 – The Ministry of Health (MOH) should consider leasing or renting medical and office equipment instead of purchasing them outright as a means to reduce health care costs and government expenditure.
Kuala Pilah MP Adnan Abu Hassan said that by shifting away from traditional procurement methods, it becomes possible to redirect the government’s cash flow toward vital areas that demand immediate attention, such as improving rural clinics in Sabah and Sarawak.
“The annual cost of acquiring medical equipment is very high, as most of this equipment is imported from abroad. So, the question is whether the government intends to explore other methods to procure not only medical equipment but also office equipment in all MOH facilities,” Adnan said during his debate on the 2024 Budget last Thursday (October 26).
“I would suggest that the government consider the possibility of leasing or renting methods to procure medical and office equipment, which I believe would be more cost-effective and practical because we would only need to pay the leasing cost.
“All repair work due to damage, maintenance, or replacement will be done by the leaseholder. I believe this situation can reduce health care expenditure and, at the same time, drastically reduce government cash outflows.”
The Umno lawmaker was referring to the proposed RM766 million allocation in next year’s federal budget to procure medical equipment at MOH hospitals to replace “beyond economic repair” equipment – where the cost of repair is much higher than replacing the item.
Given the MOH’s RM41.2 billion 2024 budget, Adnan hopes that the government can also allocate funds for the construction of a new Kuala Pilah health district office, as the existing location is no longer suitable, with staff having to be placed separately and far from the main office.
The first-term MP added that the government should also pay serious attention to the country’s health care workforce shortage, particularly in the case of doctors and nurses.
Adnan said if vacant positions in government clinics and hospitals are not promptly filled, it will disrupt the efficiency of the national health care system.
“The ministry’s target for this year for the doctor-to-population ratio is 1:450, and the nurse ratio is 1:255, while the target for 2024 for doctors is 1:400 and nurses is 1:245. Data from the MOH shows that the doctor-to-population ratio in 2022 was 1:470, and the nurse ratio was 1:262.
“I am concerned that if there is no proactive and strategic effort by MOH to address the shortage of doctors and nurses, it will add to the burden of the health care service, leading to delayed diagnoses, severe hospital congestion, longer waiting times, prolonged suffering, and potentially resulting in an increase in preventable deaths,” Adnan concluded.