Medical fraternity lauds Budget 2023

08 Oct 2022 10:57am
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin - BERNAMA
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin - BERNAMA
KUALA LUMPUR - Medical practitioners lauds the Ministry of Finance’s (MoF) Budget 2023 tabled Friday noting that there is a significant allocation improvement to the public health sector contrary to previous years and saw it as the right direction towards reforms needed in the healthcare system.

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said in a statement post-Budget 2023 that the government has allocated RM36.139 billion to the Ministry of Health (KKM), of which RM31.5 billion is for operating spending and RM4.63 billion for development expenditure.

"The allocation in the 2023 Budget is an increase of RM3.72 billion or 11.51 per cent compared to the RM32.4 billion allocated in 2022. This is one of the largest increases in expenditure among the ministries," he said, adding that out of the overall RM372 .3 billion allocation for Budget 2023, 11.05 per cent is designated to KKM.

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr R. Muruga Raj said the government’s emphasis on prevention through enhancements to its various screening programmes is welcomed and hoped it will encourage the public to take full advantage of the support given.

In a statement, Dr Muruga Raj said that he believed the proposal for six new initiatives worth RM3.4 billion to MoF in late September made an impact in convincing MoF of the need for a much higher allocation for the Health Ministry.

"However we hope there will soon be further details on its plans for its healthcare human resources which represent the heartbeat of our public healthcare system. There is still a long way to go in addressing the issue of contract doctors and the shortages in specialists and going forward, MMA hopes there will be transparency in the utilisation of the various allocations under the Health Ministry,” he said.

Meanwhile, Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh said private health practitioners will continue to help the government in treating patients who can afford healthcare on their own and this will reduce the burden of the public healthcare system.

"The budget is meant for patients who require public healthcare system and we hope the government will continuously allow private healthcare to remain in its current structure without disruption of its business model. In return private hospitals will be able to give more support to the public hospitals,” he said.

However the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, a non-governmental organisation, said the Budget 2023 is arguably not a game changer for healthcare, despite the significant increase in allocation.
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Its Chief Executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said the budget was an effort to address long and teething institutional problems caused by previous underinvestment such as ageing infrastructure and retaining skilled healthcare workers.

"The government also wants to address the contract doctor issue by increasing the line item for contract recruitments, but seems to not have increased permanent positions despite large increases in emoluments across the board. This is obviously intended to fund the promotion of existing staff and increase salaries to support retention of skilled healthcare workers," he said in a statement.

Azrul said he was disappointed that there was no mention of any commitment to address the issue of healthcare financing and investing in a sustainable long-term solution.

"In order to ensure that Malaysia's healthcare system is able to continue to provide quality, affordable and accessible health services for all in the decades to come and tackle the challenges of preventing and treating Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs), of mental health and an ageing population, the government must summon the will and commitment to invest now in a new sustainable approach to funding health. We did not hear that," he said.

Additionally, Khairy said Budget 2023 reflects the government's commitment to ensure health aspects are emphasised in almost all policies across various ministries and agencies. - BERNAMA

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