Kuala Lumpur, 27 October 2017 — The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy commends the government for making the commitment to begin implementation of the voluntary health insurance scheme in 2018, and for raising the profile of rare diseases. However, there is concern that there could insufficient allocation for drugs and medical consumables to screen and treat diseases.
Commenting on today’s tabling of the 2018 Budget, Chief Executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said, “Amidst the increase to almost RM 27 billion in allocations for healthcare, the government took a bold move today in its commitment to innovate and create sustainable conditions for a seachange in Malaysian healthcare. In reality, the national budget allocation can never really commensurate with the medical cost. Hence, there is a need for a separate healthcare financing mechanism to complement the existing framework and government allocation. The allocation of RM 50 million for the setting up of a Voluntary Health Insurance Scheme signals that the government is moving ahead to strengthen health financing.”
“Malaysia is one of the few countries in the region providing public subsidies for rare diseases. Currently, due to the lack of specialised facilities and relevant expertise, genetic testing is expensive and samples are often sent abroad. Besides drugs for treatment, we need more affordable diagnostic services. The lack of awareness of rare diseases has also resulted in patients being deprived of welfare assistance and services. I hope that with this specific mention of rare diseases in the national budget, there will be more attention and consideration by the government to include new innovator drugs into the Ministry of Health drug formulary and to support more patient drug assistance programmes. Patients with rare diseases deserve every right to access to quality life-saving healthcare like everyone else,” emphasised Azrul.
Despite the Ministry of Health expressing concern about the massive influx of people moving from private to public healthcare, particularly in accessing outpatient care, the allocation for the supply of drugs, consumables, vaccines and reagents remains surprisingly the same as this year which is around RM 4 billion. There were 10 million more outpatient cases recorded in 2016 compared to the previous year. This year is expected to end with even higher numbers.
“This is cause for concern as an insufficient allocation could result in shortages of essential drugs needed to treat diseases, particularly non-communicable diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes. These shortages, which have already occured in the past, will affect those most vulnerable such as senior citizens, pensioners and those from the lower income bracket.”
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