Kuala Lumpur, 28 January 2019 – Today’s launch of the pilot PeKA B40 healthcare protection scheme which aims to complement the mySalam health insurance plan, is an ambitious initiative to address the crushing issue of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among Malaysia.
“Establishing a nationwide panel of private clinics under the PeKa B40 scheme is certainly an innovative approach to encouraging health seeking behaviour among those in the B40 group and to help reduce some of the burden of patients accessing government clinics and hospitals,” said Azrul Mohd Khalib, Galen Centre’s Chief Executive.
“By subsidising clinic fees and laboratory costs as well as providing a healthcare transportation allowance, PeKa B40 looks to closing the gap of early diagnosis by alleviating cost as a significant barrier for people of lower income seeking to get themselves screened for NCDs such as diabetes and cancer.”
However, there is concern that the intended coverage may be insufficient to reap the benefits of a long-term NCD strategy.
“Leaving out university hospitals from the PeKa B40 pilot programme such as the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre and Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital under the Ministry of Education, is a mistake,” emphasised Azrul.
“These medical facilities play a crucial role in providing healthcare to their respective communities, both rural and urban. Rather than be forced to relocate their treatment to a MOH hospital to benefit from PeKA B40, patients who access MOE medical facilities should also be included.”
“The incentive of RM 1000 for cancer patients above the age of 50 to complete their treatments, when coupled with RM 8000 from the mySalam health insurance scheme, will definitely be beneficial. Unfortunately, depending on the type of cancer, length of treatment and location of the medical centre, this cash assistance will be quickly spent on non-medical and indirect expenses related to getting treatment such as accommodation, family expenses and supplementary medication.”
“Limiting access to 800,000 recipients of the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) and those above the age of 50 years of age is clearly due to constraints of the allocated funding which is currently RM 100 million. It is clearly inadequate,” stated Azrul.
“In order to secure the best possible outcome in responding to the threat of NCDs, the Ministry of Health should get the funds it needs to fully operationalise PeKa B40 as part of the National Strategic Plan For Non-Communicable Disease 2016-2025. This plan identified inadequate additional and dedicated funding as being responsible for the limited progress under the previous national NCD strategy. This shortcoming should not be repeated.”
“We hope that the results from this first year of the pilot programme will justify increasing funding to at least RM 300 million in the next budget.”
“PeKa B40 is encouraging as it represents a strategic investment on the part of the government to protect and improve healthcare among the B40 population. It is investing in a prevention and early detection strategy. But the bigger challenge will be linking patients from screening to diagnosis, and later on to treatment. This will need additional out-of-the-box thinking.”
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