Kuala Lumpur, 11 October 2019 – Budget 2020 presented today clearly demonstrates that the government has not only acknowledged and intends to address gaps in its major health initiatives such as mySalam and PekaB40, but it is also committed to expanding coverage and investing in improvement of health service to ensure that no one is left behind.
Commenting on today’s tabling of the 2020 Budget, Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy Chief Executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said, “The 6.6% increase in the allocation for health is definitely welcome news. Though the amount is smaller than last year’s increase, it is important to point out that the health budget now makes up 10% of the overall government budget.”
“The allocation of RM 60 million to support deployment of a pneumococcal vaccine programme not only represents the fulfillment of a promise in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, it also signals a recognition by the government to the efforts of vaccine advocates that investing in vaccines is far more cost-effective than treating the diseases which are vaccine preventable,” emphasised Azrul.
“The amendments in the mySalam scheme will make a difference. The expansion from 36 to 45 critical illnesses as well as increasing coverage up to the age of 65 years of age, will be a welcome relief for many patients whose families have applied, failed and been left out of the scheme, despite needing the assistance.”
“The extension of coverage to include those making up to RM100,000 a year, is also welcomed as it includes the lower M40 category of the population who felt marginalised by mySalam, despite equally needing financial support to deal with such illnesses. Protecting and improving healthcare should be more than just among the B40 population. These changes help include senior citizens, pensioners and many of those who the scheme intended to help but previously excluded. mySalam must continue to be based on the principle of inclusion rather than exclusion,” stressed Azrul.
“The Galen Centre is gratified to see that its recommendation to increase the coverage of Peka B40 to include those above the age of 40 years has been taken up by the government. This programme is an essential component in closing the gap of early diagnosis by alleviating cost as a significant barrier for people of lower income seeking to get themselves screened for non-communicable diseases such as cancer and diabetes, and get medical devices such as prosthetic limbs. Successfully linking patients from screening and diagnosis to treatment remains a significant challenge but at least more people will be able to know their health status through this programme, and be empowered to seek treatment.”
“This budget definitely provides opportunities and assistance, especially to B40 households, to be responsible for their own health and invest in their own well-being to prevent the onset of non-communicable diseases and be better prepared for medical emergencies such as catastrophic diseases.”
“However, we are concerned that the budget may not adequately address the need for a long-term sustainable solution to healthcare financing such as development of a national health insurance scheme for all. We will need this to ensure that Malaysia’s healthcare system is able to continue to provide quality, affordable and accessible health services in the decades to come and tackle the challenges of preventing and treating NCDs such as cancer, diabetes, hypertension and obesity, increasingly diverse and complex health needs, and a growing aging population.
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