Through discussions of issues such as bridging the critical infrastructure gap, improving the quality of treatment, and the state of cancer treatment access and coverage in East Malaysia, the Galen Centre believes that healthcare reforms in the upcoming 12th Malaysian Plan should make priority investments in the development of healthcare infrastructure in these two states, and even consider the return of decision-making on health for the East Malaysia state governments.
“More than a third of the population in Sarawak and Sabah continue to live beyond 5km of any kind of health facility and have to travel for hours to seek treatment. There is a need for more health infrastructure facilities in rural areas and strengthening of existing services, but most importantly in ensuring that they are staffed with sufficient skilled healthcare workers,” commented Azrul Mohd Khalib, Chief Executive of the Galen Centre.
“It is also clear from the various discussions and conversations today that Sarawakians and Sabahans want to take the matter into their own hands when it comes to health, as opposed to the decades-long way of federal control.”
“Giving healthcare autonomy was a cornerstone pledge of the Pakatan Harapan government’s manifesto to the people of Sarawak and Sabah. East Malaysia has its own unique and challenging issues surrounding urban and rural healthcare access, coverage and treatment due to its size, scattered population, and constant woes over access from maternal health to cancer treatment.”
“There is no single nor easy answer for many of these challenges. But it is obvious that we need to look for out-of-the-box solutions as the usual way of doing things is inadequate. People in these two states are being left behind,” emphasised Azrul.
“One way forward which was identified by the manifesto, is that Putrajaya can help meet the people’s needs in East Malaysia by handing the responsibility in health on financing, infrastructure development and placement of medical professionals back to the state governments.”