Kuala Lumpur, 06 November 2020 — The Budget 2021 tabled in Parliament today clearly demonstrates the government’s priority in wanting to deal with the Malaysian COVID-19 epidemic in a decisive manner, ensuring that the Ministry of Health and other relevant government bodies are provided with the equipment, manpower and financial resources necessary to break the back of the outbreak.
“However, the diversion of resources and cuts to fund the COVID-19 response now threatens to have a significant negative impact on our response towards non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cancer, kidney disease, and cardiovascular diseases,” said Azrul Mohd Khalib, Chief Executive of the Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy, when commenting on the tabling of the 2021 federal budget this evening.
“For example, it is shocking to see that the allocation for cancer has been drastically reduced from RM 328.7 million in 2020 to RM 136.4 million,” said Azrul. “Even nephrology suffered a massive reduction. We cannot afford to look at one crisis at a time. Telling ourselves that we will deal with cancer and chronic kidney disease some other day after we are done with COVID-19, is not an option. Suffering could increase and lives will be lost due to insufficient resources for treatment and care.”
“During this COVID-19 epidemic, we are at risk of leaving people behind, and making them more vulnerable than ever before.”
“The release of the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019 earlier this year highlighted the insidious nature of NCDs and risk factors such as diabetes, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and obesity which are causing a catastrophic impact and burgeoning cost on the Malaysian healthcare system and society as a whole. Before COVID-19, we were already living through one crisis.”
“Due to the interventions related to COVID-19 such as the Movement Control Order, the incidences of various NCDs have and are expected to worsen and increase. New and increased funding, not less, should be invested into the prevention, treatment and management of these diseases, particularly health literacy. Yet, we see that the proportion of the health budget is actually more or less the same compared to this year,” Azrul pointed out.
“It was stated from the onset that the one of the primary strategies of the budget is to strengthen and protect public health and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak. Yet, when the allocations related to public health are reviewed in the budget, they were found to have been reduced across the board. This is shocking. Public health is the most important aspect of our healthcare system right now and we need it to be strengthened.”
“More than ever before we need to protect the public healthcare system which provides high quality, accessible and affordable services. We cannot take it for granted,” Azrul emphasised.
“We call on the government to review the allocations for health under the 2021 federal budget.”
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