The Galen Centre recently participated in consultations organised by the Ministry of Health as part of finalisation of the 2023 Federal Budget. The meeting was well attended by various relevant stakeholders in the health space and was chaired by Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Seri Ahmad Maslan. The Galen Centre was represented by Gurkiret Kaur and Azrul Mohd Khalib.
As part of the Galen Centre’s contribution to the discussion, a brief submission paper was put together and provided to Deputy Minister as well as Ministry of Health and Ministry of Finance officials.
The six recommendations:
- Remove the RM 1 and RM 5 charge fees for outpatient and specialist care. These fees are obsolete, inadequate for meaningful cost recovery, and mislead the public regarding the true cost of health care. These charges act as barriers and should be removed to facilitate future reforms in health care financing.
- Establish a “Health Bond” or “Sukuk Kesihatan” to raise funds for further investment of the health system and to support urgently needed solutions required in the immediate term. Infusion of new funds are urgently needed now to invest in modernisation of healthcare system such as electronic medical records, payment of outstanding dues to HCWs, upgrading of working conditions, investment in capacity building and pay adjustments for qualified staff.
- Offer tax incentives for the use of contraceptives for up to RM 1000 per year as a cost-effective way of helping to meet government’s Sustainable Development Goals such as reducing maternal mortality & improving gender equality.
- Allocate and earmark 5% of revenue from excise duties imposed on the sale of tobacco and alcohol products (“sin taxes”) to provide funding of an estimated RM 290 million annually for the creation of an advanced cancer treatment fund. This amount is equivalent to approximately 2.3% of total revenue from sin tax (tobacco, alcohol and gambling) collected. There is strong public support for the revenue from sin taxes to be used for preventive health and treatment.
- Maintain the earlier commitment of RM 36.1 billion for Budget 2023 or increase to RM 38 billion to address staff retention issues. Cancer specific: Increase allocation for the Radiotherapy and Oncology Services (Ministry of Health) to 1.5% of the total health budget to improve the options and availability of treatment for late-stage cancers. Estimated: RM 500 million (currently RM 329 million or 1.07%)
- Provide tax rebates to companies that encourage their staff to be vaccinated against the same diseases covered under the individual category, as an incentive to protect employees from communicable diseases in the workplace.
A brief containing context and further details of the recommendations is available for download here.