Kuala Lumpur, 12 December 2023 — The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy welcomes the return of Datuk Seri Dr. Dzulkefly Bin Ahmad as Malaysia’s 24rd Minister of Health but cautions on the scale of challenges and expectations ahead.
Galen Centre’s Chief Executive Officer Azrul Mohd Khalib commenting on the appointment, “Dr. Dzulkefly’s appointment shows the Prime Minister’s recognition of the need for experience, expertise and prioritisation to address the many significant short and long term challenges faced in the health portfolio.
“Dr. Dzulkefly will need to hit the ground running, and will face a steep learning curve. There will be less patience, very little sympathy and cynicism among many stakeholders. The Health Minister must act to rebuild confidence, build alliances, and regain trust. The health challenges that Malaysia faces have grown increasingly larger, and in some situations worsened over the past year. We make the following 2 recommendations for consideration in his first 100 days.”
“Firstly, the Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Bill 2023 needs to be shepherded until it passes the Dewan Negara, signed by the King, and gazetted into the statute books and hence become law. Nothing should be taken for granted. Anything could happen to stall the progress of the bill. Somehow, this past year has seen the government becoming labelled as being pro-tobacco and pro-vape industry, with many compromises and eroding of Malaysia’s obligations under the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control. The incoming Minister needs to immediately act to repair the damage to Malaysia’s reputation,” Azrul emphasised.
“Secondly, Dr. Dzulkefly needs to consider 4 critical issues: finding a solution to sustainable healthcare financing, respond effectively to the crisis of non-communicable diseases, close the gap on mental health, and address the lack of preparedness to provide care for our ageing population. The previous Minister faced the same issues and they have not seen any improvement in the past year.”
“The Health Ministry must also prioritise communicating its work more effectively and ensuring involvement of all stakeholders in the planning of programmes, and evaluation of outcomes. Dr. Dzulkefly needs to ensure that a deliberate consultative and inclusive approach is adopted and taken to dealing with health problems which make people and patients at the centre and beneficiaries of policies, as opposed to just being the target of them. We hope that he works in collaboration and consultatively with the private sector, patient groups, affected communities and civil society organisations.”
“Dr. Dzulkefly will need to make tough decisions to ensure that the quality and coverage of healthcare is accessible to all who need it. No one should be left behind.”<