In the Parliament session held on 15 March, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin has admitted that there is chronic underinvestment in the nation’s public healthcare system compared to other middle-high income nations.
Khairy said that Malaysia has been spending a mere 2.58% of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP) on healthcare, while the other nations with similar development levels have been spending a minimum of 4%.
He said this in response to a question by Bukit Bendera MP Wong Hon Wai, asking if there has been underinvestment in the Ministry of Health (KKM), and if there are any specific proposals in the White Paper on financial allocation.
“The Honorable Member is right in the view that the issue of funding is an important issue for the public healthcare system of the country, and I can state here that Malaysia as a middle high-income country has invested less than the optimal amount every year.”
“In fact, I can say that there is chronic under-investment towards the nation’s public healthcare system,” Khairy said, reported Malay Mail.
He said that the public healthcare system is not in its best form as pointed out by the Auditor-General’s 2018 report, which highlighted issues such as understaffing in the accident and emergency (A&E) departments in government hospitals, overcrowding with patients and lacking funding and medical equipment.
“And this insufficiency is not something that is isolated to A&E departments in hospitals alone, but this is reflective of the overall government health facilities that include clinics and hospitals.” the health minister said.
“So the question of funding and allocation for public healthcare will become something that is very important to be discussed, decided and tabled in the White Paper later,” he added.
In January, Khairy proposed the White Paper for the reformation of the country’s health system to ensure that it is future proof.
He also said that the matter had been raised to the ministry’s Planning Division for it to be tabled in Parliament in November.