Ex-Health Minister Laments Heavy Budget Cut on Healthcare

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Former health minister Dzulkefly Ahmad has lamented the heavy budget cut in almost all health services.

He noted that the RM31.94 billion allocation for the health services, which was announced via Budget 2021 yesterday, was lower than the amount allocated in the previous budget.

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“After deducting the RM1.9 billion emolument for contractual employees, the real allocation for the Health Ministry is only RM30.04 billion as compared to RM30.6 billion under Pakatan Harapan government for 2020,” he tweeted.

The cuts include medical programmes, public health, dental health, pharmaceutical services; and research and technical support.

Dzulkefly included a tabulation made by health news portal Codeblue which highlighted some of the cuts. Some of them are:

The budget for psychiatry and mental health has been cut from RM344.82 million to RM313.4 million for 2021.

Malaysiakini

In an interview with Astro Awani yesterday, Dzulkefly expressed concern about the allocation for the ministry.

“I must say that because we were underspending for the last decade, this is the best time to overspend…we were understaffed, underfunded, so this is the best time.

“[…] For non-communicable diseases (NCD), the entire thing for primary health care, they all need to be beefed up, that allocation is not much anyway, so that’s my concern,” he said.

Meanwhile, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said the healthcare budget, which he labelled as “short-sighted”, will have long-term consequences on the quality of care for other essential matters.

“The allocation for cancer treatment was drastically reduced by 58.49 percent from RM328.7 million (2020) to RM136.4 million.

“We see significant cuts in nephrology even when reports clearly state the danger of NCDs in our country and how conditions like diabetes will exacerbate kidney failure.

“More than 100,000 Malaysians are expected to suffer kidney failure over the next two decades, and it is expected that 106,000 Malaysians will suffer kidney failure requiring dialysis by 2040,” he said in a statement.

Yii addressed the backlogs of patients missing their appointments and treatments due to the interventions related to Covid-19 such as the movement control order.

“All these backlogs are expected to be addressed especially next year, and it is a disservice to cut all those allocations that will jeopardise the quality of care given to those patients,” he said. – Malaysiakini