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Economist warns of healthcare crisis in Malaysia’s future

 | August 9, 2017

Muhammed Abdul Khalid says a policy is needed to make healthy food both available and affordable, and a higher tax imposed on cigarettes.

Muhammed-Abdul-Khalid

DM Analytics chief economist Muhammed Abdul Khalid.

PETALING JAYA: An economist has cautioned that one of the major problems Malaysians will face in the future is inadequate healthcare for a society increasingly afflicted by health problems.

DM Analytics chief economist Muhammed Abdul Khalid said this was because the current generation of Malaysians were not healthy, as a sizeable number were smokers while many suffered ailments such as hypertension, high blood pressure and diabetes.

“Even among young kids, about 12% of our kids are underweight and 13% are overweight,” he said, adding that one in three children was anaemic.

Muhammed, who has put forward a projection that by 2050 more Malaysians will be older, poorer, sickly, childless and homeless, said this in an interview uploaded online by The Edge TV on Tuesday.

The former research director at Khazanah Research Institute and economics head at the Securities Commission Malaysia said the issue was also linked to Malaysia’s food security.

“Nutritious food is expensive compared with other countries. It is available, but it is not affordable,” he said.

He said a policy to make healthy food available and affordable was needed.

He added that the problem of smoking needed to be tackled as well, not only for primary smokers but also for those who breathe in secondary or “second-hand” smoke.

He said the issue needed to be addressed through taxation.

“Our tax on cigarettes is still lower compared with many developed countries,” said the author of “The Colour of Inequality: Ethnicity, Class, Income and Wealth in Malaysia” and co-author of the inaugural UNDP Malaysia Human Development Report 2013.

Muhammed also said the country should look into pension reforms, which would include increasing the retirement age.

“We work too short relative to other countries. We retire at 60 but we can withdraw at 55. Other countries do not allow this,” he said.

It was reported in March that the percentage of senior citizens in Malaysia’s population is anticipated to climb to 11.1% by 2020, and upward to 19.8% by 2040.

Any country with a percentage of senior citizens in excess of 15% could be categorised as an ageing society.

We must address ageing society with a plan


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