MPs call for bigger health budget


PETALING JAYA: Opposition MPs are hoping to see a bigger allocation given to the Ministry of Health when Budget 2017 is tabled this month.

Speaking to FMT, Sungai Siput MP Michael Jeyakumar revealed that just a few weeks ago hospitals could not carry out blood tests due to this year’s cut in the Health Ministry budget.

“They didn’t have the chemicals needed, which I think is a poor show for a country heading for developed status,” he said.

He added that money was also needed for dialysis services, especially for patients who were non-Muslim and were not eligible for Socso.

He pointed out Muslim patients could apply for aid from the Baitulmaal programme.

“Patients who are not Muslims, are too old to ask for Socso help and who are not government servants or pensioners are left high and dry,” he said. “They end up paying about RM100 three times a week.”

He added that government hospitals already had too many names on dialysis programmes and therefore couldn’t take in new patients.

Klang MP Charles Santiago said more and more people were depending on government hospitals because of current economic conditions.

“Given that salaries are low and the cost of living is high, people who are sick will suffer further if there’s no increase in the health budget,” he said.

“As a result of the Goods and Services Tax, it is not just the poor who are going to government hospitals,” he said. “Those in the middle class who would previously go to private hospitals are also now going to government hospitals.”

He called for GST exemption for the treatment and care of cancer patients. “The number of people getting cancer in this country is very high,” he said, adding that many had become impoverished because of the high cost of treatment and care.

He suggested that the allocations for the Defence Ministry and the Prime Minister’s Department be decreased so that more money could be made available for health and other important areas.

He said this year’s budget for the PM’s Department was especially huge and he would like to see it reduced in Budget 2017.

“I think it’s important to increase the budgets for health, welfare, education and the environment instead,” he added.

Santiago said diseases which had never been heard of before, such as zika, were on the rise and money would be needed to fight them off.

For 2016, the government allocated 8.6 per cent of the national budget for health. This worked out to RM23.031 billion, which was RM269 million less than the previous year’s allocation.