Less money for reagents, vaccines despite 2016 shortcomings

PETALING JAYA: In announcing a RM25 billion allocation for health programmes in 2017, Prime Minister Najib Razak may have “corrected” what was considered a mistake last year.

Last year he announced a cut of RM280 million from the allocation for health programmes in 2016, compared with the budget allocation for 2015.

However, government hospitals and clinics have faced a problem, having run out of reagents, which are needed to carry out tests for various health conditions. The problem may resurface next year depending on how the funds have been distributed by the health ministry.

The 2016 Budget set aside RM4.6 billion for the supply of medicines, consumables, vaccines and reagents to all government hospitals and clinics.

However, the budget for next year has only allocated RM4 billion for the same, thus leading to concerns of a lack of funds for tests at government hospitals and clinics in the latter part of next year.

Kulai MP Teo Nie Ching recently highlighted a circular from the Pathology Department at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang on the “temporary halt” in pathology laboratory investigations as the department was unable to purchase necessary chemical reagents due to inadequate funds.

She added that the Selayang Hospital also did not have chemical reagents to run creatinine blood tests at the end of September.

The Director-General of Health, Noor Hisham Abdullah, declined to comment on the matter, instead referring to his statement published on Facebook calling the overall allocation to the Health Ministry “positive”.