Now, Dzulkefly says fine with Semenyih hospital idea but not his call

Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad speaks to reporters on the sidelines of a symposium in George Town, Penang.

GEORGE TOWN: Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad now says his ministry is open to the idea of opening a new hospital in Semenyih, but that the issue is subject to approval by the finance ministry and the prime minister.

Dzulkefly, who previously expressed reservations over the construction of a hospital in the state constituency, said approval of such a project was beyond his ministry’s jurisdiction.

“In the end, it is under the finance ministry. So I’m not sure whose head will be rapped,” he said, referring to Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad’s jest yesterday that he would rap the head of any minister who objected to a hospital in Semenyih.

The proposal was first made by Pakatan Harapan candidate Muhammad Aiman Zainali, who pledged to bring the matter up if he wins the by-election tomorrow.

Dzulkefly said then that it would be more practical to build clinics in the area instead of a hospital.

He said today that he had no objection to either clinics or a hospital in the area if Mahathir and the finance minister give permission.

“This includes other parts of the Hulu Langat parliamentary district, or any other part of the country,” he said when met after opening the AMDI International Oncology and Medical Physics Symposium 2019 at a hotel here today.

He said earlier that Malaysia was short of oncologists, with just 115 in the country last year. Of these, 42 are in government hospitals while the others are in the private sector.

“The ideal ratio would be eight to 10 oncologists per million people.

“If the Malaysian population is assumed to be 34 million, the current ratio is 3.4 oncologists per million people, which is critically low,” he said.

He also said that cancer was the fourth most common cause of death in Malaysia, with approximately 37,000 cases reported each year. This is expected to rise to more than 55,000 by 2030.

Dzulkefly said the findings were based on the Malaysian Study on Cancer Survival conducted by his ministry.