Prioritise insurance scheme, NCD treatment in Budget 2020, govt urged

The Malaysian Medical Association says the government should outsource primary care services to general practitioners.

PETALING JAYA: With Budget 2020 set to be announced on Oct 11, health advocates have asked Putrajaya to focus on instilling healthy living among Malaysians and creating a healthcare insurance scheme.

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr N Ganabaskaran said the government should continue to focus on preventive and awareness measures to educate people to stay healthy.

He said efforts must be made to retain public sector specialists who are leaving in large numbers each year.

“We also hope the government will be able to provide more post-graduate training posts,” he told FMT.

Ganabaskaran recommended outsourcing primary care services to general practitioners (GPs) to reduce the government’s cost, which could then be channelled to other healthcare sectors.

He said it had been proven that the 7,000 GPs nationwide were able to provide better, more efficient and less costly treatment for the large number of NCD (non-communicable disease) patients in the country.

NCDs include Parkinson’s, stroke, most heart diseases, most cancers, diabetes, chronic kidney disease, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and Alzheimer’s.

“A registry on NCDs treated by GPs should be maintained by the government,” he said.

Ganabaskaran said there was also a need for new or upgraded hospitals and clinics to reduce congestion and improve access for the population.

He said incentives should be given to encourage people to take up insurance and to look at old-age care as the nation heads towards an ageing society by next year.

He also called on the government to look at innovative ways of financing to reduce health costs and to move towards a national health financing scheme.

Meanwhile, the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy said the government should commit to encouraging healthy behaviour, with increased investments in health prevention.

This should involve the health, women, family and community development, education, and youth and sports ministries, it said.

“People need to be healthy, be responsible for their own health and invest in their own well-being to prevent the onset of non-communicable diseases,” it stated in a statement to FMT when asked for its Budget 2020 wish list.

It said the funding for Peka B40, the health ministry’s pilot flagship programme for the poor to tackle NCDs, should be increased from RM100 million to RM200 million.

“We support setting aside RM50 million in seed funding for cancer treatment financing to encourage private sector ringgit-to-ringgit contribution,” it said.

“This could be a form of public-private-patient partnership where the government, private sector and patients pay together for cancer treatment. This will increase the availability and quality of treatment, particularly for those with advanced cancer,” it said.

The health advocate also urged the government to earmark an initial 5% from alcohol and tobacco taxes, which is estimated at RM5.9 billion annually, for health promotion and treatment, focusing initially on diabetes and cancer.

For Sarawak, Sabah and Orang Asli communities, it said maternal health service coverage and even access to drinking water remain woefully inadequate.

It said a solution must be found to the problem of sustainable healthcare financing. The budget should reflect investment in developing a future national healthcare insurance framework.

The Galen centre also called on the education and women, family and community development ministries to focus on sexual reproductive health education programmes to tackle teenage pregnancies and the increase in the number of sexually-transmitted diseases.