Health reform law needed to revamp present situation, says expert

A public health specialist says the Covid-19 crisis has shown up the inadequate funding for the health ministry.

PETALING JAYA: A public health specialist has called for a health reform act to improve the Malaysian healthcare system post-Covid-19.

Universiti Malaya health systems and policies senior fellow Dr Khor Swee Kheng said the Covid-19 pandemic had highlighted gaps and inefficiencies in the Malaysian healthcare system which had been prevalent for the past “two or three decades”.

This included the relative lack of hospitals, the contract system for doctors, nurses and pharmacists, as well as “inadequate funding” for the health ministry.

Proposing a health reform act to revamp the current system, Khor also suggested creating a parliamentary select committee tasked with ushering in the reforms and ensuring these would be apolitical.

“Covid-19 is accelerating the need for us to have health reforms,” Khor said during a webinar titled “Build Back Better: Constructing Our Post-Covid-19 Future”, organised by the Research for Social Advancement Centre (Refsa) today.

Dr Khor Swee Kheng.

“The reason for having a health reform act and a parliamentary select committee that survives parliaments, political transitions, pandemics and changes in administration is crucial for one big reason — health reforms in other countries have traditionally taken 10 to 20 years.

“In Malaysia, if we continue on this political trajectory, we could be experiencing a period of instability in the future. We cannot let that impact reforms in the health system.”

Khor, who is currently with the Blavatnik School of Government at Oxford University in the United Kingdom, said the health reform act should rethink the financing structure for health in Malaysia.

He also hoped that the act would change the way the ministry’s hospitals are organised and structured, as well as address the issue of human capital.

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