PETALING JAYA: PKR president Anwar Ibrahim and former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye have urged the government to increase its allocation for the public healthcare system.
In a joint statement, they said a substantial increase was needed for a more robust healthcare system and to manage the prolonged Covid-19 pandemic, especially since there was no cure or vaccine available yet.
“The current allocation for public health in the 2020 Budget is RM5.66 billion out of a total health ministry operating budget of RM27.9 billion. As for human resources, 78,266 staff are in public health out of a total of 267,578 health ministry staff.
“We would advocate an increase of 20% to both operating expenditure as well as staffing levels for public health over the next two years,” they said.
Anwar and Lee said non-communicable diseases were also at a high rate, adding that obesity among adults and stunted growth among children pointed to a “nutritional epidemic” that needed rectifying.
They lauded the health ministry staff under the leadership of director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah for their excellent job in mitigating the Covid-19 pandemic, but said more could be done with the right political and governmental support.
They said more Covid-19 testing should be done daily particularly for more vulnerable groups, including those in prison and blue-collar industries.
They also warned Putrajaya against reducing the allocation for the health ministry when it comes to tabling Budget 2021, despite the economic impact of the pandemic.
“We urge the government to remember that money spent in improving our public health should be viewed as an investment and not a cost.
“It is only by improving and protecting the health of our people that will we be able to overcome the health and economic challenges facing our nation,” they said.