Three tasks to ensure proper health reform

Policy centre says Malaysia’s doctors, nurses, hospital assistants and hospital administrators must not be taken for granted.

We would like to call on Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad as Malaysia’s 21st Minister of Health to support the following three points:

First, commit to introducing much needed critical reforms, including healthcare financing which will help sustain universal health coverage and ensure that our health infrastructure is up to responding to the challenges faced by Malaysians in the 21st century.

What is needed is not just incremental measures or pilot projects, but structural reforms.

Second, introduce bottom-up consultation and progressive measures to help retain, motivate and attract more healthcare professionals to join the public health sector. We cannot take our doctors, nurses, hospital assistants and hospital administrators for granted.

And third, ensure that a deliberate consultative and inclusive approach is adopted and taken in dealing with health problems which place people and patients at the centre and beneficiaries of policies, as opposed to just being the target of them. The Ministry of Health needs to work in collaboration and consultation with patient groups, affected communities, the private sector, and civil society organisations.

The current healthcare system needs urgent attention to improve existing infrastructure and manpower, and to increase coverage and quality of service delivery. Investments in medical innovations, digital health, in infectious disease prevention and control expertise, and in rural health services, must be continued and maintained.

The Government has an opportunity to implement major reforms and introduce significant changes to our healthcare system which would have been difficult to undertake previously. It is not enough to realise the promises contained within the Pakatan Harapan manifesto, tough decisions will need to be made to ensure that the quality and coverage of healthcare accessible to Malaysians are befitting a upper middle income country.

Azrul Mohd Khalib is chief executive of the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy.

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of FMT.

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