The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has warned that a reduction in the Health Ministry’s budget is adversely affecting the quality of care given to patients.
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) President Dr John Chew said the budget cuts would mean less money to operate with. This is particularly difficult given that the number of patients seeking public healthcare is increasing due to a higher cost of living.
The Government slashed this year’s allocation to the Health Ministry by between RM250 million and RM300 million in January.
Dr Chew said: “We hope this is a temporary problem. The ministry has to look at ways to improve efficiency to deal with budget cuts.
“The other way is for the public to be more responsible for their own health. For instance, they can stop smoking, eat healthy food, practice weight control, eat less salt and sugar, and exercise regularly,” he told FMT.
Dr Chew noted that many patients who were given anti- hypertension drugs, for instance, were not taking the medications regularly to control blood pressure causing stroke, heart attack and renal failure – and indirectly increasing the Government’s medical expenditure.
Dr Chew was asked to respond to reports that the budget cuts had forced Health Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah to re-evaluate the ministry’s financial resources.
There have been reports recently, quoting medical staff and patients, that the dispensing of medicines and provision of services in some hospitals had been affected by the lack of money.
Dr Chew said due to the high cost of living, more Malaysians were going to government hospitals.
The Health Ministry recently said there was an 8 per cent increase in patients, amounting to 3 million more, seeking treatment at government health clinics in the first five months of this year compared with the same period last year.
Dr Chew suggested that the Health Ministry streamline the process of, or eliminate, unnecessary blood tests and prevent wastage in giving out medications.
Health Minister Dr S Subramaniam had earlier given an assurance that the budget cuts would not encroach into basic health services.