Ensure universal healthcare, maintain tax revenue-financed system

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Patients waiting even during the lunch hour at the BM General Hospital

The Citizens Health Initiative secured a meeting with the Council of Eminent Persons on 13 August 2018 to present “The Way Forward for Healthcare in Malaysia”.

The topics that were addressed included an affirmation of the principle of universal healthcare that ensures equitable access to quality healthcare that is not dependent on the people’s ability to pay, nor is restricted by geographical location.

The key recommendations by the Citizens Health Initiative are as follows:

  • Strengthen prevention, primary care and public hospitals to ensure universal healthcare with equitable access to quality healthcare
  • Maintain the tax revenue-financed system with better incentives for healthcare providers to stay in public service to reduce the escalation of healthcare costs associated with health insurance systems, while ensuring sustainable financing over the long term
  • A voluntary health insurance, even if supposedly leading to a social health insurance scheme will be a retrogressive step as Malaysia has an excellent, long-established tax-revenue-financed public healthcare system and
  • Healthcare system reforms should focus primarily on improving healthcare while ensuring greater cost effectiveness and equity

Healthcare is well known as a sector that is fraught with market failures in delivery as well as financing.

The CHI proposals emphasise that healthcare reforms in Malaysia must retain a provider role as well as a financing role for the government, in moving towards an integrated, pluralistic system of public and private sector providers.

Citizen’s Health Initiative:

  • Dr Mary Cardosa, visiting consultant pain specialist, Hospital Selayang; former senior consultant anaesthetist and pain specialist, Hospital Selayang; former head of pain medicine subspecialty, Ministry of Health, past president Malaysian Medical Association
  • Dr Chan Chee Khoon, public health specialist, former professor, Universiti Sains Malaysia
  • Dr Chee Heng Leng, councilor, Penang Island City Council ; previously associate professor, Universiti Putra Malaysia; visiting professor, Universiti Sains Malaysia
  • Dr Yap Tuan Gee, medical practitioner, pharmacologist; former lecturer, University of Malaya; former associate professor, International Medical University
  • Chang Yii Tan, consultant, inter alia, healthcare financing
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