Malaysiakini Letter

New health minister has got his job surgically cut out

Dr Musa Mohd Nordin, Dr Johari Bux  |  Published:  |  Modified:

LETTER | Unlike the controversies surrounding the choice of the minister of education, it was relatively plain sailing for the post of minister of health. Notwithstanding, there are major and pressing issues within the health ministry which need to be immediately addressed.

Suffice to mention among these grievances are:

  • the dwindling budget allocation for health (2% of GDP in the public sector),
  • the shortage of hospital beds in the ministry of health (MOH),
  • the lack of synergy between the MOH and the private health sector,
  • the incessant complaints from junior doctors due to a “toxic MOH work culture”,
  • the need to harness the talent pool among healthcare professionals (HCP) to flourish the MOH centres of excellence to mitigate the brain drain,
  • the increasing the opportunities for medical officers to pursue postgraduate studies,
  • the challenges of non-communicable diseases (NCD) and ageing population; and 
  • the plugging of leakages in the MOH finances and the escalating costs of healthcare.

Therefore in our humble opinion, the next immediate, urgent and important task for Dzulkefly Ahmad is to source for wisdom, experience and talented persons who will advise him professionally. His team needs to headhunt for the best brains and hearts from amongst the medical fraternity for this national duty.

We, the rakyat, will not tolerate mediocrity in our quest for Universal Health Coverage (UHC) for our citizenry. Just short of a royal commission, he will need to re-examine and re-evaluate the status of the health of Malaysians and the healthcare services currently available at service to the rakyat.

His advisors will need to report specifically on four areas of concern, namely:

1. the existing and future needs for accessible, safe and quality healthcare services,

2. the resources required to actualise these services

3. to make recommendations to the minister of the necessary infrastructure, provisions, resources (urgent and important, must have, can wait, can do without) and

4. towards the objective of universal health coverage “ensuring that all our rakyat have access to needed promotive, preventive, curative and rehabilitative health services, of sufficient quality to be effective, while also ensuring that the rakyat do not suffer financial hardship when paying for these services”

We are very sure that there have been studies to address some or all of these issues. The advisory board does not need to reinvent the wheel.

The wise, experienced and eminent persons on the advisory board should collate all of this information and synthesise the roadmap to ensure the good health of all Malaysians and the health care services required to actualise this.

In the final analysis, the KPI of the minister is to ensure health for all Malaysians, that no Malaysian is left out and that Malaysians stay healthy.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.

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