Govt shouldnt shirk healthcare responsibility

Dr Subramaniam Pillay

Modified 29 Jan 2008, 10:21 am

On behalf of the Coalition Against Health Care Privatisation, I wish to categorically state that at no time did we say that the proposed National Health Financing Scheme (NHFS) would be introduced in 2006 as claimed by Health Minister Dr Chua Soi Lek (Dec 14, The Star/New Straits Times/The Sun ).

In fact, according to newspaper reports on April 26, it was Chua who said that NHFS will come into force in 2006 and eight million Malaysians will have to pay for their medical treatment.

In the Health Financing Forum that was co-organised by our coalition on Dec 11, we actually put forward a People's Proposal for health financing reform which encompassed the following six key features:

  • Need for consultation and full disclosure without being rushed by artificially set deadlines.

  • Need for equitable access to healthcare for all Malaysian residents.
  • A National Health Fund (NHF) which will be funded by federal budget, taxes on alcohol and cigarettes and a small portion of Petronas profits.
  • A National Health Authority (NHA) created as a trust by Parliament will manage the NHF. The NHA will be representative of a wide cross section of Malaysians and be fully accountable to all Malaysians.
  • Reform of public sector health system first before integrating with private sector healthcare providers.
  • A comprehensive essential health package which must minimally consists of all the treatment options currently available in our government clinics and hospitals.
  • The keynote address at the forum was given by the former director-general of health Dr Abdul Khalid Sahan who emphasised that the provision of healthcare is one of the primary duties of the government.

    We concur fully with him. We feel that healthcare is a basic human right just like education and it is the responsibility of the government to provide equitable and efficient health care to all Malaysians regardless of income. In that way it will enhance social solidarity and contribute to the long-run social and economic development of Malaysia.

    The writer is an Aliran executive committee member and Coalition Against Health Care Privatisation chairperson.

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