INTERVIEW | Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad has conceded that public healthcare in the country is both underfunded and understaffed.
While the allocation for his ministry increased by RM2 billion under Budget 2019 to RM29 billion, Dzulkefly said this was just 2.2 percent of Malaysia's gross domestic product.
This falls short of Malaysia's target to be a developed country which on average should spend 6 percent of its GDP on healthcare.
"Because of the (current economic) situation, we cannot match the rates of developed countries.
"As such, the allocation for the health sector is not sufficient," Dzulkefly said at a joint media interview in Putrajaya recently.
The Pakatan Harapan government claims to have inherited massive debts and liabilities from the previous BN government which it said totalled over RM1 trillion last year.
This has often been cited as the reason why the government needs more time before it can bring development up to speed.
Dzulkefly said the lack of funding for public healthcare also contributed to a workforce imbalance between it and the private sector.
"For example, say we have 40 percent of the experts in the public sector, but we take care of 60 percent of (the country's) patients," he said.
Despite this, he said, the experts in the public healthcare system were among the best in the country.
"We don't have many experts but the best experts are in the government (hospitals). When there are (medical) complications, they will send them (the patients) to the government (hospitals)," Dzulkefly said.
With these challenges faced by the public healthcare sector in mind, Dzulkefly said he is hoping for greater cooperation with private healthcare providers to ensure the best for Malaysians.
This partnership, he said, was for services, facilities and finances.