Eventful year for health ministry under new govt

04 May 2019 / 12:24 H.

PUTRAJAYA: The PeKa B40, a healthcare protection scheme for the low-income B40 group, management of “sick” projects and the initiative for price control on medicines were among the achievements of the Health Ministry under the Pakatan Harapan government in it’s first year in office.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (pix) said another big accomplishment was the formation of the Health Advisory Council (HAC), which aims to strengthen public-private collaboration in health care.

In a recent press conference in conjunction with the anniversary of PH after a year of administering the country, Dzulkefly said a total of 2,443 people have undergone health screenings for their first visit under PeKA B40 since April 29. The project was launched on April 15.

“The PeKA B40 is free and fully sponsored by the government to benefit 800,000 recipients of the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) initiative with an RM100 million allocation.

“The population target will be developed in the future, depending on the success of the project, and an increase in allocation from the government,” he added.

PeKA B40, which is at the operational test phase now, will focus on public and private partnership in improving access to health services for BSH recipients and their registered spouse aged 50 years old and above, to address the increasing prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among the low-income groups in the country.

Besides providing health screening, PeKA B40 also provides medical devices, complete cancer treatment and transport aid to get treated at public hospitals, he explained.

On another note, Dzulkefly said the ministry is also focusing on empowering family healthcare, and at the same time, strengthening both public and private health clinics to combat the worrying trend of NCD in the country.

Family medicine practice doctors, whether in the government or private clinics are equally an important component of the healthcare frontline as they are responsible to identify and to ensure that the prevention of diseases is successful.

“The approach emphasises prevention is better than curative, without denying the importance of continuing to develop of healthcare facilities in the hospitals. I have emphasised on primary healthcare and primary care reform too,” the minister said.

“We want every clinic to become our health gatekeeper, where it would be able to identify (diseases) and treat them early. If possible, I want most of the general practitioners and medical officers to specialise in family medicine so that they can become family medicine specialists.

“We want to set primary care and primary health care in health clinics not only as a subset of healthcare but a very important unit,” he explained.

Dzulkefly said his ministry took serious steps following the rise in the number of NCD cases as it they were detected as one of the leading causes of deteriorating adult health, with health complications.

Therefore, he added that this was also the reason why Malaysians’ life expectancy cannot be improved and remain at an average of 75 years.

Dzulkefly said the ministry was also revamping 1Malaysia clinics and transforming them into community clinics, to provide value-add to existing services, to comply with requirements and to optimise human and financial resources.

Of the 347 clinics, 293 will be upgraded to community clinics, while 20 more will be upgraded to health clinics and 34 will be closed.

On the management of “sick” projects, Dzulkefly said stern action was taken against contractors who failed to complete projects in the given time.

“The services of the contractor for the construction of the Kampung Raja Health Clinic project in Besut, Terengganu was terminated after the contractor failed to follow the planned recovery plan with the Public Works Department (JKR).

“Based on his poor performance, the main contractor was unable to complete the project by the given date as of May 22, this year. The termination notice was issued on April 18 and will be open for tender again within six months of the notice date,” he explained.

On the termination of the main contractor for the 300-bed Hospital Petra Jaya in Sarawak in August last year for failing to meet its completion date on Nov 29, 2016, the Works Ministry has re-tendered the project (which was closed on April 26) and the successful contractor is expected to begin work on October 2019.

Commenting on controlling prices of medicines, Dzulkefly said the effort was aimed to ensure that access to affordable medicines, especially those expensive new medicines at clinics, hospitals and pharmacies, will be done in phases.

On other achievements, he said the ministry has also introduced several initiatives to increase holistic and quality healthcare to the people, by setting up a Task Force to study on the feasibility to make vaccination compulsory.

The proposal on making immunisation mandatory will be discussed among the ministry’s steering committee on May 8 for approval, before it is presented to the Cabinet, he said, adding the ministry is in process drafting proposal papers on the Mental Health Institute.

Among other achievements were addressing the welfare problems of the ministry staff through the Junior Doctors Quandry initiative, and welcoming their (staff’s) suggestions and ideas through a communication channel known as ‘Ideas That Matter’ programme.

He added the one year period also saw the ministry taking a bold step in terminating an orthopaedic department head at a hospital for sexual misconduct offence. — Bernama

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