Malaysians’ health improved but unevenly spread - KRI

01 Dec 2020 / 17:45 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians’ overall health has improved compared with decades ago but is unevenly spread, according to the latest report published by Khazanah Research Institute (KRI).

The report entitled ‘Social Inequalities and Health in Malaysia: The State of Households 2020 Part III’, published today, also shows that Malaysians have a higher life expectancy.

On average, baby boys and girls born in 2020 are expected to live for 72.6 and 77.6 years respectively, 11 years longer than babies born in 1970, according to the report.

This increase in life expectancy is the result of a reduction in mortality rates including child and maternal mortality rates.

“For example, in 1970, the mortality rate among infants was 21.4 per 1,000 births; this rate has decreased to 4.1 in 2019.

“Moreover, the maternal mortality ratio has dropped from 140.8 deaths per 100,000 births in 1970 to 21.1 in 2019,” it said.

The report, launched virtually today, also found that the increase in the life expectancy of Malaysians is unevenly spread among the population.

“For example, a male newborn in Sarawak or Kuala Lumpur in 2020 is expected to live up to 74 years compared with 69 years for those born in Perlis, Terengganu or Kelantan in the same year (a five year gap),” it said.

“Comparing Malaysia’s lifespan with countries at similar development levels also shows that there is still room for improvement.

“Although Malaysia has a similar life expectancy to Mexico, and higher than Turkey and Thailand in 1990, those countries have surpassed Malaysia with a higher life expectancy in 2019,” it said.

Meanwhile, KRI chairman Tan Sri Nor Mohamed Yakcop, in his speech during the launch, said that the improvement demonstrates that the health-related initiatives implemented by the government yield positive results.

However, there are several new health challenges that need to be addressed immediately to maintain this positive achievement, he said.

He added that non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, cancer and mental health problems are becoming more prevalent, and are now the biggest contributors to people’s health problems and premature death.

“These new challenges remind us that health policy should not focus on increasing life expectancy alone, but should also ensure a decent living standard for everyone.

“Government policies can play an important role to address health problems, as well as to bridge the health gap and make positive changes to the country’s well-being,” he said. — Bernama

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