The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) has urged the government to only spend public funds based on public health, science and good judgment, following what it calls examples of unjustified decisions such as the regular public sanitisation exercise and the purchase of negative pressure ambulances.
It, therefore, wants the government to report public spending on the Covid-19 pandemic in a transparent and regular way.
"Unjustified decisions are detrimental to public finances, given the huge financial need for the overall Covid-19 responses. Unreasonable decisions without sufficient justification or urgency must be eliminated.
"The government should explain all public expenditure for public health measures during the Covid-19 pandemic," the MHC said in a statement today.
It said that these measures must aim to manage the pandemic, improve patients’ outcome, and be coherent with measures outlined by the World Health Organisation.
"The government must report public spending in transparent and regularly scheduled ways.
"The reporting mechanism should include appropriate health economic evaluations with costs and benefits of all decisions.
"Every ringgit must be accounted for, as good stewards of the public purse," the MHC added.
It also highlighted the importance of evidence-based decisions in procurement for public health.
"Public health procurement decisions may evolve depending on new data and evidence, but any procurement changes must be guided by clear, sufficient and reliable scientific evidence.
"Evidence-based procurement decisions are especially important because Malaysia has a low fiscal ceiling and recently tapped into our National Trust Fund.
"While we will trust the judgment and prioritisation of government leaders, we reserve the right of check-and-balance as responsible citizens in a democracy and responsible professionals in the health system," the MHC said.
For a true all-of-society approach to Covid-19, it said, the government must actively involve experts and the public.
"This starts with acknowledging the opinions of experts and the public to improve the pandemic responses.
"The government’s deeds must now match its rhetoric. Public participation that reflects two-way trust between the government and its citizens is key to a successful Covid-19 response plan," the MHC added.