Think tank warns Putrajaya of a sicker Malaysia if healthcare Budget cut this year

Malay Mail
Malay Mail

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 4 — The federal government should maintain if not increase its spending on public healthcare when it retables Budget 2023 in Parliament in the next few weeks, the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy said today.

Its CEO Azrul Mohd Khalib warned that any cuts to public healthcare would lead to a collapse of the entire system that has been buckling under the strain of the Covid-19 pandemic the last few years even as he expressed alarm at the recent news reports of burnout among the country’s shrinking medical workforce.

“Any reduction in this year's health allocation will be reflected in the prevalence of non-communicable diseases, ability to provide quality care, number of healthcare professionals leaving the service and worse, morbidity and mortality data for years to come.

“We need to maintain and strengthen our investment in health, not reduce it,” he said in a statement today.

Azrul noted that the entire country’s healthcare workforce is currently facing a tough time, with those still working in the sector “underpaid, overworked, overstretched”.

“There is excessive workload, burnout amidst widespread anxiety, trauma, and mental fatigue which are causing many staff to decide to leave, causing shortages, and increasing pressure on staff, thus creating a vicious cycle.

“The emergency and trauma departments have been described as war zones even before the Covid-19 crisis,” he added.

Azrul’s warning comes ahead of the Anwar administration’s plan to retable a revision to the Budget in Parliament on February 24, to reflect the country’s national debt and liabilities currently amounting to RM1.5 trillion.

Budget 2023 had been tabled last October by the previous government then led by Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob but was not debated on or passed, due to the dissolution of Parliament that paved the way for the 15th general election last November.

Several ministers have been reported expecting a leaner Budget with the global economic headwinds this year post pandemic.

Defence Minister Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan has said that he has submitted a new recalibrated Budget to the Finance Ministry — helmed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim.

Youth and Sports Minister Hannah Yeoh has also been apprehensive and has expressed her hope that allocations for her ministry will not be cut.

She said that it is vital for the national athletes as they are en route to a crucial mission next year, specifically the 2024 Olympic Games in Paris, France.