2021 Budgets, Significant Cuts On Healthcare Allocation

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Press Statement by YB Kelvin Yii:

While I strongly welcome the additional allocations allocated to deal with the Malaysian COVID-19 epidemic especially allocations to provide equipment and supplies such as PPEs, purchase of vaccines and special allowances for the Healthcare Front liners, but if we look at the Health Budget on a micro-level, we will see significant cuts almost across the board toward other essential departments which will have a significant negative impact on our healthcare as a whole.

So this healthcare budget is indeed a “short-sighted budget” which may address certain needs of the current Covid-19 pandemic, but have long-term consequences on the quality of care provided for other equally essential matters on top of not addressing long-term systemic gaps in our healthcare system as a whole.

Besides Covid-19, our country is also facing a healthcare crisis especially our worrying Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) statistics. The National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019 which was published earlier this year highlighted the insidious nature of NCDs and risk factors such as diabetes, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and obesity which are causing a catastrophic impact and burgeoning cost on the Malaysian healthcare system and society as a whole.

For example, Under MOH’s Budget 2021, nephrology received a 78% budget cut with an RM56.5 million allocation for next year, while the allocation for cancer treatment was drastically reduced by 58.49% from RM 328.7 million in 2020 to RM 136.4 million. We also see a significant reduction of 66.7% for Cardiothoracic, 14.28% or RM 248 million for General Medicine, 10.46% for Respiratory and 10.03% or about RM 50 million for Anaesthesiology & Intensive Care.

We see significant cuts in nephrology even when reports clearly states the danger of NCDs in our country and how conditions like diabetes will exacerbate issues kidney failure. More than 100,000 Malaysians are expected to suffer kidney failure over the next two decades, and it is expected that 106,000 Malaysians will suffer kidney failure requiring dialysis by 2040.

With the current economic and health uncertainty due to Covid-19, there are also increased incidence of mental health issues, depression, anxiety and even attempted suicides. Instead of addressing the “silent mental health pandemic”, they reduced about RM 30 million or 9.11% for Psychiatry & Mental Health.

On top of that, due to the interventions related to COVID-19 such as the Movement Control Order, the incidences of various NCDs have and are expected to worsen and increase as many patients have missed their appointments and even treatment. All these backlogs are expected to be addressed especially next year and it is a disservice to cut all those allocations that will jeopardise the quality of care given to those patients.

Now that we are in a public health crisis, it is pertinent to strengthen and protect public health response and education in response to Covid-19 and other infectious disease that we are continuously facing including Dengue. Yet the allocations related to public health are reduced across the board even though public health is the most important aspect of our healthcare system right now and we need it to be strengthened.

All these issues I will bring up in my Budget debate so that the government do not take for granted of lose sight on the importance and emphasis on non covid-19 cases as well as we do not want to see increased in suffering and for non covid-19 cases as well due to insufficient resources for treatment and good quality of care which shows lack of support and preparation to handle the entire healthcare ecosystem other than Covid-19 itself.

Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen
MP Bandar Kuching