Dr Yii: Budget 2021 on healthcare, a short-sighted budget

Dr Kelvin Yii

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By Adrian Lim

KUCHING, Nov 7: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii is disappointed that Budget 2021 did not address the long-term systemic gaps in the country’s healthcare system.

He observed that the allocation for the Health Ministry was just a short-term measure to fight the Covid-19, while funds channelled to other medical departments to fight other diseases have witnessed significant reduction.

“While I strongly welcome the additional allocations to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic especially allocations to provide equipment and supplies such as personal protective equipments (PPEs), purchase of vaccines and special allowances for healthcare frontliners, but if we look at the Health Budget on a micro-level, we will see significant cuts almost across the board towards other essential departments which will have a significant negative impact on our healthcare as a whole.

“So, the healthcare budget is indeed a “short-sighted budget” which may address certain needs of the current Covid-19 pandemic.

“But, (it will) 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,” he said in a statement today.

Citing the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2019 which was published earlier this year, Dr Yii said the insidious nature of NCDs and risk factors such as diabetes, kidney disease, cardiovascular disease and obesity have caused a catastrophic impact and burgeoning cost on the Malaysian healthcare system and society as a whole.

For example, Dr Yii asserted that nephrology received a 78 per cent budget cut with an RM56.5 million allocation for next year, while the allocation for cancer treatment was drastically reduced by 58.49 per cent to RM 136.4 million from RM328.7 million in 2020 under Ministry of Health’s (MoH) Budget 2021.

Besides, he noted MoH also witnessed a significant reduction of 66.7 per cent for cardiothoracic, 14.28 per cent or RM248 million for general medicine, 10.46 per cent reduction for respiratory and 10.03 per cent or about RM 50 million for anaesthesiology and intensive care.

Dr Yii pointed out that MoH was allocated significantly less in nephrology even when reports clearly stated the danger of NCDs in Malaysia and how conditions like diabetes will exacerbate issues of kidney failure.

He believed that 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, Dr Yii opined that there were also increased incidence of mental health issues, depression, anxiety and even attempted suicides.

“Instead of addressing the “silent mental health pandemic”, they reduced about RM30 million or 9.11 per cent for psychiatry and mental health.

On top of that, due to the interventions related to Covid-19 such as the Movement Control Order (MCO), 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,” he added.

Dr Yii asserted that it is pertinent for the country to strengthen and protect the public health and education in response to Covid-19 and other infectious diseases that the country is facing including dengue.

In spite of that, he noted the allocations related to public health were reduced across the board even though public health is the most important aspect of the country’s healthcare system right at the moment which needs to be strengthened.

Dr Yii stressed that he will bring those issues up during his Budget 2021 debate at the Parliament so that the government does take for granted or lose sight on the importance and emphasis on non Covid-19 related issues. —DayakDaily