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Budget 2021 Cuts MOH’s Public Health Funds, Including 74% Reduction for Pharmacy & Supplies

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For illustrative purposes | Source: The Edge Market & CodeBlue


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With the tabling of Budget 2021 in Parliament, all eyes are currently on Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul and the details of next years’ annual budget framework. The biggest budget in Malaysian history at RM322.5 billion, it is extremely important in order for our country and its rakyat to survive the Covid-19 pandemic.

However, a closer look at the government’s Budget 2021 show something a bit peculiar whereby despite the health crisis that the pandemic brings, allocations and fundings for the Ministry of Health (MOH) were actually significantly cut in important areas.

As reported by CodeBlue, an independent editorial programme from Galen Centre for Health & Social Policy, despite the 4% increase of MOH overall budget by the government’s Budget 2021 to RM31.9 billion from last year’s, the medical budget for MOH was actually cut by 20.5% or by RM2.9 billion.

This reduction include cuts in fundamental funds for MOH’s health care services such as a staggering 74% decrease in pharmacy and supplies. This refers to drugs and other non-pharmaceutical items like protective equipment, IV drips, syringes and more.

For illustrative purposes only

Most intriguingly, amidst the surge in Covid-19 cases, the government actually reduced the fundings for ‘Disease Control’ category under MOH’s Public Health from RM843.7 million to RM835.7 million. This category governs infectious diseases such as Covid-19 and dengue. Furthermore, budget for anaesthesiology and intensive care were also slashed by 10.03% despite many serious Covid-19 infections being dependant on ventilators.

Most of the budget cuts involve Non-Cummunicable Diseases (NCD) such as cancer, cardiovascular and kidney diseases. CodeBlue made a comparison between funds allocated for MOH in Budget 2020 and Budget 2021 in terms of NCD and you can see a breakdown of it below:

The programme or activity that received the largest cut in funding is Nephrology or treatments for diseases that affects kidneys which saw a decrease of RM195.6 million or a whopping 77.61% reduction. However, do note that Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul did allude to funds for Nephrology may be placed under somewhere else in Budget 2021.

For example, he said that the government will allocated RM25 million for dialysis home treatment. Nevertheless, the RM25 million allocation is far less than the RM195.6 million budget cut the category received.

Following the tabling of Budget 2021, Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib were shocked at the reduction of public health budget as it is most important health care system right now and needed to be strengthen. He further stressed,

“We cannot afford to look at one crisis at a time. Telling ourselves that we will deal with cancer and chronic kidney disease some other day after we are done with Covid-19, is not an option. Suffering could increase and lives will be lost due to insufficient resources for treatment and care.”

 

Nevertheless, as you can see from the graphic by CodeBlue above, MOH did receive strengthening in other departments under Budget 2021 such as the increase in funds for management of food safety and quality (11.41% increase). General impatient treatment (3.64% increase) and hospital management (0.76% increase) are two other aspects strengthened by Budget 2021.

Furthermore, MOH also received new allocations for health facilities’ medical supply and a concession on privatisation of medical laboratories and stores.

What do you guys think of this aspect of Budget 2021? Should the government have made this refocusing of funds for MOH? Share your thoughts with us in the comments!

 

Also read: BREAKING: CMCO Announced For 12 States Until 6 December

 

Source: RTM
Source: Dermatology
Source: CodeBlue
Source: CodeBlue


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