The health ministry has rejected allegations of reduced spending on non-communicable diseases, and said treatment of NCD had never been neglected and would continue to be prioritised by the government to provide better services to the people.
In a media briefing on the 2021 health ministry budget estimates, the ministry’s secretary-general, Dr Chen Chaw Min, said treatment for NCD has never been neglected and that the allocation for it has not been reduced.
He described as “not accurate” allegations made of a reduction of 2.57% in the RM27.22 billion operating expenses for 2021 compared to RM27.94 billion in the 2020 budget.
“This is the finance ministry’s budget strategy by transferring some details from the operating expenses to the development expenditure. Some of those details are related to long-term project financing,” he said.
The 2021 budget estimates tabled in the Dewan Rakyat on Friday show an allocation of RM31.94 billion for the health ministry, involving RM27.22 billion in operating expenses and RM4.72 billion in development expenditure.
The 2020 budget figures were a total allocation of RM30.6 billion, involving RM27.94 billion in operating expenditure and RM2.66 billion in development expenditure.
“It is a strategy and improvement in the new budget. This allows the health ministry to control and monitor allocations and expenditure comprehensively and more efficiently,” Chen said.
He said NCD treatment is in line with the Malaysia National Healthy Agenda announced by Finance Minister Tengku Zafrul Aziz when tabling the budget on Friday with an allocation of RM19 million.
The agenda is aimed at promoting and strengthening a healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
Chen said the health ministry has always received the highest allocation after the education and finance ministries and had increased every year, from RM15.35 billion in 2010 to RM30.6 billion in 2020, an increase of RM15 billion in 10 years.
“Of course, there will always be a wish list to get more, but we need to understand the overall economic situation. For us, we see the gradual annual increment in our budget and we are very happy about that, but no matter how much we get, there is always innovation for us to improve and the need for prudent spending to run the ministry efficiently,” he said.
He said that instead of buying new equipment, the ministry had made innovations which had saved a lot of money “and with those savings we can allocate that to other activities”.
Chen said health initiatives also involved other ministries, such as the tax reduction initiative for medical expenses and MySalam under the finance ministry as well as cervical cancer screening programme and mammogram screening subsidy incentive under the women, family and community development ministry.
He said the health ministry has also made an application to the government for the construction of an infectious diseases hospital which has been included under the Economic Planning Unit. - FMT