KUALA LUMPUR – The article published on scientific journal Nature’s website which implied that Malaysia lacks state healthcare is “incorrect and a gross misrepresentation of the national health system”, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
He was responding to the article titled ‘The scientist-gardener who is harnessing tobacco’s power to heal’ which quoted London-based molecullar immonulogist Audrey Teh, who claimed to be a Malaysian, as saying that the country did not have state healthcare and “families are bankrupted by medical bills”.
According to Dr Noor Hisham, Malaysia achieved effective universal health coverage (UHC) in the 1990’s through tax-funded public provision of health care services.
He said the Malaysian government provided highly subsidised healthcare for all residents through its extensive network of public hospitals and clinics.
A comprehensive range of services are covered, including health promotion, disease prevention, curative, and rehabilitative care, he added.
“All residents of Malaysia are able to access these services with minimal payments, while services for disadvantaged populations such as the poor, disabled and the elderly are provided free of charge.
“This creates a strong safety net, ensuring that no one is denied access to needed healthcare, regardless of ability to pay,” he said in a statement here Nov 1.
According to Dr Noor Hisham, World Health Organisation (WHO) also continues to acknowledge Malaysia as providing quality health care services based on its high performing health care system and well-trained workforce.
“With highly subsidised public health services, the government collects only minimal user fees. For example, in 2018, user fees accounted for only 1.5 per cent of the Health Ministry’s operating budget, further illustrating the Government’s commitment towards alleviating the financial burden of accessing healthcare.
“In many respects, the Malaysian public healthcare provision which is practically free for all at the point of service is similar to the United Kingdom’s National Health Service,” he said.