Putrajaya – Although the current focus of the country is to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, the allocation given to the Ministry of Health (MOH) in Budget 2021 for other expenses, especially non-communicable diseases (NCD) will continue to be prioritised by the government in order to provide better services to the people.
MOH secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Chen Chaw Min said in the budget, treatment for NCD has never been neglected and still ongoing and the allocation has not been reduced.
The matter is in line with the Malaysia National Healthy Agenda announced by Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz when tabling the 2021 budget on Friday with an allocation of RM19 million, he told a media briefing session on the budget here today.
Malaysia National Healthy Agenda is aimed at strengthening healthy lifestyle to reduce the risk of diabetes, hypertension and obesity.
He said that the allegation by certain parties that there was a reduction of 2.57 per cent in the RM27.22 billion operating expenses for 2021 compared to RM27.94 billion in the previous year was not accurate.
“This is the Ministry of Finance’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.
It was announced in Budget 2021 that the MOH will receive an allocation of RM31.94 billion involving operating expenses of RM27.22 billion and RM4.72 billion for development expenditure compared to a total of RM30.6 billion allocation, involving RM27.94 billion for operating expenditure and RM2.66 billion for development expenditure in the previously announced Budget 2020.
“It is a strategy and improvement in the new budget. This allows the MOH to control and monitor allocations and expenditure comprehensively and more efficiently,” he said.
According to Chen, MOH has always been one of the ministries that received the highest allocation after the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Finance.
He said every year the allocation given to MOH continued to increase 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 make prudent spending to run the ministry efficiently,” he said.
Chen said the ministry had made a lot of innovation like instead of buying new equipment, MOH would rent or lease; made an open tender to get the best price and conduct pool procurement with Higher Education Ministry and Defence Ministry.
“These are all the savings we made and with that savings we can allocate that to other activities,” he said.
At the same time, he said health initiatives were not only under the MOH but also involved other ministries such as tax reduction initiative for medical expenses and MySalam under the Ministry of Finance as well as cervical cancer screening programme and mammogram screening subsidy incentive under the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development.
The MOH also has made an application to the government for the construction of Infectious Diseases Hospital which has been included under the Economic Planning Unit (EPU), he added. – Bernama