RM380m cut from Health Ministry budget restored

17 Nov 2016 / 11:10 H.

KUALA LUMPUR: Government hospitals will not face any more drug shortage issues arising from a RM380 million budget cut announced last year, as the funds have been reinstated to the Health Ministry.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya said today Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Abdul Razak, who is also finance minister, had withdrawn the budget cut for medical expenditure this year, following an appeal by the ministry.
The Health Ministry's allocation of RM23.31 billion in 2015 was reduced to RM23.03 billion in Budget 2016.
Hilmi said the budget reduction was revoked to ensure there is adequate supply of medicine at all government hospitals.
He said the government had cut the ministry's funds by up to RM380 million for 2016, but the money was returned later to the ministry in stages.
"As such, we will not have any more drug shortage issues," said Hilmi, adding that the ministry would also look into optimising the use of medicines to avoid wastage.
He was replying to Ahmad Baihaki Atiqullah (PAS-Kubang Kerian) in the Dewan Rakyat today. Ahmad Baihaki had asked about the measures taken by the ministry to resolve medicine shortage at government hospitals.
He said towards optimising usage of drugs, the ministry has issued guidelines to stop medicine wastage by enforcing proper prescription and dispensing practices.
"Under the new requirement, patients who visit government pharmacists will have to show what is left of their medicine, so that it could be topped up accordingly.
"This is because some patients do not complete their course on time and there is a lot of wastage."
He said the ministry had spent RM2.2 billion to buy medicines in 2015 and RM1.9 billion this year, of which 60% are generic drugs while the rest were either innovators or original medicines.
Nevertheless, he gave an assurance that the ministry only approved the purchase of generic drugs if the quality of the medicine are equal to that of innovators.
Last month, theSun reported concerns from patients that there would be a shortage of medicine in the country.
The issue came to light following claims by patients that their supply had been reduced to two weeks or a month, from between two to six months' supply previously, depending on the drugs.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had allayed such fears, saying the ministry had only reduced medicine supply to a month to avoid wastage.
He said the ministry's policy was to ensure there was sufficient supply of medicines and supplements at all its hospitals and clinics.


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