KUALA LUMPUR: The government will continue to strengthen the capacity of public health services next year by making the Health Ministry among the recipients of the largest allocation increase in Budget 2023, amounting to RM36.1 billion compared to RM32.4 billion this year.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz, when tabling the Supply Bill 2023 today, said although the country was now in the transition to endemic phase, Covid-19 was still a public threat, and therefore, in facing the future, efforts to strengthen health services will be made.

“A total of RM4.9 billion has been provided for procurement such as medicines, reagents, vaccines and disposable apparatus, an increase of 12 per cent compared to 2022,” he said in the Dewan Rakyat today.

Describing the total expenditure on health services in Malaysia as equivalent to neighbouring countries, which is around four per cent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP), he said the priority next year is to refurbish facilities, including dilapidated clinics.

“The government provides RM420 million for the repair of run down hospitals and clinics as well as for the replacement of old equipment with priority given to health facilities in the interior of Sabah and Sarawak.

“Next year, several new hospitals, clinics and facility construction projects will be implemented, including the procurement of equipment at a cost of almost RM1.8 billion, the construction of the Maran Hospital in Pahang at a cost of RM350 million, the building of the women’s and children’s block at Melaka Hospital and five new Health Clinics such as in Linggi (Negeri Sembilan), Penampang (Sabah) and Sepupok (Sarawak),” he said.

Through the budget themed “Keluarga Malaysia, Prospering Together”, Tengku Zafrul said the government will also acquire mobile CT Scan equipment to improve CT Scan services, especially for the benefit of the interior areas in Sabah and Sarawak.

As for mental health, he said the government plans to establish a National Mental Health Centre of Excellence that acts as an integrated driving force between all parties for the well-being of the people’s mental health under MyMYNDA with an allocation of RM34 million.

“To support the National Dental Health Policy, the scope of income tax relief on personal, spouse and child medical treatment expenses will be expanded to include dental examination and treatment expenses, limited to RM1,000 from the assessment year 2023.

“In addition to this, RM10 million will also be allocated for the procurement of ten 3D printing machines for the production of dentures which can reduce the time a patient visits the government dental clinic from five times to just two,“ he said

To encourage smokers to quit the habit, Tengku Zafrul said the government also plans to exempt import duty and sales tax on nicotine replacement therapy products.

He also said that to complement the move to make Kuala Lumpur Hospital and Tunku Azizah Hospital referral centres for rare diseases, the government will also increase allocations to RM25 million to cover increasing treatment costs.

“The government had also in July 2022 established a trust account for the treatment of rare diseases to enable all parties to channel donations. I am pleased to announce that donations to this fund will be given a tax deduction equal to the amount of the actual contribution. It is hoped that many parties will come forward to contribute to easing the burden of the patients’ treatment cost,” he said.

As prevention is better than cure, Tengku Zafrul said the government will also intensify health screening efforts through the PeKa B40 scheme with an allocation of RM80 million, including for diabetes.

He said the government will also make improvements to the Social Security Organisation (Socso) Health Screening programme by opening it up to some 2.3 million registered workers under the Socso Disability Scheme through a RM80 million allocation as early steps towards detecting and preventing critical diseases such as cancer and heart disease.

In addition, Tengku Zafrul said the implementation of MySalam will continue for the recipients of Bantuan Keluarga Malaysia (BKM) by opening it up to insurance and takaful companies to ensure the continuity of the programme.

He said since 2019, MySalam has approved claims related to critical illness and hospitality amounting to RM734 million to 1.5 million B40 individuals, including 500,000 individuals who received compensation due to Covid-19 with a total value of RM330 million.

“The Perlindungan Tenang Voucher that has benefited more than three million BKM beneficiaries will also be continued through the cost-sharing method and expanded to the purchase of flood protection products for residential homes,” he said.

He also called on more entities to contribute to the National Trust Fund (KWAN) for the benefit of the country, especially after PETRONAS announced plans to contribute RM2 billion to the agency next year. - Bernama

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