HEALTHCARE | Staff Reporter, Malaysia

Malaysia proposes 7.8% larger 2019 budget of US$6.9b for healthcare

It will allocate $8.4m of its healthcare budget to boost Malaysia’s image as a health tourism destination.

Malaysia's government is proposing an increase in public healthcare expenditure to US$6.9b in its 2019 budget which is an increase of 7.8% from 2018’s budget, according to a report by Fitch Solutions.

Of the US$6.9b, US$550m will be allocated mainly for building and maintaining hospitals and health clinics, upgrading existing healthcare facilities and procurement of medical equipment.

“This is in line with the emphasis to provide quality healthcare and increase accessibility to health services,” Fitch Solutions said in its report.

Other initiatives will include widening public private partnership (PPP) healthcare investment programmes between the government and private sector, allocating US$11.9m to treat patients with rare diseases and setting aside US$8.4m for the Malaysia Healthcare Tourism Council (MHTC) to team up with private hospitals in a bid to boost Malaysia’s image as a health tourism destination.

Between 2011 and 2015, the healthcare travel industry recorded an average growth rate of 15%, whilst in 2016, the industry grew 23% with an estimated US$900m contribution to Malaysia’s economy.

The increase in the allocation for drug supply, consumables and vaccines will greatly benefit patients as in the past, insufficient funds have resulted in essential drug shortages needed to treat diseases such as hypertension, heart disease and diabetes, the report highlighted.

“These shortages affected those most vulnerable such as senior citizens, pensioners and those in the B40 households who depend solely on public healthcare for treatment,” Fitch Solutions added.

On the other hand, the report noted how drugmakers will continue to face tailwinds due to the country’s challenging regulatory environment.

Overall, Malaysia’s government has proposed a larger budget for FY19 of US$75.4. The budget expansion was made possible thanks to a US$1.7b special dividend that the government expects to receive from national oil company Petronas. 

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