Budget 2020: Health Ministry gets RM60m for pneumococcal vaccination for all children

People watch the Budget 2020 speech by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng ‘live’ at a restaurant in Medan Selera Medan Kidd in Ipoh October 11, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib
People watch the Budget 2020 speech by Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng ‘live’ at a restaurant in Medan Selera Medan Kidd in Ipoh October 11, 2019. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 11 — The federal government has announced an initial allocation of RM60 million to provide pneumococcal vaccination for all children beginning next year.

In tabling the Supply Bill (Budget) 2020 in Parliament today, Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the allocation was to fulfil Pakatan Harapan's (PH) election manifesto promise.

“The Government remains committed to ensure access to quality healthcare for all, as part of its aspiration to create an inclusive Malaysian society.

“We will allocate resources to intensify preventive measures to manage the burden on public healthcare expenses,” he said.

Under Promise 9 of its Buku Harapan, PH said it will provide compulsory pneumococcal vaccination for all children under the age of two years, as is the practice in many other countries.

Pneumococcal diseases are infections caused by a bacterium called Streptococcus pneumoniae that infects adults and children alike but are more common in younger children and the elderly.

Examples of pneumococcal diseases included pneumonia, meningitis, febrile bacteraemia, otitis media, sinusitis and bronchitis.

According to the Health Ministry, pneumococcal diseases are one of the most widespread vaccine preventable diseases in Malaysia.

Meanwhile, Lim said the government has increased the Health Ministry’s allocation by seven per cent in Budget 2020 to RM30.6 billion from RM28.7 billion.

This is inclusive of RM1.6 billion for the construction of new hospitals as well as upgrading and expansion of existing ones including Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, Kampar Hospital in Perak and Labuan Hospital in Labuan.

Also included in the allocation was RM319 million for the construction and upgrading of health and dental clinics, as well as quarters facility in Kedah, Pahang, Sabah and Sarawak.

“In line with the principle of 3R culture, Repair — Replace — and Restore, a total of RM227 million will be provided to upgrade medical equipment while RM95 million for renovation of medical infrastructure and facilities,” he said.

Lim said to ensure a more responsive emergency and trauma services, RM59 million will be allocated in collaboration with non-governmental organisation medical ambulance services to acquire more ambulances.

“RM5 million will also be spent to provide mobile clinics in rural areas, especially Orang Asli in line with the Sustainable Development Goals of achieving universal health coverage,” he added.

Furthermore Lim said RM31 million will be allocated for upgrading and maintenance of ICT services which will include a pilot project for hospital electronic medical records.

As for the MySalam scheme, Lim announced the coverage to be further extended to cover 45 illnesses from the existing 36; raising the age eligibility from 55 to 65 years; and those with gross annual income up to RM100,000.

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