KUALA LUMPUR, March 15 — Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today admitted that there is a chronic underinvestment in the nation’s public healthcare system, unlike other middle-high income nations. 

He admitted that Malaysia has been investing lower than the optimum amount needed.

During the Question and Answer session in the Dewan Rakyat, the Rembau MP said that Malaysia has been spending merely 2.58 per cent of its Gross Domestic Product (GDP), while nations with similar development levels have been spending a minimum of 4 per cent.

He was responding to Bukit Bendera MP Wong Hon Wai, who in his additional question, asked if there has been underinvestment in the Ministry of Health (MoH), and if there are any specific proposals in the White Paper on financial allocation, since there is a plan to increase the financial allocation for the public healthcare system under the national budget to 4 per cent of the country’s GDP. 


The World Health Organisation (WHO) had suggested 7 per cent.

“The Honorable Member is right in the view that the issue of funding is an important issue for the public healthcare system of the country, and I can state here that Malaysia as a middle high-income country has invested less than the optimal amount every year. In fact, I can say that there is chronic under-investment towards the nation’s public healthcare system,” Khairy said.

He pointed to the Auditor-General’s 2018 report which highlighted a lack of staff in the accident and emergency (A&E) departments in government hospitals, high patient traffic as well as a lack of funding and medical equipment which have led to the public healthcare system not being in its best form.


“And this insufficiency is not something that is isolated to A&E departments in hospitals alone, but this is reflective of the overall government health facilities that include clinics and hospitals. The country’s public health spending is low, at 2.58 per cent of the GDP in 2020 while we should be on the benchmark of other middle to high incomes income countries whereby their public healthcare spending is at least 4 per cent.

“So the question of funding and allocation for public healthcare will become something that is very important to be discussed, decided and tabled in the White Paper later,” he added.

Khairy said that the document is set to be tabled in the Parliament in November.

In January, Khairy proposed the White Paper for the reformation of the country’s health system to ensure that it is future proof.

He reportedly said that he had raised the matter with the ministry’s Planning Division for it to be tabled in Parliament.

Khairy had said the country’s health system must be future-proof by ensuring that all public healthcare needs are met through appropriate and adequate allocation to MoH.