KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — The Health Ministry (MOH) will launch a National Health Screening initiative this July to detect non-communicable diseases (NCD) in this country, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said.

He said the ministry aims to provide 1.5 million people above the age of 40 who never had health screenings with free health screenings, including faecal occult blood stool testing (FOCB) for colorectal cancer and breast cancer screening at public and private clinics.

“We have now to look at the huge backlog of medical, surgical procedures that we have delayed over the last two years and one of it is health screenings.

“Our health screening numbers over the last two years just simply dropped,” he said while speaking at the 75th Session of the World Health Assembly (WHA) Strategic Roundtable on Behavioural Sciences for Better Health in Geneva, Switzerland yesterday.

According to the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS), one out of five adults or 3.9 million people aged 18 and above in Malaysia suffer from diabetes; three out of 10 or 6.4 million people have high blood pressure; and four out of 10 people or eight million people suffer from high cholesterol.

Khairy also said his ministry is considering expanding the use of its MySejahtera app for NCD, including health screening appointment bookings.

Meanwhile, Khairy also pointed out that behavioural science is now the first line of defence in Malaysia’s health system because it played a big role in the fight against the Covid-19 pandemic.

“If we can get the people to change the way they live, you will safeguard your healthcare system and we saw behavioural science play an insightful role in the pandemic,” he said.

Khairy, who was appointed a vice-president of the 75th WHA, said investing in behaviourial units was important for each ministry, organisation or government to collect data. The ministry, he added, has established a new unit that focuses on behavioural nudges, as well as the Institute for Health Behavioural Research (IHBR).

He also shared Malaysia’s experience and success on how behavioural sciences supported national responses to Covid-19 and touched on three main focuses of behavioural science, trust and clear communication; putting actionable instructions and designing nudges.

The WHA, the main governing body of the World Health Organisation (WHO), is a yearly event that brings together health ministers, health director-generals and industry experts, to come to a consensus on the implementation of WHO’s policies, programmes, direction, commitments and new strategies on healthcare. — Bernama