KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 — The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) today urged the government to streamline the approval process for off-contract purchases and medicines that require special authorisation by the Ministry of Health (MoH) in order to increase efficiency during this medicine shortage crisis.

MHC said this would help prepare medical facilities to overcome future supply disruptions.

“Malaysia procures medicines from replacement suppliers or with special authorisation from the Health director-general or Senior Director of Pharmaceutical Services in two situations, namely: When the original supplier is unable to fulfil the order, or when the medicine is not listed in the ministry’s Medicines Formulary,” MHC said.

The organisation also suggested that Malaysia increase its local manufacturing capacity of pharmaceutical products, as the country’s dependence on imported medicines leaves it vulnerable to supply chain disruptions.

Currently, a global supply chain disruption is being caused partly due to the Russia-Ukraine conflict and Covid-19 lockdowns in China.

“Because of this, we must strengthen our local capacity in manufacturing pharmaceutical goods to minimise the impact of disruption in the future.

“This must be accompanied by Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) to ensure all locally made medicines meet the required standards of safety, quality and efficacy, in line with the National Medicines Policy.

“The government must provide a policy, taxation and a regulatory climate that encourages private sector investment in this area,” it said.

MHC added that the government needs to strengthen cooperation between the public and private sectors through medicine stock loans and medicine-use data sharing.

“MoH must lead and coordinate the process of medicine-use data collection to improve current medicine procurement strategies and prioritise medicine distribution to facilities with higher demand,” it said.