KUALA LUMPUR, June 15 ― The Health White Paper was tabled in the Dewan Rakyat today, thus paving the way on reforming the public health system as federal lawmakers debate on the comprehensive policy that would shape the sector in stages over 15 years.

Imploring lawmakers to support the HWP, Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa listed the immediate challenges faced by the public health system which necessitated structural reforms.

“Yet for the past 20 years, the level of citizen healthcare has seen a decline.

“With the passing of time and changes to socioeconomic, demography and lifestyle, there is a need to improve and strengthen the national health system to be foolproof with changes taking place,” she told lawmakers in her speech.


Taking cognisance of the Covid-19 pandemic, Dr Zaliha said the global health crisis had put the country's health system to the test in terms of its capacity and resilience.

At the same time, Dr Zaliha said the country also saw a rise in infectious and chronic disease diagnosed amongst the population, putting further burden on the already strained sector.

Dr Zaliha also said the health system faced the prospect of having to deal with a gradual aging population, with Malaysia projected to be categorised as an aged nation by 2030.


“The prevalence of non-communicable diseases is higher among senior citizens and this indirectly increases demand toward healthcare.

“Global experience has shown that healthcare costs for senior citizens are two to three times higher on average for all adults,” she said.

With the passage of time, Dr Zaliha also said climate change has contributed to negative health issues with more frequent occurrences of natural disasters such as flooding, haze and heat waves.

The Sekijang MP also pointed out that the deliverance of healthcare services was dichotomy in nature and therefore unintegrated which has contributed to unequal health resources allocation in the country.

“For example, public healthcare facilities only comprised 28 per cent of overall primary health care facilities but managed almost 64 per cent of outpatient visits.

“This situation has caused facilities and personnel in the public sector to be burdened, more so during the peak of Covid-19.

“Recent data from the ministry has shown that the waiting time to receive treatment for surgeries involving cardiothoracic, cataract and neuro could take up to between three to 15 months,” she said.

She said the inequality between public and private sector was also influenced by geographical factors whereby public healthcare facilities are concentrated nationwide including rural areas; while private healthcare facilities are more focused in urban and semi-urban areas.

Such conundrum has inevitably put pressure on health ministry resources to fulfill the needs nationwide that include areas which possessed non-ministry health care services, Dr Zaliha said.

Last but not least, Dr Zaliha said prolonged reduced allocations have caused problems to the government in fulfilling human resources, infrastructure and equipment needs to better optimise all resources in a cost effective manner.