KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 6 — Despite long wait times, Malaysians still have the highest confidence in the country’s healthcare system compared to the most of the world.

According to a study done by research firm Ipsos on healthcare systems, Malaysia is rated third after Switzerland and Singapore, which tops the list as second and first for their reliable service.

Based on the survey, 66 per cent of Malaysians rated the healthcare system to be good or very good in the country, while 71 per cent of Singaporeans and 68 per cent of Swiss feel the same about healthcare in their country.

Neighbouring Thailand ranked fifth with 63 per cent while Indonesia is lower on the scale with only 55 per cent of its citizens believing in their healthcare system.

In the survey, 68 per cent of Malaysian respondents also said they trusted the healthcare system in the country to provide them with the best treatment and that information was widely accessible.

Sixty-five per cent also believed that the healthcare system provides the same standard of care to everyone, although only 61 per cent said it was easy to get an appointment with the local doctor.

Healthcare according to the definition for this survey includes doctors, specialist physicians such as surgeons, hospitals, tests for diagnosis and drugs to treat various ailments, as well as an equitable standard of care to everyone.

Lengthy wait times, staffing shortages, and the high cost of treatment are still significant challenges to address in the Malaysian healthcare system, with some half of the survey respondents ranking these as the main issues.

Meanwhile, mental health is now recognised as the most significant health issue globally and in Malaysia, 41 per cent of Malaysians placed mental health as the biggest health issue facing the country, close to the global average of 44 per cent.

The issue of mental health has become increasingly prominent in recent years, affecting people of all ages. However, it is a particularly significant concern for women, with over half of younger women (specifically those in Gen Z and the millennial generation) identifying it as the biggest health challenge.

Malaysians also place challenges related to Covid-19, obesity, and diabetes as higher concerns. Smoking was also a concern for Malaysians, although in other South-east Asian countries and globally, it is less concerning.

Cancer, with a high concern level globally, at 40 per cent does not seem to alarm most Malaysians as much, with just 24 per cent of Malaysians naming it an issue.

Ipsos’s public affairs senior research manager Azamat Ababakirov said that mental health issues have emerged as the most significant healthcare concern globally, with increasing awareness and acknowledgement in Malaysia.

He said that its impact was most significant on women of the younger generation — those classified as Gen Z and millennials and said that because healthcare systems alone could not address these problems, the role and involvement of employers, communities, and families is crucial.

“In Malaysia, there’s a deep-seated respect for healthcare professionals, consistently ranked as the most trusted professionals. Trust in the healthcare system extends beyond the professionals, encompassing access to reliable information and the provision of equitable care standards for all,” he said.