Health Ministry must stop resource wastage on ill-planned campaigns — Narinder Pal Singh

APRIL 21 — The recent launch of Malaysian Health Data Warehouse (MyHDW) by the Health Ministry is laudable “as it will allow those in healthcare services to make better and more “educated” decisions and cut wastage” according to the health minister.

Though it is a step in the right direction as we move forward being a developed nation, what need to be addressed acutely is the wastage of money and resources in the various public health campaigns and projects carried out by the government.

It is alarming that nearly half (close to 10 million) of the adult population in Malaysia suffer from high cholesterol.

While millions more suffer from diabetes, heart related complications and hypertension though the awareness campaigns on these preventable diseases are carried out using hundreds of millions of tax payers’ money.

The statistics revealed by the Health Ministry in recent times indicate the gross failure in these campaigns that have fall flat in achieving the targets — to reduce the alarming uptrend of non-communicable diseases in the community.

The question that begs an answer is: What has gone wrong in all these campaigns?

One classic example is the “Tak Nak” anti-smoking nationwide campaign that never really brought any positive outcome in reducing smoking-related illnesses.

Despite the aggressive campaigns using various media outlets and roadshows with participation from universities, hospitals (private and government) and pharmaceutical companies, all have not lived up to the desired results.

The biggest problem is improper planning and execution of campaigns mainly by the Health Ministry.

Historical data collection and statistics are only of use if it can be translated into well organised action plans integrated into the society’s lifestyle to initiate behavioural changes in order to avoid from being part of the statistics in the future.

It is shocking that all efforts thus far has made the nation more “sick” by the year and not on the contrary despite all the resources expanded to the various healthcare public campaigns.

The demand for treatment is ever rising annually which is straining the average Malaysian’s healthcare budget. Thus it is no surprise that while we dream of having a healthy adult population; we are taking several steps back for every one step taken forward.

Pushing the buck to the private sector in championing the slogan that “prevention is better than cure” is fruitless as they are more concerned about making profits and keeping their shareholders happy.

The demand for private healthcare is skyrocketing and premiums for medical insurance are in tandem.

Government hospitals and clinics are full to the brim daily with many unable to accommodate in-patient load that indirectly pushes more to the private sector.

With all these factors in play, it is time the government and in specific the Health Ministry to relook at the effectiveness of its health campaigns in promoting healthy lifestyle among Malaysians.

Dishing out projects after one another with unaccomplished goals of previous endeavours will only dig deeper into the health budget and the hard earned tax money.

The government’s expectation of doubling productivity per capita by 2020 will remain academic if the current health trend among Malaysians continue down the slope.

Only a healthy nation can be resourceful and productive and not one that spends a sizeable portion of their incomes on treating their preventable diseases as mentioned above.

The challenge of the Health Ministry is to ensure that awareness is eventually graduated into proactive action by the people on the street and nor remain vibrating within the walls of exhibitions and roadshow venues.

And as for the MyHDW, it will be more impactful if that too in time be upgraded to integrate a centralised database for all patients seeking treatment in the country to avoid hospital/clinic hopping that brings no added advantage in managing a disease in the long run.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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