Health think tank suggests ombudsman to review medical supplies purchases

Recently, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad announced the setting up of a taskforce to study the ministry’s medical supply practices. — Malay Mail pic
Recently, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad announced the setting up of a taskforce to study the ministry’s medical supply practices. — Malay Mail pic

KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 — Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy proposed today the establishment of an independent body to review the Health Ministry’s medical supply and services procurement practices.

The health policy research group’s chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib said urgent reforms were needed in the sector following an allegation yesterday that a select group of companies with links to prominent public figures had been awarded multi-billion-ringgit contracts that resulted in a monopoly of controlled drugs, driving up their prices.

“With the health burden and challenges posed by the increasing incidence of non-communicable diseases, an ageing population and complexity of health needs, we cannot afford a trust deficit in our national public healthcare system,” he said in a statement.

Azrul said the revelation highlights the complicated processes behind the country’s healthcare system that are putting a heavy strain on the government’s budget.

He said the independent body should be tasked to review the Health Ministry’s procurement practices and offer its recommendations, saying transparency is needed to prevent future leakages running in the billions of ringgit.

“The appointment of an independent ombudsman has the potential to regain, strengthen and sustain the confidence of Malaysians in the public procurement system,” he said.

Recently, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad announced the setting up of a taskforce to study the ministry’s medical supply practices.

He said the taskforce would be studying a health procurement ombudsman’s office that is empowered to investigate and review procurement practices, adding that the reports would be made public.

Yesterday, an industry insider alleged that 20 companies with links to Barisan Nasional (BN) politicians, including a former minister, had been awarded government contracts for the supply of medicine worth RM3.7 billion between 2013 and 2016.

The documents that were sent out to the media and which were sighted by Malay Mail also contained the names of public personalities, including members of royalty and former senior civil servants.

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