Health White Paper should express collective intent for reforms, says Khairy

Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin says the proposals for reforms put forth in the Health White Paper include making healthcare a public good, and future-proofing the system. – The Malaysian Insight file pic, August 15, 2022.

THE Health White Paper, expected to be tabled in parliament in November, should be the country’s collective statement of intent on how it can make the health system more sustainable and resilient through a whole-of-government and whole-of-society mindset, said Khairy Jamaluddin. 

The health minister said the Covid-19 pandemic had brought into sharp focus the need for healthcare reforms, where never before had the interdependence of health, financial and social aspects been so visible, and the demand for healthcare reforms been more apparent, for the needs of the people. 

“Our direction and principles for healthcare reforms in the Health White Paper should reflect these imperatives. We should not let the lessons and opportunities of the Covid-19 pandemic pass us by,” he said in his keynote address titled The Need For Healthcare Reform at the Health Policy Summit 2022 in Kuala Lumpur today. 

Khairy said to ensure the plans for reforms are future-proof and will critically outlast any incumbent minister, bipartisan support for proposed reforms within the Health White Paper is also important as there will be many details and plans of action that would need to be worked out in the coming years. 

“I hope that we will all play a part in supporting its tabling in parliament at the end of this year. Your agreement and that of MPs is vital to secure the broad principles and direction of structural reforms for Malaysia’s healthcarea system. 

“Not only would this cement the moral and political position for the next 15 years of proposed reforms, but in a larger sense, it would also symbolise our solidarity for a future-proof healthcare system, no matter who the health minister is or which party is in power,” he added.

To further secure the reforms, Khairy said the Health White Paper will also propose a Health Reform Commission to independently monitor, advise and report on the status of implementation to the government, parliament, and the people. 

“I will also appoint a Health White Paper Advisory Council, comprising 13 diverse subject matter experts, to lend their assistance in challenging and refining our policy priorities.

“There have been several good inputs from many parties and channels, and I thank everyone who has taken the time to give their considered views,” said Khairy. 

He further said it was important to ensure the Health White Paper focused on the most fundamental reforms to address major systemic and structural challenges faced by the healthcare system rather than a specific disease or an individual demographic group. 

Following the development of the Health White Paper, Khairy also said the government was considering gradually increasing the healthcare budget up to targeted levels over a number of years while working out funding structures to make the system more sustainable and progressive. 

“As a health minister who is committed to healthcare as a public good, I want to increase the annual budgetary allocation for public healthcare to 5% of the gross domestic product over the next few years. And that increase must be ring-fenced in every subsequent budget,” he said. – Bernama, August 15, 2022.

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