Media Statement by Johor DAP Publicity Secretary and Senai State Assemblyman Wong Shu Qi on 25th October 2017 (Wednesday):

Health Minister should immediately look into the media report on recycling of disposable devices at all government hospitals and fight for more budget in public healthcare sector in 2018 budget.

It is a horror to read the Free Malaysia Today report on the re-usage of disposable devices at government hospitals. The reason for this atrocious act is due to shortage of fund from the government.

According to Free Malaysia Today report released this morning, the “lack of funds is driving some government hospitals to recycle single-use devices at the risk of patient safety”. The internal source claimed that there was a cut of RM1billion in government health budget.

This issue should not be taken lightly as it is a potential Malaysian public health crisis. Communicable diseases will spread easily if single-use devices are indeed recycled for re-usage in government hospitals. This is definitely a crisis that is preventable and should not had happen in the first place.

Hence, I urge Health Minister, Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam to clarify the fact as soon as possible and give assurance to Malaysians that our public health standard will not be compromised. As Director-General of Health Ministry, Datuk Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah has pointed out in his prompt reply today, it is a practice that other countries do the same. It is at best that the Health Ministry provides the full list of 229 single-use devices known to be reusable by having proper sterilisation.

More importantly, public health should not be sacrificed even under austerity. The poor and lower income group are worst hit if there is any cut in public health budget.

Yet, there is a trend in cutting healthcare budget from 2016 to 2017. For example, the 2016 budget for Pharmacy and Public Health Supply was RM803,740,500, and it was reduced to RM707,700,100 in year 2017. There was almost a RM100 million cut for this expenditure in the budget.

On the other hand, the budget for Pharmacy and Supply was reduced from RM1,595,601,600 in 2016 to RM1,292,761,700 in 2017. It was a whopping RM302 million reduction for the category.

Will there be more reduction for the public healthcare sector in the upcoming budget? As it is, public healthcare sector is already suffering, any further reduction may launch a health crisis especially among the poor and lower income group.

Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam is responsible to ensure that healthcare for Malaysians will not be neglected in the 2018 budget.

Wong Shu Qi