1. Budget 2018 and nation’s healthcare needs
Nearly RM27 billion is allocated in the 2018 budget with promises of new hospitals and wards to be built in Pahang, Putrajaya, Kedah, Penang and a forensic medical centre in Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL).
A total of RM30 million from the total health budget will also be allocated to the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) as an incentive to boost Malaysia’s healthcare travel industry—ultimately, with an aim to promote Malaysia as a hub for fertility treatment (including IVF) and cardiology in Asia.
Also declared as part of the 2018 Budget to help the underprivileged, a total of RM50 million is allocated for haemodialysis assistance, including a RM100 subsidy out of the RM110 treatment cost per session, besides an additional RM40 million that is allocated for the Medical Aid Fund.
2. MOH-AMM’s 12th Scientific MeetingDeputy Health Minister, Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi bin Yahaya believes that NCDs can be prevented by practising a healthy lifestyle and stated that the nation has launched an initiative goal for the community, “Perkasa Negara, or KOSPEN, which means healthy communities building in the nation”.
Echoing the theme “Battling NCD – New Strategies”, further discussions included the effect of climate change on NCD and approaching the fight against NCDs through genetics.
There was also a round table discussion on the tobacco control in Malaysia as understanding trade issues will provide insights into why the prevalence of smoking in Malaysia is still high, despite spending millions and possibly billions on tobacco control measures.
3. The turf war between general practitioners and pharmacistsFor many years, the Pharmacy Bill – which restricts doctors to only diagnosing and prescribing medicine, while pharmacies dispense them – has been proposed and debated. However, it has yet to be passed.
Meanwhile, the MOH dismissed allegations that the government hospitals are reusing single-use and disposable devices due to a limited allocated budget, assuring that patient safety and infection has always been their priority.
4. Changes to the Medical Act 2012 and Medical Regulations 2017Malaysia's Ministry of Health (MOH) has amended the Medical (Amendment) Act 2012 and Medical Regulations 2017 on 1 July 2017.
Under the new rules, doctors must have indemnity insurance and attend continuing education courses to upgrade their skills, before they can renew their Annual Practising Certificates (APCs).
Specialists will now have to register with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), including paediatricians, neurosurgeons and psychiatrists. For those who are already recognised by the MMC, they would be automatically placed in the National Specialist Register (NSR). The MMC have also been corporatised—giving it more autonomy in managing its secretariat and funding.
5. Burnout among doctors
Having burnt out doctors is not only detrimental to the patients, but also to the doctors themselves. Due to the long working hours, the lack of rest and sleep contributes to an alarming number of road accidents, which have occasionally been fatal.
The newly revised Hippocratic Oath now includes the clause for doctors to take care of their own health as well, and was approved by the World Medical Association in October 2017.
6. Cosmetics containing scheduled poisonsThroughout this year, the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) and the MOH have identified 29 cosmetic products containing scheduled poisons; namely, mercury, hydroquinone and tretinoin.
The use of these products without proper prescription and monitoring by professionals can lead to hazardous health effects, and selling or distributing these cosmetic products is an offence under the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984.
7. Disease updatesThe number of dengue cases reported up to 18 November witnessed a 16.1% reduction, along with a decrease of 23.8% in the number of dengue death cases.
As of 30 December 2017, SMK Julau No 1 in Julau, Sarikei division has been declared as the latest area affected with rabies outbreak – bringing the total to 27 areas in Sarawak. The last fatal infection was on 23 July, involving a 52-year-old man, while four deaths were reported between 4 and 17 July – all children. The rabies outbreak in Sarawak is not over yet, and the public are advised to take all necessary precautions to prevent themselves from being bitten by dogs.
Since 2012, there were 2,121 positive MERS-CoV cases which were confirmed through lab test—involving 740 deaths across the world. And as of date, Malaysia is still free from the disease. (Contrary to earlier claims, MOH Malaysia has announced one confirmed case of MERS-CoV, on 1 January 2018, involving a 55-year-old man who has just returned from umrah.) MIMS
2017 year in review: A look back, a look ahead—key highlights and moments
Top 7 healthcare stories of 2016 – the Malaysian edition
Top 7 Singapore healthcare stories of 2016