The Ministry of Health (MOH) has announced that healthcare spending has outpaced economic growth, especially due to an increase in non-communicable diseases (NCDs) amongst the population, an ageing population and technological advances. This raises concerns of sustainability.

The Social Security Organisation (Socso) said that NCDs are a major cause of death among employees under the age of 60, with over 6,000 such cases reported last year. NCD-related deaths have also been on the rise since 2006.

Socso CEO Dr Mohammed Azman Aziz Mohammed said that the figures doubled compared to those recorded a decade ago.

"The number of deaths due to NCDs is greater than that of other causes, including road accidents," he said, adding that over 14,000 employees have become disabled as a result of NCDs.

Socso fund will be depleted if NCDs are not tackled

Providing a breakdown of statistics, Mohammed Azman revealed that an average of 46 workers died or become disabled every day due to NCDs last year and this was only in the private sector.

"So if you think 46 deaths and disabilities a day is high, then I'm sorry to say that this is an underestimation," he said.

The compensation paid out due to NCDs consequently increased by 50% over the past five years. In 2016, the estimated value of compensation was RM731 million compared to RM627 million in 2014.

"If the uptrend continues, the Socso fund will be depleted. And the way we are going, this will happen soon," he said.

Mohammed Azman also predicted that by 2030, NCDs would cost the nation a 5% loss in GDP, approximately RM133 billion.

66% have never had a health screening before

Previously, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Richard Riot said that Malaysia was facing an epidemic of NCD and is why Socso introduced the Health Screening Programme (HSP) in 2013, offering its members comprehensive health screening vouchers when they turn 40.

The HSP found that 66% of more than 460,000 employees over 40 have never gone through a health screening before.

73% of workers aged above 40 were also found to be overweight or obese, while 62% have high or borderline cholesterol levels. 9% of the same group were found to be diabetic, 20% were hypertensive and anoter 21% are pre-hypertensive.

4% of all the employees who underwent health screening were found to be at high risk of developing cardiac-related disease in the past decade.

Mohammed Azman urged employers to play a part in tackling NCDs by ensuring an environment that promoted a healthier lifestyle.

"About 31% of male workers are smokers. How many companies have policies which discourage smoking?" he asked.

Socso currently insures about 6.5 million workers. According to WHO, NCDs are the cause of death for 38 million people each years, with cardiovascular diseases accounting for most deaths (17.5 million), followed by cancer (8.2 million), respiratory diseases (4 million) and diabetes (1.5 million). MIMS

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