KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 8): Allocation for public health as well as relevant personnel should be increased substantially in order to deal with a prolonged COVID-19 crisis.
PKR president Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim and party's health spokesperson Dr Lee Boon Chye and in a joint statement today said they would advocate an increase of 20 per cent to operating expenditure as well as staffing levels for public health over the next two years.
“The current allocation for public health in Budget 2020 is RM 5.66 billion out of the total Ministry of Health’s (MOH) operating budget of RM 27.9 billion. As for human resources, 78,266 staff are in public health out of a total of 267,578 MOH staff,” they said.
Anwar and Lee said although there were increasing use of digital tracking solutions, these were far inferior to a dedicated team for contact tracing who can also appropriately advise both the general public and businesses.
They also suggested MOH to conduct more testing and utilise the spare testing capacity for sentinel testing, targeting more vulnerable groups such as those in elderly care facilities, prisons and blue-collar industries.
They also urged the government to view money spent on public health as an investment and not a cost, as this aspect could help to overcome the health and economic challenges facing the nation.
“As the government struggles to provide a cohesive exit strategy for the Covid-19 pandemic, there will be a temptation to reduce allocation in the delayed Budget 2021 and RMK-12,” they said.
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