Finance minister: Govt to bolster public healthcare in Budget 2022 for long-term life with Covid-19 and future pandemics

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KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — The government’s Budget 2022 plans will be based on boosting the economy and strengthening public healthcare as Malaysia shifts into living with Covid-19 as an endemic disease, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said today.

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He said the government will be rolling out five major public health initiatives under the National Recovery Plan, which will also be part of next year’s budget.

He said the new measures include setting up a dedicated call centre to offer immediate assistance in managing Covid-19, whole genome sequencing conducted by the Institute of Medical Research to detect the presence and spread of new variants in Malaysia, studying better means to Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support (FTTIS) Covid-19 patients, and managing patients suffering long Covid-19.

Booster shots or a multi-year vaccination programme will also be included as part of the public healthcare protocol, he added.

“Moving forward, the government will progressively update the National Recovery Plan to prepare Malaysia for the next normal of living with Covid-19 as an endemic disease.

“Without a doubt, Covid-19 has shown that public healthcare is an important foundation to enable other sectors to operate. As such, we will not compromise on what is required to place our public healthcare on a stronger footing, through the NRP, and later through Budget 2022,’’ he said in his speech at the National Recovery Summit 2021 here.

Tengku Zafrul said the public healthcare system will be shored up to prepare for future pandemics as well as the challenges of an ageing population and non-communicable diseases.

He said policies will focus on developing systems and partnerships that can be activated rapidly in a pandemic as well as the detection of infectious diseases and stopping transmissions at an early stage.

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He said the public healthcare system will be strengthened to handle surges in future infections while maintaining essential services.

He added that the government will also develop an integrated epidemic-prevention agenda.

The finance minister said the effectiveness of the national Covid-19 immunisation programme can now be seen in the lower hospitalisation rate for Covid-19 patients, especially those requiring admission to the intensive care unit.

He said that as of September 7, 89 per cent of Malaysia’s adult population, which is over 20 million people, have received their first dose of Covid-19 vaccine.

He said 16 million people in the country are now fully vaccinated.

“Insya Allah, we are well on our way to having 80 per cent of the adult population fully vaccinated by the end of September, and 100 per cent by the end of October. Thereafter, we will start living with Covid-19 as an endemic disease,” he said.

He also said that more socio-economic activities will be reopened as Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya enter Phase Two of the NRP tomorrow. -Malay Mail