KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 14 — An Opposition lawmaker has filed a parliamentary motion proposing to reallocate a combined RM20.7 billion to the Health Ministry (MoH) from two others.
Klang MP Charles Santiago from DAP said he submitted the motion yesterday under Section 55(3) and 57(2) of the Parliament’s Standing Order, in a bid to enable the MoH to provide more affordable healthcare to the public, especially critically ill patients.
“My proposal would require a transfer of RM12.4 billion and RM8.3 billion from the Prime Minister’s Department and the Defence Ministry, respectively.
“This would give a further injection RM20.7 billion to the MoH’s existing budget allocation, consistent with the seven per cent of the gross domestic product (GDP) recommendation of the World Health Organisation,” Charles said.
He lamented that Malaysia’s health budget of four per cent to the GDP was lower than that of neighbouring Cambodia and Vietnam, whose healthcare budget was at 5.7 per cent and 7.1 per cent respectively.
“In fact, Malaysia has one of the lowest health expenditure to GDP in the world,” he said, adding that while Putrajaya does subsidise patients in public hospitals, the subsidies have been eliminated, with costs being passed on patients, in the last few years.
“Two months ago, the government used the Trade in Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) agreement of the World Trade Organisation (WTO), to reduce the price of medicine for Hepatitis C.
“This resulted in the cost of Sofosbuvir dipping from a whooping RM395,000 to only RM500. Now the government needs to support the cancer patients without delay,” Charles added.
Sofosbuvir is a prescription drug used to treat chronic Hepatitis C patients.
In September, Bernama reported Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S.Subramaniam saying that the Cabinet had approved the use of Rights of Government under Patent Act 1983 (Act 291) by exploiting the patented invention of Sofosbuvir tablet 400mg, where the cost of treatment will be lower and more patients can be treated.
Dr Subramaniam said the decision to initiate the Rights of Government was made after the Health Ministry’s efforts to be included in the Medicine Patent Pool (MPP) and price negotiations with patent holder were unsuccessful.
He was quoted saying that the procurement of the 400mg Sofosbuvir tablet would be in accordance with the current government procurement procedures.