Malaysia’s crises with aging hospitals was highlighted by the fire tragedy in Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Bahru with the loss of six lives. This was followed by a fire in Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun in Ipoh. Even Johor Sultan stated the government should build a new hospital to replace Sultanah Aminah Hospital.
Unfortunately, the allocation for new hospitals in 2017 is only RM177,200,000, down from RM273,059,500 in 2016.
Malaysia already has one of the lowest ratio of hospital beds per 1000 population at 1.99 only. That is evident by the long queues in the government hospitals. To improve the ratio from 1.99 to 2.3 beds per 1000 population, from the answer given by the Minister of Health, the government’s own calculation is we need an extra 13,562 hospital beds in total by the year 2030. The fund necessary is estimated to be RM1.35 billion a year. That is based on the estimate of RM1.5 million per bed.
Again, the government appeared to have forgotten to take into consideration our population is growing at the rate of 1.6% per year. That alone will add as many as 480,000 people each year to the population with the need for extra 960 beds.
We also cannot forget there are there are many very old hospitals that cannot be upgraded and need to be replaced with new hospitals.
So in reality, Malaysian government needs to increase the number of hospital beds by 904 + 960 = 1864 beds each year. That will necessitate a total of 1,864 x RM 1.5 million = RM 2.796 billion a year. The miserable sum of RM 177 million budgeted for this year is 93.6% short of the amount needed.
We can only expect the queues in the government hospitals to get worse each year. Already a young woman from Taiping died earlier this year while awaiting transfer to Kuala Lumpur to be treated. We all pay our taxes and GST and we are entitled to be treated when we are sick. If the opposition wins the next election, we will prioritise the health of the nation to the top of government policies.