Budget 2017: Mammograms, HPV vaccines, Shorter Queues, Housemanship

Budget 2017: RM30 mil for mammograms gets thumbs up

The RM30 mil allocation for free mammograms and HPV immunisations will encourage women to go for testing, said National Cancer Society of Malaysia president Dr Saunthari Somasundaram.

She said early detection was key to battling cancer.

“Also, Malaysia is hosting the World Cancer Congress in 2018 and having a budget allocated augurs well in cancer control,” said Dr Saunthari.

In Malaysia, it is estimated that more than 30% of women with breast cancer are diagnosed at the advanced stage (Stage 3) when the chances for successful treatment are relatively low, compared to early stages of the disease.

New option to ease queues in govt hospitals

MALAYSIANS who cannot afford expensive healthcare services but dread the long queues at government hospitals will soon have another option.

Non-profit charitable hospitals will be able to charge the same rates as government hospitals under Budget 2017, thanks to the Government’s collaboration with the private sector and NGOs.

RM20 mil was allocated in the form of loans for the hospitals to buy equipment. The Government also allocated RM110 mil, of which RM70 mil is for medical assistance, benefiting nearly 10,000 underprivileged patients. The collaboration is aimed at reducing overcrowding in government hospitals.

In addition, the National Community Health Empowerment Programme will be expanded at the cost of RM80 mil.

Docs to be given four-year contract

Doctors would be given a four-year contract while dentists and pharmacists a three-year contract under the new scheme announced in Budget 2017.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the scheme, which would come into effect soon, would help the 2,600 doctors who had failed to get housemanship in hospitals.

Presently, doctors are required to do two years of housemanship, while dentists and pharmacists are required to complete one year.

“Demand for doctors in the private sector is still high as there’s a shortage of medical practitioners in private hospitals,” he said.

“Once their contract expires with the Government, doctors can still find employment in the private sector,” he said.

/theSTAR 22,23-10-2016

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.

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Budget 2017: Highlights

Prime Minister/Finance Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak tabled Budget 2017 in Parliament on Friday, 21-10-2016
The following are the highlights:

* Budget 2017 allocates RM260.8bil, up 3.4% from 2016 Budget Recalibration.
* Government expects to achieve 3% fiscal deficit in 2017.
* Only 2.1 million income tax payers out of 14.6 million of country's total workforce.
* No increase in Goods and Services Tax (GST) for 2017 ie 6%

To appreciate the contribution of civil servants, the following was announced:

- To extend the Fully Paid Study Leave with scholarship to the Support Group, which is currently limited to the Management and Professional Group.
- Quarantine leave up to five days without record for public servants whose children are ill and are quarantined.
- Computer loan facility extension for the purchase of smartphones. Public servants can utilise this once every three years, limited to RM5,000.
- An increase to the limit of motorcycle loan facility available for public servants from RM5,000 to RM10,000.
- To increase the civil servant’s housing loans to RM200,000 and RM750,000 from RM120,000 and RM600,000 respectively.
- To complete 30,000 units of Perumahan Penjawat Awam 1Msia at a selling price of between RM90,000 and RM300,000, which is 20% below market price.
- To extend the contract of service and contract for service officers, expiring at the end of this year, for at least one year.
- To address the issues of specialist doctors exiting and promotion delays, Grade 56 introduced between Grade 54 and JUSA C for medical and dental specialists.
- To appoint the first group of doctors, dentists and pharmacists on contract latest by Dec 2016 due to constraint in permanent post. In other words, nearly 2,600 doctors without housemanship will now serve on contract.

For the rakyat’s well-being, the Government remains committed to implement rakyat-centric projects and programs in urban and rural areas, as follows:

- To brighten villages at night, a total of 97,000 street lights and 3,000 LED lights to be installed at crossroads for 7,500 villages nationwide.
- To enhance connectivity of villages, towns and cities, 616km of village roads and bridges will be built and upgraded with an allocation of RM1.2bil.
- To maintain state roads, a total of RM4.6bil is allocated to all states under the Malaysian Road Records Information System.
- To build and refurbish 17,000 units of destitute and dilapidated houses in remote villages and orang asli settlements with an allocation of RM350mil.
- To increase the supply of clean water with an allocation of RM732mil, targeting 5,200 houses and upgrading the Felda water supply system. A water supply fund is to be established immediately with an allocation of RM500mil to address water supply issues throughout the nation.
- To provide electricity supply in rural areas, targeting approximately 10,000 houses with an allocation of RM460 million.
- The Government is concerned about the welfare of urban residences, especially flats. These rundown flats lack maintenance and functioning lifts.
- The Government will implement people-friendly projects with an allocation of RM800mil, with priority given to local G1 & G2 contractors.
- A total of 69 flood mitigation plans will be continued nationwide with an allocation of RM495mil.
- Government to implement MyBeautiful New Home, especially for the B40 group, with an allocation of RM200mil. At the initial stage, a total of 5,000 units will be built with prices ranging from RM40,000 to RM50,000 per unit. The Government will finance RM20,000, while the remaining will be paid as instalments by each owner.
- A total of 9,850 units of houses to be built under the People’s Housing Program with an allocation of RM134mil.
- A total of 11,250 PPR houses are being built with an allocation of RM576mil. The PPR houses are to be sold at between RM35,000 and RM42,000.

To assist in improving the rakyat’s income opportunities, especially the B40 group, RM275mil is allocated for the following:

- Expanding the MySuria Prog nationwide with allocation of RM45mil. Solar panels will be installed in more than 1,600 houses.
- Expanding the Mobileprenuer Programme by Giatmara with an allocation of RM30mil, targeting 3,000 participants using motorcycles.
- Introduction of agropreneur programs to produce 3,000 young entrepreneurs with an allocation of RM100mil.
- Revitalising eUsahawan and eRezeki programmes under MDEC, comprising 300,000 participants with an allocation of RM100mil.
* RM10bil allocated for subsidy, comprising of fuel subsidies including for cooking gas, toll charges, public transport and various incentives.
* To assist paddy farmers, the Government will allocate RM1.3bil to subsidise price, seeds and fertilisers including hill paddy.
* As an incentive to registered rubber smallholders, the Government will allocate RM250mil for rubber production.
* Government to introduce Rainy Season Assistance with an amount of RM250 monthly for three months in November, December and January.
* Monthly cost of living allowance of RM200 to RM300 for fishermen will be continued, benefiting 57,000 fishermen.

BR1M’s assistance for next year, which will benefit 7 million recipients with an allocation of RM6.8bil, will be increased as follows:

- For households in e-Kasih database with monthly income below RM3,000, it will be increased to RM1,200 from RM1,050 and RM1,000.
- For households earning RM3,000 to RM4,000, it will be increased from RM800 to RM900.
- For single individuals earning below RM2,000, it will be increased from RM400 to RM450.
- Bereavement Scheme to be continued with RM1,000 compensation given to the next of kin of BR1M recipients from households and those in the elderly category.


* RM4.6bil allocated for TVET educations. Four TVET intuitions to become polytechnics, another four vocational colleges and one more become a training institute for TVET trainers.
* RM220mil allocated to upgrade educational equipment in TVET institutions, as well as RM360mil for Skills Development Fund Corporation.
* Double tax deduction to be given on expenses incurred by private companies to provide Structured Internship Programmes for students under TVET.
* RM50mil is allocated to extend the SL1M programmes by GLCs to 20,000 graduates in 2017 compared with 15,000 graduates in 2016.

For housing, the following was announced to enhance first home buyers’ affordability:

- To provide government vacant lands at strategic locations to GLCs and PR1MA to build more than 30,000 houses at a selling price or RM150,000 to RM300,000.
- To build around 10,000 houses in urban areas for rental to eligible youths with permanent job including young graduates entering the labour market.
- To build 5,000 units of People’s Friendly Home, with the Government subsidising up to RM20,000 per unit. RM200mil will be allocated to SPNB.
A new special “step up” end financing scheme for PR1MA programme, under which, 12,000 units worth RM3bil have been booked.
- Financing will be easier and more accessible to buyers with total loan of up to 90% to 100% with loan rejection rate to be reduced drastically. For example, applicants with monthly income of RM3,000 now eligible for loan of more than RM187,000, will be able to borrow RM295,000.
* Stamp duty exemption increased to 100% on instruments of transfer and housing loan instruments, to help reduce the cost of first home ownership. This exemption is limited to houses with value up to RM300,000 for first home buyers only for period between Jan 1 2017 this and Dec 31 2018.
* Second Generation House infrastructure development, a sum of RM200mil is allocated to Felda, RM100m for Felcra and RM100mil for Risda.

* Tax relief is extended to include purchase of printed newspapers, smartphones and tablets, internet subscriptions and gym membership fees.

* For the development of sports, a sum of RM1.2bil is allocated to the Youth and Sports Ministry.

* For healthcare RM25mil allocated for healthcare programmes and projects including upgrading hospital facilities nationwide with an allocation of RM536mil.

* Government to launch an initiative for ethernet broadband services in public universities to be increased to a max or100GB per second. MCMC to provide RM1bil to ensure coverage and quality of broadband nationwide reaches up to 20 megabytes per second.

* To promote the development of SMEs, the Government will allocate a total of RM75mil to implement programmes under SME Master Plan. A 2% rebate will be provided on interest rates charged to SME borrowers under the SJPP scheme. This rebate is limited to a total accumulated funding of RM1bil which involves an allocation of RM100mil for a period of five years.

Among the incentives for education to help parents reduced schooling expenses, the Government will continue with the following programmes:

- To provide Schooling Assistance Programme of RM100 each to students from families earning up to RM3000, which will benefit 3.5 million students
- RM1.1bil for Hostel Meal Assistance Programme for 365,000 students.
- RM300mil for 1Malaysia Supplementary Food Programme for primary school students.
-  RM1.1bil to include Additional Assistance Payment for school fees; textbook assistance and per capita grant assistance.
- Government to provide matching grants of up to RM50 for accumulated savings in SSPN-i for students in Year 1 in fully-assisted govt schools.
- Book vouchers to be replaced with student debit card worth RM250 which can be used to purchase books, computer accessories and internet access.

In an effort to encourage repayments of PTPTN loans, the following incentives will be given:

- 15% discount on the outstanding debt for full settlement;
- 10% discount for payment of at least 50% of the outstanding debt made in a single payment.
- 10% discount for repayment through salary deduction or direct debit in accordance with the repayment schedule.

PTPTN repayment incentives to be in effect from Saturday, Oct 22 2016 till December 2017.

- Financial assistance to poor families, including General Assistance up to RM300 a month & Children Assistance up to RM450 a month.

- Allocation of RM424mil is provided for senior citizens, including senior citizen socioeconomic assistance of RM300 monthly.

- RM535m, for persons with disabilities, including employee allowance, disabled children training allowance & assistance for PWDs unable to work.

- GST relief for the purchase of aid equipment for registered PWDs without going through Private Charitable Entities.

Among the infrastructure projects announced were:

- Implementation of the new East Coast Rail Line project in phases with an estimated cost of RM55bil.
- Accelerating the implementation of Pan Borneo Highway in Sabah and Sarawak
- RM100bil is allocated to restore the East Coast railway line along Gua Musang – Tumpat that was destroyed during floods.

* RM20mil to be channelled to the 1Malaysia Hawkers and Petty Traders Foundation to provide loans to Chinese hawkers communities.

* Government to expand pre-school programmes to 50 schools with an allocation of RM10mil for Tamil schools.

* Among the measures announced for empowering Bumiputra, the Government will allocate RM100mil to SME Bank to increase opportunities to Bumiputra entrepreneurs. RM300mil also allocated to Tekun to assist small scaled entrepreneurs to develop their businesses including a new scheme called Temanita.

* RM1.8bil allocated for Defence assets maintenance and a sum of RM322mil allocated for personnel deployment at Esscom.

* Home Ministry allocated RM12.8bil including a sum of RM8.7bil for the Police

* To support breastfeeding working women Government to introduce tax relief up to RM1,000 for purchase of breastfeeding equipment.

* Tax relief of up to RM1,000 announced for taxpayers who enrol children aged six and below into registered nurseries and pre-schools.

* Jakim to increase monthly allowance of 15,000 imam in the country from RM750 to RM850. Other incentives announced include one-off payment of RM500 to nearly 16,000 Bilal and Siak for managing mosques and Kafa teachers’ allowance increased from RM800 to RM900 a month.

* RM85mil will be allocated to Permata to benefit 50,000 children.

* Special assistance of RM500 to all public servants while special payment of RM250 allocated for Government retirees.

/theSTAR 21-10-2016

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.

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Budget 2017: RM25 bil for Healthcare

A total of RM25 bil had been allocated for healthcare programmes under Budget 2017.  

The funds would go towards the building of new hospitals and clinics in Perlis, Kuching, Mukah, Jempol, Muar and Johor Baru.   

RM536 mil would be allocated for the upgrading of hospital facilities nationwide. RM4.5 bil will be allocated for the operations of 340 1Malaysia Clinics,11 1Malaysia Mobile Clinics, 959 health clinics and 1,800 existing rural clinics.

RM4 bil would be allocated for supply of drugs, consumables, vaccines and reagents to all Government hospitals and health facilities.  

"The Government will cooperate with the private sector and non-governmental organisations to operate non-profit charitable hospitals based on Government hospital rates," said the Finance Minister, YAB Dato Seri Najib Razak.  

He added that the Government will provide one-off grants worth RM200,000 for the purchase of haemodialysis equipment, with a total allocation of RM40 mil.  

"The Government views contagious diseases such as dengue and Zika seriously and will implement initiatives to prevent and control these diseases," said Najib

/theSTAR 21-10-2016

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.

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Depression is expected to rank No.1 in disability, in the World, by 2020

Depression is now the No. 2 disability in the world.

“It is expected to rank No.1 by 2020,” said Malaysian Mental Health Association deputy president and consultant psychiatrist Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj Chandrasekaran.

This means that depression has even overtaken disability due to cardiovascular disease, which is also on the rise globally, he added.

In Malaysia, the National Morbidity Survey 2015 found that 29.9% of the adult population have some form of mental illness. It was 10.7% in 1996.

As for the mental health of children aged between five and 15, the survey registered 12.1% as having issues.

Dr Andrew Mohanraj said this included cases such as conduct disorder, attention deficit disorder, hyperactivity disorder, as well as depression and anxiety.

“It’s quite difficult to detect depression in teenagers because some of them could have turned morose due to hormonal changes or other aspects of growing up,” he said.

However, he was quick to point out a worrying increase in the suicide rate among young people with the primary cause being depression.

“When young people commit suicide, it does not necessarily mean that they want to die, they want to leave the world because they find their situations, in their perception, intolerable and without any other escape,” he said.

Befrienders Kuala Lumpur chairman Mary Raj said there has been “a drastic rise” in younger people contacting the organisation for help.

“The younger generation prefers sending e-mail rather than calling in and we have had a big increase in the e-mail we receive from them,” she said.

Last year, the organisation received 18,445 calls and 2,685 e-mail messages. Of these, 44% of those who e-mailed were aged 30 years and below while 47% did not reveal their age.

Of those who contacted the Befrienders, 24% suffered from mental health issues while 17% had relationship problems.

Other callers, said Raj, faced family problems and job- or sex-related stress but on a much lower percentage than that of mental health issues.

Raj said they occasionally received calls from people on the verge of committing suicide.

“We keep the callers talking as long as possible, to lower the risk of them going ahead with their plan.
“For high-risk groups, we ask if we can call them back tomorrow and if they are willing to give us their contact numbers. We then make follow-up calls to find out if they are okay,” she said

/theSTAR 11-10-2016

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To Boost Health Tourism

More efforts will be put into spurring the nation’s medical tourism industry to achieve its target of RM4.2 bil in revenue by the year 2020.

Deputy Finance Minister Datuk Lee Chee Leong said the nation was strategically located in the ASEAN region to tap the growing number of travellers seeking quality healthcare treatment.

“We are targeting one million health travellers this year which is expected to generate some RM1 bil in revenue. The goal is to see healthcare travellers generating RM4.2 bil by 2020,” he said.

He added that the number of healthcare travellers seeking medical treatment has increased steadily over the last three years, with some 881,000 coming here in 2013, generating RM726 mil in revenue.

This increased to 882,000 in 2014 genera­ting RM777 mil in revenue and last year, 859,000 healthcare tourists brought in RM914 mil.

Lee added that his ministry would liaise with relevant agencies such as the Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) to look at ways to promote the industry’s growth further.

Malaysia ranks among the top three destinations in Asia for medical tourism with travellers from Indonesia (62%), the Middle East (7.4%), India (3%), China (2.6%), Japan (2.6%) and Australia, New Zealand and Britain (2.5%).

/theSTAR 07-10-2016

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.

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Dengue Vaccine yet to be approved in Malaysia

Malaysia has no immediate plans to follow in the footsteps of Singapore, which has approved the world’s first dengue vaccine Dengvaxia.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya said the ministry was still doubtful of the vaccine’s efficacy in reducing the four serotypes of dengue: Den-1, Den-2, Den-3 and Den-4.

Studies have shown that overall, the Sanofi-manufactured vaccine is effective at reducing dengue by 60% and reducing severe dengue by 84%.

According to a news report, when used against the Den-1 and Den-2 strains which account for three-quarters of the dengue cases in Singapore, the efficacy of the vaccine is 50% and 40% respectively, compared with 75% and 77% for the other two strains.

“We still have to look into this. The vaccine does not have the same efficacy for all the four strains and in Malaysia, we have more of Den-1 and Den-2.

“We are still in the process of registering the vaccine but this does not mean we will use it immediately. We are still doubtful of its efficacy. As it is, we have no plans to use it commercially,” he told reporters at a press conference at the National Heart Institute (IJN) here yesterday.

According to statistics from the ministry’s Crisis Preparedness Response Centre, 186 dengue-related deaths were recorded between January and Oct 1 this year.

Earlier, Dr Hilmi launched a first-of-its-kind collaboration in Malaysia between IJN and global payments technology company Visa.

With the partnership, IJN offers up to 25% exclusive discounts on all its six wellness packages to all local and international Visa cardholders. Cardholders need to produce their credit or debit cards upon registration.

IJN chief executive officer Datuk Seri Dr Mohd Azhari Yakub said the partnership would further boost Malaysia as the preferred medical tourism destination.

“Our cost here is very competitive compared with other countries because the Government controls the rate,” he said. The promotion starts immediately and lasts until December next year.

/theSTAR 07--10-2016

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.

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Hospital in Kuantan to cater for heart patients

Heart patients can look forward to better care at a new facility in Kuantan, Pahang.

The KPJ Pahang Specialist Hospital, which opened officially in Tanjung Lumpur on 6th October 2016 will have specialists to attend to such patients.

KPJ Healthcare Bhd chairman Abdul Wahab Baba said the hospital would be developed for healthcare tourism.

The hospital will be able to cater to between 200 and 250 patients. “Presently, we can only provide 110 beds but we will increase the capacity soon,’’ he said.

The hospital was built at a cost of RM110mil, with RM70mil more spent on its clinical information system. He said there had also been an increase in the number of patients needing oncology and kidney treatment in the east coast. “This has prompted us to provide such treatment at our centre in Alor Akar,’’ he added.

/the STAR 07-10-2016

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.

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