By Muhammad Saufee Rosman
KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 11 -- The Health Care Scheme for Group B40 (PeKa B40), implemented since April last year, is one of the key initiatives that has become a game changer in healthcare in the country.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the initiative focused on early detection of non-communicable diseases (NCD).
"" We came out with a study on the challenges to the current state of health (in society) ... PeKa B40 is truly a game changer in the perspective of health because it focuses on preventive, predictive, screening and treatment measures, " he said in an exclusive interview with Bernama.
The scheme offers benefits such as health screening, medical equipment aid, incentives to complete cancer treatment and transportation fare incentives to recipients of Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) and their spouses aged 40 and above.
Health screening is free at health clinics and registered private clinics. As of Dec 21, 220,314 people nationwide had undergone health screening through the scheme.
He said PeKa B40 was also able to strengthen co-operation between government health centres and private clinics when most of the implementers of the scheme were private general practitioners (GP).
"PeKa B40 has 1,618 GP and 893 Health Clinics (KK) ...about two-thirds are taken up by GP and one-third by KK ... altogether there are 2,511, this is among the examples, about how the manifesto which mentioned about (strengthening) the private-public collaboration (in healthcare), which I immediately implemented, " he said.
He said the achievements of the Ministry of Health's (MOH) over the last year could be seen through several initiatives including the PeKa B40 that had been implemented, thus proving his commitment in fulfilling the Pakatan Harapan (PH) Manifesto in the 14th General Election (GE14).
The PH Manifesto under the Nine Promises, among others, said the government would improve access and quality of health services to all communities, especially the under-privileged group or B40.
Dzulkefly said another milestone over the last year was the implementation of the 'Virtual Clinic' pilot project at five Health Clinics starting last May.
"The Virtual Clinical Services involved are KK Section 7, Shah Alam, Selangor; KK Seberang Jaya, Penang; KK Putrajaya Precinct 8; KK Luyang, Sabah; and KK Tudan Miri, Sarawak ... and we will expand it to the entire country, " he said.
The service system was launched in line with the digital age and is an initiative of MOH to improve the efficiency of outpatient care. Virtual Clinics give patients the option to access healthcare online and do not need to consult a doctor or medical practitioner early.
He said the MOH's success was also evident when the ministry received a sum of RM60 million to provide free pneumococcal vaccines to all children through the National Immunisation Programme from 2020.
"Therefore, we will devise strategies on how to use that provision in the best possible manner to ensure that all children benefit from the programme," he added.
On the PH Manifesto to address the exorbitant cost of healthcare, he said MOH had held discussions with industry players before formulating ideas for a medicine price control co-ordinating implementation mechanism nationwide.
“I am aware of the cost of drugs, especially in the private sector... this is why we are very particular about restraining or maintaining healthcare cost and we mutuated the idea of drug price control. This matter is still being discussed and we have already engaged the general practitioners (GP), pharmacists and others...This is all in the effort to ensure our healthcare cost will be managed well,” he said.
Last November, Dzulkefly was reported to have said that a working paper on medicine price control was being worked on and (MOH) would co-operate with the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) to tackle the problem.