Presented by Dr Safurah Jaafar,
Director Family Health Development Division & Senior Consultant Public Health Physician, Ministry of Health, Malaysia.
The Malaysian health system has often than not, being quoted as having achieved remarkably high and equitable health status at relatively low cost. Although the public sector providers have received increasing acceptance the inherent popular dissatisfaction still lingers and the persistence of an active private sector raise questions about the public health services’ responsiveness. Public services continue to provide at very low cost, promising the population better access. On the other hand, the perception that private care is better quality, or the greater convenience of private care, lead a large number of people to pay for services that they could otherwise get for free or at highly subsidized rates. This increasing phenomenon may not only make private services more attractive to healthcare providers but it will lead to unnecessary increase in private spending which will have a cumulative effect on affordability and access at the macro level. This potential cause to disparity has offered a historic opportunity for the government to look deeply into the current health system and to offer and create a more equitable health care system, a project given the name 1Care for 1Malaysia. Key elements of this health care reform relevant to promoting equity include access related to insurance coverage and costs, strengthening primary care with comprehensive benefit package, improvements in health information technology, changes in physician payment, adoption of a national quality strategy informed by research, and improved disparity monitoring and accountability. With effective implementation, improved alignment of resources with patient needs, and most importantly, revitalization of primary care, these reforms could measurably improve equity. This presentation will discuss their potential promise, pitfalls, and steps needed to jump start progress toward more equitable health care.