IPOH: Jun 12, 2008 By CHRISTINA KOH
The Government should introduce ways to involve the people in taking some social responsibility in helping to pay for public healthcare, said Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah.
He said that each year saw the community's expectations and needs for healthcare increase and this also came with the rising costs of equipment, treatment, medication and health service.
The ruler said the Government had allocated a lot of money to provide healthcare and medical treatment in government hospitals.
"However the country's financial resources has limits. The responsibility and burden on the Government's finances must be lightened," he said.
Sultan Azlan Shah therefore felt there should be ways for the community to contribute, whether through wider health insurance or introducing more attractive health tax rebates for donors, companies and individuals.
To ensure that each person has access to medical treatment, the nation must ensure that money allocated for health programmes is spent wisely in the long term, he said.
The ruler said this at Ipoh Hospital Thursday during a ceremony to rename it to Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun in honour of his consort Raja Permaisuri Tuanku Bainun.
Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai, who was also present, told reporters that he would propose to the Cabinet the Sultan's suggestion on increasing tax rebates for those who take up health insurance.
However, he assured the people that the Government did not expect the public to contribute towards the proposed National Health Insurance Scheme which had been debated for many years.
"We are not going to make any decision this year because the rakyat is already burdened with the spiralling cost of living, so we won't add to that.
"In fact, we will continue to give more subsidies. The Government has assured that we won't cut any expenditure on either education or health," Liow added.
The Government subsidised RM8bil in healthcare about three years ago and this has risen to RM12.9bil this year, he said. Also present were Perak Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohammad Nizar Jamaluddin and other government officials.