Some companies in Japan and Australia provide incentives for employees who exercise. (Rawpixel pic)

PETALING JAYA: Healthcare professionals and employers have called on the government to provide incentives to companies who promote employee health, as non-communicative diseases such as diabetes and heart conditions take a heavy toll on productivity and the economy.

Dr N Ganabaskaran

Dr N Ganabaskaran, Malaysian Medical Association president, told FMT that companies must take a more active role in their employees’ health.

“A healthy lifestyle can be adopted as part of a corporate culture,” he says, adding that “it can only be to their benefit as it will increase productivity and lower medical costs.

“The government should provide incentives for companies promoting a healthy lifestyle through initiatives and programmes, as they can significantly help reduce the burden of NCDs in the country.”

A joint report from the health ministry and World Health Organization released last week said that financial losses from death of employees, absenteeism and workers going to work in poor health conditions amounted to RM8.91 billion a year, or about 0.65% of the country’s GDP.

Shamsuddin Bardan

The executive director of the Malaysian Employers Federation, Shamsuddin Bardan, called for government action and an urgent review on the management of non-communicable diseases.

“Concrete intervention is needed immediately before it worsens and reaches the point of no return,” he said.

He says there is a correlation between employee health and a company’s bottom line. “If the health and fitness level of employees is poor, so will the performance of the entire organisation and the whole economy.“

He proposed that the government allocate funds specifically to combat non-communicable diseases.

Socso has allocated funds for employees to undergo health screening programmes, but the programme should be extended towards combating non-communicable diseases, he said. “In the long run this will benefit the nation as a whole by having a healthier workforce.”

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