PETALING JAYA: Former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye says the RM1 billion allocated by the government under Pemerkasa Plus to boost public healthcare misses the point, asking where are the funds for preventive measures.
In announcing the package last night, Prime Minister Muhyiddin Yassin said RM450 million would be spent on increasing beds and ICU capacity for Covid-19 patients and RM550 million on Covid-19 expenses for several agencies, including running quarantine centres, additional manpower and medicine.
Lee said Muhyiddin failed to understand what public health meant, adding that funds should have been allocated for preventive action such as a better contact tracing system and mass screenings nationwide during the lockdown.
The Gopeng MP also said the government should be aiming to administer more than 150,000 to 200,000 vaccine doses a day since the nation was in a public health crisis.
“(A total of) 200,000 doses per day is well within the initial target, but this vaccination rate was set when we were not in a crisis. We are in a crisis now.
“All government resources should focus on ramping up the vaccination programme as fast as possible. Otherwise, all the money spent will go into a bottomless pit.
“Bringing the pandemic under control as soon as possible by whatever means necessary should be the prime objective,” he said.
Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy chief executive Azrul Mohd Khalib expressed concern over the RM1 billion allocation, saying the funds allocated by Putrajaya for public health originally should have been enough.
“The fact that the government is allocating an additional RM1 billion for health purposes raises questions on whether we allocated enough in the first place, or are we preparing for the worst,” he told FMT
He also believed that the RM1 billion allocation would not be enough as the nation could be under lockdown for at least six weeks.
Azrul said he was concerned that the aid for the people, particularly in the B40, was insufficient and this could also affect their mental health, many of whom were already distressed with the worsening Covid-19 situation and the total lockdown.