Response to recently announced Federal Budget 2019 (2-Nov-2019) and Sarawak State Budget 2019 (5-Nov-2019)

Press Statement

Federal Budget 2019: Look Promising on Health Care but Sustainable Care In the Long Run Not Well- addressed

As a non-governmental organisation aiming to be the voice of cancer patients, we in SCAN (Society for Cancer Advocacy and Awareness Kuching) are delighted to see that the federal government is putting emphasis on health care, especially for the B40 households, with a focus on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in particular. The Pakatan Harapan government’s incremental increase in the allocation for health (like what the previous government has been committed to) is encouraging, with an increase of 7.8% compared to 2018’s and making up almost 10% of the overall budget.

Both the nationwide health screening pilot program, which is aimed at almost a million individuals (aged above 50 and in the B40 households), and the different screening initiatives for women are certainly worthy of applause. However, many significant challenges can be foreseen as the increase in early detection from these efforts needs to go hand in hand with a proportionate increase in other areas such as diagnosis, treatment and monitoring.

Earlier in the year, SCAN, in a letter to the newly elected Members of Parliament in Kuching Division and other areas of Sarawak, has voiced out on key issues lacking in our cancer health care system especially the lack of both soft and hard resources I.e. skilled manpower and the equipment for diagnosis and treatment. The increase in cancer cases in recent years only highlights these issues even more.

“While we understand that early detection may help reduce the mortality rate of cancer in the country, we must also make sure that the hospitals are able to cope with the increase load that these cancer screening programs will certainly bring. Sarawak has a lack of specialists and treatment facilities as it stands, thus we must make sure to address these issues urgently. Otherwise we are only letting those screened know that they have cancer and not giving them timely treatment” said Mdm Sew Boon Lui, President of SCAN.

The initiatives to tackle obesity and smoking are very commendable as both are factors contributing to cancer. SCAN hopes that the government make good on the promise to enforce the no smoking zones.

Sarawak State Budget 2019: Stunning Increase from previous year but Health Care Not In The Focus?

Sarawak state budget 2019 showed a stunning increase with tremendously high ratio of the budget allocated to development. Much has been mentioned about the repair of old school buildings, and industrial base/facilities/infrastructure as well as housing estates, however, there’s no mention on how health care will be taken care of.