Noor Hisham ticks off UK magazine over ‘no public healthcare’ claim

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PETALING JAYA: Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has refuted an allegation in Nature magazine that Malaysia does not have a state healthcare system, pointing out that the country achieved universal health coverage in the 1990s and provides highly subsidised healthcare for all residents.

In a statement on his website, Noor Hisham said that the article had made a “gross misrepresentation of the Malaysian health system”.

He said Malaysia provides highly subsidised healthcare for all residents through public hospitals and clinics, with a comprehensive range of services including health promotion, disease prevention, curative and rehabilitative care.

“All residents of Malaysia are able to access these services with minimal payments, while services for disadvantaged populations such as the poor, disabled and the elderly are provided free of charge,” he added.

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A section of the article in Nature magazine with the quote about Malaysia’s public health system which Noor Hisham Abdullah said was erroneous and a misrepresentation.

Noor Hisham’s statement was made in response to an article in Nature’s “Where I Work” section which quoted a Malaysian molecular immunologist, Audrey Teh, who is conducting research at St George’s Hospital, University of London.

She was quoted as saying: “I’m from Malaysia, where we don’t have state health care, and I’ve seen families bankrupted by medical bills”.

Noor Hisham congratulated Teh for her research work, saying “the country is always proud when Malaysians are involved in worthy evidence-creation”.

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However, he questioned the erroneous statements about Malaysian healthcare, “whether from the interviewee, the interviewer-writer, or due to inadequate fact-checking by the editors”.

Noor Hisham pointed out that Malaysia’s public health system was practically free for all, and similar to the UK’s National Health Service and was acknowledged by the World Health Organization for a high-performing healthcare system and well-trained workforce.

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