National cancer fund ‘a good idea’ due to depleted health funding caused by Covid-19

The National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) supports the call made by a lawmaker for the setting up of a national cancer fund.

Its managing director, Dr M. Murallitharan, said it was quite certain that in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, the country had exhausted most of its health budgets on Covid-19 related matters, and would, therefore, face shortages in funding for specific illnesses and diseases, including cancer.

Echoing Klang MP Charles Santiago, who had earlier today called for a national cancer fund to be created under the 12th Malaysia Plan, Dr Murallitharan told Twentytwo13: “At this point in time, the national cancer fund is a very, very good idea.”

“We know that one of the challenges we faced during the last budget was that this specific kind of line item budgeting for cancer expenditure seems to have been withdrawn. Of course, we heard assurances from the government that this had been put in a bigger pool, and that the money would still be reserved for cancer,” he said.

“We know there are a lot of challenges when it comes to this type of common pool (of funding) for different diseases because then it becomes a case of who can argue better in favour of their department’s expenditure, and which problems are more pressing at that point in time. Things like these will affect expenditure.”

“This is why a national cancer fund is a good idea. We will be ‘ring fencing’ an amount that we know will be used to treat cancer,” added Dr Murallitharan, who is in Kedah, for house-to-house vaccinations.

He, however, stressed that those who controlled the fund, must come up with a framework to ensure that the objectives were truly met.

“We really need to come up with a framework to determine, for example, the drugs to buy. We need to have good negotiators who can negotiate the prices of drugs. We need to have smart partnerships with pharmaceutical manufacturers.

“Otherwise, the cancer fund will be a ‘siapa cepat dia dapat’ race, and very soon, the fund will be depleted with no real outcome.”

“I totally agreed with Santiago’s call, but with very specific recommendations that it must be run intelligently, efficiently, and with a real sense of humanitarian purpose. It concerns our patients, the lives of Malaysians are on the line, and as such, their needs must come first.”

Here are Twentytwo13’s news highlights for today.

NINE FOREIGN MANUFACTURING COMPANIES SHUTTERED DUE TO COVID-19

Nine foreign manufacturing companies, ranging from textile to steel, and the electronics sectors, have been forced to cease operations from March 2020, to May this year.

Deputy International Trade and Industry Minister Datuk Lim Ban Hong, told the Dewan Rakyat, that among the factors that led to the companies quitting Malaysia, included the gloomy global economy due to the pandemic, a drop in sales and demand, and rising operating costs.

However, he insisted that Malaysia remained a major investment destination as total investments in the country from January to June 2021, rose by 69.8 per cent year-on-year, to RM107.5 billion, while foreign direct investments surged by 214.9 per cent, year-on-year, to RM62.5 billion.

MA63: BILL TO AMEND CONSTITUTION SCHEDULED FOR FIRST READING IN PARLIAMENT SOON

A Bill to amend the Federal Constitution to bring certain relevant provisions to be in line with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63) is expected to be tabled in Parliament later this month.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, said based on the ministry’s timeline, the first reading of the Bill could take place on Oct 26, followed by the second reading, two days later.

Wan Junaidi said, while the Attorney-General’s Chambers was reviewing the legal provisions, the ministry had to explain the matter to key stakeholders, including MPs, Sabah and Sarawak leaders, and the Attorneys-General in both the states.

He hoped to have a special meeting on MA63, to be chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob, on Oct 21. A special paper on MA63 will be presented by Ismail Sabri to his Cabinet members the following day.

“Based on the ministry’s tentative timeline, the AGC is scheduled to come up with the Blue Bill on this, which will be presented to the MPs, hopefully on Oct 25,” Wan Junaidi said in a statement.

“Over the years, there has been an erosion in Sabah and Sarawak rights, as stated in MA63. We hope to rectify this by amending some critical provisions in the Federal Constitution,” he added.

MALAYSIA READY TO TALK TO MYANMAR’S UNITY GOVT

Malaysia is prepared to hold talks with Myanmar’s National Unity Government (NUG) if the ruling junta remains uncommitted to the consensus agreed upon by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean).

“Malaysia has always been the first country to facilitate constructive engagement, even before Myanmar became a member of Asean,” said Foreign Affairs Minister, Datuk Saifuddin Abdullah, in the Dewan Rakyat today.

NUG, comprising representatives from the National League Democracy, is the shadow government formed last April.

Saifuddin added if there was still no progress on the part of the Myanmar military government, it would then be difficult to invite army chief Min Aung Hlaing to attend the Asean Summit later this month.

SUSPECTED DRUG PUSHER DIES WHILE BEING ARRESTED BY COPS

A 45-year-old man, believed to be a drug pusher, collapsed and died during a police raid at a flat in Taman Datuk Senu in Sentul, Kuala Lumpur, yesterday.

Kuala Lumpur police chief Datuk Azmi Abu Kassim, in a statement today, said police tried to arrest the suspect, but he tried to attack them instead.

“In arresting the suspect, police used minimal force and seized the sickle the suspect was trying to reach for,” Azmi said.

“The suspect suddenly collapsed and lost consciousness.”

He was later declared dead.

Police found 51.24g of syabu and 1.97g of heroin in the flat.