RM24 mil for mental health: Modest but noteworthy

THE Malaysian Mental Health Association (MMHA) welcomed the RM24 mil allocation under Budget 2021 to address mental health issues in the country.

However, MHMA also urged the Government to monitor its usage to prevent leakage and abuse.

Last week, Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz tabled Budget 2021 which is valued at RM322.54 bil at the Dewan Rakyat.

The expansionary budget was an addition to the six stimulus packages worth over RM300 bil announced this year to revive the economy and push assistance towards those affected by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Health Ministry received an allocation of RM31.9 bil which a slight increase from last year. However, it was indicated that massive cuts have been made on other health-related matters such as psychiatry, pharmacy and supplies and general medicine.

Speaking to FocusM, MMHA president Datuk Dr Andrew Mohanraj said while the allocation was modest, it nonetheless showed the Government was committed to address mental health issues in the nation.

 “And I believe a significant portion of the sum should be channelled to non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and other initiatives dealing with mental health issues,” he said.

Mohanraj added: “The Health and the Women, Family and Community Development Ministries should be capable enough to dispense and monitor how the funds are being utilised.”

The veteran psychiatrist said that while funding has been made available, what Malaysia truly needed is a leadership in dealing with mental health issue.

He noted in many developed nations, there was an ombudsman body or a minister tasked to be in charge of such matter.

“For Malaysia, there is a dire need to at least appoint someone to the Dewan Negara to represent the mental health NGOs,” added Mohanraj.- Nov 9, 2020


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