Previous articles in this column have elaborated at length on the highly centralised system of government in Malaysia where, despite being a federation, the “federated states” of the country are left with very limited areas of responsibility. Healthcare is one such example.
As a matter of fact, public health and sanitation are included in the so-called Concurrent List, which theoretically means that that area of administration involves shared powers between the federal and state governments. However, in reality, healthcare policies are determined by the central government under its various departments, namely the Ministry of Health, the Malaysian Medical Council and public healthcare administered by state health departments. State governments of the day have very little say over these policies or their implementation.
Nevertheless, it is worth examining the programmes that have been run by the Penang and Selangor state governments over the last five years, despite their limitations.
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