PETALING JAYA: Professionals such as educators and doctors are expecting more robust investments in education, technology, and manpower in key sectors under Budget 2023.
A cohort of 69 civil society organisations (CSOs) say the Budget should not focus just on economic development but also on children as well as key personnel such as educators, nurses, and social workers.
Among their suggestions are making Budget 2023 a landmark budget by initiating the establishment of a Children’s Ministry as well as providing more support for early childhood services, including early intervention programmes (EIP) for children with disabilities as well as the childcare sector.
“We urge the government to allocate budgetary provisions to cover half the operating costs of centres catering for middle and low-income families, as well as for EIPs delivered by CSOs for the next two years to keep vital services alive for children with disabilities, covering both pre-school and older children with disabilities,” said the signatories, who include consultant paediatrician and National Early Childhood Intervention Council adviser Datuk Dr Amar-Singh HSS; Childline Foundation director Datin PH Wong; and Yayasan Chow Kit founder and child activist Datuk Dr Hartini Zainudin.
They also said that Budget 2023 should have an allocation to hire one extra teacher in all Primary 1 and 2 classes in every school to address lost learning during the pandemic.
“This should include utilising additional human resources for the next one to two years to support children who did not receive adequate pre-school education or have learning disabilities.”
The groups also asked that the needs of nurses be taken into account in Budget 2023.
“We need to increase the pay scheme for nurses to attract more to join this vital profession,” they said.
Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai said the association hopes to see an increase in the healthcare budget to 5% of the GDP to truly reflect the government’s commitment to healthcare reforms.
“A substantial amount will be needed, especially to address the shortages in manpower in public healthcare facilities.
“We also hope there will be increased allocations to support specialisation programmes,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Dr Muruga Raj added that older public healthcare facilities will also need funds for maintenance and upgrades.
Funds will also be needed to build new facilities in rural areas so that healthcare services are more evenly spread.
“Medicine security is even more crucial now, as evidenced by the current prolonged disruption of medical supplies in the country.
“The government could also increase the current tax incentives for working adults to further encourage them to go for health screenings,” he said.
He also said that there should be money set aside to improve primary care in government and private facilities through public-private partnerships.
“More allocations are also needed for the prevention of diseases, health promotion, and enforcement under the Health Ministry’s Inspectorate Unit,” he said.