Country Statement at the 71st World Health Assembly: “Health for All, Commit to Universal Health Coverage”

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21 May 2018, Palais de Nations, Geneva, Switzerland


Mr President,

The Honorable Dr. Tedros Ghebreyesus, Director-General of WHO

Distinguished delegations from Members States,

Ladies & Gentlemen

I stand here before you, as the Representative of a new Malaysia, which on the 9th May 2018, witnessed the historic win of democracy and smooth transition of power, when the People of Malaysia changed a Government. Certainly, this augurs well for the Health sector in Malaysia, as the 92-year old Tun Dr. Mahathir Mohamad, undertaking the premiership for the second time around, who is a Medical Doctor.

I would like to echo Dr Tedros’ sentiments on WHOs role in serving the people and serving humanity, as quoted in his acceptance speech, in July 2017. As Dr Tedros aptly put it, it is about serving people regardless of where they live, developing or developed countries, small islands or big nations, urban or rural settings. It is about serving people regardless of who they are. Poor or rich, displaced or disabled, elderly or the youth.

This fundamental definition has embraced the sheer essence, of what Universal Health Coverage simply is. Universal health coverage is not a foreign concept to us. It springs from our constitution’s pledge to help attain the highest possible level of health for all. It is about ensuring all people can get quality health services, where and when they need them, without suffering financial hardship.

A vision reinforced 40 years ago, when countries agreed to Alma-Ata Declaration that primary health care is fundamental to the attainment of Health for All.

Our health care system intends to strengthen the universal health coverage of the country, by focusing on these strategies, which are:

  • Firstly, to Strengthen Population Health – Health is the responsibility of everyone; thus enhancing the health status of the population in Malaysia, through implementing Health In All Policies and Legislation towards a healthy society, by preventing, minimising risk to health and achieving sustainable development through innovative and integrated efforts of all relevant stakeholders including communities. Strengthening preventive health services through primary care is surely cost-effective. From combating infectious diseases over time, we are now plagued with the ‘epidemic’ of non-communicable diseases. Malaysia has implemented the “Family Doctor Concept”, an integrated enhanced primary care system that provides multi-disciplinary services including risk factor identification, risk intervention packages and clinical management of diseases, by both primary and secondary level.
  • Secondly to Create a Sustainable Health System – Provision of equitable, safe and quality healthcare should be the basis for the measurement of accessibility, responsiveness and universal health coverage leaving no-one behind. Our healthcare system is heavily subsidized by the government. Our significant investment in preventive healthcare, using the life-course approach, and comprehensive specialist secondary care services, at nominal cost to the citizens have significantly improved the delivery of public healthcare system, coupled with the use of digital technology, on-line health services as well as enhanced multi-sectoral collaboration.

To date surgery is being prioritised as another important component of public health. 90% of deaths from injuries occur in low-and middle-income countries and yet the poorest third of the world’s population receives only 3.5% of the surgical operations undertaken worldwide. Universal access to safe, affordable surgical and anaesthesia care when needed, save lives, prevent disabilities and promote economic growth for the country.

“Health for all“ should be the frontier of all development efforts. Malaysia joins hands with WHO and members states in championing universal health coverage, focusing on the quality of care to be better than before, stronger in implementation and smarter in partnerships for our present and future generation.

On that note Mr. President, I thank you all for your kind attention

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