The health white paper will be brought to Cabinet next week for approval before being tabled in Parliament, said Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
"It must be brought to Cabinet before we can table it in Parliament," she told reporters after officiating at the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) International Healthcare Conference and Exhibition in Kuala Lumpur today.
The health white paper is the beginning of the journey of reforming the Malaysian health system. One of the strategic thrusts is to ensure the sustainability of healthcare funding by diversifying funding sources for health, where special focus is given to the development of a national health insurance scheme.
When asked whether Malaysia will follow in Singapore and Thailand's footsteps in imposing a ban on vaping, Zaliha said such a move must be looked at from various aspects, including public health and the economy.
Commenting on the shortage of nurses at private health institutions, Zaliha said the situation was likely due to distribution problems and required reallocating measures.
She said one of the things that need to be scrutinised is the recruitment of nurses from abroad to help the private sector overcome the shortage.
Earlier in his welcoming address, APHM president Dr Kuljit Singh said that based on a survey in November 2022 which received responses from 103 hospitals, an additional 9,224 nurses are needed from 2023 to 2025.
Meanwhile, during a media briefing at the ministry this afternoon, Zaliha confirmed that the health white paper will be tabled at the Dewan Rakyat sitting from June 6 to 15.
"After being tabled in Parliament, we are still open for views and suggestions from stakeholders to be included in the white paper because we understand that during the implementation period, there will definitely be changes or new strategies or requirements in our health system," she said.
She also said that the white paper, which will be implemented over 15 years, covers short, medium and long-term strategies to overcome the challenges of public health services and become a new policy for the Malaysian health system.
The briefing was presented by health ministry planning division director Dr Rozita Halina Tun Hussien and attended by about 50 local media representatives.
Rozita said the white paper was developed to outline proposed solutions in stages in terms of service delivery, financing, governance and organisational reforms.
She said among the priorities of the health white paper is people-friendly primary health care that emphasises promotive and preventive care, strengthening public health functions, including preparedness to face health crises and increasing investment for health while reducing out-of-pocket expenses by the people.