‘Increase funding for education, technology and human resources’

PETALING JAYA: Professionals like educators and doctors expect stronger investments in education, technology and workforce in key sectors under Budget 2023.

A cohort of 69 civil society organizations (CSOs) say the budget should focus not just on economic development, but also on children and key staff such as educators, nurses and social workers.

Among his suggestions is making Budget 2023 a historic budget by initiating the establishment of a Ministry of Children and providing more support for early childhood services, including early intervention programs (EIPs) for children with disabilities, as well as the child care sector.

“We urge the government to allocate budgetary provisions to cover half of the operating costs of the centers serving low- and middle-income families, as well as the EIPs delivered by CSOs over the next two years to keep vital services alive for children with disabilities, covering preschool and older children with disabilities,” said the signatories, which include consultant pediatrician and adviser to the National Council for Early Childhood Intervention Datuk Dr Amar-Singh HSS; the director of the Childline Foundation, Datin PH Wong; and Yayasan Chow Kit founder and children’s activist Datuk Dr Hartini Zainudin.

They also said that Budget 2023 should have an allocation to hire an additional teacher in all Primary 1 and 2 classes at each school to address learning loss during the pandemic.

“This should include the use of additional human resources over the next one to two years to support children who have not received adequate preschool education or who have learning disabilities.”

The groups also called for the needs of nurses to be considered in Budget 2023.

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“We need to increase the pay plan for nurses to attract more people 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 health care budget to 5% of GDP to truly reflect the government’s commitment to health care reforms.

“A substantial amount will be needed, especially to address labor shortages in public health facilities.

“We also hope that there will be increased allocations to support specialization programs,” he said in a statement yesterday.

Dr. Muruga Raj added that older public healthcare facilities will also need funding for maintenance and upgrades.

Funds will also be needed to build new facilities in rural areas so that health care services are more evenly distributed.

“Drug safety is even more crucial now, as evidenced by the current prolonged disruption of medical supplies in the country.

“The government could also increase current tax incentives for working adults to further encourage them to get health screenings,” he said.

He also said 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 disease prevention, health promotion and enforcement under the Inspection Unit of the Ministry of Health,” he said.

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