PeKa Found Over 150,000 Individuals Suffering NCDs in Silent

The healthcare protection scheme revealed a worrying neglect of health through its free health screening

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In a news conference, Health Minister Dr Adham Baba announced that the PeKa B40 healthcare protection scheme for low-income people has identified 151,729 new patients with non-communicable diseases.

Adham, speaking at the inauguration of the PeKa B40 2019/2020 report, said that since April 2019, 457462 people from the B40 group had enrolled for the scheme.

According to him, 10.4% of those who registered had diabetes, 29.8% had high cholesterol, 13.8% had hypertension, 1.6% had depression, and 1.4% had anxiety.

The PeKa B40 (or Peduli Kesihatan B40) scheme began with a RM100 million initial allocations to cover 800,000 people run by ProtectHealth Corporation Sdn Bhd (PHCorp), a non-profit subsidiary of the Ministry of Health.

ProtectHealth spent RM62.5 million on health examinations between 15th April 2019 and 31st December 2020, according to Adham.

“Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, more M40 people are now falling into the B40 group,” he said and accordingly, the ministry has applied for more allocations.

Adham revealed that RM20.9 million was spent on medical equipment such as cardiovascular stents, prosthetics, pacemakers, and hearing aids, in addition to the RM62.5 million spent on health screenings.

A total of RM1.6 million was spent on cancer patients’ treatment completion, as well as RM1.5 million on transportation incentives.

Living aid (Bantuan Sara Hidup or BSH) and Prihatin Rakyat beneficiaries and their spouses over the age of 40 are eligible for free health screenings at participating general practitioners (GPs) and health ministry clinics under the scheme.

They are also eligible for medical equipment worth up to RM20,000, RM1,000 in incentives for completing cancer treatment, and RM1,000 in transportation costs.

Elaborating on the NCDs, Adham said the PeKa B40 scheme found that 1.6% of the recipients suffered from depression and 1.4% suffered anxiety.

He said the scheme is, therefore, important for early detection of mental health issues.

For 2021, he said, the MOH has been allocated RM24 million for mental health programmes. Two hundred counsellors have been placed at the ministry’s clinics nationwide so far to screen for mental health issues.

The ministry will also be looking into improvements in medication for the treatment of mental health issues, on top of partnering with schools and the education ministry for early detection.