Malaysia (Commonwealth Union)_ During the Commonwealth Health Ministers’ Meeting (CHMM) held in Geneva, Switzerland, Dr. Zaliha Mustafa conveyed Malaysia’s desire to digitalize the nation’s healthcare system and embrace a data-driven approach. The Health Minister attended the meeting and the 76th World Health Assembly (WHA) and expressed her commitment with the aim of enhancing the quality of healthcare services in the country.
In a Facebook post, Dr. Zaliha mentioned that the discussions during the meeting focused on pandemic preparedness, particularly emphasizing the promotion of equality in the development of health products and technology. According to her Facebook post, “The next session touched on matters related to preparedness to face pandemics, with special emphasis on promoting equality in the development of health products and technology”. She also highlighted the commitment of member nations to achieve Universal Health Coverage (UHC) by 2030, underscoring the pivotal role of primary healthcare in realizing this goal.
Furthermore, Dr. Zaliha urged the Commonwealth health ministers to offer incentives such as tax structures, research and development (R&D) funding, and strategic collaborations with relevant stakeholders to foster the growth of the local manufacturing industry in their respective nations. On a global scale, non-communicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, chronic respiratory disease, and diabetes account for nearly three-quarters of mortality. In Asia and the Pacific region, more than half of all fatalities are due to NCDs, with approximately three out of four deaths in Malaysia being caused by these diseases. Further, digital health tools are also playing a pivotal role in the prevention, screening, and diagnosis of NCDs.
Additionally, utilizing digital platforms for public health communication as well as awareness programs proves to be one of the most effective approaches to enhancing health literacy. Even in countries like Malaysia, which has an overall literacy rate of 95%, the Malaysia National Health and Morbidity Survey 2019 (NHMS) revealed that more than 35% of the population has low health literacy. This trend is particularly noticeable among lower-income groups. In addition to enhancing health literacy through digital and mobile channels, gamified fitness applications are gaining popularity as they encourage behavior change and promote healthier and more active lifestyles.