May 10, 2019

Healthcare for Women in Malaysia

Women in Malaysia

In the recent few decades, the government of Malaysia has implemented multiple programmes to raise and safeguard the social standing of women in Malaysia. These programmes were introduced to promote gender equality in healthcare and education, as well as to increase women’s participation in decision-making and the work force. They are also aimed towards prohibiting gender discriminatory practices and gender-biased laws.

Today, women in Malaysia enjoy a relatively high Gender Development Index (GDI). In 2017, the value stands at 0.976; a value of 1 indicates total similarity in Human Development Index (HDI) between males and females. In addition, the country’s Gender Inequality Index (GII) (which is a measure of inequality between women and men on achievements in reproductive health, empowerment and participation in the labour market) stands at 0.287 in 2017, indicating relatively low disparity between the two genders.

Healthcare for women

Healthcare for women is frequently associated with reproductive health, which includes menstruation, pregnancy, childbirth and maternal mortality.One of the great necessities in healthcare for women is sex education. Adequate understanding of sexual and reproductive health issues are important for women to live healthily, to manage their pregnancies, and to raise children in an optimal environment. It may reduce occurrence of unplanned pregnancies, and sexually transmitted diseases can also be better curbed.

Women living in poverty frequently do not receive sufficient medical care. This inversely affects their quality of life as well as the well-being of the younger generation.

Female healthcarein Malaysia

Malaysians are eligible to highly subsidised healthcare in public facilities in the country. In addition to public hospitals, government clinics are available at low costs. However, access to these facilities may have some room for improvement. For example, national policies currently allocate some provisions, such as subsidised contraceptives, only to women of certain age, marital status, and other factors. This excludes some women from receiving the full range of available service. Less than 50% of women of childbearing age in Malaysia have access to free contraceptives.Lack of family planning may negatively impact women’s quality of life, as well as their families.

Malaysians are eligible to highly subsidised healthcare in government facilities around the country. However, these facilities are frequently overloaded. The private healthcare sector has also expanded greatly over the past 25 years.

Child marriage also presents an issue in Malaysia to this day. Most of the children involved in child marriage are girls. The Deputy Minister of Women, Family, and Community Development, Yang Berhormat Puan Hannah Yeoh has announced that nearly 15000 child marriages were recorded between 2007 and 2017. Pregnancy at a young age is associated with an increased medical risk for both mother and baby.However, contraceptive use among married teenagers aged 15-19 years is only 33.3%. Unwed pregnant mothers, on the other hand, face social stigma and are prone to under-utilise available maternity services. Estimates have suggested that reducing child pregnancy by 10% may lower a country’s maternal mortality rate by 70%.Awareness on the importance of contraceptives and its accessibility to teenagers may help prevent risky pregnancies.

The right to quality healthcare should be available to all, regardless of gender, social standing and financial status. Ensuring free access to proper medical attention will help secure the country’s social and economic growth.

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References

  1. UNICEF Malaysia. Women in Malaysia. Available at https://www.unicef.org/malaysia/gift_6066.html. Accessed on 20 March 2019.
  2. United Nations Development Programme. Human Development Report 2018 statistical update. Available at http://hdr.undp.org/sites/default/files/2018_human_development_statistical_update.pdf. Accessed on 20 March 2019.
  3. Women’s healthcare in Malaysia is the weaker rights.  The Star Online 2015 January 25. Available at https://www.thestar.com.my/lifestyle/health/2015/01/25/womens-healthcare-in-malaysia-is-the-weaker-rights/. Accessed on 26 March 2019.
  4. Barnett B. Education protects health, delays sex. Netw Res Triangle Park N C. 1997;17(3):14-5.
  5. Ngoma C, Mayimbo S. The negative impact of poverty on the health of women and children. Ann Med Health Sci Res. 2017;7(6):442-6.
  6. Quek D. The Malaysian healthcare system: a review. Presented at: Intensive workshop on health systems in transition; 2009 April 29-30; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
  7. MyHealth portal, Ministry of Health Malaysia. Family planning. Available at http://www.myhealth.gov.my/en/family-planning/. Accessed on 29 March 2019.
  8. Child marriage: Why it is still a problem in 2018. Malay Mail 2018 November 10. Available at https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2018/11/10/child-marriage-why-it-is-still-a-problem-in-2018/1691899. Accessed on 27 March 2019.
  9. World Health Organization. Adolescent pregnancy. Available at https://www.who.int/news-room/fact-sheets/detail/adolescent-pregnancy. Accessed on 27 June 2019.
  10. Mohd MA, Adibah HI, Haliza G. A review of teenage pregnancy research in Malaysia. Med J Malaysia. 2015;70(4):214-9.
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