2024 Budget: Mental health takes centre stage, pushing for more community centres in next year's budget

KUALA LUMPUR: The Alliance for A Safe Community hoped the government would consider including allocation on mental health on the priority list in the 2024 Budget.

Its chairman, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye emphasised the need for increased advocacy on mental health, given its longstanding persistence over many years.

In response to the 2024 Budget allocated to the Health Ministry, he suggested that the government establish more Community Mental Health centres (Mentari) throughout the country.

"It is crucial at the community level, making it more accessible for people with mental disorders to seek help.

"However, this effort would require an increase in the number of counsellors, psychologists, and psychiatrists in the government service," he said.

He also concurred with the need to implement more policies to encourage healthier lifestyles among the public.

The NGO also welcomed the government's decision to raise the excise duty on sugary drinks from 40 sen to 50 sen per litre.

Lee expressed his support for implementing additional policies to promote healthier lifestyles among the general public.

He highlighted that the revenue generated from this excise duty could be allocated for diabetes treatment and the support of dialysis centres.

He said that imposing such an excise duty would further reduce the consumption of sugary beverages.

"Sugar taxes can help decrease the consumption of sugary beverages and encourage industry players to reduce sugar content in processed drinks," he said.

"Diabetes is the country's leading cause of end-stage kidney failure, and we must act swiftly to address it."

Lee added that implementing this policy could contribute to the prevention of non-communicable diseases.

On dialysis treatments, he stressed that the government should provide subsidies or financial assistance to patients from private clinics or NGOs.

He also urged the government to provide more dialysis machines, as hospitals are experiencing overcrowding due to the current shortage.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim on Friday announced the 10 sen increase in excise duty on premixed sugary beverages during the presentation of the 2024 Budget.

He noted that the increase, from 40 sen per litre to 50 sen per litre, is an effort to mitigate health risks among Malaysians.

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