KUALA LUMPUR: Donations and charity drives in the health services can foster national unity, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak.
Speaking during his maiden visit to Tung Shin Hospital (TSH) here, Najib said charitable contributions to health service providers could help patients of many backgrounds.
"I consider these contributions not only as a support for the health sector but we are also promoting and strengthening national unity.
"I see a very multiracial crowd here. The nurses are multiracial and so are the patients, which is what we want to see.
"For TSH, I hope long may it continue the sterling and good work it provides to the public especially to the people of Kuala Lumpur," he said.
Najib lauded TSH and Chinese Maternity Hospital (CMH) (located next to TSH), which are non-profit organisations, for delivering quality health services to the people at costs that are much lower than those imposed by private hospitals.
"These hospitals play an indirect role in helping the government shoulder the social responsibility of providing health services to the public.
"We provide these services at minimal costs, hence, the government's expenditure increases. This year, we have spent RM24 billion in total for (health services) but we only collected about RM600 million.
"When there are parties with high sense of social responsibility such as these two hospitals, it certainly helps to ease the government's financial burden," he said adding that these efforts contributed in the increase of life expectancy in the country to 75-76 years old.
At the event, Najib announced the federal government's contribution of RM3 million for TSH to complete its new cardiac centre.
He said the funds would be released soon, and said: "I do not want the funds to be owed to you for too long because I am very impressed with the work that these hospitals do".
Also present was TSH president and CMH director Tan Sri Khoo Chai Kaa.
Khoo in his welcoming speech, had appealed for the RM3 million contribution for the cardiac centre.
"The centre which will be equipped with the latest angio system for coronary heart disease diagnosis and treatment, needs RM10 million to be completed.
"We have collected RM7 million from public donation drives since 2016, but we are short of RM3 million.
"We also hope that the prime minister could assist us to waiver the hospital's outstanding assessment fees (for 1996 - 2016) demanded by the KL City Hall," he said.
Najib responded to the appeal by saying: "On the assessment fees, let me discuss with the City Hall and we will see what we can do. We will decide later".