Estimated cost for critically ill Covid-19 patient is RM18,270, says MoH

The treatment plan for Covid-19 patients is based on 5 clinical stages with Stage 4 and 5 patients placed under intensive care


THE estimated cost to treat critically ill Covid-19 patients admitted into government hospitals for an average of 21 days is RM18,270.

In a written parliamentary reply on Tuesday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said the price to treat a stage four or five patient infected with the coronavirus disease averaged at about RM879 per day.

“By taking the median cost of RM870 per day and an average admission period of 21 days, the estimated cost to treat a critical Covid-19 patient is approximately RM18,270,” Dr Adham said.

He was responding to a question from Dr Azman Ismail (Pakatan Harapan [PH]-Kuala Kedah) who inquired about protocols and costs involved in treating patients with Covid-19.

Dr Adham said the treatment plan for Covid-19 patients is based on five clinical stages — namely, no symptom (stage one), symptoms without pneumonia (stage two), symptoms with pneumonia (stage three), symptoms with pneumonia and requires oxygen assistance (stage four) and critical patients with multiorgan dysfunction (stage five). Stage four and five patients are placed under intensive care. He said treatment for critical patients involves various protocols including the use of ventilators, antiviral, antibiotic and immune-modulatory drugs, blood thinners, hemodynamic support and nasogastric tube feeding.

The monitoring of sugar levels and the use of stress ulcer prophylaxis also apply.

As of July 23, 290 critically ill Covid-19 patients have received intensive care treatment, of which 189 or 65.2% have been discharged after recovering.

The number of deaths reported stood at 124 cases (at press time), which is equivalent to 1.4% of overall confirmed cases in Malaysia.

“This shows that our treatment for Covid-19 is effective,” Dr Adham said.

Patients who tested positive for Covid-19 in Malaysia are placed in one of 26 designated government hospitals for treatment, in which the costs of treatment are fully borne by the government.

Finance Minister Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Tengku Abdul Aziz recently tabled a supplementary bill seeking to add RM7 billion to the Budget 2020 tabled in October last year, including RM1.18 billion in funds for the Health Ministry (MoH).

The amount allocated to the ministry in the federal budget last year was RM26.5 billion.

Separately, lawmaker Charles Santiago (PH-Klang) has called for the government to lobby hard for the use of compulsory licensing to procure generic versions of Gilead Sciences Inc’s remdesivir, which he described as one of the more advanced drugs being tested to speed up the recovery of Covid-19 patients.

Santiago said failure to use compulsory licence will see Malaysia procure patented versions of the medicine, which cost nearly RM9,922 per patient.

“This is a question of life and death, as the lives of Malaysians will depend on the cost of the medicine.

“It is the right of governments to use compulsory licensing and Malaysia should exercise it,” he said.