The Malaysian government has approved an annual allocation of RM4.3 million (US $1,346,695) to provide external breast prostheses and special brassieres for breast cancer patients. Malaysians and permanent residents with a monthly household income of less than RM5,000 (US $1,565), who are diagnosed with breast cancer by a government-hospital medical officer, qualify for the assistance.
“The cabinet has approved the allocation due to appeals from non-governmental organizations to help survivors,” Women, Family, and Community Development Minister, Senator Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, was quoted as saying in an article by the News Straits Times. “The [program will] lessen the financial and emotional burden experienced by breast cancer patients.”
Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said many survivors were affected by social and psychological stigma after their mastectomies as they could not afford to buy the prosthesis and special bra, which cost between RM700 (US $219) and RM1,000 (US $313) each.
According to an article in Bernama.com, the program will be managed by the National Welfare Foundation (NWF), in cooperation from government hospitals, the National Population and Family Development Board Malaysia, and non-governmental organizations (NGOs) such as the Breast Cancer Welfare Association (BCWA).
This program follows on the distant heels of a RM29 million (US $9,082,367) annual subsidy that was granted for mammogram screening in 2007.