Malaysia: Policy & Leadership

In Malaysia, the Ministry of Health is the main provider of health care, through an extensive network of hospitals and health facilities.1 The population has historically had fairly equitable access to health services, but as private sector health services have increased, facilitated by Malaysia’s privatization policy, they have largely focused on more affluent urban areas.1 2The Ministry of Health began implementing quality improvement efforts in its hospitals as far back as the 1980s, ahead of the national government’s adoption of quality management directives.1 Malaysia defined its Strategic Plan for Quality in Health in 1998, institutionalizing a regulatory structure that must prove a given level of progress or health improvements for both private and public facilities.3 Malaysia’s accreditation body, the Malaysia Society for Quality in Healthcare, has certified 80% of government hospitals, and the private sector receives comparable oversight.4 In addition, the private sector is represented in the patient safety council, committed to establishing a safe Malaysian health care system.3 Benchmarking is a key component of the National Indicator Approach for monitoring, with a goal of encouraging MOH-overseen hospitals and health facilities to compare their performance.4 At local levels, there is an expectation that hospitals and districts will discover, analyze, and take action to remedy problems even before they are informed of their performance at the national level.4 

In Malaysia, public spending is oriented towards pro-poor practices, which has resulted in greatly reduced inequity in access to health care compared to many other countries.1 In public hospitals, quality management components in regular practice includes a commitment to leadership and management, partnership with suppliers, continuous improvement, involvement and training of employees, strategic planning, teamwork, and quality assurance activities.1 This institutionalized commitment to a culture of quality management means that even as the country’s health care practices are increasingly privatized, equity in quality of care will continue to be prioritized.


  1. Hazilah AMN. Practice follows structure: QM in Malaysian public hospitals. Measuring Business Excellence 2009, 13:1; 23-33.
  2. Ministry of Health Malaysia, Country Health Plan 2011-2015. 10th Malaysia Plan.
  3. Tarantino L, Laird K, Ottosson A, Frescas R, Mate K, et al. 2016. Institutional Roles and Relationships Governing the Quality of Health Care: Country Experiences, Challenges, and Lessons Learned. Bethesda, MD: Health Finance & Governance Project, Abt Associates and USAID Applying Science to Strengthen and Improve Systems Project, URC.
  4. Tarantino L, Laird K, Ottosson A, Frescas R, Mate K, et al. Malaysia: Governing for Quality Improvement in the Context of UHC. 2016. USAID Health Finance and Governance.