Malaysians are settling into a “new normal” as the effects of the pandemic spread through the country’s economic and health systems. For this reason, more and more people have taken steps towards a healthier lifestyle, either by rethinking their financial priority on medical emergencies and preparedness, or by embracing new health technologies.
However, despite the change in health-conscious behavior, Malaysians can still do a lot more to move towards better health.
Malaysian health behaviors before the pandemic
A live panel discussion led by Prudential Malaysia on the evolution of the local health culture amid COVID-19 found that before the pandemic, an incredibly high number of Malaysians were reluctant to use digital health services to improve their well-being.
The Malaysia Health Survey, conducted by iMoney Malaysia, found that 75% of those surveyed had never used an online medical consultation while 22% were not even aware that such services existed.
Dr Feisul Idzwan Mustapha, public health consultant and deputy director (MNT) of the Ministry of Health, noted that the lack of health-seeking behavior among Malaysians correlated with the results of the national survey on the Health and Morbidity (NHMS) published in 2019.
The NHMS showed that 69% of those surveyed preferred to see a doctor in person, but 23% of Malaysians chose to self-medicate, and 16.4% preferred to see a doctor with family and friends. This shows that a significant part of Malaysians do not take enough initiative to adopt preventive health measures, opting only for professional medical care after their illness.
Slowly evolving towards digital health readiness
Yet all is not gloomy and gloomy as Eric Wong, director of customer and marketing for Prudential Malaysia, pointed out the high number of downloads during COVID-19 for the Pulse app, a health and wellness app. be powered by AI developed by Prudential Malaysia which provides a variety of digital health services.
As of March, the app has recorded more than 500,000 additional downloads, with users using its features such as an online health assessment, symptom checker, and dengue prediction feature.
Maggie Wang, Founder of Motion Lab, also pointed out the growing number of Malaysians seeking home workout videos and podcasts and participating in virtual workouts during the motion control order. Our Malaysian Health Survey also picked up on this trend with a 90% increase in searches for home workout videos over the past five months.
As Malaysia nears a recovery period, Wong reinforces the need for Malaysians to change their health awareness behavior by using resources provided by free apps such as Pulse to improve their health literacy .
The pandemic has caused a culture shift towards health and people are starting to realize the need for medical and emergency preparedness. As healthcare providers accelerate the availability of digital healthcare services, it is ultimately up to Malaysians to take the lead in improving preventative healthcare behaviors.
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