Moving Towards Better Health: Malaysians Need To Adopt Healthier Lifestyles
Malaysians are settling into a “new normal” as effects of the pandemic spread across the country’s economic and healthcare systems. Because of this, more and more people have taken steps for a healthier lifestyle either by rethinking their financial priority on medical emergencies and preparedness or by embracing new healthcare technology.
However, despite the shift in health-conscious behaviour, there’s still a lot more Malaysians can do to move towards better health.
Malaysians’ health behaviours before the pandemic
A live panel discussion conducted by Prudential Malaysia on the evolving local health culture amid COVID-19 revealed that before the pandemic, a shockingly high number of Malaysians were reluctant to use digital healthcare services to improve their wellbeing.
The Malaysian Health Survey, conducted by iMoney Malaysia, highlighted that 75% of those surveyed have never used an online medical consultation while 22% did not even know that such services existed.
Dr Feisul Idzwan Mustapha, consultant public health physician and deputy director (NCD) from the Ministry of Health, noted that the lack of health-seeking behaviour in Malaysians correlates with findings from the National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS) published in 2019.
The NHMS showed that 69% of respondents preferred to see a doctor in person, yet 23% of Malaysians opted to self-medicate, with another 16.4% preferring to seek medical advice from family and friends. This shows a significant portion of Malaysians are not taking enough initiative to adopt preventative health measures, opting only to seek professional medical care after they are sick.
Slowly evolving into digital health preparedness
Still, not all is doom and gloom as Eric Wong, Chief Customer and Marketing Officer of Prudential Malaysia, pointed to the high number of downloads during COVID-19 for the Pulse app, an AI-powered health and wellness application developed by Prudential Malaysia that provides a variety of digital health services.
Since March, the app has achieved over 500,000 additional downloads with users utilising its features such as an online health assessment, symptom checker, and dengue prediction functionality.
Maggy Wang, the founder of Motion Lab, also pointed out the growing number of Malaysians seeking out home workout videos and podcasts and participating in virtual workouts during the movement control order. Our Malaysian Health Survey also picked on this trend with a 90% increase in searches for home workout videos in the last five months.
As Malaysia moves toward a recovery period, Wong reinforces the need for Malaysians to change their behaviour towards health awareness by using the resources that free apps such as Pulse provides to increase their health literacy.
The pandemic has caused a shift in the culture towards health and people are starting to realize the need for medical and emergency preparedness. While healthcare providers are accelerating the availability of digital health services, it’s ultimately on Malaysian to take the initiative towards better preventative health behaviours.