Covid policies made without consulting private healthcare, says MMA

by ASILA JALIL / pic by HUSSEIN SHAHARUDDIN

THERE has been a lack of “meaningful engagement” between the government, general practitioners (GPs) and private hospitals in developing a national strategy to combat the virus.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said many policies have been made without consulting those on the ground, especially in private healthcare.

In a statement yesterday, he said to speed up the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NCIP), the government should increase vaccination centres to prevent large crowds at the present existing centres.

He added that vaccinations by private GPs should go into full swing as visits by patients to clinics are expected to dip significantly during the lockdown.

“We welcome the NCIP coordinating minister’s announcement yesterday that 500 GP clinics will be administering vaccines by June 15 and that the number of clinics designated as vaccination centres will increase to 1,000 by June 30.

“It is hoped the target of 5,000 participating GPs can be achieved over the next two months.

“Although there are a total 8,000 GPs in the country, with just 5,000 private GPs on board, an additional 150,000 vaccinations per day can be carried out. Currently, only 184 of the 2,500 GPs have begun administering the vaccines,” he said.

The engagement between the government and other sectors is also vital to manage the pandemic, said Dr Subramaniam.

“We are at a critical stage in the pandemic. Resources need to be optimised and unnecessary red tape should be removed.

“Resources also need to be urgently beefed-up in all public healthcare facilities,” he added.

Dr Subramaniam also urged the government to utilise the 14-day lockdown to re-strategise its approach in battling the rising number of daily infections in the country.

“After three Movement Control Orders and now the second full lockdown, it is clear, certain policies have failed to bring the Covid-19 situation under control.

“It would be best to run mass testing now as most people will be at home during the 14 days lockdown,” he said in a statement yesterday.

To expedite the screening programmes nationwide, he said the mass RTK Antigen screening programmes need to be urgently executed in line with the World Health Organisation’s Find, Test, Trace, Isolate and Support system and it should be conducted in all states with support from the federal government.

He also urged the Health Ministry (MoH) to accept RTK Antigen positive results instead of conducting an additional RT-PCR test for those who have been found positive from the RTK Antigen screening.

“RTK Antigen screening is faster in determining positive cases and more cost-effective.

“If a person has tested positive using the RTK Antigen, it is more unlikely they will test negative using RT-PCR,” he said.

Dr Subramaniam said a proper exit strategy will also be needed and the MoH must be willing to accept feedback from all stakeholders.

“After all, Covid-19 affects everyone,” he said.

On Saturday, Malaysia recorded the highest number of daily Covid-19 cases with 9,020 cases, where 9,015 were domestic transmissions while five were imported.

The daily death toll also came in at a record high of 98 on the same day.