MoH initiates early screening at psychiatric wards

by ASILA JALIL / pic by BERNAMA

THE Health Ministry (MoH) is ramping up efforts to mitigate the Covid-19 outbreak at psychiatric wards after two hospitals reported Covid-19 cases at the wards.

With the latest outbreak taking place at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s (HKL) psychiatric ward, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said the ministry is carefully handling the cases to contain the virus from spreading to other sectors of the hospitals.

“We are in a very crucial moment in dealing with mental health cases amid the pandemic. It is taking place everywhere.

“We have to manage the rising cases at psychiatric wards thoroughly to ensure no outbreak will take place at the treatment centres and affecting other areas in the hospitals,” he said during a virtual press conference yesterday after the launch of Healthcare Protection Scheme for the bottom 40% group (PeKa B40) 2019-2020 report.

He said among the intervention measures taken include early screening for the patients.

The minister had told Sin Chew Daily yesterday that 10 individuals at the men’s psychiatric ward in HKL have tested positive for Covid-19.

He said the ward has been “frozen” to curb the outbreak where existing patients will remain in the affected ward.

Besides HKL, he said Covid-19 cases were previously reported at Sentosa Hospital in Kuching, Sarawak.

On the country’s mental illness healthcare, the minister said MoH is utilising the RM24 million allocated in Budget 2021 to develop programmes assisting individuals with mental illness that have been badly affected by the pandemic.

Among the initiatives include enhancing mental health treatments and medications, as well as collaborating with the Education Ministry to identify mental illness among individuals.

Dr Adham said MoH is also working with private hospitals to outsource non-Covid patients to private healthcare centres to accommodate the rising numbers of Covid-19 patients at public hospitals.

He said the Emergency Ordinance had enabled both sectors to work seamlessly together in managing the healthcare system in the country to ensure patients are receiving required treatments during the pandemic.

“We outsource non-Covid patients to private hospitals, mainly those who are in critical conditions and require immediate treatment.

“Therefore, we can treat more Covid-19 patients at public hospitals, especially when the numbers are on the rise,” he said.

He added that more than 100 private hospitals are involved in assisting the ministry to treat Covid-19 patients, especially in the city centre.

A total of 2,400 beds have been allocated at private hospitals for Covid-19 patients.

“We have been working closely together since April 2021.

“Besides, we also have taken over the paediatrician centre at Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia to accommodate Covid-19 patients in the Klang Valley, on top of the other existing centres,” he added.