Robust strategy needed to fight infectious diseases

Covid-19 essentially serves as the tipping point for the country toward better scrutiny and the overhaul of governance


THERE has been scattered misinformation on Covid-19 since it began, particularly on the health system response, the seeking of virus treatment, and the origin of the virus.

The Health Ministry (MoH) has conducted several research studies to address the issue of misinformation on Covid-19 and suggested the government look at the success of strategy implementation as the core toward formulating new policies.

This includes vaccine efficacy, the use of technology for post-vaccination and empowering the community to manage the Covid-19 cases.

At the “Beyond Covid-19: Fighting Infectious Disease” webinar organised by Sunway University, Deputy Health DG Datuk Dr Hishamshah Mohd Ibrahim (picture) said MoH has been looking into various viewpoints on the pandemic with collaboration with hospitals and other health institutions.

Chief Epidemiologist of the Chinese Centre for Disease Control and Prevention Professor Dr Wu Zunyou said China uses risk assessment tools to divide districts into high, medium and low-risk areas which have contributed to the number of people being affected.

“China’s success is also a testament of strong leadership, good coordination of the sects and society, mobilisation of communities and full implementation of control strategies,” he added.

As such, Covid-19 essentially serves as the tipping point for the country toward better scrutiny as well as the overhaul of governance.

Additionally, the pandemic has seen political polarisation happening not only in Malaysia but several other countries as well, which have inflamed the containment strategy and eroded trust of the public.

Sunway University School of Medical and Life Sciences Dean, Professor Dr Abhi Veerakumarasivam, said medical response and political stability are interconnected, where a country cannot rely only on one party to formulate policies.

“Policies must be based on scientific evidence.Therefore, we need a stable political environment to ensure the best policies for a country,” he said.

Meanwhile, Universiti Malaya’s Professor of Infectious Diseases Datuk Professor Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said at the national level, the government could also take Covid19 as the tipping point toward building national economic policy such as the health budget and defence, among others.

“This is because Covid-19 is not just about health issues but also concerns national security.

“Fundamentally the government needs to improve and incentivise, in preparation for facing new infectious diseases and defence in the future,” she said.

This can be done through developing a robust strategy, new infrastructure for public health, updated equipment, hardware and software, as well as efficient manpower.

In response to that, Malaysia at the core also needs to strengthen the nerve centre and be equipped with efficient systems and digital technology to enable the country for a quick pandemic response, Adeeba concluded.