MPF, IKRAM and MyPJ are member organisatons of Gabungan Bertindak Malaysia (GBM), a coalition of 27 civil society organisations, while UID-Sejahtera is GBM’s Special Purposed Vehicle for engagement on issue of national unity and societal wellbeing.
The webinar was moderated by Dr Aliyyah Khuzaini and the speakers were:
1. Dr Musa Nordin - Consultant Paediatrician and Neonatologist, Clinical Professor of Paediatrics, KPJ University College
2. Dr Khor Swee Kheng - Specialist in Health Systems Policies and Global Health
3. Prof Tan Maw Pin - Professor of Geriatric Medicine, University of Malaya
One focus of discussion during the webinar was on the public-private partnership between public and private hospitals on handling cases of Covid-19. It was suggested that the government should hold a dialogue with private hospitals, with an aim to optimise safety and quality of care. One way in which private hospital could help is to recruit them to manage non-covid patients, including those in intensive care.
It was also suggested that there should be dedicate hospitals purely for covid-19 rather than having hybrid hospitals which runs the risks of increasing Coivd-19 cases. Effort then could be made to decongest the non-covid patients from these covid-19 hospitals to other non-covid public and private hospitals. In this way, the Covid-19 hospitals will have room and capacity to manage the cases more efficiently.
On vaccine, it was pointed out that the government should roll out a plan detailing logistics of vaccinating the population. Priority should be given to the most vulnerable section of the population - elderly people in care homes who have the highest risk of mortality and front liners who have the highest risk of contracting the infection.
As regards the Movement Control Order (MCO), it was suggested that it should be used to buy time rather than a repeated solution. It is not realistic to expect people to be locked down for a long time, and it is also detrimental to their physical and mental health.
It should also be targeted rather than uniformly decided. There should be a list a set of Key Performance Indicators that measure the success of MCO, as a benchmark as to when MCO may be lifted. The data from MySejahtera could be used to inform the decision on lifting the MCO.
Another focus of webinar was concern for mental health. It was agreed that mental health should be a priority in this pandemic in view of its significant effect on individuals and the community. A collective effort to combat its effects must be carried out. One suggestion was to open public parks and outdoor recreation areas as there is little evidence to suggest spread in open air spaces and it is beneficial for mental and physical health of people.
We should also show appreciation to front liners who have been working tirelessly throughout the pandemic. Efforts could be made to lessen their burden, including implementing task shifting, by training non-medical personnel to carry out specific tasks to reduce the burden and workload of skilled personnel. For example, teachers could be trained to do contact tracing.
The above are recommendations that are practical and viable to be implemented and carried immediately for the good of the people, community and wider society. We sincerely hope the government and Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia will take cognizance of such recommendations and take onboard the ideas from the webinar to be implemented accordingly.
For and on behalf of Co-Organisers
National Unity Programme Director,
23 January 2021
*Webinar at FB: http://bit.ly/manage-covid