KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 13 — Flu vaccine suppliers should prioritise private general practitioners (GPs) instead of giving the medicine to them last, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said.
The doctors’ group pointed out that family physicians are the community’s first point of contact, estimating about 70 million annual GP visits in Malaysia. Almost 80 per cent of GP patients comprise repeat patients, while the majority are families.
“Each time when there is a vaccine shortage, the GPs are the last to receive supply if there are any stocks,” MMA president Dr N. Ganabaskaran said in a statement.
“Normally, priority is given to the public hospitals, followed by private hospitals, and the leftovers to the 7,000 well distributed general practitioners that have faster and more convenient access for the rakyat.”
He stressed that private hospitals should instead focus on secondary and tertiary care.
The New Straits Times reported that a one-year-old girl recently died from Influenza A, or H1N1, from Pahang, while her twin brother recovered. The flu outbreak has reportedly caused a number of schools to shutter and a shortage of flu medicines in private hospitals.
Bernama reported Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad as saying yesterday that many private health facilities have started receiving fresh supplies of antiviral medication after running out of flu vaccines.
He also said local pharmaceutical company and distributor Pharmaniaga has given an assurance to maintain a sufficient supply of antiviral drugs at Ministry of Health (MOH) facilities. However, MOH only provides the flu vaccine to high-risk patients at government hospitals, not the general public.
Dzulkefly stressed that the current influenza outbreak in Malaysia was not related to the pneumonia outbreak in Wuhan, China, that involves a new virus.