Since the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, the health fraternity has been working very hard to contain the outbreak and treat those infected. With enforcement of the MCO, I hope we will be able to break the chain of transmission.
Throughout this period, general practitioners, numbering 7000 nationwide have also been helping the Ministry of Health. Most have had to pay high prices to acquire the PPEs (personal protection equipment) necessary for Infection Prevention Control as recommended by experts.
A random survey shows most GPs seeing less than 30% of their normal capacity, which has made it hard to sustain the practice.
Despite this, GPs have kept their clinics open to alleviate the burden on overloaded Klinik Kesihatans and general hospitals.
As GPs, we are also vulnerable to infection. We too have families. Are we not loyal citizens who have contributed to the economy? Despite this, there has been neither appreciation of our role nor intent to include GPs in the national agenda of Covid-19 eradication.
In Singapore, many GP clinics were activated to become a Public Healthcare Preparedness Clinic (PHPC) during SARS and now, Covid-19.
Citizens can walk into those clinics for subsidised treatment and thus allow early detection of the virus. We could have followed the Singapore example but unfortunately, this was not done here.
Yesterday, the MOH DG announced the new screening kit for Covid-19 by using antigen instead of IgG/M. If this kit is launched as part of a new screening strategy, I would suggest that the Ministry of Health uses the readily available manpower i.e. general practitioners, to carry it out.
We are all aware that the fight against Covid-19 is the toughest battle facing most nations today.
General practitioners are the nearest contact point for patients to access healthcare. Hence, utilizing our services will definitely help to contain the disease and lift the burden from the overworked staff at public hospitals.
Dr Siva Letchumanan is a reader of CodeBlue
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.