KUALA LUMPUR, April 3 — The Health Ministry has excluded medical treatment and purchasing medicines from a 10km travel limit under the Movement Control Order (MCO), amid outrage from patients and health care providers.
Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said he has already spoken with Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Abdul Hamid Bador about the health care exemption from the 10km-radius movement restriction from one’s home, amid the Covid-19 outbreak. The travel limit still applies to buying food and daily necessities.
“I have already informed the IGP; he is aware,” Dr Adham told CodeBlue today.
When asked what documents patients need to show at police roadblocks, the minister said: “Up to police discretion”.
Over 300 patients, doctors, nurses, organisations, and individuals across Malaysia have petitioned the government to exempt medical treatment from the 10km travel limit enforced until April 14, the targeted end date of the nationwide MCO.
Dr Adham had gazetted on March 31 a regulation restricting people across the country from travelling beyond 10km from their home to seek medical services and to buy medication, as well as to purchase food and daily necessities. The coronavirus epidemic has infected over 3,100 people in Malaysia and killed 50.
The National Cancer Society of Malaysia said it has received reports of four cancer patients getting turned around at police roadblocks, despite having letters for treatment, in the Klang Valley, Melaka, and the East Coast over the past few days.
Medical professionals said imposing a 10km travel limit on seeking medical treatment could harm patients who see their regular doctors further away, especially those with chronic conditions who need continuous care.
They pointed out that not all health facilities have certain drugs, while Malaysia’s lack of a central electronic medical records system would hamper patients from temporarily switching to a health care provider nearer to home. Some patients also would still be hesitant to change health care providers because of their long-term relationship with their doctor.
Several lawmakers have also criticised the 10km travel limit for medical treatment. Subang Jaya assemblywoman Michelle Ng pointed out that the nearest public hospitals to her constituency were Shah Alam Hospital (about 20km away), Kuala Lumpur Hospital (about 25km away), and Serdang Hospital (about 35km away).