MOH Insists Cancer Surgeries Ongoing During Covid-19 Crisis

Former Health DG Dr Ismail Merican says some hospitals have allowed only emergency treatment to continue, but cancer surgeries shouldn’t be considered “elective”.

KUALA LUMPUR, April 29 – Emergency operations and cancer surgeries in public hospitals have not been halted during the Covid-19 epidemic, the Ministry of Health (MOH) claimed today.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said MOH’s medical services continued as usual, even though seven Covid-19 designated hospitals and 33 hybrid hospitals are handling both Covid-19 and non-coronavirus cases.

“Only elective surgeries suspended. But emergency surgeries, treatment for cancer patients, and so on are still ongoing,” he told a press conference.

He also added that in many instances, staff and patients are transferred to district hospitals.

“In the seven Covid-19 hospitals, other services and departments have been transferred to other hospitals. So, some staff are also transferred, together with patients.”

Former Health director-general Dr Ismail Merican told CodeBlue recently that the majority of non-Covid-19 hospitals in both public and private sectors in the Klang Valley have stopped all elective surgeries.

“The directives from the Health Ministry are vague, and some hospital managements have decided to shut down almost all clinical services except emergencies,” he said.

But he stressed that cancer surgeries should not be considered “elective” operations, as cancer is a life-threatening disease. Elective surgeries, he said, are those that can be safely postponed without seriously affecting the patient.

“We strongly feel that the non-Covid-19 hospitals should continue to perform urgent clinical and emergency services, including cancer surgeries and interventions, while taking the necessary precautions to minimise the risk of the nosocomial spread of Covid-19 to patients and healthcare workers,” Dr Ismail said.

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