KUALA LUMPUR, May 25 — The Ministry of Health (MOH) today denied claims that guidelines for child care centres discriminated against frontliners’ children, insisting that frontline government health workers had high risk of Covid-19 infection.
The ministry was responding to concerns recently highlighted by 250 paediatricians and the Malaysian Paediatric Association regarding recent Ministry of Women, Family, and Community Development guidelines which appeared to discriminate and marginalise children belonging to frontliners working in response to the Covid-19 outbreak.
“Eight groups were identified as part of our targeted approach. One of those groups are Ministry of Health frontliners or those working in hospitals. They are exposed to infection, not only from Covid-19 but other viruses as well,” said Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
“Those working in these settings are reminded to implement decontamination procedures when they return home, and not to immediately come into contact with family members. They have to cleanse themselves before touching anyone, especially children. There is a risk that they may be contaminated.”
“When it comes to the Taska issue, there is no intention to discriminate either frontliners or their children when it comes to treatment. What is of utmost importance, is the management of risk,” he emphasised.
“There are two groups with a high risk of infection, the family directly linked with a positive case, and Ministry of Health frontliners.
“According to the US Centre for Disease Control guidelines for places such as childcare centres, the risk needs to be addressed. The child should not be prevented from coming to the taska or discriminated against,” the Health DG added.
“Instead, a separate area should be identified and put aside for children belonging to families of frontliners. It is not to isolate them but to enable for them to be given special attention as children of MOH frontliners,” Dr Noor Hisham said.
He further emphasised that feedback was still being gathered and that the guidelines had not yet been tabled to the National Security Council. They are currently being reviewed prior to being finalised.
MOH also reported 172 new Covid-19 cases today, including 112 cases in three immigration detention centres, bringing the total number of cases to 7,417.