We have been seeing cases of the Covid-19 become erratic in the past 2 weeks. Just yesterday, the cases soared to 277, with 271 of them being foreigners.
The question to now ask is — are we barking up the right tree here? The Ministry of Health has tirelessly worked, warned and upgraded the healthcare and public health systems accordingly to combat Covid-19 but there yet remains another awful subject that is yet to be addressed — have we educated our foreigners enough?
Please take a look at the picture below that I clearly remember seeing everyday as I made my way to the NHS Royal Yorkhill Children’s Hospital in Glasgow.
It is a sign that says “hello” in many languages. This is a page that we must take from the NHS’ book.
Yes, indeed our colonial masters might have been cruel and insensitive, but they have changed their ways ever since — being accommodating to the health care of all by ensuring the comfort of communicating in their native language (they had in-house translators then).
What does this have to do with the way Covid-19 is managed in Malaysia?
Well, having to communicate any medical related issues in one’s own native language might help in better understanding and for the message to get across.
With the current surge of cases among foreigners, perhaps it is time that the Ministry of Health consider posting messages in the common languages used by our foreigners (Bangladeshi, Nepali, Indonesian (slang), Burmese, Cambodian, Vietnamese to name a few), so that they too are given the benefit of education for preventive measures.
Yes, they might live in congested environments, but perhaps knowing that they shouldn’t be in those environments might help them to voice their concerns among their employers or the authorities.
Has anyone assessed our foreigners and see if they understand what social distancing is? I do not think so.
At the moment, the messages are only clear for those who are fluent/able to comprehend English and Bahasa Melayu.
To just share what is the current trends of foreigners to Malaysians in local cases, you might want to take a look at the two tabulated graphs below.
I strongly urge the Ministry of Health and those relevant ministries to please consider following the NHS sign and providing information to foreigners in their native language.
Yes, many might not be able to read — but those who can will at least spread the message to their countrymen.
It is not the question of pride or prejudice anymore; it is to do what is right and that might work.
Dr Arvinder-Singh HS is a Medical Officer with a Certificate in Occupational Health, Masters in Health Research, Diploma in Football Medicine and is currently pursuing a PhD in Community Health focusing on adolescent athletes’ health.
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