The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) supports the Ministry of Health’s (MOH) recommendation to extend the movement control order (MCO) (as reported on 24 August 2020).
Certain MCO rules will remain necessary for as long as the pandemic lasts. Therefore, we must focus on the real issues, not the false debate of the different names or labels of the MCO.
We urge the following:
Focus on consistent enforcement and continuing education
Whether it is called an MCO, recovery MCO or enhanced MCO, the regulations which fall under this Order must be consistently enforced. Enforcement must treat all citizens fairly and as equals under the law.
There must not be double standards as that will erode trust in government and reduce the effectiveness of the SOPs. There must also be a concerted effort to continue educating the public on best practices and precautions.
The government must provide adequate support to ensure that lower income households are able to comply with the evolving regulations.
Strengthen health systems and international collaboration
We urge an increased allocation for health in the 2021 budget to address issues such as infrastructure inequality and permanent posts for health professionals.
Malaysia must also develop strong partnerships with international and private stakeholders to ensure the rakyat has equitable access to Covid-19 vaccines and treatments once they are ready.
For example, Indonesia has signed an agreement with China’s Sinovac Biotech that allows state-owned PT Bio Farma to produce a Covid-19 vaccine locally (as reported on 22 August 2020). Malaysia must also appropriately prepare our legal and regulatory infrastructure to meet local demands and not wait until the last minute.
Prioritise human capital and welfare of health care professionals
All health care professionals must be appropriately recognised. Firstly, there must be more permanent posts for contract frontliners (such as doctors, pharmacists and nurses), offering them job security and opportunities for career progress.
Secondly, the terms of service for all health professionals, including janitorial and other support staff, must be improved to recognise their contributions as essential workers.
Finally, there must be adequate mental health and family support for all professionals in Malaysia’s health system.
As we enter the Merdeka celebration period, being free and independent from Covid-19 means focusing on the right questions, not getting distracted by non-constructive debates, and finding evidence-based, data-driven solutions.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.