The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) views with deep concern, the statement made by Senior Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday concerning the Emergency Ordinance (EO).
The EO should be used responsibly and not to bully or arm twist the private health care sector in order to use its resources. For the record, the private health care sector has been consistently offering their services in the battle against Covid-19 from the very start of the pandemic.
It must also be noted that most of the private hospitals are owned by GLCs, where the government as a shareholder is a beneficiary of its profits and dividends.
The EO should be used for a collaborative approach in finding and hastening solutions by cutting red tape and removing regulatory burdens for seamless implementation.
The government should stop playing Big Brother after not being able to contain the pandemic but should instead start listening to feedback from the ground and regard private health care as its key partner.
The 7,000 MOH trained GPs were sidelined from the start of the pandemic and throughout most of 2020 in the fight against Covid-19. MMA has been regularly advising the government on the important role of GPs in this pandemic. It is hoped the GPs will be roped in more effectively and be involved in the policy making in managing Covid-19 in primary care.
Previously, many GPs were reluctant to see upper respiratory infections for fear of closure of their clinics and vague quarantine criteria from MOH. MMA’s numerous letters to the Health Ministry and meetings with government officials seem to have fallen on deaf ears.
The government should provide clear guidelines and direction in policies for the private health care sector instead of threatening to fine private hospitals which do not cooperate in managing the pandemic.
It should also take time to understand the private health care ecosystem before deciding on any policies. Desktop analysis policies will more than likely result in challenges during implementation, lead to failure and waste of resources.
Threats and bullying is not the way to go and it will most certainly not gain the respect of the people. The government should instead go back to the drawing board and for once and for all, for the sake of our beloved country and the rakyat, truly implement a whole of society and whole of government approach.
Professor Dr Subramaniam Muniandy is president of the Malaysian Medical Association.
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