It is time for the government to wake up to the unfolding disaster of Covid-19 in Malaysia.
The actual number of daily new cases is clearly way above the confirmed 7,000 plus per day. It is an accepted fact that for every confirmed case, there would be three to 10 undetected cases in the community.
So the truth is we are dealing with tens of thousands of new infections daily. This is a war involving huge numbers, and we cannot win this with ineffectual fire-fighting measures.
Deaths caused by Covid-19 have skyrocketed. Mortuaries are overflowing, and containers are now being commissioned daily in government hospitals to store the deceased.
There is also an increasing number of brought-in-dead cases and an unaccounted (unseen and unmentioned) number of additional deaths.
Yet, we have ministers talking about super vaccine centres, mobile vaccine trucks (for urbanised Kuala Lumpur, where there is a clinic at virtually every corner), and more dodgy apps and platforms that do not work when needed.
The present overcrowding and long waiting times in vaccination centres can potentially lead to super-spreader opportunities for the virus.
There is only one way ahead, and that is mass vaccination of the entire population, and in the shortest time possible. There are no two ways about this.
The present process of getting your vaccine is frustratingly slow, and is a disincentive for a successful rollout. We support the call of medical NGOs to do away with this cumbersome system.
It is the bottleneck that is holding us back. We need to administer vaccines faster, and on a larger scale.
Speed is the key to overcome the spread of the virus. We need to have more outlets for the population to get their vaccines, including all klinik kesihatan, all hospitals, and all GPs.
We don’t need “super sport-style” vaccine centres. This is not a super sport. There are no prizes to be won but only lives to be saved.
It is also not necessary to have a digitalised system that is not able to integrate all the moving parts. We don’t need apps that do not talk to one another. We need people to go to their doctors and have their jabs on the spot.
The UK or US do not have a computerised system. The National Health Service rolled it out to all the GPs. They just give out a card after vaccination, and they have succeeded.
We don’t need a “canggih” system that does not work. Technology is supposed to help, and not be a hindrance.
The 7.000 GPs and the thousands of klinik kesihatan can easily vaccinate up to 50 patients daily, and together with the private hospitals, achieve critical mass in a very short time.
All the government needs to do is to deliver the vaccines efficiently to all of them. This can be done by existing pharmaceutical distributors who have the capability and the capacity to do so.
There is no need to have the Ministry of Health’s CKAPS to inspect and approve GP clinics for vaccination. They have been registered under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act (PHFSA), and GPs have been administering vaccines long before some of our ministers were born.
Perhaps some of the ministers themselves might have been vaccinated by GPs too when they were babies. All the unnecessary red tape which are disincentives for GPs to provide Covid-19 vaccination must be removed to expedite the rollout.
We have complaints from elderly sick patients being allocated to vaccination centres located way from their homes and having to spend long and tiring hours travelling to the location. This is not fair, not correct, and not cost-efficient. It is a sign of a broken system.
Patients should be allowed to see the doctor nearest their home, get assessed, vaccinated and then have the information immediately updated into their MySejahtera app. It is as simple as that.
We urge the government to do the needful immediately, as it is already nearly too late.
Dr Steven Chow is the president of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations, Malaysia (FPMPAM).
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