I write this as a government doctor who has been involved in the pandemic both directly and indirectly since March 2020.
The Covid-19 pandemic has hit Malaysia hard, and one of the reasons we are still unable to cope is because of the lack of transparency and honesty among the administrators.
March 2020 saw the first Movement Control Order (MCO) and the chaos in personal protective equipment (PPE) procurement and distribution.
Hospitals and health clinics fought and desperately searched for PPEs through all the channels they had, including social media, instant messaging platforms, etc.
What was the answer by our administrators? We have enough PPEs — please relax and do not panic.
Meanwhile, we had videos of plastic bags being used as hood covers. Hospitals such as University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) were — and are still — asking their staff to reuse N95 masks (permitted but only in contingency situations). Face shields are wiped down and kept in brown envelopes.
Just a few days ago, pictures of the situation in the emergency department at Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) were posted on social media — of health care workers crying out for help over the situation. Low oxygen levels, inadequate hospital beds, etc. are all severely affecting patient care.
From a first-hand source, CPR was performed because the canvas beds are too soft, and thus not suitable for CPR. Also. there were not enough hospital beds as they have been used up by Covid-19 patients.
There have been incidences where the oxygen supply pressure dropped, causing more than 10 patients to desaturate at the same time.
The response by HKL director Dr Heric Corray is indeed a reflection of the typical response that seeks to “calm and not stir panic” among the public.
But we have gone beyond that stage. The situation is dire, and we should be pooling all our resources to fight this pandemic.
There is a lack of concerted, organised effort. Equipment, staff, resources should be channelled from low-hit areas and states to the Klang Valley, where the case numbers are currently the highest.
A recent announcement was made across many hospitals in the Klang Valley — muscle relaxant drugs are running dangerously low in supply as they are being used for Covid-19 patients.
Elective and semi-emergency operations have been postponed for a week or two (or maybe longer) until procurement of such drugs are made.
The pandemic is indeed a challenge to our cut-and-paste health care system, which has managed to survive all this while, despite its major flaws.
Dear administrators, it is time to admit failures, apologise, put aside egos and sit down to save Malaysia.
Please do not waste time issuing circulars with gag orders and threats to terminate contracts or take disciplinary action.
Please realise that the voices of health care workers are not meant to be ignored, but to be listened to.
Stop having meetings with health care workers and warning them not to take pictures or videos of the real situation.
We do not condone a strike during this pandemic as further harm will come to the country, but if pushed beyond the limit, we may have no other choice.
CodeBlue is publishing this letter anonymously because of the government’s gag order on civil servants.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.