The emergency medical care system in our nation have broken down.
An increasing number of patients are being brought-in-dead (BID) to hospitals, and this is occurring even in fully urbanised localities in the Klang Valley, such as Bangsar, Petaling Jaya and Subang.
The hospitals and ICUs are way past their capacity. Health care workers are past breaking point.
Often, critically ill patients have to wait for more than four hours to get an ambulance. And then comes the onerous task of finding a hospital with an available bed to accept them.
Often, they end up being sent from one hospital to another, and finally to the emergency department of either a public hospital or a university hospital. Some are then left waiting for hours in corridors and waiting areas without a bed and any specific intervention, until triaged.
When we just do not even have enough ambulances to send the sick to hospitals, then the recommendation must be that patients should be immediately transferred to a point of care, even if it means using their own vehicles.
The latest figures from the Ministry of Health (MOH) does not reflect well on our performance in controlling the spread of the disease and its deadly toll. This is indeed very alarming.
This is not the standard of care for Malaysian health care, which was previously touted previously to be among the best in the world.
In this time of crisis, while the nation’s political leaders are intensely immersed in the struggle for their political future, it is clear that the rakyat have no choice but to address the matter themselves.
The time has come for “Kita jaga Kita”.
The Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM) urges all community and civil society leaders, be them assemblypersons, local authority councillors or NGOs, to collectively organise their own neigbourhood emergency care network to provide medical assistance and intervention for those who are in danger of developing severe disease.
In the spirit of gotong royong, the community should pool together their administrative and physical skills and resources to form volunteer medical teams consisting of neighbourhood doctors, pharmacists, nurses, paramedics and others.
These teams should be organised and equipped with personal protective equipment (PPEs) and basic medical intervention equipment like IV fluids for rehydrating patients, IV medications and oxygen tanks or oxygen concentrators to treat the patients on site when a call for help is received. Each team should be led by a medically trained person.
Immediate medical intervention should be given to those during the crucial period while waiting for transfer and hospital triage. This is the critical step to prevent progression to irreversible disease and to lessen the occurrences of BID
It is about time the government change its strategy and do what is needed to facilitate full community participation. A Good Samaritan provision should be immediately gazetted as the relevant law. This something that we have been asking for since 2006.
At the outset of the pandemic, we have already stated that the MOH cannot fight this war alone.
On many occasions, we have urged the MOH to mobilise the private sector and the community in this war, as many have already foreseen this disaster, but unfortunately our pleas have fallen on deaf ears.
Dr Steven KW Chow is president of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM).
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