12MP Moots Hazard Teams At KLIA For Pandemic Preparedness

The new Institute of Infectious Diseases proposed in the PM’s Parliament speech does not appear in the 12th Malaysia Plan document; there is already an existing Institute for Public Health under MOH’s National Institutes of Health with its own Centre for Communicable Diseases Research.

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 — The government is looking to bolster Malaysia’s preparedness in dealing with health crises by providing better facilities, pharmaceutical services, medical equipment, and personnel. 

The Twelfth Malaysia Plan (12MP) unveiled by Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob in Parliament today outlined measures to improve the capacity and safety of local clinical laboratories to meet standards set by the World Health Organization (WHO).

It is unclear what necessitates better safety in these clinical labs as the government has never mentioned any problems with regards to safety in these facilities throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.

“The capacity of clinical skills laboratory will be improved to enhance competencies of health personnel in providing the best quality care,” said the 12MP.

The government’s five-year plan from 2021 to 2025 also includes increasing the number of multi-hazard public emergency response teams and personnel at selected entry points of the country, such as the Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

Earlier in the Dewan Rakyat, the prime minister spoke about the government’s intention to establish a new infectious disease centre, called the “Malaysia Institute of Infectious Diseases” at Bandar Enstek in Negeri Sembilan, to prevent disease, morbidity, and mortality from communicable diseases. Interestingly, this point was not mentioned in the written 12MP document.

The Covid-19 epidemic has highlighted the country’s need for more labs that could do RT-PCR testing and genomic sequencing to better manage an infectious disease outbreak. 

It is not known how the new centre proposed by Ismail Sabri will differ from the already established National Institutes of Health (NIH) under the Ministry of Health (MOH) that has a research institute called the Institute for Public Health (IKU). The IKU also has its own Centre for Communicable Diseases Research. The Institute for Medical Research (IMR) under MOH also has an Infectious Disease Research Centre.

The health crisis preparedness plan under 12MP also includes the introduction of a pharmaceutical track and trace system to ensure efficient supply and distribution of medicines to all health care facilities. The system will also be able to check the authenticity of medicines.

One can already check the registration status of a pharmaceutical product on the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency’s (NPRA) website. People can also download the NPRA Product Status application from Google Playstore, states NPRA.

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