KUALA LUMPUR, August 22 – The Ministry of Health (MOH) took 10 months to clear 92 per cent of 57,355 procedures that were backlogged in public hospitals due to the Covid-19 pandemic.
The 52,522 procedures cleared within nearly a year as of July 31 comprised 48,952 surgeries and 3,570 non-surgical cases.
Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said the remaining 4,833 backlogged surgeries in MOH hospitals are paediatric and cardiothoracic operations.
“The MOH will continue to strive to improve health service delivery for the entire Keluarga Malaysia (Malaysian Family) and are committed to resolving the remaining 4,833 backlogged cases in the near future,” Khairy said in a statement today, without stating a target timeline to clear these cases.
Due to the Covid pandemic, MOH recorded a total of 57,355 backlogged cases in its hospitals on September 30, 2021, consisting of 53,785 surgical-based cases (94 per cent) and 3,570 medical-based cases (6 per cent).
The backlogged surgeries involved general surgery, neurosurgery, paediatric surgery, plastic and reconstructive surgery, cardiothoracic surgery, vascular surgery, urology, gynaecology, orthopaedics, ophthalmology and otorhinolaryngology.
The delayed medical-based cases, on the other hand, consisted of sleep studies, lung function tests, stem cell procedures, radiotherapy and CT simulation, and coronary angiography.
To tackle the high number of backlogged cases, MOH launched a variety of initiatives.
The first of such initiatives mentioned is the outsourcing of patients to private hospitals. On August 10, 2021, it was recorded that 1,592 non-Covid patients were transferred to private hospitals and an additional 15,000 non-Covid patients were projected to be transferred to private hospitals by the end of 2021.
The second initiative that Khairy mentioned in his statement was the reopening of elective operation theatres in MOH hospitals by stages from October 2021.
December 2021 brought with it the elective surgery initiative at specialist hospitals across the country. Patients could receive surgery from 8am to 5pm on Saturdays at specialist hospitals.
Certain states were also part of MOH’s Mass Surgery Initiative — an initiative described by Khairy as a “gotong-royong” effort to clear the backlog of cases that had been postponed.
Some of the hospitals involved were Selayang Hospital that had a Mass Urology Surgery Initiative in February 2022. Tawau Hospital in Sabah had a Mass Cataract Surgery Initiative in March this year and the Tawau Surgical Carnival Initiative later in June.
It was reported by New Straits Times last February that such initiatives helped reduce the backlogged procedures by 33.8 per cent by December 31, 2021.