Kit Siang: HRPB Emergency Department Overcrowding Crisis Catalyst For Change

Former Ipoh Timor MP Lim Kit Siang calls for an immediate short-term solution to the overcrowding crisis in all hospitals, as well as a long-term focus on preventive health.

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 15 – The overcrowding crisis at Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital’s (HRPB) emergency department should catalyse two major Health Ministry initiatives, DAP veteran Lim Kit Siang said today.

Lim, who previously served two terms as Ipoh Timor MP from 2004 to 2013, told the Ministry of Health (MOH) to immediately resolve the overcrowding of all public hospitals, as well as to shift its focus from curative to preventive health in the long run.

“The CodeBlue report on the Ipoh General Hospital overcrowding crisis at its emergency and  trauma department (ETD) should be the catalyst for two major Health Ministry initiatives – immediate short-term solution to all overcrowding crisis in all hospitals in the post-Covid-19 pandemic era and long-term focus for the ministry to promote the health of Malaysians and not just to deal with hospitals and diseases,” Lim said in a statement today. 

CodeBlue reported last Monday that critically ill patients, including ventilated cases, are stranded for up to six days in HRPB’s emergency department for ward admission, due to insufficient critical care beds and staff. 

Most of the severely sick patients coming to the ED at the public tertiary hospital in the Perak state capital of Ipoh are presenting with advanced non-communicable diseases (NCDs) – such as heart disease, kidney failure, and stroke – worsened after the disruption of care during two years of lockdowns from the Covid-19 pandemic.

“Will Dr Zaliha Mustafa be the first health minister in the country who is promoting the health of all Malaysians, and not merely looking after hospitals and diseases in the country, where the test is not to build more hospitals and clinics, but to make them less and less necessary?” Lim said.

“That is the challenge before the new health minister.”

Dr Zaliha has yet to issue a statement on CodeBlue’s report, even as senior medical practitioners like Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman and Dr Christopher Lee have said that ED congestion was not isolated to HRPB, but occurring across all major public hospitals.

Lim also called for an inquiry into Malaysia’s Covid-19 response, pointing out that Malaysia reported the highest Covid-19 mortality per capita in the Asean region. 

According to Our World In Data figures, Malaysia recorded 1,084 confirmed Covid-19 deaths per million people as of December 13, nearly double that of Indonesia’s 589 deaths per million people. In absolute terms, Malaysia has reported 36,784 Covid deaths as of yesterday.

“We had failed the Covid-19 pandemic test, as Asean was regarded as one of the worst regions during the Covid-19 pandemic, and Malaysia the worst country in the region,” said the former legislator.

He pointed out that from December 1 to 30, 2021, Malaysia recorded 20 times more Covid-19 cases and four times more Covid-19 deaths than Indonesia, a neighbouring country with more than eight times the size of Malaysia’s population.

“There should be an inquiry why Malaysia was so unprepared for the Covid-19 pandemic and learn the expensive lessons of the Covid-19 pandemic.”

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