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Letter: Deploy a Sustainable, Long-term COVID-19 Strategy

By the Malaysian Health Coalition
Full Signature List on myhealthcoalition.org

The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) strongly supports the ten suggestions in the Open Letter to the Prime Minister (dated January 7, 2021) signed by 46 health professionals, including several MHC members. After a year of COVID-19, the government must articulate a sustainable, long-term strategy. We urge that these ten suggestions form the basis of such a strategy. 

Additionally, we strongly urge the following new areas:

  1. Learn to live with COVID-19

The measures required for the “zero COVID-19” approach will prove too harmful for the Rakyat to withstand. Many Malaysians are still recovering financially and mentally from the movement control order (MCO) of March 2020. Therefore, we must adapt the strategies undertaken by relevant peer countries to “live with the virus” instead. Schools and essential businesses must continue with strict, predictable guidelines in place. There must be a true all-of-government approach to developing, communicating, and enforcing a sustainable COVID-19 strategy.

2. Do not rely on movement restrictions as the main policy tool

The government must not rely on MCOs as the main tool to manage COVID-19. We know that the previous MCO cost the economy RM2.4 billion per day and impacted the Rakyat’s mental health. Another MCO will be even more damaging, on top of the current floods in several states. A sustainable and long-term COVID-19 policy requires multiple solutions simultaneously, not using movement restrictions as the first or the main tool. These multiple solutions have been described in the Open Letter.

3. If unavoidable, movement restrictions must be targeted

If an MCO is unavoidable, it must be geographically targeted and short-term, such as the targeted enhanced MCO (TEMCO) enforced in some red zones. The government must provide adequate financial, psychological, and healthcare resources to residents in TEMCO areas. The TEMCO must also have a predictable exit strategy to ensure that residents can safely resume their daily activities and the area does not revert into a red zone after the movement restriction is lifted. 

 

Vaccines will help but full deployment will require 1-2 years. Therefore, the government must announce their long-term strategy to the Rakyat and deploy it as soon as possible. After one year of COVID-19, we must do better with long-term planning.

 

BERKHIDMAT UNTUK NEGARA. 

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