By the Academy of Medicine of Malaysia
The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (AMM) welcomes the government’s decision to engage with private sector healthcare providers to ease the burden on public hospitals and healthcare workers (HCW). On behalf of over 3000 medical specialists in Malaysia from the public, private, and academic sectors represented by AMM, we are prepared to serve and assist the Ministry of Health (MOH) with its COVID-19 management plan, irrespective of our place of duty.
We acknowledge that there are many facets that need attention to streamline the public and private healthcare systems effectively and efficiently. This includes but is not limited to, patient coverage, distribution of hospital beds and personal protective equipment, and fair compensation for HCWs. We note that there is some concern regarding private hospitals’ capacity to manage COVID-19 patients given the limited human resource infrastructure, ICU set-up and specialists in the private sector, who themselves may belong to high-risk groups. We trust that all these matters will be accounted for and hope to see creative solutions such as secondments of medical staff to private hospitals and cross-referrals between hospitals. Coordinating the two healthcare systems is no mean feat, but we are confident in MOH’s ability, in collaboration with the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) and all relevant stakeholders, to find solutions that will best suit all parties.
This is also a timely collaboration in light of the increase in COVID-19 infections among HCWs. While we understand that only a third of infections are nosocomial, i.e. originating in the hospital, we are deeply concerned for our colleagues in the frontlines. The third wave has almost overwhelmed the health system, thus stretching thin the surveillance and protective measures in place. That said, these are risks which we HCWs recognised when we answered the call of duty. AMM sees great potential in private-public partnerships helping to mitigate these risks for our frontline HCWs in the future.
We are prepared to contribute in any way that can support MOH, namely in educating and engaging with specialists. For example, the College of Radiology, AMM will be conducting a webinar on Saturday (23 January 2021) to prepare radiology departments in various hospitals for imaging and managing COVID-19 patients. The webinar will cover infrastructure preparation, consent, and scanning procedures in COVID-19 patients, among other topics, focusing on department safety procedures within red-zone areas. Meanwhile, the College of Anaesthesiologists, AMM, Malaysian Society of Anaesthesiologists and Malaysian Society of Intensive Care have conducted virtual workshops on COVID-19 protocols for patients in critical care. We can replicate and adapt similar virtual training programmes for other departments and specialties to support MOH with capacity-building in hospitals nationwide.
If we collectively mobilise all public and private healthcare resources, we will have sufficient surge capacity to keep the pandemic under control until we achieve herd immunity through widespread vaccination. We hope that this is only the first step in a long-term process of better integrating our health system for the benefit of all Malaysians.
We, the under-signed:
Academy of Medicine of Malaysia (Professor Dr Rosmawati Mohamed, Master)
College of Anaesthesiologists (Dato Dr Jahizah Hassan, President)
College of Dental Specialists (Professor Dato’ Dr Lian Chin Boon, President)
College of Emergency Physicians (Dr Ridzuan Dato’ Mohd Isa, President)
College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (Professor Datuk Dr Siti Zawiah Omar, President)
College of Ophthalmologists (Dr Nur Fariza Ngah, President)
College of Paediatrics (Professor Dr Thong Meow Keong, President)
College of Pathologists (Professor Dr Cheong Soon Keng, President)
College of Physicians (DDr Letchuman Ramanathan, President)
College of Public Health Medicine (Dato’ Indera Dr Sha’ari Ngadiman, President)
College of Radiology (Professor Dr Norlisah Ramli, President)
College of Surgeons (Professor Dr April Camilla Roslani, President)
(The Academy of Medicine of Malaysia, embracing 11 Colleges and 15 Chapters, is a registered body representing medical specialists in Malaysia)