By Dr. Steven KW Chow, President of the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Association, Malaysia (FPMPAM)
It is time for our Ministers to wake up to the unfolding disaster of the COVID-19 pandemic in Malaysia.
The actual number of daily new cases is clearly way above the confirmed 7,000 plus per day. It is an accepted fact that for every confirmed case, there would be 3 to 10 undetected cases in the community.
So let’s face it. We are dealing with tens of thousands of new infections daily. This is a war of big numbers and we cannot win this by picking finger-pricking fire-fighting measures.
Deaths from COVID-19 have skyrocketed.
Mortuaries are overflowing and containers are now commissioned daily in Government hospitals to keep the dead. To this grim scenario, you can add the increasing number of patients brought in dead on arrival and the unaccounted (unseen and unmentioned) number of excess deaths in any area. The scene is apocalyptic.
Yet, we have ministers ruling out ideas of super vaccine centres, mobile vaccine trucks (for urbanised KL, where there is a clinic in virtually every corner) and instead introducing more prickly apps and platforms that do not work when needed.
The present overcrowding and long wait in massive vaccination centers itself is potentially a super-spreader opportunity for the virus.
VACCINE FOR ALL
The way ahead today is only one, and that is, mass vaccination of the entire vulnerable population and in the shortest time possible. There is no two ways about this.
SIMPLIFY THE PROCESS
The present process of getting your vaccine is frustratingly slow and is a disincentive for successful roll-out.
We support the call of our other medical NGOs to do away with this cumbersome system.
It’s the bottleneck that is holding us back.
We need to vaccinate more, and fast.
Speed is the key to overcoming the spread of the virus. We need to have more centres for the population to get their vaccine, including all Klinik Kesihatan, all hospitals and all GP clinics. We don’t need “supersport-style” vaccine centres. This is not a supersport. There are no super prizes to be won but only lives to be saved.
It is also not necessary to have a digitalised system that is not able to integrate all the moving parts. We don’t need apps that do not talk to one another. We need people to go to their doctors and have their jabs on the spot.
The UK or US do not have a computerised system. The NHS rolled it out to all their GPs. They just give a card after vaccination and they have done it and succeeded.
We don’t need a “canggih” system that does not work. Technology is supposed to help and not be a hindrance.
The 7,000 GPs and the thousands of Klinik Kesihatan can easily vaccinate up to 50 patients daily, and together with the private hospitals, achieve critical mass in a very short time. All the Government needs to do is to deliver the vaccine efficiently to all of them. This can be entrusted to pharmaceutical distributors who have the capability and the capacity to do so.
There is no need to have CKAPS inspect and approve GP clinics for vaccination.
Clinics are all already registered under the PHFSA and GPs have been giving vaccines long before some of our ministers were even born. Perhaps the ministers themselves may have been vaccinated by the very same GP when they were babies. All these unnecessary red tape, which are disincentives for GPs to provide Covid vaccination, must be removed to expedite the roll-out.
We have complaints from elderly sick patients being allocated to vaccination centres located far away from their home and having to spend long tiring hours travelling to and locating the place, navigating through the complex and travelling back. This is not fair, not correct and not cost-efficient. It is a sign of a broken system.
Patients should be allowed to see the doctor nearest to their home, get assessed, vaccinated and then have the information immediately updated into their MySejahtera. It can be as simple as that.
We urge the Government to do the needful immediately as it is already very late.