Private hospitals should accept, treat Covid-19 patients

Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin

KUALA LUMPUR – Private hospital operators are urged to provide immediate assistance by accepting and treating COVID-19 patients at their respective hospitals to reduce congestion in government-owned hospitals and health facilities.

Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) president Adnan Mat said this was the best time for private hospitals to carry out the responsibility of saving the lives of Malaysians and not to push all problem cases that cannot be handled to government hospitals.

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“Cuepacs does not want the announcement made by the government to be welcomed by only a small number of private hospital operators.

“At the moment, all parties should share their expertise and energy to save the country from the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said in a statement commenting on the Malaysian Economic and Rakyat Protection Assistance Package (PERMAI) announced by Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin today.

He said private hospital operators should issue clear guidelines immediately to the government and the public on their readiness to accept and treat COVID-19 patients.

Meanwhile, Adnan said the prime minister’s assurance to increase the number of health personnel to more than 3,500 who will start work at the end of this month gave some relief to health workers.

However, he said, Cuepacs hopes that more members can be added to help the existing staff, as the number 3,500 is actually only able to reduce the workload of the Health Ministry (MOH) staff, not to mention the number of daily cases recorded was very high.

“The increase in COVID-19 cases every day is so significant that the public health system in our country is almost paralysed… health facilities and workers are no longer able to treat the COVID-19 patients which has reached thousands every day at this point.

“It not only witnessed cases of other patients not being handled effectively, even COVID-19 patients who were confirmed positive but were asymptomatic had to undergo self-treatment at home,” he said, adding that the increase in cases also put pressure on health workers who have become too tired almost losing the motivation to continue working.

He said Cuepacs found the situation very worrying because the paralysis of the country’s health system could put the safety of the people at greater risk.

Therefore, he said, Cuepacs hopes the government can expedite the distribution of allocations to increase the number of new health workers in order to alleviate the anxiety of existing health workers who are already too tired and weary.

Health top priority

Commenting on PERMAI assistance package, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba said the government is putting the people’s health as the top priority and has enough resources to ensure the public health system continues to serve the people to curb the spread of COVID-19, said .

According to him, a total of RM800 million was allocated for the MOH to focus on supplies, including additional reagents, screening kits, sanitisers, consumables as well as personal protective equipment (PPE) specifically for healthcare frontliners.

The government is also deeply concerned with the higher workloads of frontliners and an additional 3,500 contract personnel including nurses and paramedics will be recruited at the end of this month, he said.

To integrate the country’s health service, Dr Adham said a total of RM100 million was allocated for cooperation with private hospitals to receive and treat both COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 patients to help alleviate the strain on the public healthcare system.

Dr Adham said MOH was also allocated RM3 billion for the preparation of the procurement of COVID-19 vaccine with the vaccination plan being scheduled to start by March this year at the latest.

“With the announcement of these measures, MOH calls on for all to fight the spread of the COVID-19 in an integrated manner,” he added.

Majority vaccinated by 2022

Muhyiddin, during the special announcement on PERMAI today, said almost 27 million or over 80 per cent of Malaysia’s population are expected to be vaccinated against COVID-19 by the first quarter of next year.

He said the first batch of vaccines was expected to be received by the end of this February, with the group to be vaccinated by early March and the vaccination programme implemented in phases over a period of 12 months.

“The country’s vaccination programme is on track and the government has signed three agreements with vaccine producers.

“Through the established Special Committee on Ensuring Access to COVID-19 Vaccine Supply, the government will ensure transparency in the procurement of vaccines and give utmost priority to the National Immunisation Programme.

“A total of RM3 billion has been allocated specifically for this purpose. The guidelines and methods on receiving the vaccine will be announced soon.”

He said the Special Muzakarah Committee of the National Council for Malaysian Islamic Affairs has decreed that the COVID-19 vaccine is allowed and a necessity for specific groups.

“Ensuring the welfare of the community by protecting people from being infected by dangerous diseases is not something new from the Syarak (Islamic) perspective,” he added.

Flood relief allocation

On the floods that hit the country, Muhyiddin said the government would set aside an initial allocation of RM200 million to reduce the burden of people affected by the calamity.

“I have instructed the relevant government agencies to expedite all forms of flood assistance and to repair the infrastructure damaged by the floods, and to alleviate the victims’ burden or repair their homes.

“Apart from that, RM50 million has been channelled to the National Disaster Relief Trust Fund under the National Disaster Management Agency (NADMA) for operating expenses for disaster relief during the current Northeast Monsoon season,” he said.

The prime minister also expressed appreciation for the concern and attention of Yang di-Pertuan Agong Al-Sultan Abdullah Ri’ayatuddin Al-Mustafa Billah Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tunku Hajah Azizah Aminah Maimunah Iskandariah in visiting flood-stricken areas and being involved in flood relief missions in Pahang recently.

Muhyiddin also expressed gratitude to all Malaysians including those in the corporate sector and the volunteers who assisted in combating the COVID-19 pandemic and during the floods, and urged everyone to adhere to the standard operating procedure (SOP) wherever they are.

“I believe the resourcefulness, tenacity and resilience inherent in our true Malaysian spirit will serve us well in facing this great adversity. We will prevail, InsyaAllah,” he said.