Adham Baba should tell Parliament on Thursday why the Health Ministry is ignoring WHO advice for an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” response and approach in the Covid-19 epidemic to the extent that the 7,000 GPs felt sidelined

The Health Minister, Adham Baba should tell Parliament in his winding-up speech on the 2021 Budget on Thursday why the Health Ministry is ignoring the World Health Organisation (WHO) advice to all governments to adopt an “all-of-government” and “whole-of-society” response and approach in the Covid-19 epidemic to the extent that the 7,000 general practitioners in the country felt sidelined.

For instance the WHO Regional Director South-East Asia, Dr. Poonam Khetrapal Singh said in April: “A more comprehensive approach is needed with communities at the center of our response. Most importantly, communities need to be engaged and empowered to take appropriate decisions and measures. The onus must be on each one. At this stage, everyone needs to contribute to minimize health as well as socio-economic impact of the pandemic.”

But this is not the case in Malaysia eleven months into the Covid-19 epidemic. Not only do we have an invisible Health Minister, but the 7,000 general practitioners are made to feel that they do not have much of a role in fighting the Covid-19 epidemic.

This is an area which Adham Baba should strengthen to upgrade the battle against the Covid-19 epidemic.

Some areas which Adham can work on are outsourcing of services to general practitioners to decongest the overcrowding in public hospitals and Klinik Kesihatans, such as immunisation, X-ray services, FBC or full blood count, wound dressing, administration of long-term meds like IM for TB, medical examination, routine blood investigations for senior citizens, NCD or Non-Communicable Diseases like diabetes, hypertension, cholesterol, obesity, cancer etc, MAT or Methadone treatment and follow-ups for drug addicts and antenatal check-up with ultrasound services.

In his reply in Parliament, Adham Baba can also give answer to the following questions to highlight the extent the government had integrated general practitioners into the fight on the Covid-19 epidemic:

  1. Number of GP clinics given notice of closure nationwide due to COVID19;
  2. How many GPs and their staffs infected with COVID19 – how many directly in the clinic;
  3. How many GPs were ordered to undergo quarantine due to “exposure” to COVID 19; and
  4. What action has the MOH taken to reduce infection among healthcare workers in the private sector, if any.

Finally, Adham Baba should know that the Jeffrey Kitingan caper in Parliament, where he entered Parliamentary chamber short of 14-day quarantine according to the Covid-19 SOP, followed by the announcement by the Health Ministry of the end of the 14-day mandatory quarantine for all persons arriving from Sabah are among the reasons for the widening of what the Minister for Communications and Multimedia, Saifuddin Abdullah had termed as the “trust deficit” problem – where some people defy standard operating procedures (SOP) and government instructions during the Covid-19 pandemic.

Can Adham Baba explain what the government is doing to address this “trust deficit” in the Covid-19 pandemic?

Media comment by Lim Kit Siang in Parliament on Tuesday, 24th November 2020