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Let not our healthcare system reach breaking point

The battle against Covid-19 demands the full commitment of all stakeholders, particularly politicians who cannot afford to be distracted by political shenanigans

WONG SOAK KOON/ALIRAN

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Doctors in certain government hospitals in the Klang Valley are reportedly in a critical state.

They have been pushed into a situation where they have to choose which of the Covid-19 patients are to be saved while the rest are helplessly left to die because the healthcare system has been overstretched owing to a surge of infections lately. It’s the kind of harrowing decision that some of the doctors are compelled to make, especially when there is a shortage of personnel, beds, oxygen supply, solutions and morale. As it is, they have more than enough on their plates.

New Covid cases have surged to over 10,000 a day in recent days, with over half in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. The situation has become so unbearable that a number of medical officers were reported to have quit as they were burned out and seized by a sense of hopelessness.

As if this situation isn’t bad enough, contract nurses and medical assistants in a hospital recently reportedly walked out of its emergency department because of an unfair arrangement they got from the Ministry of Health, particularly regarding their low salaries and job insecurity – despite having to put in more than their fair share of work.

It doesn’t help either when certain health officials are said to be in denial over the dire situation that these hospitals are in, which means the problems mentioned above will not be addressed immediately and adequately or, worse, may be ignored flatly.

This primarily explains why certain doctors felt compelled to bare their anxieties, problems and frustrations to the media on the condition of anonymity. Gagging these conscientious doctors would obviously not make the desperate situation in hospitals go away.

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The poignant comment reportedly made by a consultant physician and nephrologist at Putrajaya hospital, Dr Rafidah Abdullah, should not be lost on the Health Ministry officials.

She said that there was nothing wrong with acknowledging that hospitals in the Klang Valley were “paralysed – it’s a fact and a reality”. Indeed, the health authorities should not avoid the truth like the plague.

While it is vital that enough manpower and resources are poured into these hospitals, it is also incumbent on the authorities to tackle the root cause of the problem, which is the relentless spread of the virus.

This leads us to the damning observation made by Brigadier General Dr Mohd Arshil Moideen, the management chief of the Malaysian armed forces health service division, in an interview with Astro Awani recently.

He pointed out that there has been “a lack of integrated action and coordinated instructions” that contributed to the inability of our country to curb the Covid-19 pandemic, adding that there was a lack of top-down unified action and coordination.

This reflects poorly on the strategies employed and coordination among the government agencies, as well as the flip-flops in the enforcement of the standard operating procedure in the protracted war against Covid-19.

The rolling lockdowns, supposedly meant to control the pandemic, have, however, resulted in ordinary people having to endure extreme economic hardships, with some committing suicide in the face of a loss of businesses, jobs and incomes, and delinquent loans and rents, among others.

These are deaths, preventable to some extent, that should be a wake-up call for the authorities, apart from the increasing rate of fatalities arising from Covid-19 infections.

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It is hoped that the noticeable increase of vaccination rate in the country, particularly in the Klang Valley, would help curb the ravaging virus in our midst. A total of 11.07 million shots have been delivered, with 7.64 million people, or 23.4% of the population, having got their first jabs, and 3.42 million, or 10.5% of the population, their second.

This, in turn, would hopefully help alleviate to a certain extent the undue stress on our healthcare system as well as the tired health front-liners.

To be sure, this war against Covid-19 also demands the full attention and commitment of all the stakeholders, particularly politicians who cannot afford to be distracted by political shenanigans.

These politicians, many of whom are drenched with a craze for power, would only belittle the sterling services and sacrifices of the health front-liners if they continue to prioritise political manoeuvring.

Our public healthcare system must be adequately equipped and maintained, and also strategically supported by other agencies in this protracted war. – The Malaysian Insight

 

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