Better pandemic strategies needed after reorganization

The Malaysian Health Coalition notes the formation of a new Special Cabinet Committee on the National Recovery Plan (JKKPPN) and the Greater Klang Valley COVID-19 Task Force, and congratulates the new Deputy Prime Minister and Senior Minister.

We reiterate our previous statements on protecting the rakyat during political transitions (February 28, 2020), and we must strengthen the country's pandemic management following the government reorganization.

We further urge the following:

1. Deploy even more surge capacity for Klang Valley hospitals

We must acknowledge that many public hospitals in Klang Valley are overloaded and running low on resources, and this is an immediate tactical need.

The government must tremendously expand healthcare delivery in Klang Valley hospitals by redeploying staff and resources from other states and the private sector, and increase short-term contract appointments of retired staff or recent graduates.

The Ministry of Health must also increase the number of COVID-19 beds and ensure adequate equipment and oxygen supply for hospitals.

There is a need for a new COVID-19 Assessment Center (CAC) strategy that can triage and decant patients efficiently and effectively.

More private GPs must be included to manage asymptomatic cases to relieve the pressure on the public healthcare system.

We may need to adopt mitigation (not containment) strategies for Klang Valley, which may mean temporarily de-prioritizing FTTIS.

2. Implement Pandemic 101

The government must clearly acknowledge the severity of the situation on the ground and address the situation transparently and courageously.

Currently, we must focus on proven strategies such as combining surge healthcare capacity with V+FTTIS (Vaccinate, Find, Test, Trace, Isolate, Support) to bring the pandemic under control in parts of Malaysia outside the Klang Valley.

In the longer term, blanket and prolonged lockdowns are not sustainable. Therefore, the government must balance lives and livelihoods by moving away from a "lockdown first" strategy and by strengthening public health and healthcare services.

3. Resolve the contract system now, as it cannot be postponed anymore

Contract healthcare workers are essential to our health system. During and after the pandemic, we must provide them a structure that assures fair terms of service and career progression.

All contract healthcare workers should be provided equal benefits with their permanent counterparts, as they provide similar services.

The government must commit to fair and durable solutions for our contract healthcare workers. Proper consultation and communication must be conducted with all stakeholders (including contract healthcare workers) prior to any decisions.

Resolving the contract system now will provide relief and boost their morale.

Malaysia is undergoing a critical phase. We need courageous leaders to acknowledge that our system is straining, and we need better execution of pandemic strategies.

The creation of JKKPPN and the Greater Klang Valley COVID-19 Task Force provides an opportunity to reset our pandemic strategy.

Malaysian Health Coalition

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