Saving our healthcare system


WITH the number of Covid-19 cases still at a high, healthcare workers are overworked and burnt out.

The healthcare system, is already at breaking point and Intensive Care Units (ICU) nationwide are almost full, with several of them operating over capacity, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah warned on May 22.

As the number of new cases approached 8,000 a day, he posted photos of exhausted medical frontliners – some drenched in sweat and others lying down, too tired to even take off their face masks or personal protective equipment – on his social media.

To address the situation, housemen, fresh medical graduates as well as retired medical practitioners would be enlisted to help at vaccination centres, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

On June 10, he said manpower would be increased by roping in housemen, who are doing their sixth stint, to administer vaccines or to monitor those who have just been vaccinated. Those who recently graduated from medical schools such as doctors, nurses and dentists, Dr Adham added, would be sent for training and issued a licence to practise before being mobilised at vaccination centres.

While the move will no doubt ease the manpower shortage at vaccination centres, frontliners at government clinics and hospitals, and district health offices, are still in dire need of help.

Calling on the Health Ministry to re-strategise, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said many frontliners are struggling to cope with the surge in Covid-19 cases.

Stressing that the country cannot afford to wait for the situation to worsen, its president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said immediate steps are needed to ease the burden of medical frontliners.

“The ministry should rope in housemen who are awaiting their posting, medical students, nursing students and also medical assistants with basic medical knowledge and training, to help on the ground with contact tracing.“District health officers are tasked with the daily Covid-19 management duties of triaging, screening, assessing, contact tracing, monitoring and home monitoring of Category 1 and 2 Covid-19 patients.

“Apart from this, they also manage acute and chronic non-Covid-19 cases on a daily basis.

“These officers feel like they are pulled in every direction and with the surge in cases, the system is on the verge of collapse.“The ministry must take a serious view of the situation and urgently address these manpower shortages, especially in the Klang Valley where cases are the highest,” Dr Subramaniam said in a statement last month.

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