PETALING JAYA: The information from the ground in Sabah regarding bed occupancy in hospitals and quarantine centres, as well as intensive care units (ICUs), especially in the red zones, do not correspond with figures presented during the Healh Ministry's press conference on Monday (Oct 26), says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
Its president Prof Datuk Dr M. Subramaniam said the situation was likely worse than conveyed in the Monday updates (Oct 26).
“Higher bed occupancy in hospitals and quarantine centres, and ICU bed usage in red zones reaching the brim may be masked by a reduced usage in other centres, ” he said in a statement on Tuesday (Oct 27).
“This discrepancy is likely due to the fact that the statistics presented are an average for all the facilities in Sabah," he added.
“We urge the Health Ministry to present the statistics based on the individual hospitals and quarantine centres used for Covid-19 treatment in Sabah to prevent giving a false sense of security amidst the alarming condition in the red zones," he said.
In a press conference Monday, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah had said only 33% of the 5,713 beds in Sabah were being utilised.
He had also said at present 69% of 128 beds in the intensive care units (ICUs) were being utilised, while 33% of 193 ventilators were being used.
However, Dr Subramaniam said Local Government and Housing Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun had, on Oct 22, said 99.5% of hospital beds had been filled.
“This is in vast contrast to the numbers presented by the Health Ministry recently.
“If indeed certain hospitals and quarantine centres are utilised up to 90% or more compared to the rest, the Health Ministry should look at increasing the availability of resources and infrastructure in these centres.
“Hospitals that have closed down or not occupied in these areas should also be leased for this purpose, ” he said.
He also said although there might be low utilisation of ICU beds in other districts, it would be a challenge to transport a critically ill Covid-19 patient on ventilator support to another health facility without endangering the patient and others.
Dr Subramaniam said the need for medical equipment, and not just ventilators, in the state had also greatly increased.
“The requirement for medical equipment like syringe pumps, vital signs monitoring devices and many other ancillary items are skyrocketing.
“With the recent increase in the use of high flow nasal cannula (HFNC), there is increased aerosolisation, and thus an increase in the need for powered air-purifying respirators to be used by staff who are monitoring the patients in the ward.
“MMA would suggest that the Health Ministry pool these items that were procured during the first and second waves in other parts of the country and mobilise them to be sent to Sabah immediately, ” he said.
He also proposed the outsourcing of green zone patients and stable non-communicable disease (NCD) cases to general practitioners all over Sabah for a nominal fee.
“They could also devise a mechanism for follow-up medications prescribed to still be obtained from government pharmacies.
“Another option is to recruit general practitioners in the vicinity to help with Covid-19 screening for a nominal fee.
“The public and the private sector in healthcare need to work together, especially during times like this, ” he said.
He added that the MMA had sent medical equipment worth nearly RM1.2mil to the Sabah health department via its Sabah Covid-19 fund.
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