Health Ministry must have better planning, SOPs for GP clinics on Covid-19 screening, says MMA


PETALING JAYA: The current standard operating procedures (SOPs) by the Health Ministry in handling Covid-19 cases for general practitioners (GPs) at clinics are not practical and should be looked into again, says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).

MMA president Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said there was an urgent need for proper planning, coordination and a review of the current SOPs at clinics, especially with the recent ruling of compulsory Covid-19 screening for foreign workers in all sectors.

"The Health Ministry should review the SOPs for conducting the RTK Antigen screening.

"The current SOPs where a patient confirmed Covid-19 positive is isolated at the clinic and made to wait for pick-up by an ambulance or by district health officers is not practical.

"There have been cases where patients were made to wait for hours for transportation to arrive due to the heavy workload at the district health departments. A proper transport arrangement for Covid-19 positive patients will need to be put in place.

"The current SOP where Covid-19 positive samples need to be sent to the admitting hospital also causes delays and increases red tape.

"As the RTK Antigen positive patient will eventually need to undergo an RT-PCR swab test at the admitting hospital, we feel it is an unnecessary process to send the samples.

"The inconsistency in the implementation of the quarantine criteria and notice of closure on private clinics is also an issue repeatedly faced by private GPs that must be addressed immediately.

"MMA has highlighted these issues to the Health Ministry on a number of occasions and it is hoped that urgent attention will be given to this matter," said Dr Subramaniam Sunday (Nov 22).

He added that MMA had recently highlighted that clinic staff had to undergo quarantine even when they did not fulfil the criteria of being a close contact.

"As a result, a number of clinics had to close as there were no staff to run the clinic," said Dr Subramaniam.

He also pointed out the need for employers whose workers are undergoing screening to be informed that only RTK Antigen kits that have special import approval and access by the Medical Device Authority (MDA) can be used.

"The GP clinics must also conduct a pre-assessment and keep medical records of the patients who are being screened for Covid-19.

"Each patient who has undergone the RTK Antigen swab test must be registered under the Public Health Information System (PHIS) where certificates are generated and given to the patient with stringent Infection Prevention and Control (IPC) protocols maintained throughout the process," said Dr Subramniam.

He said that the Health Ministry must also address the issue of the widespread commercialisation of Covid-19 screening.

"MMA had recently raised its concerns about organisations providing Covid-19 swab tests that are not registered with the health authorities.

"There are many middle men and non-healthcare related agents involved in the screening as well as swab tests being conducted by facilities that are not self-declared with the Health Ministry.

"The Covid-19 swab tests must be performed by trained healthcare professionals or patients can face the risk of injuries, health issues and there could even be false negative results if the swab tests are performed incorrectly.

"MMA urges employers to insist on swab certification and proof from the facility that they are registered with the Health Ministry.

"Only GPs, specialist clinics and ambulatory care centres are allowed to conduct the onsite screening as it is part of primary care and not secondary or tertiary care. MMA is currently working with the Health Ministry on training more GPs to conduct the swab tests.

"We anticipate another 500 will be registering for training in the next two weeks," said Dr Subramaniam.

The public can also check if the facilities are registered with the Health Ministry at: www.medicalprac.moh.gov.my.

On Nov 20, the government made it mandatory for all foreign workers in all sectors to undergo Covid-19 screening.

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