Three medical associations express willingness to lend expertise in Covid-19 fight


PETALING JAYA: Three medical associations in the country have expressed willingness to lend their expertise in the battle against Covid-19.

The three - the Malaysian Society of Anaesthesiologists, College of Anaesthesiologists, and the Malaysian Society of Intensive Care - said this as discussions were being held between stakeholders from the Health Ministry and the Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) to further outline strategies for the involvement of the private sector in handling Covid-19 patients in various stages of their illness.

"We would like to assure the public that as practitioners in the field of anaesthesiology, critical care and intensive care, we are expected at all times to manage critically-ill patients irrespective of whether they are in public or private hospitals.

"Collectively, as a fraternity, it is our view that we will stand in close collaboration with the Health Ministry and the APHM to the best of our intent and abilities taking into account the resources that are at our disposal within the hospitals that we are attached to," they said in a statement on Sunday (Jan 17).

As such, the associations proposed for the management of the critically-ill and semi-urgent non-Covid-19 cases to not be sidelined, although the focus was on managing Covid-19 patients.

"Many factors contribute to this, such as the diminishing ICU beds, ward beds and availability of resources to manage them. It is hoped that care for some of these groups of patients can be handled at the private hospitals so that the public hospitals will be able to concentrate on managing Covid-19 patients.

"The reality is that no hospital will be shielded from managing Covid-19 patients. Private practitioners are already dealing with more patients with severe acute respiratory illnesses (SARI) in the emergency department and requiring intubation. These patients are subsequently found to be positive for Covid-19.

"Their medical care continues while ICU beds are sourced out in public hospitals. The previous ease at which intensive care beds are made available is no longer a reality. As such, it is imperative for private hospitals to prepare for this eventuality with urgency," they said.

As most private hospitals have established their Covid-19 task force team in anticipation of the upward trajectory of cases and the likelihood of private doctors and establishment’s involvement, the associations said they applauded this move and encouraged the hospitals to be in touch with them for guidance if it was required.

"Support is available in the form of management protocols of the Covid-19 patient, webinars or standard operating procedures," they said.

They added that for smaller private hospitals, cross-referrals between private hospitals for further management should also be considered as part of the strategies.

"The allowance is on the individual hospitals and physicians to establish their own plans, policies and standard operating procedures as part of their armamentarium," they said.

They said that its academicians and members will rise to the occasion and serve the needs of the rakyat and fellow colleagues at the Health Ministry even as the Health Ministry and the APHM are discussing the financial and legal issues surrounding these arrangements.

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