PETALING JAYA: Mandatory safeguards are needed to prevent the private healthcare sector from profiteering or hoarding Covid-19 vaccines, says MCA.
MCA spokesman Mike Chong said that the government should categorise the Covid-19 vaccine as a controlled item and therefore, fix a maximum ceiling price and how payment should be made.
“This is to avert private healthcare facilities from artificially hiking up the prices of the vaccine, inoculation service or equipment used.
“Scammers would likewise be forestalled from exploiting the situation to demand upfront payment which would never reach the intended private medical facility, ” he said in a statement on Tuesday (March 30).
National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Coordinating Minister Khairy Jamaluddin had said that the government is considering permitting private healthcare outfits to buy the Covid-19 vaccines and administer them for a fee.
Chong said that while this was commendable, the safeguards were necessary.
Chong said as there is a worldwide shortage of vaccines currently, the safeguards can deter vaccine hoarding which otherwise would see prices driven up further.
“Hefty penalties including jail time must be imposed against the operators and board of directors of private healthcare services who could profit from the privilege granted to procure and dispense the Covid-19 vaccine, ” he said.
He also suggested that hospitals whose yearly revenue and profit exceed a certain amount, must set aside a percentage of vials procured as part of their Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) for those in the B40 groups registered with the Social Welfare Department at a greatly discounted price or even for free.
“Alternatively, private medical centres in particular could operate a mobile clinic to administer the jabs at locations where there is a high population of B40 residents residing at People’s Housing Projects (PPR), ” said Chong.
He also said that there must be also an integrated and systematic database of vaccines dispensed to a recipient detailing the brand name, time, location the immunisation jab was delivered.
Other essential information to be stored in the integrated database would be the name and address of the private healthcare provider, as well as the name of the medical personnel who delivered the injection.
“Such a move could discourage the possibility of would-be “kiasu” recipients registering and receiving more than the required two doses from different healthcare outfits.
“Upon completion of the second dosage, the issuance of a digital immunisation certificate by the private healthcare facility must likewise be stored in the common database, ” he said.
As of Monday (March 29), about 7.3mil people have registered for the Covid-19 vaccination.