Covid-19: Health Ministry must address manpower shortages urgently, says MMA

PETALING JAYA: There is an acute shortage of manpower at the government's district health offices (PKD) and public health clinics (KK), with staff struggling to cope with the surge of Covid-19 cases, says the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).

MMA president Datuk Dr M. Subramaniam said PKD officers are tasked with daily Covid-19 management duties of triaging, screening, assessing, contact tracing, monitoring and home monitoring of Category 1 and 2 patients.

He said they also managed acute and chronic non-Covid-19 cases on a daily basis.

"The district health officers feel like they are pulled in every direction and with the surge in cases, the system is on the verge of collapse.

"The Health 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," he said in a statement on Sunday (May 16).

He said that continued personnel shortages would lead to compromises in the standard of care and further burnout among healthcare personnel.

He said as Covid-19 cases have spread into the community, cases are expected to continue rising in the coming weeks.

"We can't afford to wait for the situation to worsen. Immediate steps are needed," said Dr Subramaniam.

He said the Health Ministry (MOH) should consider roping in housemen awaiting posting, medical students, nursing students and also medical assistants with basic medical knowledge and training to help on the ground with contact tracing.

Dr Subramaniam added that monitoring of category 1 and 2 cases should be digitalised and linked to the MySejahtera app, and that with proper monitoring and coordination enabled through digitalisation, more private GPs would also be willing to participate in its programmes.

He added that MOH should also go paperless and digitalise as much as possible as it can greatly reduce the time staff are spending on paperwork.

As for the non-Covid-19 cases, he said it was time the government roped in the services of private practitioners.

He said a number of these acute and chronic cases, for a nominal fee, could be outsourced to private clinics or private hospitals, with this allowing MOH to focus its resources on managing Covid-19.

"The Health Ministry cannot take on this fight against Covid-19 on its own. It needs all the help it can get right now. The whole of society and the whole of nation approach should be put in practice," he said.

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