Wastages in vaccine procurement must be addressed, say docs

PETALING JAYA: The wastages and irregularities laid bare in the White Paper on Covid-19 vaccine procurement must be seriously addressed and those responsible be brought to book, says a group of medical professionals.

Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah said it was disheartening that the White Paper found that proper diligence had not been followed when procuring the vaccines.

“All involved in the decision making and the procurement should be held accountable.

“The government should be serious in addressing the wastage as we do not want this to be repeated.

“If we ignore these wrongdoings, it will reach a stage where it will be disastrous to the nation,” he said when contacted.

Dr Raj Kumar was asked to comment on the findings of the White Paper on Covid-19 vaccine procurement, tabled in Parliament yesterday, which found that close to 8.5 million doses of the vaccines in the Health Ministry’s inventory had expired while in storage.

It was also revealed that the Attorney General’s chambers had raised a few irregularities in the manufacturing and supply agreement that was found to be more in favour of vaccine supplier Pfizer (M) Sdn Bhd.

Dr Raj Kumar said the vaccine procurement, which happened during a time of emergency, should not have been used as a means for some to make money while others were suffering from a loss of income and jobs.

“All those who did wrong must be brought to book,” he said.

Dr Raj Kumar added that taking a stern action in addressing the issues would serve as a lesson to others in position not to take things for granted and to avoid leakages in future.

Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh, however, said it is difficult to assign blame as the situation at the time was dire and the government needed to act quickly to save lives.

“In my opinion, the government did it out of good faith. If it can be proven otherwise, then that’s a different story.

“The world was scrambling to get the vaccines. Had we not gotten them fast enough, maybe we would have had a bigger catastrophe,” Dr Kuljit said.

He was of the opinion that the decision made in the procurement has been a learning process as Malaysia and the rest of the world were going through uncharted waters during the pandemic.

He said back in 2020, nobody knew what the outcome would be.

“At that point of time, there was a bit of desperation. Nobody wanted people to die and the government put in hard work to get the vaccines,” he said, adding that there were not enough intensive care unit capacities which saw older people dying while the vaccines were unavailable.

“Those who work in the hospitals treating Covid-19 patients will remember how bad it was.

“Since it was unprecedented, I think it was the best that the government could do.

“Lessons can still be learned so that in the next pandemic, all countries and not just Malaysia, should be more prepared and careful to spend money on procurement of vaccines and treatment,” he said.

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