Slow updates, vaccine shortage: Health Ministry must improve crisis management

  • Letters
  • Wednesday, 22 Jan 2020

As the spread of the H1N1 virus remains a risk, it is vital for the Health Ministry (MoH) to improve on the efficiency of giving updates as well as the provision of vaccine supply.

MoH had claimed that they needed more time to confirm the cases and to collect relevant statistics before giving updates on the current situation. This is largely worrying, because updates being untimely may lead to anxiety and uneasiness among the masses.

The Influenza A disease has been around for over one month, yet the MoH appears to not be in step with the current developments. As new infections are being reported daily, the MoH cannot afford to just continue standing around collecting data, while there is no mechanism to generate a daily update on the latest statistics.

As MCA had previously suggested – form a H1N1 taskforce. Form a team specifically for H1N1-related issues and provide updates, so that there is an official portal for the dissemination of information and news.

If the MoH had been giving daily updates on the H1N1 and the vaccine supply, it would not have devolved into today's state of public uneasiness.

Besides that, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad has been reassuring the public that vaccine supplies in government hospitals would be sufficient; yet on the other hand, his deputy Dr Lee Boon Chye admitted to the shortage of vaccine in the market and spoke of how drug manufacturers are working to meet the demands. Subsequently, Dr Dzulkefly on 22 Jan 2020 said that vaccines are now being imported from overseas. This shows that there was not enough vaccines to start with.

Despite people speaking of vaccine and medicine shortage in both government hospitals and private clinics since December 2020, MoH failed to heed the warnings, leading to this last-minute effort to import vaccines.

Regardless, the MoH performed satisfactorily in the wake of the new Wuhan Coronavirus (nCoV) by swiftly implementing a 24-hour surveillance mechanism at primary airports nationwide.

I hope that the MoH will improve itself further, and ensure that the nCoV will not enter Malaysian borders.

Datuk Dr Lee Hong Tee

MCA central committee member

MCA social development committee chairman

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