I RECENTLY read with relief news that the government is rolling out a RM15bil Permai aid package to help the country cope with the increasing number of Covid-19 cases as well as the economic fallout from the movement control order (MCO).
As a frontliner, I am gratified to note that healthcare is one of the largest recipients of this current aid programme. Among the various health initiatives, the one that stood out for me is the RM150mil allocation to hire an additional 3,500 healthcare workers, some of whom are expected to start work by the end of this month.
This couldn’t have come at a better time. As someone who has been in the thick of things from the day Covid-19 hit our shores, I am feeling exhausted both physically and psychologically. For many of us, rest is a luxury as the war against this invisible enemy is still in full swing.
Having additional hands is critical because in any jobs, fatigue can hamper our professionalism – and this is something we can ill-afford with the pandemic still raging on with no end in sight.
Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin has also announced that medical frontliners will receive RM600 allowance per month while non-medical frontliners will receive RM200 until the pandemic is over. For many, the amount may be small, but for those of us whose lives have been thrown into chaos by the long hours and psychological stress, it goes a long way. It is also a recognition of our hard work.
However, the most important thing the government has done to fight Covid-19 is to allocate RM3bil to vaccinate Malaysians. All other health initiatives are only stop-gap measures. We could help to flatten the curve with these initiatives and plans. But unless we achieve herd immunity by having enough Malaysians vaccinated, all our previous efforts will be in vain.
Immunising Malaysians against Covid-19 is crucial. In this respect, I call on the government to announce its vaccination plan so that there’s no confusion when we roll out the programme. So far, all we’ve heard is that the first batch of vaccines will arrive in late February and frontliners and those in high-risk groups like the elderly will be vaccinated first. We need more clarity on this.
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