THE Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) recognises that all Malaysians have made sacrifices to adjust religious and cultural practices since the pandemic began last year.
The rakyat deserves a government that acknowledges these sacrifices through sustainable and prudent pandemic policies. We strongly urge the following:
> Write and enforce culturally- sensitive SOPs: We laud the government’s decision to allow the chariot procession to Batu Caves, Selangor, to continue under strict SOP during Thaipusam this year. This shows a good example of how the SOP can be safely adapted for religious and cultural practices.
> Ensure predictability and consistency of festive SOP: We reiterate our call for the government to deploy a long-term, sustainable Covid-19 strategy.
The rakyat should not need to wait for new SOPs every time another celebration approaches. There must be predictable and consistent SOPs for cultural and religious celebrations to avoid confusion and optimise compliance.
This is a multiyear pandemic. The government must introduce policies that reflect this reality.
> Boost public education on vaccines through religious and cultural groups: There is still a lack of coordinated, government-led public education on vaccines.
The government must urgently work with religious and community leaders to combat conspiracy theories and misinformation that fuel anti-vaccine dogma.
That said, the vaccine is not a silver bullet and we must not treat it as such. Other public health measures such as physical distancing, mask-wearing and good hand hygiene must continue long after the vaccine delivery begins.
While we adapt and transform yet another festive season to pandemic circumstances, we must remember that the sacrifices we make today will have triumphant outcomes tomorrow.
We wish everyone a happy Chinese New Year, Gong Xi Fa Cai, and happy holidays.
MALAYSIAN HEALTH COALITION
Note: This letter was signed by 48 medical and health-related organisations. The full signature list can be viewed at myhealthcoalition.org.