THE Malaysian Health Coalition welcomes the announcement of the National Recovery Plan and strongly supports the recommendations of the Malaysian Health and Sciences Covid-19 Advisory Group of Experts (“Employ precision public health measures”, The Star, June 19; online at bit.ly/star_precise). Detailed and nuanced goals and strategies are necessary to guide the National Recovery Plan.
Additionally, we urge the following:
> Announce more details and more KPIs for a complex pandemic: The three criteria of case numbers, ICU bed utilisation and vaccination rates are not adequate to capture the complexity of the Covid-19 pandemic. These criteria are “blunt instruments” that are highly-dependent on other variables, like testing numbers and vaccine supply.
A complex pandemic situation requires sufficient, balanced and nuanced KPIs to accurately measure our progress and performance. These KPIs must be independent and scientific, and how they are arrived at should be constant and comparable across time.
Additional KPIs to guide the recovery plan could include disaggregated data by state/district for more targeted decisions; weightages for vulnerable populations; and diverse metrics to provide granularity for decisionmaking.
Examples of diverse metrics include the moving weekly numbers of total active cases; percentage of positive tests over total tests performed (with the World Health Organisation target being <5%).
> Ensure truly data-driven decisions: National decisions should not be influenced by lobbying, double standards in enforcement or sudden policy U-turns. Government decisions should be predictable to improve public and economic confidence. Therefore, decisions should be truly data-driven.
While we note that the government will move from one phase to another depending on the statistics, we believe that a scheduled decisionmaking timetable is helpful. There should also be triggers to return to a higher level of restrictions if the situation worsens.
We strongly suggest changing the currently confusing x MCO (eg, enhanced movement control order full MCO, recovery MCO, etc) system to one that is more easily understood such as, for example, the “traffic light” system used in the European Union, Peru and Singapore.
> Transparency and data-sharing: We urge the government to improve data-sharing and transparency to enable effective management of the dynamic pandemic situation. Sharing data builds public trust, enables robust external review by experts, and fosters public-private partnerships. The large amount of data generated daily must be shared in an easy-to-view way via a public dashboard online.
Adequate data-sharing across states and districts will enable local authorities to tailor pandemic control strategies. With states now allowed to procure vaccines, data-sharing and integration in the National Immunisation Programme can lead to stronger and fairer outcomes.
We look forward to exiting the pandemic in a highly coordinated manner. Setting the right KPIs, ensuring truly data-driven decisions, and sharing data are crucial for success.
MALAYSIAN HEALTH COALITION (MHC)
Note: This letter was signed by 49 organisations; the full list of signatures is available at myhealthcoalition.org.