THE highest priority of a government is to protect the health and safety of citizens. Therefore, the Malaysian Health Coalition urges all political leaders to keep the rakyat’s health and welfare at the very top of their priorities. Political transitions must not affect our Covid-19 response, vaccination programme and healthcare services.
We trust the judgment of the Yang di-Pertuan Agong to appoint a new Prime Minister with a strong Cabinet as soon as practicable. For any new Cabinet, these are three important lessons from the political transition in March 2020:
> Be transparent: The new Prime Minister and the Cabinet must acknowledge the situation on the ground and not hide the truth from the rakyat.
Sharing all pandemic data with high transparency will improve trust and enable the rakyat to make more accurate risk assessments for themselves and their families. Data transparency aids in better allocation of resources.
> Make evidence-based health decisions: We urge the government to follow scientific evidence as our understanding of Covid-19 evolves and improves. We also urge the government to publicise its evidence, methodology and rationale for making any important decisions and not merely announce decisions in a top-down manner.
We urge the government to balance speed with sufficient understanding of the situation on the ground. SOPs must be evidence- based, easy-to-understand and enforced without double standards.
> Coordinate among state governments, ministries and civil society: The Health Ministry alone cannot beat Covid-19. Therefore, we need a strong and coordinated effort between federal and state governments (perhaps through a working federal-state council) to ensure effective execution and no overlaps.
There must also be strong coordination among all ministries, as well agencies such as welfare. We also need an all-of-society effort against Covid-19, which requires proactive coordination with civil society and empowering communities.
In the medium-term, the new government must balance health with the recovery of our economy, democracy and society.
In health terms, the new government must provide adequate financial, political and moral support to all healthcare frontliners.
The rakyat and our health system are increasingly exhausted. Politicians must be part of the solution, not part of the problem. We demand that all political leaders and the new government of Malaysia prioritise the rakyat and our health.
MALAYSIAN HEALTH COALITION (MHC)
This letter was signed by 56 member organisations of the MHC; the full list of members is available at myhealthcoalition.org.