Weekly Highlights

We are not ready to transition from Pandemic to Endemic

This Monday, the first report from the Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Health, Science & Innovation was tabled in Parliament. This report summarises the different subject matter that was discussed among all relevant stakeholders focusing on Covid-19 including the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) and external experts of the field including the Health and Sciences Covid-19 Advisory Group of Experts (EAG) lead by Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman.

This report focused on the important theme of “Transitioning from Pandemic to Endemic Covid-19 Safely and Sustainably”.  

Based on data provided by the Ministry, the committee made the conclusion that we are NOT READY to transition fully until all the necessary steps are taken including increasing our public health capacity, integrating technology and digitalisation into our public health approach, and mainstreaming our National Covid-19 Immunisation Program to give as much protection especially to high-risk groups.

Thus, our committee has put forth 10 recommendations for the Government to focus on and invest in before our country we ready to transition fully safely and sustainably on the main principles of:

(1) “Whole of government, Whole of nation approach” involving all relevant stakeholders from public and private healthcare, civil society, and others. This should not just be an issue under the Ministry of Health, but a focus of “health in all policies” of government.

(2) Increase of public health capacity including increase our capacity for FTTIS to deal with possible surge of cases in view of loosening of restrictions and preparation for future pandemics.  This includes increasing ICU capacities in all States to provide good quality of care and reduce death rates in case of a surge of cases.

On top of that, a comprehensive “National Testing Strategy” is important to facilitate a safe transition and provide guidance for testing frequency for all sectors and industries in our country.

In order for it to be effectively implemented, the government must:
(i) Decrease the price of Covid-19 RTK self-test kits
(ii) Incentivise the public to report their test results in MySejahtera to get a clearer picture of total test done to give a more accurate positive rate in our country.

(3) Integration of technology and to improve features in MySejahtera to fasten the process of hotspot identification, contact-tracing, notifications, and quarantine monitoring on principle of “speed-scale-equity”.

This is important to identify the problem before it happens and do the necessary interventions or control the situation if there is a possible surge especially in view of loosening of restrictions and resuming of inter-state travels.

Such comprehensive strategy is important to do localised control in case of an outbreak so that we do not depend on “nationwide full lock down strategy” which is not effective and sustainable as it has a high economic cost.  

(4) Strategic communications to ensure all policies of government are properly communicated to increase public confidence and compliance on top of promoting stronger public “social-responsibility” which is important to transition properly to endemic Covid-19 .

Even with this report, we will continue to scrutinize and monitor the implementations of these recommendations by all Ministries and agencies to give utmost priority to protect the health of our people and long-term health capacity of our country especially in view of future pandemics.

Dr. Kelvin Yii,

MP for Iskandar Puteri

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