According to the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), there is a lack of engagement with private general practitioners (GPs) on their involvement in the national COVID-19 immunisation programme.
Slowness of engagement
MMA’s president Subramaniam Muniandy released a statement on Tuesday, June 1st. It blames two health sectors for their slow action in engaging Malaysian GPs as volunteers to administer vaccinations. The health sectors mentioned are the Ministry of Health and the Special Committee on COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee (JKJAV).
The MMA did write to the coordinating minister in-charge of COVID-19 vaccination, Khairy Jamaluddin, in early March 2021 says Muniandy. It is seeking a meeting with the minister to discuss the matter further. However, to date there is no response from either the ministry or JKJAV.
Muniandy reprimands Khairy
“The minister should have come down from his high horse to meet with us months ago when we wrote to him. Perhaps that would have encouraged more GPs to get on board.”
According to the Malay Mail, Muniandy said “What a difference it would have made if he showed some interest.”
Khairy, who is also Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, held a press conference on Monday, May 31st. He that only 2,467 GP clinics have registered to be volunteers in the programme. Out of that figure, 1,482 have been issued appointment letters.
Not able to participate
Even though there were about 7,000 GPs in the country, not all were able to participate in the vaccination programme says Mr Khairy. This is because some did not meet the requirements. Others were unable to store the COVID-19 vaccines that need special refrigerators.
The GPs must attend training on handling of the vaccine such as storage and administering, according to the programme.
On May 30th, Khairy said around 1,800 out of those who have registered have undergone training as vaccinators. By Jun 15th, a total of 500 GP clinics will start to administer vaccines. By Jun 30th, the number of clinics designated as vaccination centres is expected to increase to 1,000 clinics.
Dr Subramaniam pointed out that registered GPs were supposed to begin vaccinating in early May. The government however, left the GPs hanging with a pending go-ahead.
By involving 2,500 GPs, 75,000 doses could be administered out in a day says Dr Subramaniam.
Free Malaysia Today quoted Dr Subramaniam saying, “Every day, the minister is getting bombarded with questions on the slow progress of the programme. Shouldn’t he be engaging the private GPs, who can instantly double or triple the vaccination rate?”.
Malaysia’s vaccination drive is now in its second phase since its beginning in February. Records as at May 31st show over 3 million doses of vaccine have been administered.
Over 12 million people have registered for vaccination to date, which is about half of the total target.
Since May 27th, Khairy said that the vaccination rate in the country is now reaching 100,000 doses per day. The target now, according to Khairy, is to administer 200,000 doses per day by the end of July.
2nd June 2021 23:00
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