Don’t let politicians push you around, Dzulkefly tells Noor Hisham

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Not the first to hint that Noor Hisham should include more experts in the battle against Covid-19.

Director-General of Health Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah must not allow politicians to dictate how to control the Covid-19 pandemic, said former health minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

“Noor Hisham has done a great job during the first and second wave of the pandemic, but in the third wave, he has made mistakes and has not maintained that performance, possibly because of political interference.

“If things don’t change, he will find it very hard to beat this pandemic,” the former Pakatan Harapan cabinet member told The Malaysian Insight.

Citing the recent amendment to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act to exempt the cabinet from 10-day quarantine after returning from overseas assignments, Dzulkefly said the government was not acting in accordance with science and disease control principles.

The Amanah leader said this was the same with the Sabah elections in September last year.

“The Sabah elections caused the director-general to make a mistake when they decided not to screen or quarantine the Sabah returnees (until after polling day).

“I have reminded him not to bow down to politicians and be open to listen to other health experts, because we are still learning about this pandemic.”

However, Dzulkefly, who is also head of the Selangor Covid-19 taskforce, stopped short of saying that Noor Hisham should be replaced.

“No one person is better than everyone else. We have to listen to all the different experts – clinicians, epidemiologists and data scientists. He cannot depend on just one or two experts.

“Leadership is about involving other experts to work at the same problem.”

In recent weeks, various health experts and opposition politicians have expressed concern about the Health Ministry’s new protocols, which included stopping testing of asymptomatic close contacts.

Only those who displayed symptoms and were in close contact with a positive case will be tested.

Another new measure is for positive cases who are asymptomatic or have mild symptoms to self-isolate at home.

These strategies came as the public healthcare system is now at breaking point, treating more than 50,000 active virus cases.

There have also been calls since last year for the ministry to roll out mass testing more quickly, by using the country’s general practitioners where necessary, and to conduct speedier contact tracing.

Dzulkefly is not the first to hint that Noor Hisham should include more experts in the battle against Covid-19 as former prime minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad has similar views.

The Langkawi MP congratulated Noor Hisham’s successes in handling the pandemic but added that one person alone “is not enough”.

Bernama

“The ideas of others should also be considered, hence why a panel of doctors would be a sound idea,” Dr Mahathir had said.

Umno vice-president Khaled Nordin also recently said the pandemic has evolved to become a national issue, not just a health issue, and Noor Hisham was faced with problems beyond his scope or power. – TMI