The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has slammed Khairy Jamaluddin’s silence over the association’s invitation to discuss roping in private general practitioners (GPs) for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP).
MMA president Professor Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said an official letter was sent to the Science, Technology and Innovation Minister on March 2 on this matter.
However, he said there has no response from the Special Committee on Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee (JKJAV) until today.
He said it seemed like the minister showed no interest to engage with the GPs, which was disappointing, as calls for private GPs to participate in NIP have been made for months.
“One of the main reasons why the three Movement Control Order (MCO) failed to control the Covid-19 situation, is the government’s failure to listen.
“There is a lot of talk from them, but no listening. A good leader is one who has his finger on the pulse of the rakyat and understands their needs.
“Policies are decided in silos, with hardly any engagement with the stakeholders. This has been the story since day one of the pandemic,” Dr Subramaniam said in a statement today.
Yesterday, when asked why so few GPs were involved in the vaccination programme, Khairy said preparation was still needed as the Covid-19 vaccine is different from other vaccines.
“Training is required. The GPs said ‘oh, the vaccination is routine for us’. Yes, the vaccinations before are routine but this Covid-19 vaccination is different.
“We have to give basic training for storage and for administering the vaccines which are a little bit different – from using the special syringe and other requirements,” he said.
Khairy said some 1,482 GPs have already been granted letters of appointment to administer the Covid-19 vaccine but only half had the necessary equipment.
Subramaniam said that even if only 2,500 GPs signed up, they would be able to give 75,000 vaccinations per day.
GP clinics are the best, easiest and readily available resource to help speed up the vaccination programme, he added.
He also responded to Khairy’s remarks that training was needed for GPs to administer the jabs, saying they were experienced enough and only needed to be updated on the logistics of vaccine storage.
“It is mostly on cold chain requirements for the vaccines storage and on administrative procedures. Nothing really technical or scientific.
“The training is done online, and it takes only two to three hours to complete. Even using the ‘special’ syringe is not complicated. They should trust the doctor to know how to handle one,” he said.
Subramaniam also said the late engagement of GPs and the slow immunisation programme are reasons why, after multiple movement-controls, Malaysia has failed to bring down the number of Covid-19 infections.
“Every day, the minister is getting bombarded with questions on the slow progress of the NIP. Shouldn’t he be engaging with the private GPs who can instantly double or triple the vaccination rate?”
“As can clearly be seen now, many members of the public prefer to go to their good ol’ private GP down the road to get their jab. As a minister serving the people, he should do all he can to make that happen as quickly as possible,” he said.
Since February 24, 1.93 million individuals have received at least their first dose, while 1.08 million have completed their vaccination with two doses.
Malaysia recorded 6,824 new cases yesterday, bringing the active caseload to 79,523, just 477 shy of the 80,000 mark.
Related report: May 31, Only about 2,500 GPs signed up for Covid-19 vaccination exercise