Do we need at RM600K ambulance?

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KUCHING: Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba was urged to explain the need to procure 500 negative pressure ambulances by his ministry.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said the procurement cost of RM300 million for 500 ambulances translated to about RM600,000 per ambulance.

“But more importantly, what is the science behind the need for such negative pressure ambulance?

“They say it’s important to transport Covid-19 patients, but such effects are negligible as healthcare workers are mainly in personal protective equipment (PPE) and once patient transported in hospital, they are no longer in a negative pressure environment,” he said.

Dr Yii said the Malaysian Society of Intensive Care also viewed such ambulances as of no benefit for the fight against Covid-19.

“It does not improve the outcome of the pandemic but only comes at the expense of a huge financial commitment,” he said in a Facebook post on Wednesday (June 23).

The MP said the minister has to clue as to whether the existing ambulances have caused an increase in infection rate among healthcare workers.

“Have the current ambulance caused increased infections among patients and have other countries with a good track record on Covid-19 management also used such an ambulance?

“If so, the government must answer, and not use this pandemic as an excuse to unreasonably profit any sector,” he said.

On Sunday, Dr Adham said the Health Ministry will begin procuring more negative pressure ambulances to ferry Covid-19 patients to treatment centres.

However, on Tuesday, the ministry clarified that not all 500 units of the ambulance are categorised as “negative pressure ambulances”.

It explained that negative pressure ambulance features are needed to fight the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic as well as prepare for future use.

It also noted that such ambulances have a negative pressure system, HEPA filters and UV lamps for patients with infectious diseases, especially those that are airborne.