Focus on Sabah’s healthcare, no need to declare emergency

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has urged the federal government to speed up the emergency funds and all related aid needed to mitigate the situation in Sabah which is in dire need of help in its fight against Covid-19, instead of declaring a national emergency.

Its president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said there is no need to declare a national emergency at the moment, instead urgent and massive financial aid from the federal government is needed to control the Covid-19 situation in Sabah or there may be a total collapse of the healthcare system.

“Now is the time for scientific, practical, coordinated solutions to address the Covid-19 situation in the country and not a time for political squabbles that has not improved the situation in any way,” he said in a statement today.

He added every minute of delay in the mission for Sabah is putting the whole nation at risk of unmitigated national disaster that may go down as one of the darkest chapters since the birth of this nation.

“Widespread community transmissions of Covid-19 infections may be rapidly escalating. The daily numbers reported may be much less than actual numbers considering the delays in reporting test results, contact tracing and isolation of infected individuals,” he said.

Dr Subramaniam said bed occupancy is reaching full capacity in most hospitals in Sabah and in some areas, less severe cases of Covid-19 have to be isolated and home treatment instituted, thus there is a deep concern that the more severe cases of Covid-19 might increase further as Sabah’s infection and death rate is many folds above the nation’s rate, making it among the highest in the nation.

Subramaniam said it was reported that frontliners there are on the verge of throwing in the towel due to fatigue, mental stress and an acute shortage in manpower.

Thus, he said, more healthcare workers are urgently needed and the government is urged to consider engaging more help from public healthcare facilities from other states with low Covid-19 cases to be deployed to Sabah.

He added that a significant number of re-deployments are within the state itself rather than from interstate which may not increase Sabah’s total healthcare workforce.

“Cases are expected to continue to be high in Sabah as a backlog in test results are being cleared.  Urgent boost from the government is needed on the issue of limited testing capacity including engaging private sectors and interstate’s resources.

“This delay in testing turnover time severely affected the system’s ability to contact-trace contacts and isolate infected individuals at the same time preventing further spread of the infections,” he said.

He said all Malaysians should unite in the war against Covid-19, especially for the people of Sabah, as the situation is serious and the state needs all the help they can get in terms of personal protective equipment (PPE), medical equipment, and financial aid for their healthcare needs.

“An increase in hospital bed strength and testing capacity is also urgently needed. Unlike the Peninsula, Sabah has only nine public hospitals, and access to public healthcare for many affected Sabahans can also be a challenge due to their vast land area, remote locations and unforgiving terrains.

“We also strongly appeal to all leaders, regardless of political affiliations and the whole nation to come together for Sabah and do our best,” he said.

He said all other areas under the conditional movement control order which include Selangor, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya are under control and situation should improve with its current measures. – Bernama