Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has urged the federal government and Ministry of Health (MOH) to extend the special RM600 monthly allowance for medical workers involved in managing Covid-19 to cover a larger group of healthcare personnel.

He said that these personnel were also part of the Covid-19 management ecosystem and included Emergency and Trauma Department (ETD) doctors, hospital cleaners, pharmacists, essential medical supplies logistics coordinators, psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and counsellors.

Based on a recent circular released by MOH, public healthcare workers can qualify for the full special allowance if they are directly involved in Covid-19 management and have worked at least 15 days in one calendar month.

These covered doctors, nurses, medical assistants, assistant environmental health officers, X-ray technicians, medical laboratory staff, public health assistants and others directly involved in the chain of management in handling and curbing the Covid-19 outbreak.

Dr Yii believed there were some in the group who were also part of the management ecosystem but had ‘fallen between the cracks’ and might not qualify for it.

“For example, we were informed that  ETD doctors may not qualify for the allowance as they are not considered part of the Covid-19 team, even though they expose themselves to the risk when they see patients day in and day out, including respiratory infection patients who may carry the Covid-19 virus,” he said.

Dr Yii explained that if there were suspected Covid-19 patients, the ETD doctors would transfer them to the Covid-19 areas but they were not stationed there all the time and thus might not qualify for the full allowance which required them to be there at least 15 days in a month.

He pointed out some doctors and medical workers also went through weekly rotations in this area and might not be stationed for at least 15 days there to qualify for the full allowance.

“This does not mean they do not deserve to be rewarded for their efforts and hard work.

“I believe doctors, housemen, medical assistants and nurses in the ETD should also qualify for this allowance as they are also exposed to the risk of such patients before they are triaged to the Covid-19 stations. In emergency situations, they may even need to intubate such patients — also exposing them to the risk of infection,” he added.

He stressed that other medical workers who were part of the Covid-19 management system such as pharmacists and officers involved in the procurement of medical essentials and equipment should also qualify for the incentive.

“While they may not be directly exposed to patients, their services are important to ensure such supplies are sent to the hospital and clinics so others are protected. Pharmacists may also risk exposing themselves when dispensing medicines to possible Covid-19 patients, especially asymptomatic ones.”

Dr Yii felt that psychiatrists, clinical psychologists and counsellors who offered psychiatric first aid to patients and their families were also frontliners and thus should be included.

“Another important group that was missed out is the hospital cleaners and support service staff. They play an important role to sanitise wards and hospitals to ensure the virus does not spread further, and they also face exposure risk due to the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) supplied to them,” he said.