Need to review and improve national pandemic management plan

Screen capture of the Twenty30 episode that featured Prof Awang Bulgiba (right screen) with Dr Jeniri (left screen).

KUCHING: There are several lessons to be learned by Malaysia from the Covid-19 pandemic, says Professor Datuk Awang Bulgiba Awang Mahmud.

The epidemiologist and physician based at the Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya (UM) explained that among them, the need to review and improve the National Pandemic Strategic Management Plan (Pelan Strategik Pengurusan Pandemik Nasional).

“The Plan must be reviewed and enhanced by utilising the whole of society approach. From what I can see is that it currently does not use this approach as the expertise outside of the Ministry of Health (MoH) is not being fully utilised.

“We also need a strong database that can be used for prediction model or tracking for this and other pandemic that may occur in the future. We are still using the old and manual method, this is something that needs to be changed.”

He was speaking on TVS’ Twenty30 programme moderated by senior fellow of the Malaysian Council of Professors (MPN), Dr Jeniri Amir, on Monday (June 14).

He pointed out that the country must restructure its economy and reduce dependency on others.

“Malaysia’s economy is not pandemic resilient so there is a need to restructure our economy. We are also depending on a lot of technology from outside, this can be seen from the absence of developing our own vaccine.

“Allocations should be given for this purpose because if we are only relying on medication or vaccine from other countries, it is a sign of weakness in our country’s ability to face pandemics.”

He also said attention must be given to upgrade the country’s healthcare system as by 2030, over 10 per cent of the country’s population would be in the 60 and above group.

“Our healthcare system must be upgraded in a holistic manner. It’s important to allocate resources and allocations for a more sustainable healthcare system and this is something that has been a topic of discussion since the 1990s.

“We must also be serious in managing the problems of non-communicable diseases as most of the Covid-19 deaths involved victims who have high blood pressure, diabetes and so on.

“With the emergence of silver economy when 10 per cent of the country’s population will be in the 60 and above age group, this gives us the opportunities to provide more facilities for the elderly and our healthcare system should focus more on them.”