Cut red tape, help GPs to participate in Covid-19 vaccine drive ― HH Lim

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JUNE 5 ― Dear DG (of Health),

I’m a private medical practitioner running three practices here in the Klang valley.

When my colleagues and I were informed that our nation is finally going to involve the 7,000 GPs in the nation to help in the Covid vaccination, we’re glad to be able to do national service.

While many other countries have at least 50 per cent vaccinated, we only have 4 per cent, vaccinated.

The first thing I did was to sign up my three clinics with ProtectHealth, a company set up by the Ministry of Health.

Within days we got our approval.

Then the nightmare began.

I first downloaded 100 pages of instructions for easy reading.

But it was not easy reading. In fact, by the time I finished, it has taken almost two hours of my time.

I ploughed on writing in a notebook the many things that need to be complied. Now it was beginning to look like this is serious stuff.

I had to undergo a three-hour online course.

That wasn’t a problem.

I called up ProtectHealth and was held up for approximately 10 minutes before someone answered. When I asked her why can’t I register online, she told me that the next online course webpage has not been uploaded yet and courteously asked me to wait for the next few days.

That was my first disappointment.

I started checking if my clinics have the requirements to do the vaccinations:

1. A vaccine friendly fridge that allows us to maintain a temperature of 2-8 degrees. Checked passed.

2. An assistant to check the temperature twice a day at 8am and 4pm and recorded in a form provide by the MoH. Checked passed.

3. A vaccine friendly cold box that is not provided but to be purchased. I’ve been ordering vaccines for 36 years for my practice and the drug companies send them in their own cold boxes. I don’t even know how one looks like. Now I have to purchase not one but three. Whether my two Coleman cold boxes lying at home will do, I do not know. I called up two distributors of these cold boxes and they quoted me between RM900 to RM4,500 depending on the source country. Checked not passed.

4. Next I have to purchase data loggers (please check Wikipedia for more information). I need to have two, one for my fridge and another for the cold box to ensure optimum temperature. These are small data collectors that collect temperature throughout the day to be sent to your computer using a USB. Now we’ve walked from medical territory into IT territory. They cost about RM100-200 each and I need to purchase six for the three clinics. Checked not passed.

5. PPE and proper disposables of used needles. Checked passed.

6. Logistics to collect the vaccines at an appointed time and date at a centre designated by ProtectHealth. Checked and passed as long as no armoured vehicle is necessary.

I have a long list of at least 500 patients who are willing to pay for their vaccines but because I can’t purchase the vaccines, I can’t give them.

I inquired Pharmaniaga, but they told me that they have to meet government quota first.

A health worker loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioTech Covid-19 vaccine at the UiTM Hospital in Sungai Buloh March 2, 2021. ― Picture by Hari Anggara
A health worker loads a syringe with a dose of the Pfizer-BioTech Covid-19 vaccine at the UiTM Hospital in Sungai Buloh March 2, 2021. ― Picture by Hari Anggara

Some of my patients have asked me is it safe to buy them online, I advised them against doing so for obvious reasons.

Our rakyat are desperate and I can’t seem to help.

Malls and some organisations can procure the vaccines but I can’t. Patients are charged for these vaccines.

I’m so disillusioned that I seriously consider dumping the whole exercise.

I’m truly sorry for my patients and can only tell them to register in MySejahtera and wait.

When I say that our impoverished neighbouring countries are doing better than us, Khairy should just take note. Billions have been spent, sadly we’re getting nowhere. We’re not a failed nation yet, but in due time we’ll be.

Now I know why out of 7,000 GPs in the country, less than 2,500 have signed up.

* This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.


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