GPs left standing high and dry — HH Lim

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AUGUST 22 — I’m not going to mince my words.

I thought clowns are only found in circuses but no, they are also found in those managing the national Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF).

After a hullabaloo and announcing that the country’s 7,000 GPs are to be roped in to help in speeding up the vaccination, many signed up for national service.

The Ministry of Health set up a non-profit company called ProtectHealth to coordinate the whole exercise.

The doctors were trained on webinars, going through at least a hundred pages of confusing and irrelevant instructions.

They are cajoled to buy expensive cold boxes, data recorders to record temperatures, fridges that are appropriate to store vaccines and a whole lot of other stuff.

The doctors in turn have to train their staff, the hundred pages of instructions, documentation, get Android(not iPhones) to scan labels, re-learn SOPs, get their clinics organised for social distancing, temperature recordings, proper disinfection, etc.

The doctors have to send in lists of the number of vaccines they need, go and collect these vaccines, tugging those heavy cold boxes to allocated hospitals to collect the vaccines.

The doctors have to be present on the first day of collection at the hospitals to be re-instructed on procedures and waiting in queues amongst other doctors to collect the vaccines.

A nurse prepares the vaccine during the vaccination session for Persons with Disabilities in St Nicholas Home, Bagan Jermal July 5, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin
A nurse prepares the vaccine during the vaccination session for Persons with Disabilities in St Nicholas Home, Bagan Jermal July 5, 2021. — Picture by Sayuti Zainudin

Staff back in the clinics have to call vaccine attendees on vaccination day to confirm attendance and to find out reasons for no-attendance. They then have to quickly call others to take up the unused vaccines and these patients have to rush to the clinic to get these vaccines. When we’re unable to get replacements, the Pfizer vaccines once mixed cannot be kept, have to be thrown away, wasting precious rakyat’s money.

Now, within 48 hours, we are told no vaccines will be supplied to the clinics. ProtectHealth, the MOH coordinating arm tells us that there are few vaccinees left as most are already vaccinated.

According to the latest statistics (as of the 20 August 2021), the number fully vaccinated with 2 doses in the country is 38% and with 1 dose is 55%. How can there be few vaccinees left?

Where are the vaccines when RM5 billion have been spent to procure them?

Another RM1.5 billion has been spent to run the programme and if money is an issue, where has the money gone?

China and Indonesia are starting to give vaccines to the school going group and we plan to do the same. When and who are going to give this group the vaccines in this country if not the GPs who have been giving vaccines in the community from cradle to grave?

We all know that antibodies produced after 2 vaccines will decline over time. Boosters are necessary in the future as Covid-19 has become endemic.

When and who are going to give the rakyat these boosters if not the GPs?

The number of infected continue to climb in the midst of more worrisome variants and the mortuaries are filled to the brim.

Stop the clowning and think of all who have died needlessly, families devastated with the loss of loved ones, front liners working to exhaustion, businesses gone bust and mental breakdowns, that we as family doctors, are treating in increasing numbers.

Lives are not to be taken lightly. I have lost relatives, friends and patients from Covid.

Not a single life should be lost!

The past government and the present one are accountable.

They have to give us answers to the reason for the poor handling of the pandemic.

The country is now in the throes of a change in PM and government. We now have a new PM, a non-existent cabinet, and a government only in name, which the old PM calls it the new PN government. This means nothing has changed, only bad wine in new bottles. When nothing has changed, more will continue to die.

The very backbone of the entire health system in the private sector are the GPs. They treat, advise, test and monitor those in Category 1 and 2 which makes up more than 90-95% of the Covid positive cases.

We’re all busy, tired and frustrated.

Since the government is so sure they can bell the cat, so it will be.

The rakyat will be assured, that with or without the government’s help, the GPs will continue to do their best in this pandemic.

That’s a given.

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

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