By Nur Aina Athirah binti Mahyuddin
“The backbone of every health system is its workforce – the people who deliver the services on which we all rely. COVID-19 has demonstrated just how much we rely on our health workers and how vulnerable we all are when they who protect our health are themselves unprotected,” said World Health Organisation (WHO) Director-General, Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
Unimaginably, it has been almost two years since we battled the pandemic COVID-19. The unfolding COVID-19 pandemic has proven the efforts and initiatives undertaken by ministries of health across the world to effectively address it, particularly Malaysia’s Ministry of Health (MoH).
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and to provide critical assistance in combating and dealing with the virus, the Malaysian government and MoH have continued their broader efforts to strengthen health systems and assist the public. More particularly, by supplying and reinforcing the protection and capabilities of health workers, who are the backbone of the health operation.
Looking back, the number of positive COVID-19 cases in Malaysia has increased dramatically in less than a week, and with the first two deaths, we, Malaysians, began to panic and raised concerns. For that reason, the Malaysian government and MoH took several measures to ease the public’s anxiety and to protect our safety.
Starting with disseminating information, MoH ensures that everyone has access to reliable information and that the general public is well-informed on the pandemic. As a result, we were provided with daily updates on the number of positive cases, deaths, recovered cases, and other essential data.
With this effort, MoH urged everyone to remain alert and be well-prepared in seeking assistance during these trying times.
Nevertheless, knowing that public safety cannot be ensured solely by sharing information, MoH has mandated health screening at all entry points into the country, such as thermal scanners and other early measures to prevent disease transmission. Besides, individuals returning from abroad were examined, identified, and quarantined for COVID-19 purposes.
Moreover, further steps taken by MoH is ramping up efforts to collaborate with various private healthcare sectors, including hospitals, clinics, and laboratories, to strengthen COVID-19 management.
In response to the government’s ‘whole-of-society and whole-of-government’ approach, this collaboration focuses on maximising Malaysia’s current healthcare resources and facilities from diverse industries in enhancing public access and continuity of healthcare services.
To illustrate, MoH has transferred elective medical services such as surgical operations and medical treatments of non-COVID patients to private healthcare at a reduced rate. Laboratories from private and government sectors, supply or medical resources and workforce have also aided MoH in handling the pandemic.
With MoH’s efforts, the government mandated movement control order (MCO) to avoid mass movement and gathering. The intention was to prevent the virus from spreading because it is infectious and transmissible, posing a greater risk to children and the elderly.
On curbing the pandemic, MoH further built a quarantine facility in Serdang and initiated a COVID-19 fund in assisting individuals or families who have been financially impacted due to quarantine.
In light of MoH’s efforts, we were and still are able to address and handle the COVID-19 better than other countries despite the pandemic wave that took a devastating toll on our daily lives.
The efforts and sacrifices of the MoH, front liners as well as the public, have proven that we can still fight the COVID-19 from taking more lives of our loved ones.
Furthermore, MoH has continuously undertaken preventive measures by carrying out an awareness campaign on the vaccination, free online consultation of ‘DoctorOnCall’, free COVID-19 testing, especially in rural areas, free COVID-19 test kits and so forth. All these were done with the hope that these measures can educate and protect everyone throughout the pandemic.
As a result of the preventive measures and efforts undertaken by MoH, Malaysia has been praised by WHO in handling the COVID-19 pandemic compared to other developed countries.
“Identification of gaps enabled the prioritisation of needs and opportunities for enhanced preparedness and response. All of these components have played a crucial role in Malaysia’s initial response to the pandemic,” said WHO representative in Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore Dr. Ying-Ru Jacqueline Lo.
“The Malaysian government went to great lengths to ensure a comprehensive approach to risk communication and community engagement and working to establish trust with the population,” she added.
Nonetheless, this does not rule out the possibility that the Coronavirus or COVID-19 pandemic continues to exist for an indefinite period of time, or the likelihood of future outbreaks with news on the emergence of new variants that are highly contagious and transmissible.
What matters the most, at this phase, we are all responsible for following the protocols and standard operating procedures (SOP) mandated by the government and MoH.
A brighter future is coming with the hope of everyone keeping each other healthy and safe. It is crucial to be consistently reminded of that #kitajagakita. ***
(The article is written as part of feature writing exercise for Corporate Writing class)