An Open Letter to the new Health Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin
29th August 2021
YB Khairy Jamaluddin,
Dear YB Khairy,
Congratulations on your appointment as Health Minister which has come at a most critical time for Malaysia.
For the past year, Malaysia lost the war against Covid-19 pandemic and has become one of the worst performing nations in the world in fighting the Covid-19 pandemic.
Your challenge is to stop the escalation of daily new Covid-19 cases and Covid-19 deaths and win the war against the Covid-19 pandemic by returning Malaysia to the National Day month last year when we had only daily double-digit Covid-19 cases and single-digit Covid-19 deaths.
Today, I received an email from a private medical practitioner, raising many questions asked not only by private medical practitioners but also by the ordinary public.
One area which needs an overhaul is the communication strategy and there cannot be a great start to a new communication policy in the war against Covid-19 pandemic than for the new Health Minister to answer the issues swirling among private medical practitioners and the ordinary public.
The following is the email from the private medical practitioner:
1. Of course, the biggest issue is the old government and the same new old government’s inability to handle this infection crisis.
After 20 months, with so many models to follow, they still wallow in the mud and the whole country suffers.
Besides the case numbers (which are high and not coming down, average of 20K for the week) is the number of deaths. A seven-day average of 267 is UNACCEPTABLE.
Why are people dying like flies? Has anyone ask? Well I did.
Firstly, they lack facilities, like ventilators and now drugs. To treat critically ill people on ventilators, you need drugs. Now we hear that MOH is short of drugs. How come we are short? Some of these drugs are manufactured locally?
Then I am told that we are short of nurses to manage ICU. We have reached a state where people more than 50 years are denied ventilators if they need them. Only if you are below 50 would you be considered for ventilation, should you need one.
NOTE 50 years and above? This is terrible. That person is someone’s father, mother, uncle, grandpa etc etc etc. This is simply unacceptable.
No wonder the public is feeling that hospital is a risky place to go. They will die in isolation there. Many rather die at home with their loved ones.
I have heard of increasing number of people buying their own oxygen tanks and also oxygen concentrators. So that they can stay home and treat themselves. Many are taking Ivermectin or that Chinese herb Liang Hua. Many are getting well at home.
2. MOH decided that category 1 and 2 (mild covid) can be cared for as outpatients or at home quarantine. 98% of covid are mild covid so MOH says.
Home treatment is acceptable. But how does MOH care for them? Self quarantine at home with no treatment except Panadol for fever, for an illness that can kill?
How is that person going to feel, when he is abandoned in a room by himself, with NO TREATMENT? Where is the hope that he can get better?
Even if MOH does not like Ivermectin (unlike me) at least give them some vitamin D, Vitamin C , Zinc, an antibiotic, or something so that the person clings on to hope to keep him going.
Is that why, because of the sense of abandonment and give up (no hope) that so many (about 1/3 deaths) are “brought in dead” or BID.
What kind of country is this that leaves people to die at home without medical help. Surely Malaysia can do better than this?
3. This government is hedging on vaccines as a get-out strategy but vaccination alone is not the answer.
By now, about 44% of our population is fully vaccinated. We should see some flattening of cases and at least, the positive test rates should reduce to 10% (WHO recommends 5%). We are still at the 13-15% range despite 44% vaccination.
But vaccination does not protect you from re-infection. It also does not prevent you spreading the disease.
Many countries with almost 100% vaccination see cases return. Yes, the cases tend to be milder. But some re-infections were severe. So people are still asked to mask.
Vaccine passport makes little sense. We need an immunity passport. The government is on the wrong track and no one is questioning.
With this strategy of vaccine passport, it will further divide the people into the haves and the have-nots, the “clean” and the “unclean”. Is that healthy for the country?
Sitting in any restaurant, even those vaccinated can still spread the Delta variant to the next table.
4. Because of this Delta variant, “herd immunity” will not be achievable. The Delta variant has changed the whole equation.
The Ro for Delta is 6-7, compared to the original Wuhan strain. The experts now say that “herd immunity” is a myth. Great examples are UK, Israel, Iceland.
A better strategy will be to vaccinate the vulnerable, maintain hospital facilities and open up. Allow life to return. That will allow the young and healthy to get natural immunity, which is a more comprehensive form of immunity to help reach a stage when this virus is endemic and we then live with it.
Healthcare facilities can be greatly aided if MOH will get a supplementary budget to build more temporary hospitals, buy or get equipment donated and enlist medical students who have completed their medical finals, to start working as the first part of their 3-year housemanship.
There are eager medical graduates out there waiting to start. Why not use them? Yes, they need supervision, I am sure that can be arranged. Surely you have an extra pair of hands in this crisis. That is a help. We are in a crisis. The economy is in tatters.
5. Stopping GPs from helping with vaccination was stupid.
Lately the vaccination rates have slacked to 270,000 from a high of 550,000 daily. I wonder whether it is because of lack of vaccines.
We have not yet reached 90% national vaccination target. No where near and we are closing down vaccination centers. Where is the justification? Unless they have run out of vaccines?
6. I hear from the grapevine that Dengue cases are going up. Now if we are not careful, we will be faced with two crisis?
Hospital beds are full and so also ICU. Many of these background endemic diseases will begin to show up, one by one. We have just taken too long to manage this Covid crisis.
(Lim Kit Siang)
MP for Iskandar Puteri