The mobilisation of their medical corps could be one way of supporting the medical staff in public hospitals, WH Cheng writes.
We are now seeing the army doing their part to only assist the police force to maintain order and to enforce the movement control order nationwide in order to curb the spread of the coronavirus.
What we had observed till today is the movement control order has been successful despite some hiccups in certain areas which ought to be strictly enforced.
However, apart from being only involved in security-related enforcement and patrolling activities, the army ought to do more to ease the burden of the relevant government agencies in getting their activities or efforts mobilised effectively.
First, how about involving the army’s medical corps? The medical corps of the not only the army but the navy and the air force as well ought to be mobilised to assist their civilian counterparts who are now experiencing a shortage of medical staff.
It has been reported that some hospital and medical staff have also been infected with the coronavirus while providing their service in hospitals, clinics and medical centres.
So the mobilisation of the medical corps from the army, navy and air force ought to be considered to ease the shortage of medical staff in hospitals – apart from roping in temporary doctors and nurses and recalling those who had retired from the medical service.
The medical corps could also assist in providing their assets, facilities and equipment for use in these hospitals, clinics and medical centres since there are reportedly shortages of protective equipment, tools and other medical equipment.
As the number of those infected with the virus has been increasing every day, the government should look into increasing the availability of additional medical facilities to receive and treat these patients for quarantine, checks and medication.
In this area, the army engineering corps should also be mobilised to assist their civilian counterparts in preparing and constructing temporary medical facilities to cope with the increasing need arising from the growing number of infections. This kind of temporary medical facilities is needed to cater to the current emergency situation.
There is no point for the government, particularly the Ministry of Health, to claim that is able to cope with situation today. With the rising number of infections, it should seek more assistance as early as possible instead of waiting for the situation to get totally out of control – for then it will be too late for recovery measures.
In our words, the armed forces should involve themselves more in times of emergency apart from being assigned to security and enforcement activities. They should demonstrate to the people their readiness to serve civilians in a wider role other than just being focused on efforts during war, emergency or security.
Members of the armed force have always been attached to their barracks and we only see them on special occasions. So this is the time the army should demonstrate what they can do for the people apart from only being a “defence force”.
26 March 2020