Healthcare system on brink of collapse: Government’s head in the sand?

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WONG SOAK KOON/ALIRAN

When India faced the worst days of its Covid crisis, the entire world knew.

The transparency regarding just how bad the problem was helped India ensure its government took the matter seriously, and got the help it needed. This is how India recovered from the near total collapse of its healthcare system.

The first step towards solving a problem is admitting we have one.

In Malaysia, our authorities have not admitted we have a problem.

A decades-old draconian culture of repressing the truth is now putting millions of Malaysian lives at risk. The government has consistently silenced the voices of civil servants, including medical frontline workers, and prevented them from telling the truth about how our system is on the brink of collapse.

Where once frontline medical workers maintained their silence for fear of losing their jobs, many are now sacrificing their own job security to speak up before more lives are lost due to a complete collapse of our healthcare system.

More and more stories are now emerging of how government Covid hospitals are completely overwhelmed and are becoming unable to give Malaysians with Covid the healthcare they need.

Resources are insufficient, and medical staff are overworked and exhausted. Reports are emerging of insufficient oxygen and insufficient beds, of senior staff breaking down, of CPR having to be performed on the floor, and of patients waiting outside emergency departments unable to breathe.

Meanwhile, the government continues to put its head in its sand and acts like there is nothing wrong.

Reports on the ground suggest that Ministry of International Trades and Industry (Miti) letters are now being issued to more and more companies allowing them to reopen, while there is again zero transparency on which factories are allowed to continue operating and why.

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‘Lockdown’ measures seem to target the wrong people, while allowing business interests to continue to protect profits. Are our constantly changing ‘SOPs’ (standard operating procedures) truly based on data and science? The reasoning behind these decisions must be transparent for all to see.

There seems to be zero urgency regarding the fact that we have days where daily testing numbers go down, while the number of cases go up.

The entire government seems to have adopted a nonchalant attitude even as frontline medical workers are now using terms like “total collapse” to describe the state of our healthcare system.

We need to be ringing the alarm bells all over the country. We need the country to be on red alert. We need to stop being distracted by useless politicking, and for once, be truly united in fighting the Covid pandemic.

The country is facing what may very well be the worst, most life-threatening crisis we have ever faced in our existence, and we need the government to stop hiding the truth about it, and to start treating this like the crisis that it is.

If it is true that the government declared an emergency to combat Covid instead of to protect political interests, then the government should start acting as if this is indeed an emergency situation.

We call upon the government to immediately:

  • acknowledge the problem and be transparent about the situation on the ground. Policy attention should be on solving the problem, and frontline medical personnel must be allowed to speak up on the situation they are facing with no repercussions from the authorities
  • engage with the private healthcare sector to ease the burden on government hospitals. Engage constructively, and the use of emergency rules can be considered
  • increase public healthcare spending in the short and long-term, so that longer-term healthcare capacity can be increased and problems like contract doctors can be solved. Increased funding must be accompanied by appropriate reforms in the organisational structure of the Ministry of Health
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This joint statement is initiated by:

Projek #BangsaMalaysia, a joint initiative by the Malaysian Muslim Youth Movement (Abim) and Projek Wawasan Rakyat (POWR)

Endorsed by:

  1. Aliran
  2. Anak
  3. Angkatan Belia Islam Malaysia (Abim)
  4. Centre for Independent Journalism
  5. Childline Foundation
  6. Citizens Against Enforced Disappearances (Caged)
  7. Coalition for Business Integrity Berhad
  8. Darul Naim Institute
  9. Engage
  10. G25 Malaysia
  11. Gerakan Belia Se-Punjabi Malaysia
  12. Ikram Muda
  13. Lawyer Kamek for Change
  14. Liga Rakyat Demokratik
  15. LLG Cultural Development Centre
  16. Mimosa Learning For All
  17. North South Initiative
  18. Our Journey
  19. Parti Sosialis Malaysia
  20. Pergerakan Tenaga Akademik Malaysia (Gerak)
  21. Persatuan Alumni New Era Kajang
  22. Persatuan Belia Harmoni Malaysia (Harmoni)
  23. Persatuan Kebajikan Biji Sawi (Mustard Seed Soup Kitchen)
  24. Persatuan Kebangsaan Pelajar Islam Malaysia (PKPIM)
  25. Persatuan Komuniti Prihatin Selangor dan Kuala Lumpur
  26. Persatuan Patriot Kebangsaan
  27. Persatuan Pemangkin Daya Masyarakat (Rose)
  28. Pertubuhan Demokrat Sosial (Demuda)
  29. Pertubuhan IKRAM Malaysia
  30. Projek Wawasan Rakyat (POWR)
  31. Reform
  32. Sabah Reform Initiative (Sari)
  33. Sabah Women’s Action-Resource Group (Sawo)
  34. Sisters in Islam
  35. Tamil Foundation Malaysia
  36. Tenaganita
  37. The Kuala Lumpur and Selangor Chinese Assembly Hall (KLSCAH)
  38. Treat Every Environment Special Sdn Bhd (TrEES)
  39. Yayasan Chow Kit
  40. Youth Nation Club (YNC)

Individuals

  1. Ain Husniza #MakeSchoolASaferPlace
  2. Akmal Hisham Abdul Rahim
  3. Alawiyah binti Yussof
  4. Altaf Deviyati
  5. Aravind Selva
  6. Arief Subhan
  7. Beatrice Chan
  8. BK Soon
  9. Devaruban Samalam Ruban
  10. Dr Savinder Kaur Gill
  11. Eric Chia
  12. Ezrina Alias
  13. Hamid Jusoh
  14. Hardial Singh
  15. Hartini Zainudin
  16. Lt Col (R) Joginder Singh
  17. Ltkol B Basir bin H Ab Rahman
  18. Masbah Omar
  19. Mohd Yazid bin Abdullah
  20. Muhammad Adli Musa
  21. Muhammad Aiman bin Ali
  22. Noor Zuliana Ahmad
  23. Norbik Idris
  24. Norman Goh
  25. Nurma Abd Karim
  26. Ooi Kok Hin
  27. Pan Jen Lin
  28. Prudence Lingham
  29. Pusparajah SK Selvadurai
  30. Richard Wee
  31. Rohizan Sam
  32. Saiful Nizam #MakeSchoolASaferPlace
  33. Shalini Muniapan
  34. Shaq Koyok
  35. Sharifah Shahidah
  36. Shawn Sharif
  37. Sivakumar Nadara
  38. Vinod Naidu Munikrishnayya
  39. Yap Sook Yee
  40. Zaharom Nain
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Phua Kai Lit
Phua Kai Lit
15 Jul 2021 8.17am

Unlike social phenomena (such as declining educational standards and worsening poverty levels), nature is unforgiving and natural phenomena such as deadly infectious disease pandemics and worsening climate change effects cannot be hidden or easily dismissed through denial, propaganda and outright lies by regimes in power.

J. D. Lovrenciear
11 Jul 2021 8.08pm

The way to go. It is already too late to correct. Either we citizens step forward, take charge with all the caring, capable experts we have in this country to save the nation or everyone sinks including the PN government and others (I can’t name here).