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Sunday, January 31, 2021

MMA blasts blame game over Covid-19 cases, wants apology


COVID-19 | Malaysian Medical Association president (MMA) Dr Subramaniam Muniandy has demanded that the Health Ministry get its house in order on the reporting system of Covid-19 positive cases.

In a statement today, he said it is unfair to target private clinics and hospitals when the system is flawed, and government healthcare facilities that the private clinics work with, are stretched to its limits.

"The MMA notes the warning issued by Selangor Menteri Besar Amirudin Shari that the state Health Department will begin issuing fines to private clinics and private hospitals in the state for late reporting of Covid-19 cases. 

"We share the same concerns over Selangorians as expressed by the MB, but at the same time, the MMA finds the accusation made in the said report deeply troubling.

"As cases rise, even the laboratories processing test results are stretched. Apparently, one of the reasons for the delay in reporting of confirmed cases is due to the failure of private practitioners from clinics and hospitals to key in information into the Sistem Informasi Makmal Kesihatan Awam (Simka) system," he said. 

To clarify, Subramaniam said the Health Ministry standard operating procedure (SOP) dictates that it is the duty of the person that conducts the laboratory processing of the sample to report the result via Simka.

"MMA would like to make it clear that all RT-PCR tests are processed in laboratories (unlike rapid antigen tests which may be processed at the private facilities themselves).

"Therefore, how can anyone claim that the delay in reporting confirmed cases via Simka is due to the failure of reporting by private practitioners when in reality, 10 percent of RT-PCR processing is done in laboratories?" he asked.

MMA president  Dr Subramaniam Muniandy

He called for private practitioners to be given an apology, but stopped short of saying who should be issuing it.

"We are all in this together. If the Health Ministry and Selangor Health Department particularly, truly believe in working as a team and in wanting to enhance public-private partnership, MMA implores all parties to stop the blame game.

"Under the SOP and guidelines from the ministry, private clinics must immediately report any patient found positive with Covid-19 to the district health office. Under Act 342, if the private healthcare facility fails to report the Covid-19 positive case to the district health office within 24 hours, action can be taken against them.

"If indeed, there have been unreported or delayed reporting of Covid-19 positive cases, considering the urgency, why has action not been taken against these private healthcare facilities? Where is the enforcement?" he added.

Subramaniam said before the state Health Department hurls more allegations against private clinics and private hospitals, MMA would like to ask it to provide the following information:

  1. Statistics on the number of cases reported by private healthcare facilities each month.
  2. The number of cases that have been found to be unreported by private clinics or private hospitals.
  3. What action has the department taken against these facilities?
  4. When will the notification SOP be revised and streamlined in order to stop the confusion among private practitioners?

"We believe that it is only rightful for private practitioners to demand the answers to the questions above. The state Health Department cannot be given a free hand in making accusations without providing facts," Subramaniam said. 

He added that the MMA wished to highlight again that even private laboratories are conducting drive-through and onsite RT-PCR screening tests when they are not allowed to by the Health Ministry.

"According to the Health Ministry, Covid-19 tests by the private sector can only be carried out at a private medical clinic, ambulatory care centre, or a private hospital.

"Private laboratories are not classified as a healthcare facility however, the ministry has closed one eye on this," he said. - Mkini

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