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Sunday, January 31, 2021

Private practitioners welcome govt roping in GPs to monitor Covid-19


The Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Association (FPMPAM) has welcomed the government’s upcoming move to task private general practitioners (GPs) with monitoring some Covid-19 patients.

However, it called for more guidance for the GPs.

Health Minister Dr Adham Baba said yesterday that the cabinet had agreed to amend the Emergency (Essential Powers) Ordinance 2021 to empower private GPs to issue home quarantine orders.

Malay Mail quoted him saying such orders can be issued without the need of a positive test result if a patient displays Covid-19 symptoms or is suspected to have the virus.

GPs will also be equipped with an unspecified device that can help identify Covid-19 patients, he said.

Under the new amendment, Adham cautioned that the Health Ministry would “take action” on private GPs who do not report positive cases to the ministry.

Present rules stipulate that Category 1 (asymptomatic) and Category 2 (mildly symptomatic) patients with suitable home conditions must undergo home quarantine for 10 days.

GPs need guideline

Commenting on the cabinet’s decision, FPMPAM president Dr Steven Chow agreed but said private GPs need a guideline.

“We look forward to the guidelines and official mandate,” he said when contacted.

Chow pointed out that GPs have yet to receive “updated detailed guidelines” from the ministry on how to monitor Covid-19 patients who were quarantined at home.

FPMPAM previously petitioned the ministry to incorporate private GPs and family doctors in its Covid-19 response mechanism.

It contended that GPs were well positioned across the country and should be equipped with personal protective equipment, medication and the mandate to reign in community transmissions.

A private GP previously lamented to Malaysiakini about the lack of guidance as anxious patients approached him with questions.

Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said last week that a Covid-19 patient care guideline was available and would soon be shared with private practitioners. It was not shared previously as private doctors were not involved in treating infections.

Council officers can issue fines

In the Malay Mail interview, Adham shared that the government will also be amending the Emergency Ordinance to allow local council officers to issue fines to those who breach movement control order (MCO) standard operating procedures.

Presently, only the police can issue the RM1,000 fine.

Furthermore, certain terminologies will be changed.

The minister said the term “health officer” will be replaced to read “an officer who is granted power”. This would allow anyone deemed fit by the minister to carry out government directives.

The term “health inspector” will be replaced with “environmental health officer” to include those who are not employed by the federal government. - Mkini

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