Media Statement by YB Kelvin Yii:
The Federal Government and Covid-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee Special Committee (JKJAV) must look at ways to simplify the recruitment process and remove any unnecessary ‘red tapes’ further encourage and recruit more from the private sector including general practitioner (GP) clinics to help speed up the country’s vaccination efforts especially if we want to achieve herd immunity by year end.
Currently based on the statement by Vaccine Coordinating Minister Yb Khairy Jammaludin, there are 2,467 GPs that has signed up with ProtectHealth Corporation, who is the appointed implementor by the Ministry to handle the participation of private medical practitioners in the National COVID-19 Immunisation Program (NCIP).
While this is encouraging, but more must be done to recruit even more and further utilise more community GPs in providing comprehensive immunisation coverage for their local populations.
While the current government’s strategy seems to be more focused on large-scale mass vaccination centres (PPVs), I believe they should focus on “decentralise the PPVs” by opening more small and medium scale PPVs in different zones in each constituency. This will ease up the congestion in the large-scale PPVs as well as be more convenient for public especially the elderly so that they do not have to stand and queue up long in the crowd.
By reducing the congestion in these large-scale PPVs, we will also then reduce the risk of spreading of the virus in the PPV itself, turning it into a possible unwanted cluster.
Such smaller PPVs are also closer to the constituents so that they do not need to travel far just to get to their appointments. Such decentralisation is even more pertinent now that the government is looking at significantly increasing our daily vaccination rate.
In order to make this possible, more GPs must be roped into helping with the vaccination with a more simplified recruitment system, improved appointment system through MySejahtera as well as reduced “red tapes” so that even the small community GPs can play their part in expanding our vaccine coverage.
Current requirements set by ProtechHealth can be simplified including reducing the required 3-hour online training, and instead of expecting the GPs to go and collect the vaccines themselves at designated centres, the government can use existing vaccine delivery network available to deliver the vaccines direct to the GPs, cutting off the need for GPs to source and purchase the necessary “Cool Box” and electronic temperature data logger that is needed for the transportation.
Most of the GPs and private sector are experienced and have been handling and administering vaccines for years and there are existing networks and SOPs already in place without the need to re-invent the whole wheel that may discourage more GPs from signing up. While it is of upmost importance to make sure the integrity of the vaccine in maintained throughout, many of unnecessary red tapes can be reduced so even those smaller GPs in the semi-rural and rural area would not hesitate to be part of the program.
While currently there are about 2.5k GPs that has registered, but we want to see a target of 5k or more GPs signing up to increase population coverage. Many members of the public may feel more comfortable to visit their own GP or family doctor to receive the vaccine and this may also help address some hesitancy.
The, when there are more significant number of GPs nationwide that has signed up and stock of vaccine is consistent, only then we can formulate a simpler appointment system or even walk-in system while reducing risk of congestion like what is adopted in Singapore especially for the elder and high-risk groups.
For that to happen, the government must take pro-active steps to engage with all the doctor groups to better understand their concerns, adopt their feedbacks and quickly mobilise them for smoother implementation. While I am sure they are more than willing to play their part in this fight against Covid-19, but they must be properly engaged and mobilised earlier rather than waiting until cases get more serious in the country.
Kelvin Yii Lee WUen
MP Bandar Kuching
Chair PSC Health, Science & Innovation