Covid-19 Exposed Flaws In Healthcare System, Says Hospital Boss

PETALING JAYA: The Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the acute shortage of health resources in Malaysia from medical items to capacity and talent, says the head of a private hospital.

Speaking at a virtual forum hosted by Sunway Project for Asian and International Relations, Nadiah Wan, the CEO of Thomson Hospital Kota Damansara said this issue raised a bigger question of how the country will build the resilience of its healthcare system.

Elaborating on the shortage of health resources, Nadiah said early on in the pandemic, there were issues in terms of local supply of personal protective equipment.

“Now, we are very aware of the shortage of vaccines being delivered to Malaysia because we do not have domestic capacity to manufacture vaccines.

Nadiah Wan.

“Even in simple things like building labs there is a capacity strain, not just in terms of buying the equipment, but more importantly the resources to build and run the lab,” she said at the forum, with the theme “Pandenomics: Global Economic Sentiment to Covid-19”.

She said Malaysia has also been facing a brain drain of doctors and nurses for some time.

“You can see this when people question why the health ministry doesn’t increase intensive care unit (ICU) capacity.” She said ICU capacity was not only about beds but the people who run the ICU. “You can’t manufacture this overnight”.

Prior to the lockdown, Nadiah said there was an extreme load on the system: patients with Covid-19 symptoms were thronging the hospital; “they weren’t tested yet, they were gasping for breath, we had no ICU beds, we had to intubate them in the emergency department, in general wards.”

She said the hospital emulated what health authorities in the European Union had done last year and had a crash course in ICU care for those who do not work in the ward.

Nadiah said the pandemic has raised questions of crisis management and response, and the legal framework that health authorities need to deal with during a crisis.

“Often, the health ministry has to rely on emergency ordinances to push things through in terms of procurement.”

On a more positive note, Nadiah said the pandemic brought the public and private health systems closer together and brought digitalisation of healthcare to the fore.


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