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Malaysian Medical Association says there has been lack of engagement with GPs on vaccination programme

Malaysian Medical Association says there has been lack of engagement with GPs on vaccination programme

People wait to receive a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kuala Lumpur on May 31, 2021. (Photo: AFP/Mohd Rasfan)

KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said there has been a lack of engagement with private general practitioners (GPs) on their involvement in the national COVID-19 immunisation programme. 

In a statement issued on Tuesday, MMA’s president Subramaniam Muniandy has blamed the Ministry of Health and the Special Committee on COVID-19 Vaccine Supply Access Guarantee (JKJAV) for the slowness to engage GPs in the country as volunteers to administer the vaccine shots.

He said that the association had written to the coordinating minister in-charge of COVID-19 vaccination Khairy Jamaluddin early March this year seeking a meeting to discuss the matter, but did not receive a reply from the ministry or JKJAV.

"The minister should have come down from his high horse to meet with us months ago when we wrote to him. Perhaps that would have encouraged more GPs to get on board.

"What a difference it would have made if he showed some interest," he said, according to Malay Mail. 

On Monday, Mr Khairy, who is also Minister for Science, Technology and Innovation, said that only 2,467 GP clinics have registered to be volunteers in the programme. Of the total, 1,482 have been given letters of appointment.

He was quoted as saying that even though there were about 7,000 GPs in the country, not all were able to participate in the vaccination programme as some did not meet the requirements or were not able to provide special refrigerators for the storage of the COVID-19 vaccine.

The programme would require these GPs to attend a training on handling of the vaccine such as storage and administering of the doses. 

About 1,800 out of those who have registered have undergone training as vaccinators, Mr Khairy said on May 30. A total of 500 GP clinics will start to administer vaccines by Jun 15 and that the number of clinics designated as vaccination centres will increase to 1,000 by Jun 30, he added.

READ: Malaysia has sufficient vaccines to cover 80% of population by October, says Khairy

Dr Subramaniam pointed out in his statement that these GPs were supposed to begin vaccinating in early May but were left hanging pending a go-ahead from the government. 

He added that 75,000 vaccinations could be carried out a day, with 2,500 GPs involved. 

"Every day, the minister is getting bombarded with questions on the slow progress of the programme. Shouldn’t he be engaging the private GPs, who can instantly double or triple the vaccination rate?” Dr Subramaniam was quoted as saying by Free Malaysia Today. 

Malaysia's vaccination drive, which began in February, is now in its second phase. As of May 31, more than 3 million doses of vaccine have been administered. 

More than 12 million people - half of the total target - have registered for vaccination. 

Mr Khairy had said that the vaccination rate in the country reached 100,000 doses a day since May 27 and the target now is to achieve 200,000 doses by the end of July.

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Source: AGENCIES/ih

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