KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 14 — Malaysia needs to prioritise the development of its public health experts to prepare the country for future pandemics, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said today.
The Health director-general said there was a dearth of specialists dealing with public health, adding that the best brains were concentrated in other areas of medicine and healthcare.
“We need the best brain in public health. We are under invested in public health. Public health has a wide spectrum and we need to really recognise the sub-specialty in public health so we could develop a forte for all the areas and we need to really focus and give attention to public health,” he said during the Malaysian Healthcare Conference 2021 held online.
Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia’s healthcare sector needed to undergo a transformation.
To do that, he proposed that each ministry have its own public health experts to advise on public policies going forward. He also noted that the number of public health specialists had dwindled over the years.
“I think in all ministries we should have public health experts. And we are short of public health experts compared to five years ago
“So training the public health experts and getting more people to take on public health as their speciality, I think this is the first thing that I would look into and give priority to healthcare transformation,” he said.
He also suggested integrating public and private healthcare as part of the transformation.
Malaysia has been seeing an exponential increase in its daily Covid-19 cases in the past few months even as the government has been pushing vaccination nationwide. The cumulative cases have crossed 1.3 million so far while deaths are close to 12,000.
In today’s healthcare conference, Dr Noor Hisham attributed the exponential rise in Malaysia’s Covid-19 cases to variants.
He said the Covid-19 variants have “disrupted” the planning his ministry’s plans to flatten the curve through the third movement control order (MCO) that began on May 12 and was supposed to end on June 7.
He said that MCO 3.0 was initially successful as the cases continued to have downward trends until June 24, when it started to rise unexpectedly due to those infected by the Delta variant which have much higher infectivity rates.
“This Delta variant spreads very fast, the transmission could occur between five to fifteen seconds. And the R0 is very high, more than 10 and it is already in the community,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham was responding to a question on when the Klang Valley could move on to phase two of the National Recovery Plan which eases the restrictions.
He said that it is too early to tell but currently, the numbers of those infected in the Klang Valley is already stabilised but there is a rise of cases in other states.
“We need to see another week or two to see significant decreases in hospital admission.
“In Kelantan, Johor Kedah, Penang as well as Sabah, the cases are increasing.
“In Labuan, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negri Sembilan, Sarawak, we see the cases are coming down,” he said.