Once again the World Health Organization (WHO) has commended Malaysia’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak.
In her commentary, ‘A Country United in the Face of the Pandemic,’ Dr Lo Ying-Ru Jacqueline, the WHO representative to Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, explained that Malaysia had taken steps years before the current global pandemic to strengthen Malaysia’s health security and multisectoral response capacity for health emergencies and disaster preparedness.
Photo: Yasha Bin Yaakub: Dr Noor Arisah Misnan checks a patient’s condition inside the infectious disease isolation room in Ward 4C Sungai Buloh Hospital.
Dr Lo outlines that among the commendable steps Malaysia has taken in the face of the pandemic are:
In late 2019, Malaysia had participated in a Joint External Evaluation of the International Health Regulations core capacities to help identify critical gaps in human and animal health systems as well as the containment of environmental hazards which has proved crucial in MAlaysia’s initial response to the pandemic.
In February 2020, Malaysia also invested in increasing access to quality testing, critical care bed and ventilators.
The Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) was operationalized and mobilised at state and national levels. This allowed for recruitment and redistribution of health-care personnel according to the needs and demands of areas affected. The CPRC was established under the 9th Malaysia Plan (2005-2010) as part of the overall strategy for effective disaster preparedness, outbreaks, crises and emergencies related to health.
The implementation of the Movement Control Order including its various phases and iterations succeeded in halving the number of COVID-19 cases over the month of April. In accordance with WHO’s recommendations to “test, treat and track” the population for the virus, Malaysia had enforced the “Search, Test, Isolate, Treat and Quarantine.”
The Malaysian government had proactively communicated with the public using technology, social media platforms and mobile applications, ensuring that the public had access to timely and accurate information. This prevented an infodemic.
The success of Malaysia’s response was also aided by WHO support in the areas of partner coordination, information and planning, technical expertise, operational support and logistics.
However, Dr Lo reiterates that in view of the second surge of COVID-19 cases, the “national efforts should continue to encourage people to maintain their recommended precautionary practices.” She also identified the importance of the implementation of preventative measures in closed settings such as prisons and detention centres, ending her commentary with “no one is safe until everyone is safe.”
Photo via: Corporate Communication Unit, Ministry of Health Malaysia
Ultimately, the commentary states that in the long-run, the implications of COVID-19 on the nations’ economy and health must be balanced by being prepared for targeted measures against any new cluster.
Until everyone is safe, WHO and its partners will continue working on safe and effective treatments and vaccines to be distributed worldwide.
By: Catalina Mae Hubbard