KUALA LUMPUR (June 1): The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said Coordinating Minister for the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin had failed to engage with private general practitioners (GPs) over the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP).
In a statement today, MMA president Professor Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said the organisation had officially written to Khairy on the involvement of private GPs in the NIP's second and third phases on March 2, but had yet to receive a response.
"By the end of April, most of the 2,500 private GPs had already received training and were ready to begin vaccinating in early May — the timeline targeted to begin the programme — but it was left hanging.
“The GPs have been waiting for the go-ahead from government. Was the NIP coordinating minister aware of this? If he was, why the delay?" he questioned.
Subramaniam said even with 2,500 GPs, 75,000 daily vaccinations could go ahead, and that the private GPs were all trained by the Ministry of Health (MoH).
He added that many members of the public would also prefer to go to their neighbourhood GPs to get vaccinated.
On training required for Covid-19 vaccination, the MMA noted that the training is done online and only takes two to three hours, while vaccine storage requirements also can be met.
"If at all the minister is aware that there is too much red tape in the way of the programme with private clinics, then as the NIP coordinating minister, he should do something about it. We only want things to work because like the minister as well as all Malaysians, we too want the NIP to be a great success, so that the country can recover from this nightmare of a pandemic as quickly as possible," said Muniandy.
According to reports yesterday, Khairy said that only 2,467 GPs had signed up to join the programme, of which 1,665 had undergone training.
He said that special training is required for Covid-19 vaccination, namely for proper storage and administering of the doses, which require different needles.
His response came amid criticism of the slow pace of the vaccination roll-out. According to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin in a televised speech yesterday, an average of 80,000 doses of vaccines were administered daily in May.
The government targets to administer 150,000 doses daily by the end of June.
As of yesterday, Malaysia had administered 3.01 million doses of Covid-19 vaccines since the start of the programme on Feb 24, according to Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.