MMA cries foul over Selangor’s threat to penalise private healthcare facilities for late Covid-19 reporting

Jerry Choong
·3-min read
The Malaysian Medical Association emblem is seen at their headquarters in Kuala Lumpur November 13, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara
The Malaysian Medical Association emblem is seen at their headquarters in Kuala Lumpur November 13, 2019. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 31 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said it would be unfair for the Selangor state government to fine private clinics or hospitals for alleged delays in reporting Covid-19 cases.

MMA president Prof Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy said this was because government healthcare facilities that private clinics work with are already stretched to its limits. With the number of rising cases, even the laboratories processing test results are overworked.

“The Health Ministry must get its house in order on the reporting system of Covid-19 positive cases. Though we share the same concerns over Selangorians as expressed by Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Amirudin Shari, MMA finds this deeply troubling,” he said in a statement.

Dr Subramaniam said one of the apparent reasons the delay in reporting of confirmed cases is the failure of private practitioners from clinics and hospitals to key in information into the Public Health Laboratory information System (SIMKA)

“For clarity, the ministry’s standard operating procedures (SOP) dictates that it is the duty of the person conducting the laboratory processing of the sample to report the result via SIMKA.

“MMA would like to make it clear that all reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) tests are processed in laboratories, unlike rapid antigen tests which may be processed at the private facilities themselves,” he said.

As such Dr Subramaniam questioned how anyone can claim the delay in reporting confirmed Covid-19 cases through SIMKA is due to the failure of reporting by private practitioners, since in actuality 100 per cent of RT-PCR processing is done in laboratories.

He said it is only fair that private practitioners be given an apology.

“We are all in this together. If the ministry and Selangor Health Department (JKNS) truly believe in working as a team and in wanting to enhance public-private partnership, MMA implores all parties to stop the blame game,” Dr Subramaniam said.

The association president also requested that JKNS provide more information, instead of accusing private clinics and private hospitals in the state.

“Firstly, JKNS should provide the statistics on the number of cases reported by private healthcare facilities each month, and secondly the number of cases that have been found to be unreported by private clinics or private hospitals.

“Thirdly what action has JKNS taken against these facilities, and fourthly when will the notification SOPs be revised and streamlined in order to stop the confusion among private practitioners?” he said.

Dr Subramaniam noted that under the ministry’s SOPs and guidelines, private clinics must immediately report any patient found positive with Covid-19 to the district health office, as under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 those who fail do so within 24 hours can face action against them.

“If indeed there have been unreported or delayed reporting of Covid-19 positive cases, considering the urgency, why has action not been taken against these private healthcare facilities? Where is the enforcement?

“We believe that it is only rightful for private practitioners to demand the answers to the questions above. JKNS cannot be given a free hand in making accusations without providing facts,” he said.

Dr Subramaniam reiterated MMA’s full support of enforcement on any private healthcare facility that has failed to report confirmed Covid-19 positive cases within the stipulated time frame in accordance with the ministry’s guidelines and SOPs, but said it must be supported with evidence.

Yesterday, Amirudin said JKNS can issue compound notices to private clinics or hospitals that do not report positive cases directly on the same day through SIMKA.

He said the recent surge of cases in the state is largely due to the backlog of cases from the screenings at places including clinics, prisons, factories and others, as they were not reported in real time.

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