Putrajaya ropes in GP clinics, private hospitals to push Covid-19 programme to 40,000 shots daily

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Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin during a visit to vaccination centre at  the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kuala Lumpur May 30, 2021. —  Picture by Firdaus Latif
Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation Khairy Jamaluddin during a visit to vaccination centre at the Malaysia International Trade and Exhibition Centre in Kuala Lumpur May 30, 2021. — Picture by Firdaus Latif

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 — The participation of private general practitioner (GP) clinics and private hospitals is expected to ramp up public inoculation under the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (NIP) to 40,000 doses daily.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Khairy Jamaluddin today said he is confident that the 40,000 daily inoculation target will be reached by the end of next month.

“This is our target for private PPVs, but subject to vaccine supply,” he said in a news conference on Facebook.

Khairy, who is also the coordinating minister for the NIP, was responding to concerns raised by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Association of Malaysia (FPMPAM) that the lack of participation by private healthcare operators had delayed the campaign.

FPMPAM had urged the government to take advantage of some 7,000 general practitioners and thousands of “Klinik Kesihatan”, which it said could easily vaccinate up to 50 patients daily, and along with private hospitals, can vaccinate “a large number of people in a very short time”.

Khairy explained that 2,500 GP clinics have registered with ProtectHealth Corporation Sdn Bhd — an initiative under the Ministry of Health that is coordinating with private hospitals to ramp up the vaccination drive and achieve herd immunity for Malaysia.

He added that of that number, 1,800 are already attended training.

“Although we assume that vaccination is a normal job for GPs, but for Covid-19 vaccination, it is quite different from other vaccinations, from its storage, cold storage and all. That’s why although we want to involve as many GPs as possible, they need to have onboarding training with PH Corp which is actually an onboarding that is very easy and short.

“If we take the number of private facilities in total that are involved in the NIP, I target that the GP PPV and also private hospital PPVs can contribute as much as 40,000 doses a day before June 30,” he said.

PPV refers to the vaccination centres.

Khairy said that prior to this, private healthcare centres were not needed to participate as the vaccine supply was not enough.

However, now that supply has increased, he said the government is including the private healthcare sector in the NIP to ramp up the NIP.

Khairy also called on state health department directors to smoothen the process to include the private practices.

He said the government is looking to have 500 GPs distribute the vaccine on June 15 and 1,000 GP clinics to become PPVs before June 30.

Khairy said that he would also be visiting other states to identify more private clinics and private hospitals that can be made into PPVs.

On his announced target inoculations a day, Khairy said the government already achieved 107,000 vaccination numbers last Friday and will soon reach its intended target of 150,000 shots a day.

“And I want to ensure that the 150,000 becomes an average rather than a peak once in a while. So we are working very hard to ensure that we can get it up to 150,000, on average this June. There are some days that we drop as there are some states which operate on a six-day cycle.

“We are trying to increase it to seven days but in some states where some of the centres are run by the Ministry of Health have requested for rest days as they are really, really stretched, as we have to understand this is especially for the MOH staff,” he added.

Khairy said that the government is also looking to increase the manpower to facilitate the NIP, adding that he will discuss it tomorrow with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.

An online petition to speed up the nationwide vaccination programme using all available private and public clinics along with hospitals began gaining traction earlier today. At 1.35pm, it crossed its initial target of 25,000 signatures.

The petition, titled ‘Mass vaccination in the shortest time possible’, was posted on the change.org online platform and addressed to Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, by a user named Chandrika Parameswaran.

Malaysia recorded over 9,020 new Covid-19 cases and 98 deaths yesterday, and a nationwide lockdown is imminent, beginning June 1 and ending June 14.

Despite repeated statements by Khairy that the programme will pick up pace in coming months as more vaccination centres and resources are introduced, the programme has been criticised for being far too slow and falling behind vaccinations programmes of neighbouring countries.

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