Restrictions on NGOs distributing food, aid to stop spread of Covid-19, says MMA

MMA says the cooking and distribution of food must be done strictly and properly to prevent the disease from spreading. (James Nayagam pic)

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association says the government’s restriction on NGOs distributing food and other aid directly to the needy is understandable to prevent the further spread of Covid-19.

Speaking to FMT, the association’s president Dr N Ganabaskaran said if NGOs do not take full care in preparing and distributing the food, including wearing personal protective equipment (PPE) when cooking and distributing, they could get infected.

“Then they could infect others. The NGOs have a role to play because the government cannot supply food to everyone but their role can only be considered if the cooking and distribution are done strictly and properly.”

Otherwise, Ganabaskaran said it could end up causing the virus to spread further and cost lives, even if the intentions are noble.

Earlier today, Defence Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said the government’s decision to bar NGOs from distributing aid to those affected by the movement control order (MCO) was based on advice from the health ministry.

This comes after several NGOs pleaded with the government to allow them to directly distribute aid such as food.

Suriana Welfare Society officials distributing eggs to the needy. (James Nayagam pic)

James Nayagam, chairman of the Suriana Welfare Society, which has been distributing food to the needy for the past 12 years, proposed that government agencies work with NGOs to distribute food and other items.

His organisation, he said, had been strictly following medical standards in handling and distributing food.

“Our staff wear masks and gloves and maintain a one-metre distance from each other. We are working with the Petaling Jaya police and they have given us the approval to move and distribute food to the various communities,” he said in a statement.

The government’s directive, Nayagam said, had led to concerns over how distribution will be carried out and whether the food reaches the right people.

“There must be some form of accountability and transparency in the selection and distribution of the food.”

So, he said the government agencies could assist NGOs by providing manpower and transport.

“Together we can help the various communities.”

To date, 2,320 people have tested positive for Covid-19 in the country, with 27 deaths recorded.