PETALING JAYA: The suspension of outpatient services at Klang Hospital has raised the alarm as other public hospitals could soon face the same problem.
This could also cause a rise in non-Covid-19-related deaths, warned former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.
He said the government should have deployed more manpower to these hospitals from the start of the pandemic to prevent any shortage.
“We are fighting a war and we cannot win unless more resources and manpower are deployed.
“If we don’t train more people, how are we going to handle the increase?” he told FMT.
The Gopeng MP said other public hospitals in the Klang Valley, especially in Shah Alam, Sungai Buloh and Kuala Lumpur, could face similar shortages as Klang Hospital at the current rate of the infection.
Yesterday, Malaysia reported a record high of 9,353 Covid-19 cases.
Lee said the pandemic will see a surge in Covid-19 deaths and infections, mental health issues, including suicides, caused by economic uncertainties and isolation from religious and recreational activities.
The suspension of outpatient services, Lee added, would cause a delay in physical health check-ups for other patients. This could lead to certain illnesses becoming more serious, he added.
Due to that, Lee urged the health ministry to keep track of the number of delayed treatments, such as operations, chemotherapy or radiotherapy, among others, during the pandemic.
“And also keep tabs on whether there is excess overall mortality or deaths from specific diseases during the pandemic,” he said, adding that unlike Malaysia, the UK had released figures for this.
In February, the UK had said the excess death toll since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic had breached 100,000, with official figures showing 20% more people dying than what was expected in the same period.
Lee said there was no such data released in Malaysia, which is related to the increase in overall deaths since Covid-19.
Yesterday, the health ministry announced that Klang Hospital had suspended all outpatient services to prioritise the handling of the increasing number of Covid-19 patients.
It said patients with appointments at its specialist clinics had been advised not to come to the hospital until further notice.
Echoing Lee’s call, Kuantan MP Fuziah Salleh said that the total death toll during the Covid-19 pandemic must be revealed.
She said it was crucial to ascertain the number of preventable deaths caused by a lack of resources as well as suicides in order to understand the true impact of the pandemic.
Malaysian Medical Association president M Subramaniam said it was public knowledge that many hospitals in the Klang Valley had been overwhelmed by the number of Covid-19 cases.
Due to that reason, he agreed that all non-emergency cases could be put on hold for now while waiting for the situation to improve.
“There is no choice. The virus is spreading like wildfire,” he told FMT.
He also said hospitals and medical practitioners in the private sector could play their part by stepping in temporarily to handle these cases while the government ramps up Covid-19 vaccination and implements effective SOPs to break the chain of infections.