GEORGE TOWN, Sept 10 — The government’s shortage of medical personnel and beds to treat Covid-19 could be resolved if Health Minister Khairy Jamaludin invokes Section 26 (1) of the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 to requisition private hospitals, PKR’s Sim Tze Tzin said today.
According to the Bayan Baru MP, there are many private hospitals in Penang but currently only 5 per cent have allocated beds for Covid-19 treatment.
Given the current desperate situation, Sim said the government should use its powers to requisition private hospitals to use their beds and medical staff for treatment, and provide reasonable compensation.
Section 26 of the Act empowers the Health director-general to authorise the temporary requisition of any premises for a certain period of time as needed.
Sim also suggested the Health Ministry recruit doctors from either private hospitals or private clinics to serve at the government hospitals immediately to relieve public medical frontliners.
“They should also be given fair compensation,” he added.
He again held Penang private medical staff as an example, saying there were many available who could be requisitioned to temporarily serve at government hospitals.
He said this will be a more logical move than transferring doctors or medical personnel from other states as there is a shortage of staff in government hospitals in other states too.
He also proposed that all final year medical students be required to work at normal wards so that experienced doctors can be posted to the Covid-19 and emergency wards.
“These last year students will have enough experience to handle the normal wards,” he said.
Sim also asked Khairy to give Penang 1m doses of Covid-19 vaccine.
He said Penang has only recorded a 50.3 per cent vaccination rate for its registered adult population due to a shortage of vaccine supplies in August.
He said in other states, if there were decrees from the Sultans, the ministry would immediately send over vaccine supplies.
“I only hope that the minister will be fair to Penang by supplying one million doses to this state for this month so that we can fully vaccinate the adult population in this state,” he said.
Sim also asked that the Health Ministry increase ICU beds and non-ICU beds in the state for Covid-19 patients.
“Currently, Penang only has 70 ICU beds and 830 non-ICU beds for Covid-19 patients and according to the latest data, the ICU bed usage is 98.2 per cent and the usage of non-ICU beds are 106 per cent,” he said.
He proposed that the ministry add another 30 ICU beds and 670 non-ICU beds to bring the total beds available for Covid-19 patients to 100 ICU beds and 1,500 non-ICU beds.
“The shortage of ICU and non-ICU beds has led to many Covid-19 patients having to wait on chairs or even sleep on the hospital floor while waiting for a bed,” he said.
He said the Covid-19 situation in the state is the worst in the country where it recorded 145 cases per population of 100,000 over the last two days.
He said Khairy is essentially entering a “Covid war zone” tomorrow and hoped that the minister will seriously consider his suggestions.