PSC recommends 10 steps for country’s safe transition to Covid-19 endemic

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 1 – The Parliamentary Special Select Committee on Health, Science & Innovation has put forth 10 recommendations for the Government to focus on and invest in before the country is ready to transition fully safely and sustainably from the pandemic to endemic Covid-19.

In a statement, Member of Parliament for Bandar Kuching Yii Lee Wuen said the Committee had tabled its first report in Parliament today, outlining the different subjects discussed by all relevant stakeholders on Covid-19 including the Ministry of Health (MOH), Ministry of Science, Technology, and Innovation (MOSTI) and external experts of the field including the Health and Sciences Covid-19 Advisory Group of Experts (EAG) led by Tan Sri Dato’ Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman.

Based on the data provided by the Ministry, the committee made the conclusion that the country is not ready to transition fully until all the necessary steps are taken including increasing public health capacity, integrating technology and digitalisation into public health approach, and mainstreaming the National Covid-19 Immunisation Program to give as much protection to the people especially to high-risk groups.

One step will be to have, apart from a whole of government, a whole of nation approach involving all relevant stakeholders from public and private healthcare, civil society, and others will be required for the transition and it should not just be an issue under the Ministry of Health, but a focus of “health in all policies” of government.

The committee also recommended increasing public health capacity to deal with possible surge of cases in view of loosening of restrictions and preparation for future pandemics and this should include increasing ICU capacities, as well as a comprehensive “National Testing Strategy”. This should include decreasing the price of Covid-19 RTK self-test kits.

It also called for an improvement in features in MySejahtera to fasten the process of hotspot identification, contact-tracing, notifications, and quarantine monitoring on principle of “speed-scale-equity”.

Government policies must be also properly communicated to increase public confidence and compliance on top of promoting stronger public “social-responsibility” which is important to transition properly to endemic Covid-19.