KUCHING (June 13): Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has called for government intervention to ensure sufficient supply of medication to all healthcare facilities in Sarawak and other parts of Malaysia.
The Democratic Action Party lawmaker said this is to make sure that the quality of care to patients especially to children is not disrupted.
He said this in a statement today issued in light of the recent report on a Paediatric Specialist Clinic in Miri not being able to conduct physical therapy to treat children with asthma such as Ventolin, common fever, cough, and cold, as it ran out of medicine stocks.
According to him, this is a “serious medical predicament” or even possibly a crisis if not dealt with immediately.
He cautioned that patients in Sarawak will continue to suffer and in worst case scenario may lead up to unwanted consequences as some of the health conditions are life-threatening.
Dr Yii said he had since last week warned that this issue was slowly rippling through the system, and that it is only a matter of time before the public really feel it.
He added that once the stockpiles are gone, including generic drugs, then it may be too late to do anything.
“This is a serious issue which deserves immediate attention,” he stressed.
He said the Ministry of Health (MoH) must do an extensive audit and stock count of all pharmaceutical stocks, both public and private health facilities to understand the full extent of the country’s medicine shortage.
He said such supplies should be properly distributed nationwide based on needs like a ‘ring strategy’ to ensure areas of highest needs will get the needed supplies.
“A private-public sharing mechanism to cut all necessary bureaucracy should be developed since the Minister mentioned that medication in the public sector of government clinics are sufficient.
“There could be a mechanism where the public facilities can either sell or loan drug supplies to fill in gap at the private sector as well until they receive their supplies,” he added.
Dr Yii suggested that for certain critical medications, there could be a mechanism where private healthcare professionals can write prescription for those essential medication which patients can immediately claim or even purchase at a government pharmacy without going through the whole referral process and consultation process at government clinic to cut down on the congestion in those clinics.
For this happen, he said a genetic type of prescription pad and prescription format must only be used to regulate it properly to enable the public sector to accept even prescription from private sector.
On top of that, he said after the extensive audit of medical stocks, there should be a system where prescriber can see where the stocks are available and list down the places so they know where to refer patients to.
“This is no ordinary medicine shortage and immediate actions have to be taken. That is why since the beginning I urged MoH for a clear policy to address the current shortage of medicines on top of a longer-term ‘national medicine security strategy’ to be devised to prevent future drug shortages in Malaysia, given the country’s current vulnerable position as a net importer of pharmaceutical products.
“Do not let our patients including our children suffer especially when there is no pro-active measure to foresee this issue and properly implement a mechanism and plan to address it holistically,” Dr Yii added.