LETTER | Release emergency funds for worsening Covid-19 situation in Sabah

Dr Subramaniam Muniandy


LETTER | The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) urges the government to release the much-needed emergency funds to manage the worsening Covid-19 situation in Sabah. 

Now that the Sabah state government is aligned with the federal government, we believe it is possible that more can be done to meet the needs of the state of Sabah in fighting the pandemic. If we were to rely on donations alone, it may take longer for funds to be channelled.

It was reported in the media on Oct 14, that the occupancy rate of the 1,018 beds across nine Covid-19 hospitals in Sabah had reached 71 percent. Four in 10 coronavirus patients placed in some form of the facility in Sabah are ill enough to require hospitalisation. 

It was reported yesterday that 72 percent of the ICU beds in the state's public hospitals are now in use. This includes use for non-Covid-19 cases. MMA is concerned, in looking at the number of daily cases reported, the situation may escalate to a critical point much quicker than anticipated. We need to prepare for that eventuality and act with greater urgency.

Funds will be needed for the increasing demand for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), medical equipment, additional ventilators, quarantine centres, transportation of medical equipment as well allowances for volunteers who will be working round the clock.

The newly elected state government reps should also get more involved in their constituencies. Now is the time for them to shine and fulfil their duties to their electorate. State assemblypersons should work closely with the state health department and ensure that their constituents are well informed, safe and strictly abide by the SOPs. 

The state assemblypersons can also help source suitable quarantine centres, along with all other pandemic needs and ensure that they are readily available. The biggest favour they can do for all frontliners based in Sabah now is to get their constituents to lend their full cooperation and support by staying at home and following strictly the SOPs. This will significantly help break the chain of infections.

Better coordination among all agencies on the ground is also needed. The State Crisis Command Centre should be enhanced to ensure better coordination of all activities so that the needs of the state are met on all fronts and that all help from NGOs and public are well coordinated to assist the state’s efforts. 

It will also be important for all relevant data on equipment, manpower, bed strength, testing capacity to be displayed on a state command centre dashboard for better coordination among stakeholders. In particular, the dashboard should include data on shortages and needs. 

We also urge the state crisis command centre to engage private sector hospitals, clinics and doctors in the fight against the pandemic.

To assist efforts in Sabah, MMA’s Sabah branch together with the Malaysian Medical Association Foundation has recently launched a Sabah Covid-19 fund where all proceeds will be used for healthcare equipment, medical supplies, PPE and other related Covid-19 relief. 

Contributions can be made directly to the Malaysian Medical Association Foundation at United Overseas Bank account no: 1063057741 (Recipient reference: Sabah Covid). All donations above RM250 to this fund are tax exempted. To obtain the receipts, donors are required to email or WhatsApp the payment transactions slips with full name, address and phone number to: [email protected] 0128055009

DR SUBRAMANIAM MUNANDY is the president of Malaysian Medical Association.

The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.