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Study ranks M'sia 3rd in Asia in readiness against disease outbreaks

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A global health study has ranked Malaysia in 18th place among 195 nations, in terms of overall readiness to face a disease outbreak.

Results of the Global Health Security Index survey - to illuminate countries readiness and capacity gaps in dealing with infectious diseases - was released last October, several months before the new coronavirus outbreak.

Within Asia, Malaysia ranks third behind Thailand and South Korea - two countries among the "most prepared" list, at sixth and ninth place respectively from the 195 nations surveyed.

Asian countries with a lower average score than Malaysia include Japan, as well as neighbouring Singapore and Indonesia.

Countries were rated and scored between 0 to 100 marks based on publicly available information of its capabilities to prevent, detect and respond to an epidemic, as well as its overall health system, compliance with international norms and risk management.

Overall, Malaysia scored above average across all six categories, with particularly high scores for detection (73.2) and risk management (72) categories.

Within the six categories, countries were further rated for particular sections.

Malaysia scored full marks in several areas including communications with healthcare workers during a public health emergency, compared to a 15.1 average score among all 195 nations.

The index was jointly produced by the US-based Johns Hopkins Centre for Health Security and the Nuclear Threat Initiative, together with the Economist Intelligence Unit.

"The (index) is the first comprehensive assessment and benchmarking of health security and related capabilities across the 195 countries that make up the state parties to the International Health Regulations 2005," said Global Health Security.

Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad yesterday said the ministry will be requesting for additional allocations from the Finance Ministry to face a potential outbreak of the new coronavirus, with four confirmed cases in Malaysia so far, and five other suspected cases.