KPJ Damansara Specialist Centre’s Dr Musa Nordin this week risked becoming, at the very least, Malaysia’s most unpopular doctor when he chose to question and criticise the country’s current most popular person – Health department director general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
Dr Noor Hisham, on a run of popularity after his elevation to the main voice of the health authorities battling the vicious pandemic following several high profile fumbles by the Health Minister Adham Baba and the absence of his two deputies, inevitably found backing in the form of netizens entranced by his calm persona.
Inevitably, Dr Musa found himself being lambasted by netizens for his criticism of their adored current favourite Malaysian.
A number of medical practitioners we contacted however, asked us to put aside Dr Musa’s impassioned but slightly rough tone and look into the points he raised.
Dr Musa, a private doctor, appeared on Astro Awani pointing out weaknesses in the frontline of Malaysia’s battle with the Covid 19 pandemic, also criticising Dr Noor Hisham and his team for the lack of emphasis on protection of frontliners dealing hands on with cases of the disease.
He questioned the leadership of Cabinet ministers who were well publicised to be still conducting mass gatherings on the pretense of service or even press conference, which was in breach of the social distancing emphasis of the Movement Control Order (MCO).
Dr Musa questioned the supply of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) for frontliners, which put doctors and nurses treating patients at high risk of contracting the disease themselves.
He also brought up the risky quarantine process for those returning from abroad, which consists of a 14-day isolation at their homes, putting at risk family members. He put forward examples from China and South Korea, which implemented specific quarantine centres, away from other people to contain the spread of the coronavirus more effectively. (In video above)
“The number one point when you are dealing with a pandemic is transparency, accountability… Be truthful with your facts. I am very concerned about the culture of secrecy, which is still apparent in many of our ministries. In the case of Covid 19, it is the Health Ministry,” Dr Musa said on Astro Awani.
“It is good that there are press conferences every day. But they only state things like ‘today there is an increase of a hundred cases, total 900, two deaths’… Fooooh! We are doing very well, yes, the Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia is doing very well.
“I want to know, how many are critical, how many are on ventilation. What is the capacity of the Health Ministry. When the critical cases come about, do we have the capacity? We need to state this to the ‘irresponsible’ Malaysian public, who do not observe social distancing, you better follow. Because, look, we have 20 that are being ventilated, they are fighting for their lives in the ICU,” he said.
He also called for the government to put in place total lockdown on red zones while clamping down on loose borders, particularly with Indonesia, which he described as a time bomb as far as the pandemic at hand is concerned.
Noor Hisham responded to Dr Musa yesterday, as reported by FMT, denying that the frontliners that were infected had contracted the disease while in the line of duty.
FMT quoted him as saying an overwhelming majority of infected health workers did not get infected in the line of duty.
“Most of the cases also initially occurred at private hospitals,” he said, as quoted by FMT, which added he also said the death of two healthcare workers had nothing to do with being exposed to Covid-19 patients.
Excerpt from the FMT report:
Noor Hisham also said there was no issue of insufficient supply of PPEs.
Many have donated PPEs to the ministry, he said, which was good as it would reduce the ministry’s dependency on importing such material.
“We have sufficient supply. Only last week, there was an issue when it came to distribution to other states.
“It’s a logistics issue. But it has been resolved. So, no problems with stock.”
Dr Noor Hisham was right, as we had reported earlier about a circular sent out to state health departments on March 31 as per below, which Dr Musa or others might want to take note for further questions, particularly the companies appointed to supply some of the PPEs should there be questions over the lack of it.