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KUCHING, June 13: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has called on the Ministry of Health (MOH) to intervene immediately to assist healthcare facilities in Sarawak or other states that are running low on medicine supplies.
According to a statement issued by Dr Yii today, he highlighted a report from a paediatric specialist clinic in Miri that is unable to treat children suffering from fever, cough, and cold because medications, including Ventolin to treat asthma, have run out.
“The doctor informed a week ago that all of his various sources of medications, whether from his supplier or the local pharmacy, are already out of stock, and this is the first time he has faced a medicine shortage in his clinic’s three decades of operation.
“He also stated that he has been out of Ventolin Nebules and Ventolin Solutions to treat asthma for more than two weeks.
“And based on the report, many other paediatric general practitioners (GPs) are also facing the same issue,” Dr Yii said.
He also noted remarks from Sarawak Deputy Premier Dr Sim Kui Hian, who said that some private clinics in Miri have already stopped seeing patients after their medicine supplies ran out.
“This is a ‘serious medical predicament’ or even possibly a crisis if not dealt with immediately as our patients will continue to suffer and, in the worst-case scenario, may lead up to unwanted consequences as some of these conditions are life-threatening if the patients are unable to obtain the necessary medications immediately.
“Since last week, I have warned that this issue is slowly rippling through the system now, and it’s only a matter of time before the public really feels it, especially once the stockpiles are gone, including generic drugs, then it may be too late to do anything.
“I then urged MOH to urgently interfere in this matter to protect the “medical security of our country” due to the disruption of our medicine supplies all around the country,” Dr Yii added.
He went on to say that the seriousness of the issue was first downplayed by the Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali but confirmed by the Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin who admitted that there is a shortage of medicines especially in the private sector.
“This is a serious issue which deserves immediate attention.
“In the short term, 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.
“Such supplies should then be properly distributed nationwide based on needs like a “ring strategy” to ensure areas of highest needs will get the needed supplies.”
Dr Yii, who is also the chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee (PSC) Health, Science, and Innovation, suggested creating a public-private sharing mechanism for public health care facilities to either sell or loan medicine supplies to private facilities pending the delivery of stocks for the latter, pointing out that Khairy previously said medicine supplies in government clinics and hospitals are sufficient.
He also proposed that MOH create a mechanism, for certain critical medications, to enable private medical practitioners to issue prescriptions for their patients, who can then get their prescriptions filled at government pharmacies, either for free or at a charge, without needing to undergo referral and consultation at public clinics or hospitals.
For this, Dr Yii proposed setting the type of prescription pad and format for public health care facilities needed to accept and fill medical prescriptions from the private sector.
“On top of that, after the extensive audit of medical stocks, there should be a system where the prescribers can see where the stocks are available and list down the places so they know where to refer patients to,” he explained. — DayakDaily