Military should have a shot at handling Covid-19

LETTER | With full support and agreement to the letter “Covid-19: The Army has spoken” issued by Malaysiakini, it is important that we, the rakyat, realize that we are indeed at war. We are at war against this pandemic, at war against the death toll, at war against the basic need to survive, not just the present but also the future.

Quoting Brigadier General Dr Mohd Arshil Moideen, Chief Executive Officer of the Malaysian Armed Forces Health Services Division: “In a war, like the war against Covid-19, we need a single strategic line of command and standardized that everyone can respect ”. How many of us know someone who does not keep the commandments given? We don’t know just one person, there are many who take this too lightly until it hits them near their homes.

The UK aims to end its restrictive moves on July 19, removing formal limits on social contact, instructions for working from home and obligations to wear masks. After imposing the most onerous behavioral restraints in British peacetime history to tackle the novel coronavirus, British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has been reported by Reuters as betting that the vaccination program, which has weakened the link between infections and hospitalizations, can prevent the health service from being overwhelmed by a new wave of Covid-19.

How long do we have to stay in this position of war? How to execute this “single and standardized strategic line”? How many more versions of the lockdown do we want? The drastic increase in cases recently has clearly shown how this mandate has failed to save the rakyat and Malaysia. The latest call from our healthcare workers has tugged at our heartstrings, but what can we really do to help them? We need a system that works, someone who can walk to talk.

Arshil is not only a Military Physician and Epidemiologist in the Malaysian Armed Forces Health Services, but also a Public Health Specialist and Health Care Administrator with 17 years of local and international experience in delivering results. measures and the facilitation of quality health care, preventive medicine actions and measures in civilian and military communities, various clinical and medical facilities as well as in disadvantaged communities on the international scene.

It has been deployed to disaster areas in Western Sahara, Lebanon, East Timor, Tacloban, Afghanistan and Cox’s Bazar, Bangladesh. In Cox’s Bazar, he planned and executed the deployment of the Malaysian Field Hospital mission and helped manage several disease outbreaks affecting 1.2 million Rohingya refugees. In Afghanistan, he led a team from 19 countries and international agencies to successfully control the brucellosis outbreak there in 2011 using innovative methods.

He has also helped control the epidemic of waterborne diseases in many countries by leading a team responsible for the design and construction of two field water treatment systems in collaboration with Puncak Niaga Holdings and the NGO Imaret. With his solid background in health regulation, personnel management logistics, risk management and health planning, Arshil’s experience should not be wasted, but rather a chance to guide us in this time of war. .

Likewise, the Malaysian Armed Forces Health Services (MAFHS) are familiar with epidemics and disaster management, both locally and internationally. They played a huge role in managing the Nipah virus outbreak when Malaysia was the first country in the world to encounter the virus in 1998. MAFHS has a good track record in managing epidemics internationally by leading and actively participating in Afghanistan, Lebanon, and Bangladesh, to name a few. With their vast experience in managing not only epidemics but also disaster management, MAFHS will only serve as a light at the end of this long tunnel that we have traveled together.

Coming back to the published article, “The Ministry of Health is overloaded, exhausted and lost. Maybe it’s time to practice the third step of our Basic Life Support (BLS): “Cry for Help”. Now is not the time for the ego. It’s time to work together and it looks like the military is ready to help.

They are ready, and we, the rakyat, should see this as a positive step towards national recovery. All we need is for the military to take back command of the pandemic control response from the Department of Health, allowing it to establish an operational pandemic control command center for execute the plan from top to bottom at all levels. In other words, “a single, standardized strategic line of command that everyone can follow.”

MAFHS practices the Military Health Assessment Process, whereby they are well trained to perform a deliberate planning process by carefully evaluating suitability, durability, feasibility, practicality, flexibility, and factors of ‘acceptability in the performance of any mission related to health.

Epidemiologist Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman said recently: “It is proposed that the military medical corps take over. All hospitals and intensive care facilities in Klang Valley and Seremban, including public, private and university health facilities, should be placed under one authoritative order. “

“If there is a need, create or invoke an emergency order,” he added.

The military can act as a strategic planner and command center to run, standardize and support all hospitals or machinery in the Ministry of Health, in response to the call for help from our health system. Relevant health experts from the public, private and education sectors should be fully supported in executing the pandemic action plan alongside the military health team.

The rakyat can provide support by complying and trusting that the operational command center for the control of the military pandemic will ensure a practical, flexible, efficient, standardized and rapid implementation of the actions required to win this war. Among these, we can provide for public health actions of all national organizations in uniform, assistance in the management of movements and vaccination innovations 24/7, and improving the overall efficiency of the system. patient management system through standardized approaches, innovative strategies and deliberate planning. With these, one can expect a reduction in deaths, a strengthened care team, a unified rakyat and an acceleration of the transition from pandemic control to endemic control.

With the military taking over the strategic leadership and management of this pandemic, we can also see order and command placed in a “one line of command” which could be the solution to what appears to be a leadership crisis in the world. within the Ministry of Health.

After all, what else do we have to lose? It’s time for Malaysia to make the headlines for the right reasons.


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

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