The Health December 2020 - Page 3

december , 2020 | The Health

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| The Health says ... |

Transparency is sorely lacking

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Presence of a halal logo is more convincing Halal-certified pharmaceutical products give consumers more confidence when making a choice
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100 per cent accuracy HWGB ’ s Easydiagnosis test kits can stop Covid-19 more effectively by increasing capability of rapid and vigorous testing
• Ground-breaking technology to destroy cancerous cells
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Paying tribute to sepsis survivors Sepsis is a preventable disease , and its early recognition can save limbs and lives
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Antibiotic resistance worrying The other pandemic happening right under our nose is resistance to antibiotics
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Strengthen your lungs to fight infections It is an undeniable fact that the lungs of the bird community are healthier and stronger due to their flying methods
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Covid-19 vaccination budget must account for all possibilities There are still many uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine that need to be addressed
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Remote treatment Monitoring patients remotely during Covid-19 can be beneficial for both patient and the healthcare provider
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A life and death situation The availability of a patient ’ s medical records in an emergency can help doctors save lives
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• Global recognition for Sungai Buloh hospital ’ s Covid-19 team
• Subashan bags prestigious Rhodes Scholarship
• Dr Lam joins Covid-19 commission

The way the government handled its recent agreement to purchase Covid-19 vaccines from Pfizer has caused public alarm and raised questions .

The main question that comes to mind is whether the vaccine has been proven safe and if it has not , then what ’ s the great hurry to sign the purchase agreement ? Interestingly , the deal was signed on Nov 24 , two days before a vote was to be taken in Parliament to pass Budget 2021 .
The government says it was a preliminary agreement with Pfizer to ensure it had access to data to assess the vaccine ’ s quality , safety and effectiveness . Presumably , it is also to ensure supply as demand for the vaccine may increase later .
Just a week before the Pfizer agreement , the government had said it was communicating with 10 Covid-19 vaccine producers . Why then the preference for one company now ? A minister ’ s explanation that there are plans to sign on more companies doesn ’ t really explain why this deal was pushed through .
And if the Pfizer deal does go through , what will the total costs be ? And why go for a vaccine with a two-dose regimen and which requires a storage temperature of minus 70 degrees Celsius ?
If we recall , a minister had said in October that China had agreed to list Malaysia as a priority recipient of its Covid-19 vaccine once it is successfully developed . If that is the case , why don ’ t we sign similar preliminary agreements with a few Chinese companies too ?
The government must realise that when it negotiates something as crucial as a Covid-19 vaccine deal , it must get the view of all stakeholders . It involves spending billions of ringgit in taxpayer ’ s money .
It must get the views of health experts , consumer bodies , business associations , professional bodies such as the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society and even NGOs . It is best to form a panel comprising all stakeholders so a decision can be made transparently and in the interest of the nation .
The lack of transparency from this government is evident even in Budget 2021 .
For example , why was a RM85.5 million allocation made to the Special Affairs Department ( Jasa ) when the last budget in 2017 was just RM22.9 million ? No explanation was offered .
How are allocations and deals decided when the ministers concerned can ’ t even convincingly explain to the public the rationale in a transparent manner ?
Let ’ s put an end to this opaqueness .