Private hospitals want to get vaccines to help in Covid-19 immunisation, says APHM president

KUALA LUMPUR (March 2): Private hospitals have proposed that the government allow them to procure vaccines from different sources to complement the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme, so that Malaysia can achieve herd immunity earlier.

Association of Private Hospitals Malaysia (APHM) president Datuk Dr Kuljit Singh said private hospitals strongly felt that the government needs help as the three-stage immunisation programme is expected to end in February next year, and this is too long and not acceptable. 

He said private hospitals could be mobilised very fast to help ensure the majority of the population is vaccinated in the shortest possible time to achieve herd immunity. 

"This will include utilising the government-endorsed track and trace system to build a database on the provision of vaccination," he said in a statement here today.

Dr Kuljit said the APHM’s proposal, which had been submitted to Coordinating Minister for National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme Khairy Jamaluddin, would not marginalise the less fortunate group.

Every patient vaccinated in the private sector would mean one patient fewer for the government to pay for, and thus the charge could be contributed towards a fund used by the government to finance the free public vaccination programme, he added. 

Certain quarters have expressed concern that people might have to pay a high price if private hospitals are allowed to participate in the vaccination programme.

Giving that different countries may have approved different vaccines, Dr Kuljit said there would exist demand for vaccines approved by the inbound country and, as such, on-ground infrastructure would have to exist in Malaysia to ensure that specific vaccines are available. 

“An example here would be to restart haj/umrah pilgrimages, whereby Saudi Arabia may only recognise specific vaccines for visa applications. We are very concerned too that [for] expatriates and those with the diplomatic community, the need for near-term travel may be high.

“The current public vaccination programme will only include them in Phase III, which may not be feasible and, for this, a private-sector vaccination option will assist in these cases," he said.

According to him, it would be challenging for the public healthcare system to compel patients to abide by the two-dose regimen, especially for the second dose and, as such, companies may decide to fund the vaccination of their own employees.

"We hope private hospitals are not ignored in our plea to the government as our motives are not to gain profit but to help out as partners of the government. There is huge demand from the public to get this working out soon. 

"The availability of vaccines of different types in private hospitals will curtail the occurrence of certain quarters trying to jump the queue in the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme,” Dr Kuljit said.

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