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MoH estimates up to 200,000 backlog surgeries due to pandemic

KUALA LUMPUR (Nov 8): Backlog surgeries in Ministry of Health (MoH) hospitals are collectively estimated to be as high as 200,000 cases, including elective procedures, due to the Covid-19 epidemic.

CodeBlue, which reports issues and policies related to healthcare in Malaysia and around the world, cited Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah as saying the figure takes into account elective operations such as for cancer, arteriovenous (AV) fistula and gall bladder surgeries, in addition to over 60,000 emergency and semi-emergency surgeries postponed following the country’s third coronavirus wave.

In a report on Monday (Nov 8), CodeBlue quoted Dr Noor Hisham as saying the elective surgeries can wait, but the emergency and semi-emergency cases would be given priority.

“That is about 60,000. So, if we include the lumps and bumps, I think, the numbers will go up to 150,000 to 200,000,” Dr Noor Hisham told the Health, Science and Innovation Dewan Rakyat Special Select Committee on Sept 14.

He also explained that while postponements and delays of non-Covid-19 treatments had resulted in an increase in deaths, the ministry is doing a study on whether there is a clear impact on mortality.

“But now, we are focusing on [the] emergency, semi-emergency [cases]. So, we hope that we can clear that to minimise mortality.

“But [for] the elective cases, that’s fine because, lumps and bumps, you can queue and wait,” he said.

Meanwhile, the committee reported that the MoH had already spent an estimated RM100 million to clear many of the backlog cases by referring them to private hospitals.

It is asking for another RM200 million in Budget 2022 to not only outsource patients, but to rent operation theatres of private hospitals where MoH surgeons will conduct the procedures.

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