Earlier this year, the Director General of Health, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah warned the nation about the worsening of the COVID-19 pandemic in the country and its potentially devastating effects. Not long after, Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced that Malaysia’s healthcare system was at its breaking point as government hospitals were struggling to cope with large numbers of COVID-19 patients at that time.
Subsequently, the Movement Control Order (MCO), Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), and Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) was implemented on 13th January across different states in the country to lessen the strain on the national healthcare system. The government also started collaborating with private healthcare service providers to alleviate the burden on overloaded public hospitals. Private hospitals operate as cluster hospitals in the public sector under the integrated COVID-19 control centre. The combination of medical laboratories in the public and private sector enhances the capacity for COVID-19 screenings as well.
On February 21, history was made when the first batch of the Pfizer-BioNTech vaccine arrived at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA). Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin and Director General of Health Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr. Noor Hisham Abdullah led the way and were the first to be immunised on 24th February. Hospital operators and healthcare providers are expected to gain from the improving pandemic situation as patient volumes could return to normal with the ongoing immunisation programme by the government.
Minister of Health Dato’ Sri Dr. Adham Baba, who has also received the vaccine, stated that as of March 25 a total of 443,124 people or approximately 88% of frontliners have received their first vaccine dose, under Phase 1 of the national COVID-19 immunisation plan. Phase 2 – which covers senior citizens, people with chronic illnesses, and people with disabilities – will begin in April 2021. For all remaining adults above 18 years old, Phase 3 will start in May 2021.
Separately, Malaysia is currently undergoing the transition towards personalised healthcare according to Professor Dr Maude Elvira Phipps at the launch of the Asia-Pacific Personalised Health Index. In terms of the country’s performance, Phipps said Malaysia currently ranks seventh in the region for data infrastructure for the transition and has room for improvement for healthcare digitisation.
Personalised healthcare, also known as precision medicine, is a medical model that separates people into different groups in which medical decisions, practices, interventions, and products or treatments are tailored to the individual patient based on the predicted response and disease risk. The model has the potential to tailor therapy with the best response as well as the highest safety margin to ensure better patient care.