The Health December 2020 | Page 3

december , 2020 | The Health


| The Health says ... |

Transparency is sorely lacking

Presence of a halal logo is more convincing Halal-certified pharmaceutical products give consumers more confidence when making a choice
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
Paying tribute to sepsis survivors Sepsis is a preventable disease , and its early recognition can save limbs and lives
Antibiotic resistance worrying The other pandemic happening right under our nose is resistance to antibiotics
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
Covid-19 vaccination budget must account for all possibilities There are still many uncertainties surrounding the Covid-19 vaccine that need to be addressed
Remote treatment Monitoring patients remotely during Covid-19 can be beneficial for both patient and the healthcare provider
A life and death situation The availability of a patient ’ s medical records in an emergency can help doctors save lives
• 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 .