SPECIAL MESSSAGE ON COVID-19 VACCINATION PROGRAM
Dear beloved members and colleagues,
Greetings from Malaysian Dental Association.
It has now been a long one year of war on the unprecedented COVID-19 outbreak in our country. We can still freshly recall the time, sometime in January 2020, when the first known positive case of 2019 – nCoV, later known as SARS-CoV-2 and now popularly known as COVID-19, entered our soils. Many battles were won throughout this period of time but not the war. We entered into the first Movement Control Order in 18th March 2020 to curb the outbreak. Unfortunately, the year 2021 seems to kick in with an equally, probably more, challenging year for all walks of life. With the daily new cases hovering at 4 digits, we are now under the second Movement Control Order.
Nevertheless, the very much anticipated arrival of COVID-19 vaccine into Malaysia brings “hope” for all. With the announcement of the implementation of vaccination exercise, like other healthcare providers, the dental profession is also preparing for this momentous event. The Oral Health Programme, Ministry of Health Malaysia, has already started collecting names and information for this matter. The Malaysian Dental Association too, in the effort to assist Oral Health Programme, has been in constant communication with the Programme and has performed a nationwide survey (members and non-members alike together with their clinic staffs) to collect information from the private sector. This data is of utmost importance and needed to be brought to the attention of the relevant authorities as soon as possible to secure allocation of vaccines for the private sector and most importantly, to have early access to the vaccines in the first phase of the vaccination exercise. The data has been forwarded to Ministry of Health Malaysia (YB Dato’ Sri Dr Adham bin Baba, YBhg. Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Noor Hisham bin Abdullah and YBrs. Dr Noormi binti Othman) and also to Ministry of Science, Technology and Innovation (YB Tuan Khairy Jamaluddin is now appointed as Coordinating Minister for National COVID-19 Immunisation Program).
I wish to thank all the dental practitioners who have responded swiftly to the recent survey, to those who have also expressed their desire to serve as a vaccinator volunteer and also to MDA Eastern Zone for taking the lead on this nationwide survey. For those of you who missed the opportunity to participate in the survey, please do email to us as we are still collecting names on a separate list for compilation and I will personally, as what I have been doing, to correspond to you accordingly. I look forward to hear from both ministries on the way forward on this vaccination exercise for the private sector as the details of its implementation has yet to be made known to all of us.
Oral healthcare service is an essential service even in this time of the pandemic and is a profession that works within close proximity in the oral cavity and often performs aerosol generating procedures. This profession is in many ways a high risk profession and being a frontliner in providing care, early access to the vaccine is critical in ensuring health and safety of the whole essential workforce, protecting not only the oral healthcare providers but also their patients, families, communities and the broader health of our country.
MDA is committed to assist the whole dental profession on this vaccination exercise and to keep all updated. We need to stand strong as ONE, albeit a small number as compared to other healthcare profession. For your information, the total number of medical doctors in Malaysia as of 2019 is 67,586, total number of pharmacist is 18,938 and total number of dental practitioners is 10,801 (Planning Division, Health Informatics Centre, Ministry of Health, 2020). We need to stay together as ONE to build this SHIP stronger to face the storms that come along and most of all, to STEER this SHIP in unison to provide safe oral healthcare to our Rakyat. God bless you all.
Yours in MDA,
Kei Joe LEONG