Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Has Penang been marginalised in vaccine supply because it's an Opp run state?

Why no reply to Penang bid for own vaccine supply, asks Sim

Bukit Mertajam MP Steven Sim is questioning whether political differences between the federal and the Penang governments are the reason why the state's application for the Covid-19 vaccine has not received a response after three months.

He was commenting after Sarawak received government approval to procure up to a million Sinovac vaccines.

“The Coordinating Minister of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (Pick), Khairy Jamaluddin, had said last month that state governments intending to purchase their own supply of Covid-19 vaccine could apply to the federal government.

"A few days ago, Sarawak Assistant Minister of Public Health and Housing Dr Annuar Rapaee said Sarawak would receive 500,000 doses of Covid-19 Sinovac vaccine purchased through a state government initiative.

"This raises the question of how Sarawak can get the federal government's approval to buy their supplies when Penang does not receive the same approval," he said in a statement today.

According to Sim (above), since Feb 15, the Penang government has applied for permission from the Health Ministry to receive 2,000,000 doses of Sinovac vaccine for the use of the people of Penang without incurring any cost to the federal government.

"However, after three months, the application still has not received a response from the federal government," he said.

Sim said the federal government should do whatever it takes to ensure the country’s last bastion through immunisation programmes does not fail like the strategy against Covid-19 before.

"This is not the time for politics. The federal government needs to work with all parties, including the state governments regardless of political differences, to make the campaign against Covid-19 a success.

“The issue of vaccine supply is a major problem in immunisation programmes now when vaccine supply is insufficient.

"Although phase two of vaccination has started in April, until now, many senior citizens who are the target group for this phase have not yet received a date to receive their first vaccine," he added.

Sim also reiterated his earlier warning that the vaccination target of 9.4 million Malaysians by August, and subsequently, the vaccination target of 80 percent of Malaysians by the end of this year would fail if the government did not make drastic changes to the existing process.

Penang executive councillor for social development and non-Islamic religious affairs Chong Eng.

Penang state executive councillor for social development and non-Islamic religious affairs Chong Eng also weighed in, calling for state governments and the private sector to be allowed to procure Covid-19 vaccines that have been registered with National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA).

This is so that supply of vaccines can be increased and expedite the vaccination as fast as possible to achieve "herd immunity" the soonest.

"We are doing very badly in managing this raging third wave by way of cases per one million population, notwithstanding that our lCU beds and ventilators are in critical stage, as disclosed by the Health Ministry director-general (Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah).

"To achieve herd immunity the fastest, over-controlling and micro-managing the procurements are unnecessary and inefficient," she said today.

She pointed out that private healthcare facilities have been procuring vaccines and injecting vaccines for babies since time immemorial.

"We should mobilise all – federal and state governments, public and private healthcare facilities – in the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

Yesterday, veteran DAP leader Lim Kit Siang urged the federal government to allow all state governments to manage the procurement of the Covid-19 vaccine themselves.

The Iskandar Puteri MP said the country was now in a race against time and, therefore, the immunisation programme needed to be speeded up.

It was also announced by Selangor's executive councillor for public health, Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud, that Selangor employers can now purchase Covid-19 immunisation jabs for their workers, and should do so via the Selangkah app.

This is after the state government initiated a facility to sell Covid-19 vaccines to employers in the state who plan to immunise their workers in an effort to curb the spread of the virus.

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