KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 14 — The COVID-19 pandemic is a wake-up call for the public health system and an urgent change should happen now to avoid similar catastrophic events in the future, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
He said the COVID-19 crisis had shown that it was possible to make wide and large-scale changes when certain hurdles were overcome through innovation and concerted coordination from all stakeholders.
“In the same way, similar shifts in the post-pandemic world must come in the form of incentivizing and rewarding effective prevention.
“In other words, we can and must do more to prevent and better manage our health issues in life before costly and sometimes irreversible damage occurs,” he said when delivering his keynote address on the second day of the Malaysia Healthcare Conference 2021 held virtually today.
Dr Noor Hisham called for better management of the healthcare system by doubling down on prevention and more effective management of diseases, accelerating the adoption of digital technologies and data integration, as well as building a multi-sector approach to encourage investment and resourcing behind innovation.
Taking chronic diseases as an example, even before the emergence of COVID-19, the burden of chronic conditions weighed heavily, with one in five adults or about 3.9 million people aged 18 and above in Malaysia suffering from diabetes.
When well-controlled, these diseases will not take such a heavy toll and therefore a holistic lifestyle should be encouraged, he added.
He pointed out that digital adoption has been accelerated during the COVID-19 pandemic, with various initiatives through inter-agency and ministry collaboration, and industry support such as the MySejahtera application.
Elaborating on the multi-sector approach to encourage investment and resourcing behind innovation, Dr Noor Hisham said increasing partnerships will be essential and it can only happen if all parts of the system work together.
“For example, the collaboration between AstraZeneca and the University of Oxford for the global development and distribution of the university’s potential recombinant adenovirus vaccine aimed at preventing COVID-19 infection,” he said.
The two-day conference, organized by KSI Strategic Institute for the Asia Pacific with the theme ‘Accelerating the Transformation of Health Systems in a Pandemic – Challenges & Opportunities’, was opened by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba yesterday.