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Through political turmoil, outgoing health minister’s efforts recognized

Rachel Soon
Medical Writer
04 Mar 2020
Former Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly and former Deputy Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail at a briefing in the National Crisis Preparedness and Response Centre (CPRC) in Putrajaya on January 29, 2020, amid the ongoing global SARS-CoV-2 outbreak. (Image credit: Ismunazif Fendy/Shutterstock)

Amid the sudden upheaval of the Malaysian Cabinet this February, former Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad was lauded by healthcare professionals and the public as he departed his position.

In his final press statement as Health Minister dated 24 February, Dzulkefly announced another two patients with COVID-19 had fully recovered and were discharged, with no further new documented cases, bringing the total recovered patients to 20. The remaining two patients undergoing treatment for COVID-19 in the country were also reported as being in stable condition.

Sharing the press statement on his personal Twitter account, Dzulkefly added that this “would be [his] last tweet as Health Minister.” [https://twitter.com/DrDzul/status/1231836815545397248]

The post accumulated over 40,000 likes in the 24 hours since its posting, with over 2,200 replies from public and private HCPs, as well as members of the public, expressing appreciation for various accomplishments under his tenure including the enforcement of the smoking ban at eateries, the introduction of pneumococcal vaccinations in the National Immunization Programme (NIP), and the management of the ongoing SARS-CoV-2 outbreak.

Consultant infectious diseases physician Datuk Dr Christopher Lee, former MOH deputy Director-General (Research and Technical Support), thanked Dzulkefly for the opportunity to serve under his leadership and “the steady stewardship, kindness, and dedication in carrying out [his] duties.”

On the official MOH Facebook page, representatives of the MOH workforce also expressed their appreciation for Dzulkefly and former Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye for their efforts and services during their tenure.

Healthcare professional associations such as the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society thanked Dzulkefly “for all [his] contributions and engagements with the pharmacy fraternity for the past 2 years.”

A look back: MOH milestones from May 2018–February 2020

* Formation of the Health Advisory Council (HAC) to reform national healthcare, with an initial focus on public-private partnerships in healthcare and human capital development. [https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/03/27/health-advisory-council-set-up-with-seven-panellists-to-advise-ministry]

* Implementation of the Health Care Scheme for Group B40 (PeKa B40), with free health screenings carried out for 220,314 individuals between its implementation in April 2019 to evaluation in mid-December 2019. [https://www.malaymail.com/news/malaysia/2020/01/11/dzulkefly-health-care-scheme-for-b40-group-a-game-changer/1826932]

* Extension of an education/grace period for the smoking ban at public eateries throughout 2019 despite High Court challenges by protestors, followed by enforcement of the ban commencing 2020. [https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/10/30/smoking-ban-at-eateries-enforcement-starts-next-year-as-education-period-ends-dec-31-says-ministry]

* Official inclusion of the pneumococcal conjugate vaccine (PCV) in the National Immunisation Programme (NIP), entitling children born from 2020 onwards to free vaccinations, with a Budget 2020 allocation of RM60 million dedicated to its execution. [https://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2019/10/12/rm60mil-for-pneumococcal-vaccination-programme-039a-real-investment-in-public-health039-say-experts]

* Overall budget increases for the MOH, with allocations for upgrading and maintenance of MOH information technology services and electronic medical records (EMR); construction and renovation of hospitals and clinics; mobile clinics in rural areas; as well as expansion of emergency and trauma services. [https://www.theedgemarkets.com/article/ministry-health-allocation-7-rm306b]

* Management and containment of the SARS-CoV-2 outbreak with noted transparency to the public and strict adherence to international guidelines, earning commendation from the World Health Organization. [https://www.nst.com.my/news/nation/2020/02/562905/who-rep-praises-malaysias-handling-2019-ncov]

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Most Read Articles
Tristan Manalac, 14 May 2020
Liver injuries appear to be more common in severe cases of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), a new meta-analysis reports.
16 May 2020
There appears to be no evidence of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in the semen of patients recovering from COVID-19 a month after diagnosis, according to a study, suggesting that the virus is unlikely to gain entry into testicular cells through an ACE2/TMPRSS2-mediated mechanism.
Jairia Dela Cruz, 15 May 2020
In the fight against the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, healthcare workers experience a range of physical symptoms, which are strongly related to psychological distress, according to a study, suggesting a bidirectional relationship between physical symptoms and psychological outcomes.