29 February 2022

klia2 in Sepang, Selangor. The matter of reopening the country's borders needs prior discussion at several levels, according to the health minister. (File photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)
klia2 in Sepang, Selangor. The matter of reopening the country’s borders needs prior discussion at several levels, according to the health minister. (File photo by Zahid Izzani Mohd Said/The Edge)

Early in the second quarter of the year (2Q22) would be a more realistic target for the reopening of Malaysia’s borders, Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin said.

He said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had given two weeks for the Ministry of Health (MoH) to prepare guidelines for the border reopening.

However, this does not mean the borders will be reopened in two weeks, Khairy said, adding that the matter needs prior discussion at several levels.

He said the guidelines would first need to be presented to the Covid-19 Pandemic Management Committee, chaired by the prime minister, as well as the Covid-19 quartet ministers before being brought to the Cabinet.

“And that is why a huge decision as this cannot be made at the MoH level as this is a major policy. I expect early in the second quarter of the year as a realistic target, but let the prime minister decide on this,” Khairy told reporters after a visit to Klinik Kurnia, which offers the PeKa B40 healthcare scheme for the bottom 40% income group here on Saturday (Feb 19).

On US health regulators delaying the review of Pfizer’s Covid-19 vaccine for children aged under five after its two-dose regimen was found not to be working well against the Omicron variant, he said technical working groups are regularly advising the MoH on vaccine suitability.

“We have two processes. One is approval by the regulatory body, which is the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency, [while] the other is views from expert groups.

“The expert groups are now looking at data of the vaccine for children aged below five, and there are no recommendations to the MoH so far,” Khairy said.

It was reported that the US Food and Drug Administration needed more data on the vaccine, delaying its decision on using the vaccine in children six months to four years of age for at least two months.

On PeKa B40, aimed at early detection and prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), the health minister said that to date, the initiative had successfully screened 561,990 individuals from the B40 group.

“However, this is still low compared to the 4.9 million people eligible [for the service] nationwide. In Johor, some 47,448 recipients have been screened under the scheme, 12,950 of whom are diagnosed with NCDs.

“I would like to call on all those who are eligible to undergo free health screening at any government health clinic and private clinic registered under PeKa B40 nationwide,” Khairy urged.

He said the main focus of the initiative is early-stage prevention through four health benefits offered, namely free health screening, medical equipment aid, incentives to complete cancer treatment and transportation incentives.

He noted that according to the World Heart Federation, NCDs, particularly chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, heart disease, hypertension and diabetes, are the main risk factors that cause Covid-19 patients to experience severe symptoms.

Source: www.theedgemarkets.com

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