LETTER | The Malaysian Health Coalition (MHC) welcomes the announcement of the National Recovery Plan and strongly supports the recommendations of the Malaysian Health and Science Expert Group Covid-19 “Employ Precision Public Health for Safe Exit and Consequent Election Planning” of June 18.
Detailed and nuanced goals and strategies are necessary to guide our National Recovery Plan. In addition, we require the following:
1. Announce more details and more KPIs for a complex pandemic
The three criteria – number of cases, bed occupancy in the intensive care unit and vaccination rates – are not sufficient to capture the complexity of the Covid-19 pandemic. These criteria are “blunt instruments” that depend heavily on other variables such as test numbers and vaccine availability.
A complex pandemic situation requires adequate, balanced, and nuanced key performance indicators (KPIs) to accurately measure our progress and performance. These KPIs must be independent and scientific, and their methodology should be consistent and comparable over time.
Additional KPIs to help guide the recovery plan could include state / district disaggregated data for more targeted decisions; Weightings for vulnerable population groups; and various metrics to provide granularity for decision making.
Examples of different metrics include the weekly changing numbers of total active cases; The percentage of positive tests compared to the total tests performed (with the World Health Organization’s goal being less than five percent), the death rate; the number of health workers affected; and the percentage of successful contact tracing within 24 hours of a positive case.
2. Make decisions that are truly data-driven
Nationwide decisions should not be influenced by lobbying, double standards in enforcement, or sudden political U-turns. Government decisions should be predictable to build public and economic confidence. Therefore, decisions should really be data-driven.
While we find that the government will move from one phase to the other depending on the statistics, we find a planned timetable for decision-making helpful. There should also be triggers to return to higher levels of restraint as the situation worsens.
We strongly recommend converting the currently confusing xMCO (or PKPx) system into a clear and easy-to-understand system. Examples are the “traffic light systems” used in the European Union, Peru or Singapore.
3. Transparency and sharing of data
We call on the government to improve data sharing and transparency to enable effective management of the dynamic pandemic situation. Data sharing builds public trust, enables solid external review by experts, and encourages public-private partnerships.
The large amounts of data that arise every day have to be clearly shared online via a public dashboard. Adequate data sharing between states and counties allows local authorities to adapt strategies to combat pandemics.
With states now allowed to source vaccines, data sharing and integration with the National Covid-19 Immunization Program can lead to stronger and fairer outcomes.
We look forward to ending the pandemic in a highly coordinated manner. Therefore, setting the right KPIs, ensuring truly data-driven decisions, and sharing data are critical to success.
The MALAYSIAN HEALTH COALITION (MHC) is a group of over 50 organizations and individuals representing healthcare professionals in Malaysia. You can find a list of members here.
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