KUALA LUMPUR: Improving preparedness in the face of new waves or pandemics needs to be given attention in the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) to ensure that the country's health sector is at its level best.

Occupational health, emergency and general health specialist Dr Hanafiah Bashirun said the readiness included the addition of ventilators as well as being ready to develop field hospitals at critical times.

“We don’t know if there may be new viruses and new pandemics. Therefore, we must ensure that the health workforce is always sufficient in accordance with the current situation,“ he said when contacted by Bernama yesterday.

Malaysian Public Health Physicians’ Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar(pix) said as the country is moving into the endemic phase, there are three important things that needed to be focused on in the 12MP including enhancing surveillance in monitoring the sudden existence of large clusters and the existence of new variants so that the country is ready to act.

In addition, health facilities also always need to be prepared to accommodate the increase in patients in the event of a sudden wave.

In addition, he said health facilities needed to be added in three important areas, namely overcrowded and poor urban areas, rural and remote areas, as well as in Sabah and Sarawak.

“(The government needs to) focus on this (area), increase facilities, add staff and add services, not just basic facilities, but also expertise and laboratories as it may reduce the focus on large hospitals in the city,“ he said when contacted yesterday.

Zainal said the development of human resources should also be given attention in enhancing the expertise of physicians such as doctors, pharmacists and nurses, as well as providing training and expertise opportunities to be balanced with current needs.

He said not only expertise in the field of infectious diseases, but non-communicable diseases such as cancer, diabetes and heart disease as well.-Bernama