KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 13 — Managing mental health is now the government’s utmost priority to ensure the curve of COVID-19 infection not only could be flattened but defeated as well, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba.
He said the COVID-19 outbreak for over a year has caused an impact on human psychology especially mental health not only among the frontliners but also the population in general, thus proper strategies are very important to break the vicious cycle.
“We need to manage mental health using cognitive-behavioural approaches, mindfulness as well as spirituality.
“By practising these, we may enhance our acceptance, optimism, and commitment to prepare for a new or renewed normal,” he said today in his keynote address at the Malaysia Healthcare Conference 2021 held virtually.
Themed Accelerating the Transformation of Health Systems in a Pandemic – Challenges & Opportunities, the two-day conference was organised by KSI Strategic Institute for the Asia Pacific (KSI).
Other than that, Dr Adham said the unprecedented levels of misinformation, conspiracy theories, and rumours reproduced by lay and social media related to COVID-19 could only be counterproductive in the fight against the current pandemic, both in the short and long term.
“Social media platforms have responded to the majority of the social media posts rated false by fact-checkers by removing them or attaching various warnings and Facebook has recently announced its policy on COVID-19 related misinformation and it will remove posts with false claims about all vaccines,” he said.
Elaborating further, Dr Adham said consistency in the public health messaging as well as increased funding dedicated to fact-checking seemed to be needed as the immediate first step, thus the need to review the policies, guidelines, and regulations relating to individuals’ rights post-COVID-19.
“There are also the needs to review the implementation of drastic public health measures, as well as the governance of new technologically driven solutions within healthcare,” he said.
The minister said COVID-19 had also made the case for the importance of healthcare transformation and emphasised the importance of health equity and access in communities.
“Health and wealth are interlinked where health systems cross sectors to support more economically active societies. We need to start shifting paradigms in healthcare by making systemic challenges more obvious, by proving the case for integrated and digital delivery, and more flexible workforces,” he said.
Dr Adham said since being declared a pandemic, COVID-19 has undoubtedly brought about huge changes in healthcare systems all over the world and one of the major impacts was in accelerating the digital transformation of healthcare globally.
He said Malaysia was able to put together a COVID-19 digital response with six main focus areas namely strategic risk and communication; community engagement; operational efficiency; insights and foresight; infrastructure and upgrade; research and clinical trials.