COVID-19 VACCINE PRESS STATEMENT

PRESS STATEMENT [13/2/2021]

COVID-19 VACCINE

We welcome the decision by the Malaysian government to ensure COVID-19 vaccines are free and accessible to everyone, including the undocumented foreigners and refugees as announced by the Honourable Minister of Science, Technology and Innovation (MOSTI), YB Khairy Jamaluddin.

The decision to extend the vaccination programs not just to Malaysians is crucial as we need to achieve the herd immunity as part of our country’s exit strategy in overcoming the pandemic. Many of the migrant workers and refugees have been part of the third wave, as they are the driving forces of our major industries that were badly affected. In order for Malaysia to recover both in terms of health & economy, it is only apt that all who are involved from every sector are immunised.

Through IMARET, our chapter focusing on health relief; we have always been a strong advocate for “Health for ALL”, ensuring that no one is left behind especially the marginalised communities. Since our inception in 2014, IMARET have been providing mobile health services to refugees, displaced communities and Orang Asli community.

Our experiences in the care for the above communities may be beneficial, particularly the ongoing IMARET mobile clinics for the refugees that has run almost monthly since 2015, covering areas in different parts of the country. In collaboration with international agencies such as United Nation High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR), International Organization for Migration (IOM) and alongside with other NGOS; we have also implemented mobile vaccination catch up clinics (MMR and Hepatitis B) for the refugees throughout the country. Our Mobile Medical Units, which uses special-purposed 4WD vehicles that can also function as a medical-base, have managed to reach remote Orang Asli settlements in the deep jungles during our regular outreach programs.

Under the QFFD Health Program coordinated by Yayasan Kebajikan Negara and funded by Qatar Charity, IMARET and our fellow partners – MERCY Malaysia and Malaysian Relief Agency (MRA), have set up five (5) primary health and also mobile clinics in Johor, Kedah and Klang Valley aimed to provide primary health services and health education to the refugees. Some of the clinics are already operational and are fully equipped to run vaccination programmes, in adherence to all the guidelines required. We are also working closely with other international NGO partners such as Medecins Sans Frontieres (MSF) and Tzu Chi Foundation who each runs own primary health clinics in Penang and Kuala Lumpur, respectively.

The decision to extend the vaccination programs, not just to Malaysians but also to the foreigners who reside in Malaysia, is indeed crucial as we aim to achieve the herd immunity. This is part of our country’s exit strategy in overcoming the pandemic that has been over a year now. Many of the migrant workers and refugees have been part of the third wave, and they are the driving forces of our major industries that have been badly affected. In order for the country to keep our economies open safely, it is only apt that those involved in the sector are also immunised.

Hence, we look forward to collaborate with the authorities and fellow NGOs to plan and execute the vaccination programmes, particularly for the marginalised communities. It is only through collective planning, collaborations and inclusivity that the aim of a successful mass vaccination program can be implemented in Malaysia and together; we can all together bring the COVID-19 pandemic to an end.

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