Stop health staff threats

Stop health staff threats

Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul threatening state hospitals with disciplinary action for announcing vaccination delays will do more harm than good to this crucial mission.

It is well understood that health personnel, especially at state hospitals where resources are not always readily available, have worked tirelessly to save lives as the third wave of Covid-10 continues to wreak havoc.

As public health minister, Mr Anutin's duty is to support them in every possible way. Where there are shortages, the minister must find them the necessary resources. Where there are worries or concerns, his job is to address them quickly and professionally.

Threatening the medical professionals under his jurisdiction with punishment apparently for communicating their concerns to the public is not a constructive way to tackle the problem.

If anything, the action speaks more of a need for Mr Anutin to show who is boss, to save face while pushing the burden of the vaccination rollout and managing public expectations onto frontline medical staff.

Such behaviour is unbecoming of a leader. It is especially discouraging that this display of character is occurring in a time of crisis.

With 235 people found to have been infected with the new variant of Covid-10 first found in India, the need to ensure that mass inoculation is done in the speediest and most effective manner has become even more pronounced.

The variant, called Delta by the World Health Organization (WHO), is known to be more contagious than others.

The mutated strain was first detected in a woman and her 4-year-old son while in quarantine after they returned from Pakistan on May 10. A few days later, 15 construction workers in a camp in Bangkok's Laksi district tested positive.

Now the Delta variant has spread to 10 provinces. The situation is worrying. It is no time for the Public Health Ministry, which stands at the vanguard of the battle against the pandemic, to act vengefully against its own personnel.

Mr Anutin on Monday said the public health permanent secretary had set up a panel to probe why some state hospitals announced vaccination delays.

He insisted that there was no reason for the hospitals to do so as there is no shortage in the supply of vaccines.

The minister also said that since it is government policy to inoculate up to 50 million people by year's end, any state hospitals that announce vaccination delays will be considered to be breaching the policy.

He urged state hospitals to communicate and check back with the ministry before making any public statements to avoid causing confusion.

While it's true that communication is key to an effective vaccination rollout, the minister must set an example. The government's messages regarding the supply of vaccines have been confusing.

The reality is that many hospitals and vaccination centres did not receive enough vaccines to give to the people who registered for them. Many officials including Mr Anutin himself also admitted that the main jab AstraZeneca will be delivered gradually with no fixed amount or timing.

Under the situation, it is no use putting pressure on the personnel at state hospitals who are at the tail end of the rollout and who also have to face an expectant public. Instead of threatening them with disciplinary action, the minister must give them further support and a clear commitment regarding vaccine deliveries.


Bangkok Post editorial column

These editorials represent Bangkok Post thoughts about current issues and situations.

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