Thursday, February 22, 2024

Access to Better Standards Facilitates COVID-19 Response in Malaysia

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When countries were left reeling from the destructive effects of COVID 19, Malaysia earned a reputation for its effective response to the pandemic. More than anything, this was a testament of the potential that arose from the interdepartmental collaboration between the various governmental arms, and to a greater degree; the high standards the Department of Standards Malaysia (Standards Malaysia) advocates within the national systems. Director-General Shaharul Sadri Alwi explains more.

“Today, standards have evolved as a way for organisations around the world to unify, the way that products and services are delivered. As the national standards and accreditation body tasked with providing standardisation and accreditation services, we at Standards Malaysia are constantly developing ways for Malaysian organisations to align their service and product offerings in a global context.

When COVID 19 struck, many countries across the globe were caught flat-footed, and struggled to manage the spread of the virus and the surge in demand for hospital capacity that came with it.

The essence of Quick Response

For Malaysia, the challenge and breakthrough laid in coordinating the response between the various departments of government – while at the same time taking in to account the safety of our front-liners. While this provided significant challenges, one of the most crucial advantages to our ability to manage the pandemic are the standards we apply to our healthcare systems.

With the safety of the Malaysian citizens at stake, we had never been more motivated to strengthen and lean on the required medical standards adopted by Malaysian healthcare institutions.

Arming the Healthcare Scene

In the same vein, Standards Malaysia has made available free access to 30 standards in 7 categories, carefully curated to Malaysia’s health climate. Despite the overall decrease in COVID 19 cases today, we remain vigilant. These standards will provide guidance in areas that relate to cleaning performance, medical gloves, face masks, ventilators, food hygiene, sterilisation, laboratories and medical devices which are selected based on comparison done with our counterparts from all over the world and with the international standards organisation such as the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).

With free view access, stakeholders will be armed and able to make quick references, and formulate relevant Standard Operating Procedures.

This access together with our existing requirements for health facilities will in time raise the overall ability of the health institutions nationally to deal and respond to similar situations.

Apart from sharing the existing standards, Standards Malaysia is also developing new MS for Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) in response to the pressing demand in healthcare sector. The swift response in dealing with the pandemic comes from a foundation built on standards.

Standards Malaysia has experienced a growing demand for testing and certification related to health and safety, as well as compliance to PPE standards. We are now engaging the stakeholders like the Ministry of Health (MOH) and Conformity Assessment Bodies (CABs), in support of providing relevant services.

Standards define and equip both our government and private institutions with risk management systems and solutions that allow us to deal with unexpected disasters.

As Malaysia takes steps to advance its position as a health care leader in ASEAN, standards become the competitive advantage in which we establish ourselves as a regional and global powerhouse. Standards Malaysia is committed to paving the road for the Malaysian economy to participate on many economic fronts globally.”

“The essence of what we do at Standards Malaysia is to instil values that level the playing field – and allow us to gain more advantages participating on a global stage. Standards are these values that give us the foundation on which we can build and strengthen our position as an economic powerhouse

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