Dear fellow Optometrists,
During this Movement Control Order (MCO), safety of Optometrists, those who work in the Optometry practices and the public must always be top priority.
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has always classified Optometrists as essential healthcare providers, not just during the MCO. During the MCO, we are called to provide essential healthcare services as a duty to the rakyat. We stress that this a call of duty to provide services that are healthcare and essential and NOT to be taken as an opportunity to do “business” at the expense of the safety of all.
Therefore, any services that are non-essential and healthcare should be postponed until after MCO. In addition, any services that are healthcare and essential that can be postponed and referred, should be postponed and referred. Services should only be rendered with strict compliance to the guidelines by the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the government of Malaysia.
With this AMO is releasing guidelines for Optometry practices during MCO.
AMO guidelines should not be seen as an encouragement to open Optometry centres. Rather, to give direction to Optometrists who choose to answer the call of duty to provide emergency and essential healthcare services to the rakyat during the MCO. Optometrists should get the approval of each local authorities and police before opening Optometry centres as local authorities and police has the final say and might have different views.
The Health Minister declared that Optometrists are primary eyecare providers during the National Eye Health Awareness (NEHA) campaign in 2019. Optometrists are trained as primary eyecare providers by our universities.
We are of the opinion that all Optometry centres should remain closed during the MCO unless they fulfil all the following criteria:
1) Only emergency services are provided. Any services that can be postponed should be postponed. Any services that can be referred should be referred.
2) The patients and Optometrists who provide these emergency services should be protected with all the necessary safety equipment and environment as specified by Ministry of Health. Therefore, in the absence of these safety equipment and environment, the Optometry practice should not open and Optometrists have a right to refuse working in unsafe conditions.
3) If all criteria are met, the Optometry practice still fall under the jurisdiction of the individual local authorities. Therefore, Optometry practices should enquire their local authorities with regards to their regulations. Even if all the criteria are met, each Optometry practice still have the choice to remain closed during MCO.
AMO trusts that as Optometrists, we are professionals and therefore, we can distinguish well what constitutes as essential and emergency services. We will judge what is a non-essential and emergency services that can be postponed plus those we can refer to other healthcare professionals. We will also take all precautions to protect ourselves, our colleagues and our patients.
To those who are providing essential and emergency primary eyecare services, please proceed cautiously following the guidelines by Ministry of Health. As for AMO published guidelines, it is only a recommendation by AMO for its members only and in general, Optometrists. This AMO guidelines should not be seen as an encouragement to open our centres. Rather, to give direction to those who chose to offer emergency and essential services during the MCO.
Stay home. Stay safe always.
Please click on the following links to download any resource that you need for Optometry Practices’ COVID-19 response: