KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia--Rural communities in the country must not be overlooked in the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (Programme Imunisasi COVID-19 Kebangsaan, or PICK).

While some effort has been made to reach these communities through the use of
repurposed trucks, more needs to be done especially in the interior areas along the East
Coast states and Sabah and Sarawak.

Access to some of these areas is extremely difficult, requiring several hours of travel along
jungle trails and rivers with some having to spend hours in crowded vehicles, just to reach
urban vaccination centers.

The authorities need to consider any and all options to safeguard these communities against
COVID-19 as contracting the illness in such inaccessible places would almost certainly be a
death sentence.

Even during pre-pandemic times, the gap between urban and rural communities in terms of
healthcare access was huge, what more at a time of a global pandemic with limited
resources to spare.

Vaccination has been rightly pointed out to be the only way out of the pandemic and no effort
must be spared.

We have yet to see the Ministry of Rural Development take a vocal stand on the issue and
get the appropriate assurance from the Ministry of Science, Technology & Innovation
(MOSTI) that rural areas will receive the necessary allocation in resources and vaccines.