Sarawak and Sabah which gave Putrajaya to Najib Tun Razak deserves the federal government's absolute attention, claim the opposition.
KUCHING: Sarawak and Sabah which enabled the Umno-led Barisan Nasional to retain its hold on Putrajaya deserve to be rewarded with better healthcare and medical facilities among others.
Both states delivered a total 47 parliamentary seats in the May 5 general election allowing for Najib Tun Razak to remain in power.
Raising the perennial issue of poor healthcare and medical services in the state, Sarawak PKR said today that its citizens were “neglected by the federal government”.
Its vice chairman See Chee How decried the lack of medical facilities, shortage of specialists and medicines and urged the Health Ministry to build more hospitals, polyclinics and upgrade existing facilities to effectively serve the state population.
“These are the clear signs of neglect of the Federal Government towards Sarawak. The Health Ministry must expedite its plans for better health and medical care in the state,” said See.
See, who is the Batu Lintang assemblyman, cited Kuching city as an example.
He said Kuching, which serves one million people, has only the Sarawak General Hospital, four polyclinics and six 1Malaysia clinics which are sited at Bandar Baru Semariang, Bintawa, Demak Laut, Tabuan Melayu, Matang and Kota Padawan.
Commenting on the Accident & Emergency section of the Sarawak General Hospital he said: “A visit to A&E on any evening is always a distressing experience. Its always filled with patients, many of them are complaining about the long hours waiting to be examined by the doctors.
“No one can fault the doctors and medical staffs at the A&E section in the SGH because all the doctors in the consultation rooms are always occupied with the patients.
“The only reason why they cannot fulfill their ‘Piagam Pelangan’ (Customers Charter) is because they are understaffed and the A&E section is not big enough to cater for the huge number of patients coming to seek treatment.
“There is nowhere else in Kuching these patients could go to for medical consultation and treatment,” he said.
He said although there were 1Malaysia clinics in the area which operated from 10am to 10pm, these were manned by paramedics and not doctors.
“I am also appalled to know that there has not been any polyclinic in Petra Jaya and yet the Health Ministry is still dragging its feet in the construction of the Petra Jaya Hospital, despite the overwhelming electoral support of voters in Petra Jaya and Santubong towards the Barisan Nasional.
“I strongly urge the Health Ministry to immediately upgrade and set up an A&E section at the Mother and Child Clinic at Jalan Gita or staff medical doctors in at least one of the 1Malaysia Clinics there in order to serve the populace in Petra Jaya.
“Similarly, the Heart Specialist Centre in Muara Tuang may have an A&E section, it is not in operation, purportedly due to the lack of doctors and medical staffs,” he said.
Blackouts affecting medicines?
See also called on the Health Ministry to expedite the construction of the new hospital in Petra Jaya and make the A&E section at the heart specialist centre in Muara Tuang fully functional.
On a related matter a FMT reader in Sibu raised concerns over the dispensing of ‘dated’ medicines in the 1Malaysia clinics and effectiveness of vaccines affected by the frequent power outages in Sabah and Sarawak.
According to the reader, 1Malaysia clinics replenished their supply of medicines every six months or a year and “sometimes the medicines almost nearing expiry date”.
The reader said vaccines were also a concern. Vaccines were stored using the cold chain method. The method is an uninterrupted series of storage and distribution activities which maintain a given temperature range whcih ensures vaccines effectiveness.
Last month Sarawak experienced a six hour statewide blackout which also affected its central and regional hospitals.
Whilst healthcare officials said backup generators were immediately in place, sources in the industry claimed poor maintenance found these generators faulty.
Sabah’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) also had reportedly once experienced a long power blackout and the hospital’s back-up generator sets were found to be incapable of coping with the situation.
A doctor in Sabah, who declined to be named, said the best solution would be to introduce cold storage centres in rural clinics equipped with proper facilities to preserve the medicine.
Health Ministry D-G Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, when contacted, while denying any ineptness in the current cold storage method, said that in the event there was indeed a longer power outage, then they would transport the medicines to the “nearest health facility with full support capabilities.”
Ironically, said the doctor, in Sarawak and Sabah “the nearest facility may not be near at all and not likely to have support capabilities that Dr Noor is talking about”.
It is a known fact that Sarawak and Sabah are decades away in healthcare services and facilities compared to Peninsular Malaysia.
Much of this has to do with accessibility into Borneo’s rural interior.
But there is also the feeling that the government is less interested in pumping funds into healthcare and medical services in these states because the facilities were mainly used by foreign workers and illegal immigrants.