Politician calls for extra funds for Hospital Sibu

A SARAWAK politician is urging the Govern-ment to either increase funding for Hospital Sibu or decentralise its management by letting the state run it.

Bawang Assan SUPP chief Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew said Hospital Sibu needed a long-term solution as it was facing a shortage in medical facilities and staff.

He said this in Parliament on Oct 5. The text of his speech was made available to StarMetro.

“Prior to Malaysia in 1963, Sarawak healthcare came under the local councils. It was well run.

“Now all decision-making is concentrated in Putrajaya. This is inefficient, as can be seen by the many teething problems,” he said.

Lau cited Hospital Sibu as an example where all the ventilators needed to be replaced.

“The current situation on the ground is very bad. There aren’t enough beds for Covid-19 patients. Some are being put in the emergency wards for hours waiting for beds to be freed up.

“Ventilators are fully utilised. It currently has 273 Covid patients. Makeshift wards are being set up,” he said.

Of greater concern, said Lau, was the shortage of doctors, nurses and staff.

“They have to work up to 12 hours a day instead of eight, as brought up by Deputy Health Minister Datuk Aaron Ago Dagang during a press conference held in Sibu Hospital on Oct 1,” he added.

Sibu Hospital is the main referral hospital for the central region of Sarawak, serving people from the coastal towns of Daro, Igan, Dalat, Mukah and all the way up to Kapit, including a few thousand longhouses.

Established in 1994, it caters to a population of more than a million.

Additionally, said Lau, though health matters came under Federal responsibility, Sarawak government had stepped forward quickly and strongly to assist in the fight against Covid-19 right from the start.

The state government worked with the Health Ministry through the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee (SDMC), and succeeded in holding back the virus for the better part of 2020, he explained.

“SDMC has come up with its SOP as the ground situation is different in Sarawak in certain aspects. This is in recognition that no one size fits all for the whole country.

“SDMC quickly boosted testing capacity by setting up two PCR laboratories, one in Kapit and another in Limbang, costing RM4.3mil.

“Without these labs, test samples have to be sent to Kuala Lumpur and results are only available one week to 10 days’ time,” he noted.

“The Sarawak government stepped in again to purchase equipment for our public hospitals and to date has spent close to RM100mil on medical equipment.“For the Covid-19 tracing and isolation effort, the state government paid for the hotel stay of all Sarawakians PUS and PUI (persons under surveillance/investigation).

“To date, RM188mil has been disbursed. This also helped to support the hotel industry as most of these quarantine centres are hotels, keeping thousands employed and businesses from closure,” he added.

On the vaccination front, Lau said the Sarawak government bore the cost of distribution throughout the state, and the cost of setting up PPV (vaccination centres).

“Food for frontliners in Sarawak was also paid for by the state.

“The total amount spent by the Sarawak government thus far to assist the Federal Government in fighting the war against Covid-19 is about RM340mil,” he said.

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