Tragedy triggers resolve to lobby for better healthcare

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 22 Apr 2008

MIRI: Six years ago, Lawrence Jayaraj, a tour guide from Kuala Lumpur, watched in horror as his mother-in-law Kam Agong bled to death a month after giving birth in Long Semadoh village in the remote Ba’Kelalan highlands of northern Sarawak.

He and his wife Agnes Padan, from the Lun Bawang ethnic group, sued the Lawas district hospital for medical negligence and were recently awarded RM60,000 in compensation by the Miri Sessions Court.

Justice may have been served, but Jayaraj, 49, is turning Kam Agong’s death into a rallying cry for better healthcare and more medical specialist facilities for Sarawak’s rural folk. Jayaraj has set up a blog to highlight the plight of the interior folk.

On March 19, 2002, Kam Agong, 44, died from excessive bleeding a month after she gave birth to her eighth child.

The couple sued the hospital, the doctors and the Government for negligence claiming Agong was not given any specialist help after she continued to bleed for 30 days after delivery.

“My family is happy with the court’s verdict. However, we feel the compensation should be higher because of all the costs incurred in this case.”

Jayaraj is here to seek the help of a lawyer to appeal for higher compensation.

“Rural folks have to endure a great risk. The nearest hospital is in Lawas town, which is at least three hours away by timber road. There is no proper ambulance service to serve the highland villages.

“We intend to submit a memorandum of appeal to the authorities and to Opposition Leader Datin Seri Wan Azizah to bring this up in the coming Dewan Rakyat sitting,” he said.

He met is wife in the Long Semadoh village more than six years ago, married her and lived there until his mother-in-law’s death.

The couple now live in Kuala Lumpur.