Unacceptable to send old ventilators to Sarawak, says Senator

SIBU: The Health Ministry's action of sending faulty ventilators to Sibu is not acceptable, says Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew (pic).

In a statement Wednesday (April 21), Lau said the incident reflects badly on how the Federal Ministry treats the state, and urged the ministry to investigate and give clear explanation to clear the air as people in Sarawak felt shortchanged.

"This is necessary in order to regain trust in the system, or else the suspicion is that the people in Sarawak are being treated as second class Malaysians," he said.

At the same time, the ministry should disclose how many ventilators have been purchased by them since the start of the pandemic and where they are being distributed.

"I wish to know how many new units were sent to Sarawak," he added.

Lau noted that Sarawak hospitals, in particular those in the Rajang Basin, are lacking in facilities, with the Hospital Sibu running low in equipment and having to borrow from private hospitals.

The pandemic, he emphasised, has revealed the ugly truth of the serious lack of investments and the low priority given to hospitals in Sarawak, compared to the Peninsular.

He said the 10 ventilators in Hospital Sibu were already 10 years old before the pandemic, and have been written off.

"'This means they are obsolete and should not be repaired if broken, and should be replaced with new ones. Sadly, the yearly request for new replacements never materialises," said Lau, who argued the only way for a fairer relationship between Sarawak and the Federal Government is for full autonomy over healthcare to be returned to Sarawak.

This must include the fair distribution of the budget provided to Sarawak in the annual budget to cater for the whole healthcare operation in Sarawak, and Lau said he had proposed this during his maiden speech and again during last year's debate on the Supply Bill (the federal Budget for 2021) in the Senate.

Lau added the people of Sibu have been very generous in donating many other items to Hospital Sibu over the last one year.

"Even the two units of PCR machines were donated by private companies. The Sarawak government has recently bought three new ventilators for Hospital Sibu and the private sector has donated one to the hospital as well as Hospital Kapit," he said.

On April 20, Bukit Assek assemblyman Irene Chang revealed that eight of the 10 units ventilators given to the state by the Health Ministry on April 12 were not in working order when they arrived.

Of the 10 units, five were given to Hospital Sibu, three to Hospital Bintulu, and two to Hospital Sarikei.

In a statement Tuesday, the Health Ministry said the ventilators in question were in working order when they were inspected before they were flown to Sarawak.

"In addition to this, the ministry had also sent eight new ventilators (from Weinmenn), along with eight ICU patient monitors to Hospital Sarikei.

Three of the units is now in use, while five others will be tested and commissioned within this week,

"The ministry will send another 11 new ventilators from (Sternmed dan Weinmenn) to Sarawak, and with five, two and four units respectively for Hospital Sibu, Hospital Sarikei, and Hospital Bintulu, respectively.

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