KUCHING: There is a target to enable Sabah and Sarawak to get 100% access to safe surgical and anaesthesia care by 2030, says the Health Minister.
Dr Zaliha Mustafa, however, said among the challenges faced by her ministry in hitting that target were the lack of trained doctors, the vast area, topography and transport network, as well as the scattered population of the Borneo states.
“Now, it is about 75% (for Sabah and Sarawak), so we hope in a few years, we can actually expand more ... to reach 100%,” she told a press conference after officiating at the first Global Surgery Conference Malaysia: The New Dawn here yesterday, Bernama reported.
Earlier in her speech, Dr Zaliha said the initiative will be realised with the ministry’s plan of continuous regular training of medical officers and the placement of more surgical and anaesthesia specialists in identified hospitals in both states.
She said according to a recent study published in the ANZ Journal of Surgery, 94% of the Malaysian population have access to the Bellwether procedures such as laparotomy, Caesarean section and treatment of open fractures within two hours.
The conference, being held from yesterday until tomorrow, aims to expand the global surgery initiative and create understanding among all stakeholders.
Meanwhile, Dr Zaliha said the ministry’s aim to produce over 20,000 specialists by 2030 will also benefit Sarawak, which was recently reported to be in dire need of more plastic surgeons due to the rising number of burn patients.
“This has to be done through training, getting more people interested in becoming specialists, and of course, we hope by then we will have enough specialists to serve the ministry in all disciplines, not just for burns,” she added.
Commenting on the air ambulance initiative using the Fire and Rescue Department helicopters proposed by the Local Government Development Ministry, Dr Zaliha said the method is quite similar to the Flying Doctor Service in Sarawak.
However, she said the air ambulance service will focus on mobilising patients from remote areas or efforts to rescue victims of road accidents on highways.
“I support this initiative by the Local Government Development Ministry, and the Health Ministry is still discussing how to collaborate between the two ministries,” she said.