Sarawak seeks to devolve health authority back to the state, says Deputy Minister


State Deputy Minister in the Premier's Department Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly on Friday (May 19). - ZULAZHAR SHEBLEE/The Star

KUCHING: Sarawak is seeking the devolution of executive authority over health matters to enable the state government to address shortcomings of the healthcare system in the state, says Datuk Sharifah Hasidah Sayeed Aman Ghazali.

The state Deputy Minister in the Premier's Department (Law, MA63 and State-Federal Relations) said the state government had already made references and recommendations to the Health Ministry on the matter.

She said the recommendations included improving the health status indicators in Sarawak; reducing health care gaps in Sarawak in terms of coverage, accessibility, quality and safety; enhancing health and public utilities to rural health facilities; and upgrading health service delivery to the people.

"I have discussed and met with Deputy Premier (Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian) and we will come up with our own roadmap or timeline to ensure all our demands and recommendations are carried out in accordance with our plans.

"It is our hope that the references and recommendations made by the Sarawak government will be taken into consideration by the Federal Government in order to enhance and upgrade the health services in Sarawak for the benefit and well-being of the people of Sarawak," she told See Chee How (IND-Batu Lintang) during question time in the state assembly on Friday (May 19).

See had asked whether the state would make references to the Health Ministry before the proposed White Paper is presented in Parliament to seek the inclusion of proposals to discuss the devolution of health matters to Sarawak.

To a supplementary question from See, Sharifah Hasidah said the Federal Constitution allowed for the delegation of executive authority of empowerment to the state under Article 80(4).

"The executive authority requested by the Sarawak government may be conferred through this provision, to enable the state government to carry out federal functions over health matters," she said.

If the Federal Government does not agree to this empowerment, Sharifah Hasidah said the state government could alternatively undertake administrative arrangements over the setting up, maintenance, human resources and equipment of hospitals and clinics as provided under Article 80(5) of the Federal Constitution.

"This could be agreed upon between the Federal and state governments," she said.

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