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KUCHING, March 17: Construction of the Sarawak Infectious Disease Centre (SIDC) is expected to commence immediately in view of the urgency for the centre to be operational by 2024 so as to prepare Sarawak to face future outbreaks of infectious diseases.
Sarawak Research and Development Council (SRDC) in a statement today revealed that the centre is expected to be sited adjacent to the Sarawak Heart Centre along the Kuching-Samarahan corridor to ensure synergy between the two agencies.
The strategic location would also give the ability to ramp up diagnostic and hospital bed capacity in the event of a pandemic with the provision of space for 1,000 beds as a field hospital.
This project has been in the planning since Nov 24 last year following Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg’s announcement that the Sarawak government had allocated RM190 million to establish the centre.
The construction of the centre which will be a research facility under SRDC purview was approved by the Sarawak State Cabinet in February this year.
SRDC emphasised that the centre will be established not only to ensure outbreak preparedness and to spearhead the fight against future pandemics in Sarawak but also provide opportunities for talented Sarawakians to serve Sarawak and drive human capital development in biomedical sciences.
Among its goals are to protect Sarawak by improving research in infectious diseases and to equip Sarawak with the capability and capacity to test therapeutics, vaccines and equipment against infectious agents.
It also aims to enable Sarawak to detect, diagnose and predict potential infectious disease outbreaks.
The centre will also complement and collaborate with the Ministry of Health in tracking infectious diseases in Sarawak.
SRDC pointed out that the centre will bring together talents regionally and internationally, and attract global biomedical companies to ensure Sarawak is prepared for future challenges.
The centre will be equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and Bio-Safety Level 3 (BSK 3) laboratories to allow research and development on BSL-3 infectious agents, and subsequently product testing to ensure commercialisation of research and development (R&D) output.
Meanwhile, Abang Johari, who is also the SRDC chairman, pointed out last year that the centre will pave the way for Sarawak to be the first in Malaysia to advance research, innovation and development especially on tropical diseases.
He hoped to see collaborations between local scientists, academia, the government and credible institutions throughout the world to bring about solutions to the challenges faced by the world and perhaps come out with products or drugs which can control or mitigate the spread of new diseases. — DayakDaily