Deputy minister confident Sarawak can regain rabies-free status

Tiang (second right) completing a gimmick to launch the World Rabies Day 2023 event in Sibu.

By William Isau

SIBU, Sept 28: A Sarawak deputy minister is confident the State can win the battle against rabies as it was once a rabies-free State.

“Sarawak was free from rabies before 2017. Now we have rabies for six years already. I believe we can still win the war (against rabies) just like how we have overcome the Covid-19 pandemic not long ago. That kind of spirit where we come together, put our hands together to fight and win this war,” said Deputy Minister of Public Health, Housing and Local Government Michael Tiang today.

Speaking at a press conference after officiating at a World Rabies Day event here, he said the public needs to be on high alert to prevent themselves from becoming victims as the number of rabies cases is still high in Sarawak.

He pointed out that rabies prevention should not be just left to the veterinary department which is tasked with catching dogs.

Tiang said, rabies is still a major public health problem in Sarawak with the total number of rabies in human cases in Sarawak at 72 so far with 65 (90.3 per cent) deaths.

According to him, most of these cases can be prevented if the victims had been treated for rabies after getting bitten.

“There were 88,606 cases of animal bites [Dogs—49,457 cases (55.8 per cent); Cats—39,149 cases (44.2 per cent)] from July 1, 2017 to August 31, 2023, or around 14,000 bites per year. The large number of animal bites is worrying, with the risk for rabies in every bite case. I’m sure the great minds gathered today at this conference will find a solution to this problem,” explained the Pelawan assemblyman.

He expressed appreciation to the Sarawak State Health Department for its great efforts in increasing the number of health facilities equipped with rabies vaccines from 30 to 91 facilities.

This, he explained, would allow easier access to post-bite vaccination for the public.

Also present were Sarawak State Health Department Director Dr Ooi Choo Huck, Sibu Divisional Health Officer Dr Teh Jo Hun and other senior Sarawak State Health and Veterinary officials. — DayakDaily