By Ashley Sim
KUCHING, Sept 29: The Immune Belt Enforcement Team (IBET), which is part of the Sarawak Security and Enforcement Unit (UKPS), assists the Department of Veterinary Services Sarawak (DVSS) in regulating infectious animal disease control activities along the border between Sarawak and Kalimantan.
This was stated by Minister of Food Industry, Commodities, and Regional Development Sarawak (M-FICORD) Dato Sri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom in his speech at a hotel here today during the IBET collaboration town hall session with relevant agencies to prevent and eradicate animal-borne diseases at the border.
“Aside from border control, ongoing collaboration with the Sarawak State Health Department (JKNS) is crucial for integrated bite case management, in which animal bite cases are reported to the DVSS.
“With IBET assisting DVSS, we can ensure that every bite case is investigated immediately and that this disease does not claim any more lives in Sarawak,” Dr Rundi explained.
He pointed out DVSS is one of the most important agencies under M-FICORD and was established in 2017.
“Previously, veterinary services were one of the divisions under the Department of Agriculture Sarawak known as the Veterinary Division.
“In addition to livestock development programmes, DVSS is in charge of veterinary services, veterinary health, and enforcing the Veterinary Public Health Ordinance 1999,” he added.
Furthermore, Dr Rundi, who is also the Kemena assemblyman, noted that the rabies outbreak in Sarawak was declared a Level Two Disaster in January 2019 by the State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) in accordance with National Security Council Directive No 20 (MKN 20).
“Operations and collaboration to eradicate rabies through vaccination, awareness campaigns, and targeted stray dog population control have been stepped up,” he said.
He emphasised the importance of continuing collaboration with the Ministry of Public Health, Housing, and Local Government Sarawak (MPHLG), where local authorities with the Dog Licensing and Control Unit assisted DVSS in licensing pet dogs and controlling the stray dog population.
Meanwhile, DVSS director Dr Adrian Susin Ambud highlighted in his speech that a rabies outbreak was first recorded in Sarawak in June 2017, with Serian being the first area to report it, and that 72 areas have been declared rabies outbreak areas to date.
He noted 45 out of 52 people have died as a result of rabies.
“DVSS is stepping up its efforts to combat the dog rabies epidemic in Sarawak, with the goal of eradicating the rabies epidemic in dogs by 2025.
“Border control is vital to preventing diseases from spreading from neighbouring countries.
“Other infectious animal diseases include African Swine Fever (ASF) in pigs and foot-and-mouth disease (FMD) in two-hoofed animals such as cattle, buffalo, and goats,” he added.
Dr Adrian asserted that without border control, human and animal health, as well as Sarawak’s food security and economy, will suffer. — DayakDaily