Latest rabies death: Health Ministry urged to probe if SOP breached

Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas

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KUCHING, June 13: The Health Ministry must investigate the handling of the case of the latest rabies victim, a 61-year-old woman from Padungan, who succumbed to the disease yesterday.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas raised concern over the standard operating procedure (SOP) in this case. Apparently, the medical personnel on duty did not immediately refer or send her to the Rabies Clinic.

He said this was the second such case of negligence in Sarawak, where the attending medical personnel failed to refer their ‘dog bite patient’ to the Rabies Clinic.

Uggah, who is also the State Disaster Management Committee chairman, reminded that the case of negligence was very serious and should not have happened.

It is imperative for the doctors to adhere to the SOP set by the Health Ministry, he emphasised.

“I felt really disturbed as I read the history of the case. It was reported that the doctor who treated the victim had failed to send or refer the victim to the Rabies Clinic in Kuching immediately.

“I call upon the Health Ministry to investigate this case and to ensure the SOP established on ‘how to respond to any cases involving dog bites?’ that includes ‘immediately sending/referring the patient to the Rabies Clinic’ has not been breached,” he said in a statement today.

DayakDaily reported earlier that the rabies outbreak in Sarawak had claimed its 18th victim following the death of the sexagenarian, the third this year.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the victim passed away at 10.47pm at the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH), where she had been receiving intensive care since June 8.

The victim was bitten on her right thumb on April 29 when she tried to chase away a stray dog that was barking at her. After washing her wounds, she immediately sought treatment at a nearby community clinic.

Another appointment was set up for a week later as a follow-up treatment, but the victim did not show up.

The victim went to SGH on June 8 and was immediately administered rabies immunoglobulin (RIG) after falling sick and feeling discomfort on her right arm two days earlier.

To date, 19 cases of rabies encephalitis among humans have been reported in Sarawak since the outbreak was declared in the state on July 1, 2017.

A sole survivor, a seven-year-old boy, was discharged from SGH early last year and is currently receiving treatment at home due to neurological complications.

The state Health Department has issued a notice to all medical practitioner in Sarawak to ensure the administration of animal-bite cases followed the guidelines that had been set for such incidences in the state.

Cases with the risk of rabies infection or victims who did not seek follow-up treatment must be informed immediately to the nearest Health office so that the victims could be located.

Public cooperation is vital for rabies control and preventive measures in Sarawak to succeed. — DayakDaily