MBKS mayor wants stateless Sarawakians included in health reforms

Wee speaks at the townhall session on the development of the Health White Paper held at SGH Auditorium last night (Sept 5, 2022).

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By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, Sept 6: Kuching South City Council (MBKS) mayor Dato Wee Hong Seng has urged Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin to consider a mechanism to ensure that Sarawakians with no documentation will not be left out of the health reforms.

He said the urban poor in Sarawak faces many social challenges that affect their health, citing the stateless Sarawakians issue as an example, due to the fact that they do not have an identity document as an adult or a birth certificate as a child, which resulted in them having limited access to primary healthcare.

He noted that vaccinations are provided to primary and secondary school children to prevent infectious diseases, but he questioned the fate of the children from the urban poor group who dropped out of school.

“These children do not attend school. It would mean that they would miss out of the benefit of having these important vaccines.

“So we can foresee that the effort to improve the health of Sarawakians would not only be hampered but also constitute a major health issue affecting this group.

“So I hope the Honorable Minister will be able to assist us with the mechanism because I think it will take a long time for them to get their ICs (identity cards),” he said during a townhall session on the Health White Paper (HWP) development at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) Auditorium here last night (Sept 5).

Following this, Khairy during his concluding remarks agreed that the measure of the HWP shall include taking care of those who are at the margins of society.

“If the margins of society can enjoy universal health coverage and world-class public healthcare, then this white paper would have succeeded in creating a system that we can be proud of. And that includes everybody who lives on Malaysia,” he said.

He further shared that his past track record was very clear in giving health accessibility to stateless people.

“When I was in charge of the National Covid-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK), people (assumed) that all these undocumented migrants will be lured to the vaccination centre, then we (the authority) can detain them and then we can deport them.

“I said ‘No, hands off my vaccination centres. Public health is the number one priority. I don’t care what the immigration status is of these people. They come here and we vaccinate them. Then, they are free to go.’

“So my view is that, as far as healthcare is concerned, it is a robust debate that we have in government between the Ministry of Health (MOH) and the Ministry of Home Affairs (MOHA) but my ministry is very clear; no wrong door policy and we are certainly not going to report you (immigrants) to be detained and to be deported.

“On the other hand, I will find out what that particular case is about, specifically,” he emphasised. — DayakDaily