MOH approves RM14 mln to buy SPECT-CT to boost cancer treatment in Sarawak

Dr Chen (second left) and Dr Sim (right) together with other officials inspecting the MRI machine at Sarawak Heart Centre.

By Karen Bong

KUCHING, Dec 8: The Ministry of Health (MOH) has approved RM14 million to procure a SPECT-CT scanner to provide a new model of care for cancer patients as well as to further enhance the healthcare system in Sarawak.

MOH secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Chen Chaw Min revealed this during a visit to the Sarawak Heart Centre (SHC) today to check out the latest RM9.6 million Philips 1.5T Ingenia Evolution Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI).

The Sarawak Heart Centre is the first to install what is touted as one of the world’s best diagnostic systems of its kind in the Asia Pacific region and the country.

“The Heart Centre has also implemented a new innovative programme called Replacement Through Maintenance (RTM) for MRI, in which the government does not have to come out with money but the concession company, One Medicare, funds it and (will) pay the yearly maintenance (fee).

“The machine is here waiting for testing and commissioning; hopefully (it) can be used in two weeks’ time,” Dr Chen told reporters.

Meanwhile, Minister for Local Government and Housing Datuk Seri Dr Sim Kui Hian who was among those present, pointed out that the long-term plan was to have a cancer centre set up in Sarawak.

“We will continue to ask MOH for a cancer centre. It cannot be done overnight but all the machines can start coming in and help to upgrade the facilities,” he said.

Besides the Philips Cardiac MRI that will benefit cardiac patients with earlier prevention and life-saving treatment, Dr Chen noted that Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) also became the first in the country to receive the RM5.2 million GE Revolution Frontier 265-slides CT scan.

“I also visited SGH this morning. The machine is ready to be used,” he said.

According to Dr Sim, this machine has the ability to scan the entire body in eight seconds compared to the existing 2005 Siemen 64-slides CT scan which takes 23 seconds.

With these technological advancements, he added, Sarawak will have the potential to reduce patients’ wait times, ease congestion and offer earlier prevention and intervention.

Meanwhile on the present Covid-19 situation in the state, Dr Chen said the MOH was in the process of upgrading laboratory capabilities to 5,000 tests.

“Sarawak labs are currently providing 2,500 tests a day and we want to push it up to 5,000 tests a day. We are in the process of upgrading and purchasing equipment with several hospitals in the state, namely SGH as well as in Sibu and Bintulu,” he said.

Dr Sim added this was initiated following Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas’ request for an additional RM48 million to upgrade such facilities in Sarawak.

“This is the best time to do the upgrade when cases are down in order to better prepare Sarawak for any uncertainties,” he said.

In addition, he emphasised that the state government had also implemented a modular lab, which was similar to the container concept, for the use of Limbang Hospital as the division has difficulty in sending samples out for testing due to the border separation with Brunei. — DayakDaily