KUCHING, July 16: An external health audit is necessary to address and control the spread of rabies in Sarawak, said Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian today.
He added that as at June 30, 2018, a total of 13,974 animal bites were reported in the state, and 4,153 patients were given anti-rabies vaccination.
“(Raising) public awareness on rabies was also carried out by way of flyers as well as banners and also. It was also done through health promotion programmes.
“On animal vaccination, my ministry has started a pilot project named ‘House to House Vaccination’. To-date, we have visited 7,688 houses and vaccinated 2,836 dogs under this project,” he said in his winding-up speech at the State Legislative Assembly.
Dr Sim stressed that dog pounds were an important facility that local authorities must have in order to allow them to carry out dog population control more effectively.
“For a start, my ministry is putting up a proposal to set up three regional dog pounds in Kuching, Sibu and Miri to cater for the needs of the local authorities in these three regions,” he said.
Dr Sim thanked the local authorities, health and veterinary staff as well as non-governmental organisations (NGOs) for working very hard in the past year to fight against rabies.
He added that to date, rabies had caused the state millions of ringgit. In addition, the state could only be declared as “rabies free” if there was no new human and canine positive case in the next two years.
“We have an onerous task ahead. A fight against rabies is not the sole responsibility of the local authorities and the related agencies. Everyone has a role to play. I, therefore, urge all Ahli-ahli Yang Berhormat in this august House to play an active role in creating awareness on this deadly disease,” he appealed.
Dr Sim reiterated that a plan of action to control and manage rabies in the state had been drawn up by a committee and all the relevant agencies were working based on the adopted strategies. The strategies include targeted stray removal, animal vaccination, awareness campaigns, and the setting up of an animal diagnostic laboratory and dog bite clinics.
“The draft of new Local Authorities (Dog Licensing and Control) By-laws, providing for more effective control and licensing of dogs, are already prepared by my ministry.
“We anticipate that this new law will be implemented soon. Further, the local authorities have also tightened their licence conditions to disallow food outlet operators to feed stray cats and dogs in their premises,” said Dr Sim.
Dr Sim also disclosed that the State Disaster Management Steering Committee was set up on July 1, 2017, under the chairmanship of Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas.
This Steering Committee is made up of personnel from his ministry, Sarawak Health Department, Sarawak Information Department, Sarawak Education Department, the police, and the Department of Veterinary Services Sarawak. — DayakDaily