PR: Sarawak needs healthcare autonomy to have better healthcare

Dr Kelvin Yii, special assistant to State Democratic Action Party (DAP) chairman Chong Chieng Jen

KUCHING, March 28: The dire condition of Sarawak clinics, where nearly half are without doctors and a quarter without power and water supply, shows the insincerity and inefficiency of the Barisan Nasional (BN) federal government.

Dr Kelvin Yii, a medical doctor who is now Democratic Action Party’s (DAP’s) candidate for Stampin parliamentary seat, said the best way forward to address the lack of doctors and other healthcare deficiencies in Sarawak is to have healthcare autonomy returned to Sarawak.

“(This is) So the state can have a direct hand in both identifying the problem and also directly addressing it without going through the bureaucracy of the federal government,” he said in a press statement today.

He was responding to the statement by Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) president Dr Sim Kui Hian, who revealed 45 per cent of the 209 clinics in Sarawak are without doctors and most of them are manned only by assistant medical officers (MOs) and nurses, and many clinics also lack electricity and water supply.

“Serious questions have to be asked on how the state government and federal government allowed such an occurrence to happen which directly affects the quality of care afforded to the people of Sarawak especially those in the rural areas.

“This lack is not a new issue, and this clearly shows the insincerity and inefficiency of the BN federal government especially as healthcare is under the purview of the federal government, to provide quality healthcare for all Sarawakians regardless of demographics or social status,” siad Yii, a special assistant to Pakatan Harapan (PH) Sarawak chairman and also DAP chairman Chong Chieng Jen.

He said the PH manifesto had pledged full devolution of power in areas of education and healthcare where the state will then take responsibility of managing these two critical areas.

“Healthcare autonomy will deal with the three main pillars including financing, infrastructure development and also recruitment and placement of medical professionals in the state.

“Currently all these critical matters are under the purview of the federal government and we are at their mercy per se which has directly caused us to be in the condition that we are in. For example, we will still need go through the federal government for them to allocate funds to build greater healthcare infrastructure, or even place more doctors in Sarawak to address the acute shortage of doctors in the state,” he explained.

He pointed out that with autonomy, the state could directly make decisions on these issues without the bureaucracy of the federal government to ensure adequate resident doctors in all rural/district hospitals and clinics with upgraded facilities and medicine.

On top of that, the state has the prerogative to provide further incentives to retain doctors in the state and even attract doctors from other states to serve in Sarawak. This will be a step not just to retain talents, but also attract the best of minds into Sarawak which will directly improve the quality of care in the state and promote greater knowledge transfer from these top minds to local doctors and medical professionals.

“We all share the same goal of seeing the improvement of the quality of healthcare in our state and that all Sarawakians regardless of demographic or background will have access to the best healthcare services,” he said. — DayakDaily