Prof Sim: I never said there’s a shortage of rabies vaccine

Dog owners taking their pets at 7th Mile basketball court for rabies vaccination today. -

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KUCHING: Sarawak’s Local Government and Housing Minister yesterday denied he had made a statement stating that the Sarawak government had demanded the health ministry explain why rabies vaccine were unavailable in the state when the disease broke out in Serian.

The Borneo Post had on Friday reported that Datuk Prof Dr Sim Kui Hian had also promised to raise the issue in Parliament “if he doesn’t get a satisfactory answer soon” and he had already sent the ministry his questions.

Prof Sim condemned the report as baseless.

He said there was never a vaccine shortage as reported and the supply of rabies vaccine for humans currently was sufficient to deal with the situation.

The heart surgeon turned politician pointed out the federal government had in fact spent a large sum of money to buy more rabies vaccines to replenish stock.

Chief Minister Datuk Amar Abang Johari Tun Openg in a media conference after witnessing the mass vaccination of dogs at the Kota Padawan community hall last Thursday, said the federal government had allocated RM2.4million for the purchase of vaccines for dogs while the state government had contributed RM500,000 for the purchase of vaccines and equipment for frontline personnel.

Prof Sim said the containment exercise was an expensive one as a person who had been bitten by a rabid dog requires four dosages of the vaccines and each dosage costs about RM400.

The government is providing the vaccination, for human as well as animals, free.

The Health Ministry had on Saturday dismissed report.

Its Director-General Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said in a statement the ministry has always ensured that all states store the minimum quantity of the vaccine at all times as precautionary measure.

He said, should there be a need for immediate additional vaccines, the stock can be mobilised from other states.

All five people who are tested positive for rabies encephalomyeliti – four of them children under the age of 7, and one adult – have died from their infection.

The adult, a 52 year-old man from Kampung Remun, reportedly died last night though the health ministry or the state’s disaster management and relief committee have yet to confirm it.

Two areas have been declared as rabies-infected areas yesterday, bringing the total number to 20.

The new areas are Kampung Entubuh, Tebedu, in Serian district, and Batu 5, Jalan Semeba, just at the outskirt of Kuching city. –