Provide more federal allocation for Sarawak’s healthcare and development, urges Lau

Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew. Source: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (UKAS).

By Adrian Lim

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 7: Senator Robert Lau Hui Yew urges the federal government to provide more allocation for healthcare and development to Sarawak.

He said the funding from the federal government to develop Sarawak was insufficient, citing the area of Sibu as big as four states in Peninsular Malaysia which requires more funding for development.

“We need to increase our healthcare budget. The current situation with Covid-19 pandemic has a huge impact on society and the healthcare sector bears the brunt of it. We have to invest in new facilities.

“In this area, the towns and villages in Sarawak and Sabah solely need better healthcare facilities.

“There is a clear disproportion in terms of investment and facilities in the states of Malaya as compared to Sarawak and Sabah.

“We cannot be treated as one of 13 states when it comes to the allocation of development funds and human resources.

“Sarawak faces a similar problem on manpower at hospitals in the state,” he said in his debate on the motion of thanks for the Royal Address at Dewan Negara here today.

Lau, who is Sarawak United Peoples’ Party (SUPP) Bawang Assan branch chairman, said there were 102 permanent Medical Officers (MOs) posts available in Sarawak hospitals recently.

However, he noted less than 10 per cent of those posts were offered to Sarawak MOs.

Lau added there were 30 MOs from Peninsular Malaysia who were offered the posts but refused to take up the offer to work in Sarawak.

Apart from that, Lau noted 39 per cent of the health clinics do not have pharmacists and all those are located in the rural areas.

Elaborating further, he said 152 out of 216  or 70.7 per cent of the clinics in Sarawak do not have laboratory services and 192 out of 216 community clinics do not have x-ray services.

Lau said Sarawak also faced shortage of medical professionals such as doctors.

He said the state only has 7.1 per cent of all the doctors in the country, 8.4 per cent of doctors in the public sector (nationwide) and only 3.4 per cent of doctors in the private sector.

Lau added Sarawak only has 6.5 per cent of all specialists nationwide.

He noted the doctor to population ratio for Sarawak is 1:892.

Lau said there is a huge gap as compared  to the situation in the Klang Valley of which the ratio was 1:150.

Within Sarawak itself, he said the Kuching Division has a ratio of one doctor to 604 patients whereas in Kapit, it was  one doctor to 1,721 patients and in Mukah, it was one doctor to 2,038 patients.

For public health, Lau said the most critical specialist posts that need to be filled in Sarawak are the Family Medicine Specialists (FMS), whereby there is not even one FMS in Betong and Mukah.

He noted the situation arose as a result that most FMS were from Peninsular Malaysia and there were less local FMS.

Lau said the critical areas of specialisation for the medical division in Sarawak are dermatology, urology, cardiothoracic, neurosurgeon, plastic surgeon and forensic.

On another note, Lau said there were too much time and resources wasted in the country’s education sector with flip flop policies.

He opined that the education syllabus of the country should emphasise on universal values and less on religion.

Thus, Lau said Sarawak would seek for autonomy from the federal government over healthcare and education to be returned back to the Sarawak government.

Lau who was Sibu Rural District Council (SRDC) deputy chairman also cited a few examples on the lack of funding from the federal government to develop Sarawak in particular Sibu.

He cited the flood mitigation project which was started in 2008 is yet to be completed.

On the flood mitigation project, Lau said there were seven pump stations which have been completed and two stations were in progress.

He added another five stations have yet to be built with two more stretches of bunds to be built.

“I urge the federal government to immediately fund the remaining portion of the flood mitigation project which is Phase Five that  involves three pump stations and 3.5 km of bunds at an estimated cost of RM280 million.

“The area surrounding Sibu is in poor physical state. Something has to be done for the dilapidated area of Sibu.

“Houses, roads, drains and septic tanks are in poor state,” he added.—DayakDaily