Rabies: MP to appeal for more federal aid, urges state government to be more transparent

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, August 12: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii has promised to appeal to the federal government for greater veterinary support to curb the spread of rabies, as reports from the ground indicate it was not what the state government had claimed — under control.

“I will speak to the federal minister (Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad) on the matter once Parliament resumes this week. I will request for the required assistance based on proper and real report on the ground so that we, together, can effectively handle the situation.

“However, I believe the state government and the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee lead by Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas should be more upfront and honest with the real situation with regards to the rabies outbreak that has spread all over Kuching. So far, it has claimed 10 lives,” said Dr Yii in a statement today.

The number of confirmed rabies victims in the state is 11, out of which 10 have died. The sole survivor — a young boy — was discharged from hospital with severe neurological problems and is on life support at home.

On July 5 last year, Uggah, who is also a deputy chief minister, claimed the situation was under control and was confident that with the current standard operating procedures (SOP), the outbreak could be contained, Dr Yii said.

“At that time, there were only five villages that were declared as rabies-infected areas, but since then, the outbreak has spread to many different places; currently it stands at 33, the number of areas across the state with confirmed rabies cases based on information reported on July 5, 2018.”

Dr Yii suspected there could be more, following reported new cases, including today. Positive cases included a pet dog from Kampung Sungai Agas Baru, Mile 12 Matang Road, Kuching (happened on July 31); a pet cat from Jalan Padungan (July 31); a stray dog from Lane 6, Hakka Avenue, in Kuching; and a pet dog from Kampung Bumbok in Jalan Batu Kitang, Kuching.

Dr Yii lamented there had been conflicting reports on the seriousness of the issue. For instance, there were reports that dog bites had not decreased and that the population control had not achieved its target.

“On top of that, some standards based on the World Health Organisation recommendations are not followed, including a repeat six months’ vaccination in the specific area,” he added.

Dr Yii said the state government seemed to be blaming the issue on the federal government, even though the Pakatan Harapan government was in fact facing financial constraints due to reckless spending and lack of good governance by the previous Barisan Nasional government.

“I will bring up the issue to our federal counterparts on the urgency on the matter as we work together to properly address the issue.

“I also call for an external audit on the rabies control work in Sarawak and the report to be made transparent. That way, we can together identify what needs to be done and also to make sure that what has been done before is up to international guidelines and whether we are on track with the efforts done so far,” Dr Yii said, adding that the public was concerned about the situation. — DayakDaily