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MIRI, Oct 19: The State Disaster Management Committee (SDMC) will find ways to get Penans in Ulu Baram who have refused to be vaccinated against Covid-19 to get inoculated soon.
Its chairman Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said the government would seek the assistance of non-governmental organisations (NGO) and the area’s elected representatives to find ways to persuade them.
He said this when attending a Health Department briefing on the Miri Division Covid-19 booster dose and adolescent vaccination programmes at Curtin University campus here today.
“We now have ready supply of the CanSino vaccine. This single dose vaccine is a good option for them and our medical personnel coming to their areas,” he said.
Transport Minister Dato Sri Lee Kim Shin and Miri Division Health officer Dr Raviwharmman Packierisamy were among those who attended the briefing.
Uggah was earlier told of the situation by Dr Raviwharmman in which the latter said the Miri Health Department had tried six different engagements to get them to agree.
“We have tried through government officers, elected representatives, influential members of the community, non government organisations and religious bodies (B.E.M) to persuade them but to no avail.
“While they have no issue with normal medical treatment or procedures, they have rejected the vaccination outright. They will even disappear into the deep jungle when our vacvination teams arrive.
“This situation remains one of our great challenges in our vaccination rollout programme,” Dr Raviwharmman said, adding that the Ulu Penan were unlike those in Belaga district in the Kapit Division.
“I have been told by Kapit Resident Nyurak Keti that those in Belaga were more receptive.
“Those Penans in Ulu Baram areas are scattered in some six different settlements,” he added.
Meanwhile, Uggah agreed to a suggestion by Dr Raviwharmman for voluntary medical teams led by doctors from the State Health Department, including those who had retired, to visit these settlements.
“The team will go to the interior to give medical and dental treatment for a few days. They have developed a close rapport with the locals and have also gained their trust,” he said.
Dr Raviwharmman said his department could supply them with the CanSino vaccine.
He added that former State Health Director Datu Dr Chin Zin Hing said the next visit by the group would begin on Nov 1.
“They have indicated they need some funds to pay for transport and logistics,” he said.
In reply, Uggah said the State government was ready to provide the team with financial assistance in order to help the Penans.
On another matter, Uggah added plans were being considered to get qualified frontliners in the State who are not medical personnel to get the booster shots and the third dose of Covid-19 vaccine.
“They are afterall, handling the people as well. We must also protect them,” he said. — DayakDaily