SIDC critical addition to Sarawak’s arsenal to develop biomedical industries, bridge gaps exposed by Covid-19

Abang Johari speaks during the launching of the SRDC and the SIDC office.

By Nur Ashikin Louis

KUCHING, July 26: The establishment of the Sarawak Infectious Diseases Centre (SIDC) will become a catalyst for the development of biomedical industries in the State and bridge the gaps exposed by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg said there are many challenges which have become apparent during the Covid-19 pandemic in the past two years, especially with regards to obtaining medical supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and vaccines.

“Sarawak was not spared from the significant health and economic impact of Covid-19 as it highlighted significant gaps in outbreak preparedness (prediction, detection, and response); self-sufficiency (capability and capacity) to combat an outbreak; and economic resiliency to withstand outbreak.

“There is an urgent need for Sarawak to address these gaps, and one such initiative by the Sarawak government is through the establishment of this SIDC,” he said when officiating the launching of the Sarawak Research and Development Council (SRDC) and the SIDC office at Jalan Datuk Abang Abdul Rahim in Kuching today.

SRDC was set up through the Sarawak Research and Development Ordinance 2017, to enable effective coordination of research activities, facilitate and attract meaningful collaborations between local and international research institutions, and enhance research and development activities in Sarawak.

Hence, the setting up of the SIDC under the purview of the SRDC, is one of many initiatives to realise SRDC’s vision and mission.

The RM200 million research centre, which is to be located at a site near the Sarawak Heart Centre in Kota Samarahan, is expected to be completed and operational by 2024.

Abang Johari cuts the ribbon to officiate the launching of SRDC and the SIDC office while Manyin (on his right), Dr Annuar (back row, second left) and Dr Sim (back row, third left) look on.

Abang Johari who is also the SRDC chairman, said the new SIDC aims to improve research in infectious diseasez, equip Sarawak with the capability and capacity to test medication, vaccines and equipment against infectious agents and enable Sarawak to detect, diagnose and predict potential infectious disease outbreak as well as complementing the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s role in tackling infectious diseases in Sarawak.

He also revealed the centre will be equipped with Bio-Safety Level 3 (BSL-3) laboratories to allow research and development on BSL-3 infectious agents, and subsequently product testing to ensure commercialisation of research and development (R&D) output.

“It will also provide opportunities for Sarawakians to serve Sarawak and drive human capital development in biomedical sciences. The research facilities available will bring together talents regionally and internationally, and attract global biomedical companies to ensure Sarawak is prepared for future challenges,” he added.

Also present were Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Amar Michael Manyin Jawong; Local Government and Housing Minister Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian; Education, Science and Technological Research Assistant Minister Dr Annuar Rapaee; State Attorney-General Datuk Talat Mahmood Abdul Rashid and SRDC general manager Dr Peter Morin Nissom. — DayakDaily