Special task force set up to review proposed mechanism on Sarawak’s initial financing for upgrading healthcare facilities

Tiang speaking during the Q&A session of the Third Term of the 19th Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUS) sitting at the DUS complex in Kuching on May 7, 2024. Photo credit: Sarawak Public Communications Unit (Ukas)

By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, May 7: A special task force will be established to review the terms of reference for the proposed mechanism by which the federal government will reimburse Sarawak for the latter’s initial financing to upgrade and develop healthcare infrastructure and facilities, says Datuk Michael Tiang Ming Tee.

The Deputy Minister of Public Health, Housing, and Local Government (MPHLG) Sarawak highlighted that the special task force, jointly headed by the chief secretary to the government of Malaysia and the Sarawak Secretary, will develop details for implementation.

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Tiang was responding to a query from Bawang Assan assemblyman Dato Sri Wong Soon Koh in today’s question-and-answer (Q&A) session of the Third Term of the 19th Sarawak Legislative Assembly (DUS) sitting at the DUS complex here.

Wong inquired whether there was a definite plan to rehabilitate and upgrade physically poor and ill-equipped rural clinics in Sarawak.

“As announced by Prime Minister Dato Seri Anwar Ibrahim during his recent visit to Sarawak in early April 2024, Sarawak will be a pioneer in the provision of initial financing for the upgrading and development of healthcare infrastructure and facilities in order to expedite implementation.

“Under this initiative, the federal government will reimburse the Sarawak government for the entire costs at a later stage under the concept of deferred payment or other business models as may be agreed by both parties.

“By adopting this proposed mechanism, the Sarawak government will be able to proceed with the planned programme on addressing the dilapidated clinics and health facilities efficiently and at a lower cost,” Tiang said.

“We will not wait for the fund to be made available by the federal government to do this. The proposed mechanism will also be able to push forward the long awaited critical healthcare projects that have been delayed due to various factors, especially the funding aspect.

“This initiative will enable the Sarawak government to assist the federal government and the Ministry of Health Malaysia in upgrading healthcare services for the rakyat by providing better equipment in our healthcare facilities faster.”

The minister further emphasised that all issues raised by the elected representatives in the august House pertaining to the status of implementation and timeline of the upgrading of dilapidated clinics and hospitals in Sarawak, which have funding issues, will hinge on the success of the term of reference and details of the new funding mechanism for upgrading Sarawak’s healthcare infrastructure and facilities.

Tiang also disclosed the Ministry of Health has been consistently implementing programmes to improve healthcare facilities across the country, including rural clinics.

“The total number of dilapidated clinics and health facilities based on the new assessment and scoring system implemented by the Health Department in December last year are 206 clinics which include 51 dilapidated clinics in urban areas.”

Additionally, he stated that the ministry had approved 39 projects worth RM8.497 million for Sarawak to upgrade dilapidated clinics and healthcare facilities in 2023, all of which were completed within the same year.

“For 2024, a total of RM19 million has been allocated for the implementation of 39 dilapidated clinic projects including six urban dilapidated clinics throughout Sarawak.

“Under this fund, one clinic will be rebuilt with the balance of 38 projects involving the upgrading and improvement of infrastructure, acquiring equipment and enhancing medical services in underserved areas,” he added. — DayakDaily

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