SRDC to collaborate with international research centres to establish Sarawak Infectious Disease Centre

Sagah (first left) revealing the earthworks cost to the media during a press conference this morning (July 6, 2022) at the SIDC site here.

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By Ashley Sim

KUCHING, July 6: Minister of Education, Innovation, and Talent Development Datuk Roland Sagah Wee Inn announced that the Sarawak Research and Development Council (SRDC) will collaborate with two world acclaimed infectious disease research centres to establish the Sarawak Infectious Disease Centre (SIDC).

The handover of the SIDC site to the earthworks contractor today marks the start of the next phase of the SIDC project, which involves site clearance and earthwork.

The symbolic handover of the site from the Borneo Development Corporation (BDC) Sarawak Sdn Bhd chief executive officer (CEO) Nor-E-Fadzwie Salleh to the Kejuruteraan Syatek director Zaiton binti Yusuf as the earthworks contractor was witnessed by Sagah.

According to Sagah, the total cost of the SIDC project, including the facilities, is approximately RM200 million, while the earthworks cost approximately RM4 million.

“The SIDC is a research facility set up by the Sarawak government to ensure Sarawak has the capability and capacity to respond to outbreaks.

“There are a few diseases that we have identified and need to do more research on, including the ever-popular Covid-19, severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), as well as rabies, malaria, and even tuberculosis, among others as new strains emerge.

“And we have recently returned from the Swiss Tropical and Public Health Institute in Switzerland and the Imperial College in London to establish a research network and partnership, including human capital development, as well as to explore potential research collaborations,” he said today during a press conference following the ‘Site Handing Over Ceremony for Site Clearing and Earthworks Package SIDC, Samarahan’, which was held this morning at the SIDC site here.

He went on to say that the SIDC project is implemented by SRDC with BDC appointed as the project management company.

“The SIDC, which will be classified as a high level three research centre, is located in Samarahan, adjacent to the Sarawak Heart Centre, and its goal is to provide Sarawak with the ability to detect infectious disease outbreaks that occur around the world.

“It also aims to provide Sarawak with the capacity, resources, and scientific knowledge needed to protect the State by improving research on infectious diseases, producing and stockpiling medication, vaccines, and equipment needed to contain any outbreak or spread of such diseases, and protecting and treating those affected.

“In addition, the SIDC aims to equip Sarawak with the capacity to respond effectively at the State and local levels in the event that a pandemic strain strikes Sarawak,” he explained.

Sagah, who is also Tarat assemblyman, mentioned that a 3.8-acre field hospital at the SIDC with the capacity to house 1,000 patients will be constructed in the event of an unfavourable occurrence.

“The field hospital can be built in two weeks, so we just need to be prepared,” he stated.

Meanwhile, SRDC deputy general manager Dr Ivan Yap Kok Seng noted that when it comes to recruiting experts and researchers for the SIDC, they are looking into potential Sarawakians who are scattered around the world, with the goal of attracting them to return to Sarawak.

The SIDC is expected to be completed in 2024. — DayakDaily