State government must do more to stop spread of rabies — Dr Yii

Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING, August 18: Sarawak recorded its 12th rabies human infection recently probably because the state government had not been frank about the seriousness of the situation nor treat the matter with greater urgency, said Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii.

He opined that had proper measures been adopted, the matter could have turned out differently.

Dr Yii said he was saddened by news of the 12th case, which was reported in Sri Aman. The victim was bitten by his pet dog on January this year and only started developing symptoms this month. He is now undergoing treatment at the Infectious Disease Ward in the Sarawak General Hospital.

“I understand the need to keep public order or the need to not cause panic, but it is also the right of the people to know the extent of the infection so that they can take the necessary precautions with urgency and together we play our part in curbing the spread of the disease: And most importantly to avoid another unwanted death,” said Dr Yii, adding that education and compulsory-dog vaccination efforts must continue.

He praised Department of Veterinary staffers for working tireless to help control the spread of the disease even though they were understaffed and had to put their lives on the frontline.

“The lack of staff in the Department of Veterinary Sarawak, which is under the state government, is not a recent matter. It has been there for quite a while,” he said.

Dr Yii said the state’s responsibility on this matter was listed in Schedule 9 of the Concurrent List of the Federal Constitution, meaning the state has full power to determine the methodology, procedures and lead the effort to curb the spread of the disease.

“There has to be more stress that the fight against rabies is an ongoing process. We may need to continue these efforts for years,” he cautioned, adding that the situation could only be declared as being “under control” if there were no reported cases for two years.

In advising the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee to stop claiming that the situation was “under control”, Dr Yii said all dogs need to be vaccinated and their population controlled through spaying or neutering.

“On top of that, dog licensing has to be enforced in order to properly monitor our dog population. Every dog must be licensed, and for them to be licensed, it needs to be vaccinated and spayed,” he opined.

Dr Yii said local councils must also do their bit by stringently enforce the relevant bylaws to help resolve this issue. — DayakDaily