State govt to intensify rabies awareness, outreach efforts

Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas

By Geryl Ogilvy

KUCHING, Dec 6: The state government will double efforts to raise awareness and outreach on rabies to ensure the public knows what precautionary measures to take amidst the current outbreak.

Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas said more publicity needs to be taken to disseminate info on public safety against rabies.

He said this following the recent death of a 21-year-old man who did not seek treatment at a government clinic or hospital after he was bitten by a rabid dog.

According to Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, the victim from Kota Sentosa here was bitten by a stray dog on Oct 4 but did not wash the wound nor seek medical treatment.

He only bought medicine at a pharmacy to apply on the wound. He was admitted to Sarawak General Hospital on Nov 24 when his legs became weak.

“The victim seems to be unaware that he had been bitten by a dog with rabies. Previously, there was another victim who sought treatment at a private clinic for a bite wound and he was not referred to a government clinic for further treatment.

“We definitely need to create more publicity to educate the public and raise awareness,” Uggah, who is also the state Disaster Management Committee chairman told reporters at Wisma Bapa Malaysia here today.

He reminded dog bite victims to immediately seek treatment at government health facilities so they can be administered with anti-rabies vaccinations. He advised private medical practitioners to refer victims and notify government clinics and hospitals about their cases.

Uggah also reminded the public to keep their dogs in their house compounds, as well as send them for vaccinations. The government will continue with its rabies vaccination campaigns and programmes to remove free-roaming dogs and strays.

“On a positive note, we have mobilised 28 additional health officers to assist with the vaccination programmes. We will continue to remove stray dogs in all towns and cities across the state,” he continued.

Uggah said the committee has also utilised various social media platforms such as Facebook and Instagram, as well as carry out dialogues and face-to-face sessions with the public to raise awareness.

“We have flyers, posters, and campaign materials to educate the public on rabies and we will continue our efforts.”

The rabies outbreak in Sarawak has claimed 13 lives since it was declared on June 30 last year.

A sole survivor was discharged from the Sarawak General Hospital early this year and is currently receiving treatment at home due to neurological complications.

To date, the government has declared 54 areas across the state to be rabies infected. Limbang is the only rabies-free division at current.

As at Nov 15, statistics from the committee showed that there were 16,754 cumulative cases of dog bites, while a total of 5,902 people were given anti-rabies vaccinations. — DayakDaily