Pandemic reaffirms Sibu’s public healthcare sidelined all along – Chang

Irene Chang

By Chew Lip Song

THE Covid-19 pandemic has exposed the unfair treatment received by the public healthcare in Sibu, now the epicentre of the outbreak in Sarawak, Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Chang said today.

She said over the years, the Health Ministry has allocated much of its resources to the Sarawak General Hospital in Kuching, to the detriment of other public healthcare facilities in the state.

“The current pandemic situation in Sibu reaffirms the ugly truth of how the healthcare system in Sibu has been sidelined all these years.

“Today in the midst of Covid-19, crisis, we Sibuans, pay the ultimate price of being treated like a stepson by not only the Federal Government but also by the Sarawak State Health Ministry,” she said in a statement today.

As a result, the main hospitals in Sibu, Miri, Bintulu and Sarikei were often left to their own devices to find the necessary funds to purchase the equipments which they may urgently need.

Chang added that news reports of donation drives to purchase PCR machines to conduct Covid-19 in both Sibu Hospital and Miri Hospital underscored this problem. There were also reports that two Covid-19 laboratories in Bintulu were being set up using donations from the public.

“With Sibu now being the epicentre of Covid-19 in Sarawak, the two PCR machines are still insufficient as it was reported that arrangements have to be made to send more than 1,000 samples daily to Kuala Lumpur and Kuching.

“Surely, the State Health Department should know by now that Sibu Hospital still needs more PCR machines not only for Covid-19 but also to test any organism with accuracy with faster results,” Chang added.

Chang also questioned if the high Covid-19 mortality rate in Sibu is due to lack of specialist care there. Of the 69 deaths in Sarawak since the Pasai cluster started in January, 41 were from Sibu.

The shortcomings of Sibu Hospital today was the result of years of neglect by both the Federal and State Health Ministries, she said.

She also urged the State Health Department to immediately deploy experienced specialists like
Infectious Disease physicians, kidney and heart specialists, intensivists along with more nurses and medical assistants to help both Sibu Hospital and Public Health Departments in Sibu.