Flying Doctors Grounded

By Hornbill Unleashed

The Flying Doctor Service and Emergency Medevac Service, an important service provided by the health department to provide minimal health services to 158 stations of more than 500 remote rural native communities in Sarawak, is allegedly crippled for the past 2 years and 9 months. 

How many deaths of the rural natives could have been avoided have there been regular Emergency Medevac Service?

There ought to be an independent inquiry into Sarawak’s crippled Flying Doctor Service and Emergency Medevac Service, said Parti Keadilan Rakyat (The People’s Justice Party).

In a statement issued at a press conference in Kuching today (03.09.2009), the party’s National Strategy Director and Member of Parliament Tian Chua said that he will bring up the matter to the Malaysian Parliament but said that this basic health care service ought to be addressed immediately.

Full text of the press statement:

PKR calls for independent inquiry into Sarawak’s crippled Flying Doctor Service and emergency “medevac” service

Sarawak   has gone without an adequate Flying Doctor Service (FDS) and Emergency Medevac Service (EMS) for the past 2 years and 9 months.

In 2007, there were no regular FDS or EMS services.

In 2008, services were partially restored from March to December.

In 2009, there were no regular services from January to April. Intermittent services have been provided from May until today.

The FDS has been serving Sarawakians since 1973. The FDS provides essential medicines, vaccinations, medical and nursing care to rural populations, including invaluable treatment to pregnant mothers and young children.

pregnant mothers and young childrenThe EMS (Emergency Medical Evacuation Service) transports critically ill patients from the interior to hospitals such as Kuching, Sibu and Miri, and in between hospitals.

The collapse of the FDS and EMS service means that many Sarawakians from rural areas have lost their lives, simply because they could not get to hospital. Others have had their lives destroyed.

Many urban Sarawakians have suffered silently in large hospitals such as Miri, Sibu, Sarikei, Kapit and Bintulu, because they could not be airlifted by EMS to seek emergency specialised care in Kuching. Such specialised care, including Cardiology, Cardiac Surgery, Neurosurgery, Paediatric Surgery and Hepatobiliary Surgery, is only available in Sarawak General Hospital.

Many of these rural and urban Sarawakians had to be transported by land or river to seek life-saving treatment, at a time when they were in pain and fear, and time was short. Many did not make it in time, or were too ill to be sent by land, and died where they lay.

Why has the FDS and EMS failed Sarawakians? Who is responsible for the collapse of the service? When will it be put right?

emergency specialised carePeople from the isolated and remote villages have been pleading for the restoration of the FDS, and asking why the service has been crippled.

The PKR has learnt that the Ministry of Health had earlier awarded the FDS and EMS contract worth RM63,840,000 to a company called SAR Helicopters Sdn Bhd registered in Kuala Lumpur with an office in Shah Alam,  for a period of four years from 1st January 2007 to 31st December 2010.

In short, a company based in Peninsular Malaysia, dominated by a single family, with RM5 million in share capital and over RM10 million in debts, was given a contract worth RM63.84 million to provide life-saving humanitarian services to the people of Sarawak. What was the Government thinking?!

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