Sarawak ‘running a high fever’

By Joseph Tawie, Free Malaysia Today

KUCHING: The primary healthcare infrastructure in Sarawak is in poor shape, with many clinics unable to accommodate the large influx of patients. Sarawak PKR today said overcrowding in these clinics has reached an intolerable level and called on the government to rebuild the infrastructure at major centres of population growth.

Its head of health and welfare bureau, Dr Francis Ngu, said: “Many patients have told us that overcrowding in many polyclinics is getting worse.

“Patients have to wait long hours, and it is very difficult to get the queue numbers. Worst still, the consultation rooms are always crammed,” he said.

For instance, he said that at a polyclinic in Mosque Road here up to 12 or more patients are squeezed into the room; at Tanah Puteh, Pending, four have to wait inside the room; and at Merbau, Miri, up to eight persons are packed into the small space.

Similar cases are also reported in other towns like Sibu and Bintulu.

“Under these conditions, medical staff and patients suffer great stress. Moreover, privacy and confidentiality are compromised.

“It becomes awkward when doctors and nurses have to ask sensitive questions about the patient’s medical history in the presence of so many patients. In cases where a proper physical examination is required, patients may have to expose parts of their bodies.”

Ngu claimed that the state and the federal governments had been ignoring the healthcare needs of the people of Sarawak.

Even the setting up of a heart and cancer hospital at the Sarawak International Medical Centre (SIMC) brought little cheer. Ngu said PKR had repeatedly suggested that the failed SIMC be converted into a second hospital to complement the Sarawak General Hospital.

Bread-and-butter issue

The RM400-million SIMC located on a 100-acre site, if converted into a second general hospital, can provide about 200 beds.

“We have been asking the government to convert the SIMC into a second hospital to complement the Sarawak General Hospital and the overcrowded specialist clinics,” Ngu said.