Sabah is burning with Covid-19. The community spread is relentless and it’s devastating lives and livelihood. It’s as deadly to many as it is to their economic well-being.
Workers, individuals, families, and communities are increasingly placed at the brink of survival, constantly worrying about their ability to cope with their daily needs.
Many have lost their jobs and businesses have closed down. If the first and second wave lockdown had crippled the economy and families, this third wave lockdown may be the final blow to many.
As its been said many times, lockdown are different for different people. Certainly, the tolerability and the devastation would be totally different for policymakers and administrators sitting in their aircon rooms, making decisions based on numbers or charts to the villagers whose food supply may have been severely depleted, or the general workers who lost their daily wage jobs.
Sabah is extremely challenging to deliver aid and health care with its vast state area, hours of travelling by car, river or dirt road, to reach the many scattered communities divided by mountains and deep valleys.
The one-size-fits-all concept certainly does not fit Sabah.
Make no mistake, the current lockdown is absolutely necessary for our overstretched hospitals and clinics to cope. The heroism of our health care frontliners risking their health and lives every day fighting this pandemic cannot be overstated.
It’s a true testament of their sense of purpose that all this work is done willingly without the slightest hesitation or resistance. The same cannot be said about politicians who descended onto Sabah in hordes pre-election, appearing in every nook and cranny of the state, but now, strangely enough, are nowhere in sight even in the state capital.
The lockdown is only for the sole purpose to slow down the infection rate, so that our hospitals and health care facilities can rebuild their capacity. It should be as short as possible so that once our health care capacity is restored, the lockdown can be lifted.
One way to ensure that is for policymakers and administrators to come down to the ground, see and feel the devastation of the lockdown, and only then they will not repeatedly use it as the ultimate panacea to the Covid pandemic.
More critically is for the government to take the opportunity from this second lockdown to ensure that our health care capacity is being continually expanded.
We need more hospitals and equipment, not less. We need more doctors and nurses, not less. And certainly we need a lot more funds in health care, not less.
We need to see all politicians, political parties, government and their ministries pour everything into this capacity building so that we are better equipped the next time, not less.
All talk and no real effective action can be as deadly, if not more deadly than the pandemic itself. The people have stepped up, risking their sanity, personal well-being and livelihoods so that we can overcome this.
Many have also gone beyond their call of duty to help each other. Let’s pray for Sabah and Malaysia that together we shall succeed to end Covid-19 and delegate the pandemic to history books.
Dr John Teo is an obstetrician & gynaecologist in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.
- This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of CodeBlue.