It has been more than 18 months since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic in Malaysia and yet Sabah is still struggling to fight it. The already struggling health care system in Sabah due to years of neglect by the federal government is further crippled by recent issues. Information here is from government doctors both in the administration and clinical sections of the state’s health care system.
Change of State Health Director
The move to change Dr Christina Rundi in July 2021 was unwise and ill planned. Why transfer the captain of a ship that has been successful in navigating the storm? Her commitment, discipline and perseverance in the management of the state’s health care issues has been exemplary and this decision by the Ministry of Health to appoint a new director has only served to hamper the fight against Covid-19.
The supply to states should be distributed fairly — other states should not be considering vaccinating those below 18-years-old if Sabah has not even reached the 80 per cent vaccination rate of those 18-60! Many vaccination appointments in Sabah have been changed due to the uncertain supply of vaccines and the second dose has been delayed unnecessarily as a result.
The only centers running PCR tests for Covid-19 are in Kota Kinabalu and Lahad Datu. Patients that require urgent tests will be processed with the Gene Expert method (PCR that detects two genes instead of the usual three), but that is reducing and in centres like Hospital Duchess of Kent Sandakan — only one week of tests are left. Tests sent to Kota Kinabalu/ Lahad Datu can take up to five days to obtain results.
As a result, there is a huge backlog of tests and a positive result today might have been from a swab taken a week ago (or longer). This has caused the delay of treatment for patients that require operations, causing congestion in hospitals and further worsening the spread of Covid-19.
To the new Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin — we urge you to come down to the ground and listen to us. Ignore those that cover up or brush us away and the voices that say “things are still manageable”.
We need help.
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