This morning, I submitted a motion under Standing Order 18 (1) to the Speaker’s office to seek for an answer from the Ministry of Health (MOH) regarding fire safety measures at all MOH premises, including hospitals and government clinics.
Yesterday, there was a fire at the medical supply store at the Klinik Kesihatan Jalan Masjid in Kuching, which destroyed more than 80 per cent of the supplies stored there, including medicines, vaccines, and alcohols. More than 40 per cent of the physical building was also destroyed.
While we ae glad that there were no casualties, such an incident should not be looked upon as an isolated case, as there have been fires at other MOH facilities, including the one at Hospital Sultanah Aminah, Johor, which caused the loss of six lives.
On top of that, there are apparently several government facilities, including hospitals like Sarawak General Hospital (SGH), Pusat Jantung SGH in Sarawak, and Hospital Sultanah Aminah Hospital, which have yet to obtain fire safety certificates (FCs).
Under the Fire Services Act 1988, there are nine categories of premises that must have FCs, which are hospitals, hotels, libraries, offices, shops, assembly halls, storage areas, hostels and factories.
The FC is important because before it is issued, the fire department will conduct a thorough inspection of the building’s fire safety system, such as fire alarm equipment, fire extinguishers and fire exits. This is to ensure that fire safety measures are in place, in the event of a fire.
This is why it is important that such health care facilities must have the required FC to ensure the safety of patients and staff. especially during the pandemic, where the hospitals are often congested with patients.
This is why I have pushed for this issue to be properly debated and to get answers from the MOH on three main items:
- The government’s immediate response to the fire at Klinik Kesihatan Jalan Masjid in Kuching.
- How many government-owned, managed, leased and linked buildings do not have FCs, and how many do not even have Certificates of Completion and Compliance (CCCs)?
- The government’s efforts to strengthen fire safety measures at all hospitals and clinics all around Malaysia, including releasing an independent inquiry report on the Hospital Sultanah Aminah fire, which should be done in the spirit of transparency and accountability.
Now that hospitals are packed due to Covid-19 patients, it is even more important to make sure they are safe. The government must prioritise the health and safety aspects of patients and staff during this time.
I urge the government to have appropriate policies to ensure that all their buildings are checked regularly and have the necessary FCs.
Dr Kelvin Yii is the Member of Parliament for Bandar Kuching.
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