Photos : Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali ( left), Datuk Christina Liew (right)
KUALA LUMPUR: Good news for the people of Tawau – the five-year wait for a new mammogram screening machine for early detection of breast cancer, is coming to an end soon under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP), said MP Datuk Christina Liew.
When debating the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) in the Dewan Rakyat on Monday, Liew had questioned the Federal Government over the undue delay which, she said, is unwarranted and causes great inconvenience and financial burden on those who require mammogram screening service.
“As Tawau MP, I am raising this issue in the hope that this can be resolved once and for all under the 12th Malaysia Plan (12MP) which aims to transform the nation into a ‘Prosperous, Inclusive, Sustainable – Keluarga Malaysia’ (or Malaysian Family) during the five-year period from 2021 to 2025,” she had said.
This is the second time Liew has raised the issue in Parliament, the first being in 2018 after Pakatan Harapan (PH) came to power. It failed to materialise following the sudden change of government in February 2020. So, in April this year, she called on the Perikatan Nasional (PN) Government to expedite the installation of the promised mammogram machine.
“Presently, women in Tawau get their mammogram done at the private medical centre in the district or go all the way to Kota Kinabalu which is inconvenient and costly. Poor women who are affected cannot afford to seek medical help at private healthcare facilities,” she pointed out.
In replying to the Tawau MP on Wednesday, Deputy Health Minister I Datuk Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali said the machine has just arrived at the Tawau Hospital and is expected to be fully utilised next month (November).
According to him, the Health Ministry (KKM) had issued the Surat Setuju Terima (letter of acceptance of tender) to the Tawau Hospital’s mammogram machine contractor on March 15 this year.
“The project concerned started on June 16, 2021. Delay in implementation was caused by the contractor’s difficulty in entering the site as well as in the supply of building material involved, following the Covid-19 outbreak,” he explained.
To Liew’s question on the lack of medical facilities (example, ICU beds) in the Tawau Hospital, Dr Noor Azmi said the Health Ministry (KKM) through the Sabah State Health Department has taken steps to upgrade the intensive care capacity of the Tawau Hospital in addressing the Covid-19 pandemic.
These were to carry out renovation of certain spaces inside and outside the hospital building for these to become a temporary ward and an ICU (or repurposed ICU), and to build a modular ICU in the hospital (as pledged by Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin during his official visit to Tawau on September 6).
“Currently, the Tawau Hospital is equipped with 10 ICU beds, and some 28 repurposed ICU beds have been added, including the 10 ICU beds at the newly-completed Modular ICU. This brings to a total of 38 ICU beds there as a whole,” he said, adding that the rate of ICU bed usage at the hospital was now at 55 percent.
On the Covid-19 vaccination programme in Sabah and Tawau in response to Liew’s assertion that Sabah is the lowest vaccinated state in the country, and that the previous administration might have neglected Sabah to a certain extent in managing the pandemic, the Deputy Health Minister I said as of October 4, 2021, Sabah has received 5.6 million doses of a variety of vaccines.
“This total is more than sufficient for the adult population in Sabah. Of this quantity, more than 1.7 million doses have not been used yet. As for the Tawau district, the balance of 659,234 doses of vaccine has yet to be used,” said Dr Noor Azmi.