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Selasa, September 26, 2023

Sabah deserves respect and equal treatment, says ex-DCM

TAWAU:  It takes the newly-appointed Prime Minister to alert that Sabah has the lowest rate of vaccination in the country, and to call for attention and assistance to be given, said former Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew.

The Tawau MP hoped the Federal Government will pay heed to the PM’s words and do the needful so that Sabah can also achieve at least 60pc, if not more, by the end of this month. 

On August 29, Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob had pointed out that Sabah had the lowest vaccination rate while calling for attention and aid to be rendered, when he appeared at the Buletin Utama 8pm news on TV3. It was reportedly 37.1pc as screened that night.

“We commend the PM for paying attention to Sabah’s urgent need now, which is long overdue. We hope the situation will improve from now on. 

“The previous Administration might have neglected Sabah to a certain extent in managing the pandemic. Due to the unequal supply of COVID-19 vaccines to Sabah, we are relegated to the bottom rung, unfortunately. Other parts of the country like Klang Valley and Labuan Federal Territory have already achieved a 90pc vaccination rate. Congratulations!

“To say the least, Sabah deserves respect and equal treatment, and an equitable share of economic assistance and resources, as an equal partner of the Federation of Malaysia,” Liew, who is also Api Api Assemblywoman, said in a statement on Wednesday.

She, however, noted that the vaccination rate for the adult population in Sabah has since passed the 40pc mark in view of intensified efforts by the State Covid-19 Immunisation Task Force (CITF) Project Management team and also at CITF district level.

Meanwhile, Liew stressed that the Federal Government must prove its sincerity in addressing Sabah’s woes and improving our healthcare infrastructure.

She said no one can deny that the Government’s management of this pandemic has exposed certain weaknesses in our healthcare system and medical infrastructure in Malaysia in general, and Sabah in particular.

“As the pandemic evolved and raged on, reaching uncontrollable proportions, it showed how ill-prepared Malaysia and Sabah were in coping with this major health crisis from the perspectives of manpower and facilities.

“Lack of preparedness in facing an unprecedented pandemic of such magnitude was a glaring shortcoming in Malaysia in general, and Sabah in particular,” the Tawau MP pointed out, adding that Sabah’s public healthcare capacity was overwhelmed by the prolonged outbreak. 

This phenomenon, Liew said, was marked by a shortage of ICU beds, general ward beds, oxygen supply and ventilators, overstretched medical personnel as well as inadequate ambulance services, not only in the general hospitals but also in the district hospitals, not to mention the lack of low-risk quarantine centres.

According to her, the severity of this rising pandemic in Sabah was reflected in the temporary partial closure of  specialist clinic services at Queen Elizabeth Hospital I in July and at Queen Elizabeth Hospital II in August this year, among other changes.

“Never had a massive disruption ever occurred in the history of Sabah’s medical services. For instance, the Eye Ward at Queen Elizabeth Hospital I has since been turned into a COVID-19 Ward.

“I understand that some doctors and nurses from Queen Elizabeth Hospital II were re-deployed to Queen Elizabeth Hospital I to deal with the COVID-19 caseload, while some of those at Queen Elizabeth Hospital I were mobilised to the isolation wards. 

“How long will this situation continue at the expense of treating other illnesses such as heart disease, kidney disease, bone ailments, cancers and others?” Liew asked.

“Sabah is not Malaya. Perhaps you can close down or curtail specialist services in one or two hospitals in the Klang Valley because there are many other hospitals there, both public and private.”