More specialists, nurses by year end in Sabah, says Khairy

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah and Sarawak can expect better healthcare facilities, more manpower and improved benefits with the Health Ministry preparing the Health White Paper draft, says Khairy Jamaluddin (pic).

The Health Minister said this is because he believes healthcare should be seen as an investment as opposed to additional expenses.

“For Sabah, the immediate plan is to send in over a hundred more specialists and more than a thousand nurses here by year end,” he said during his Health White Paper town hall opening remarks via video conference on Friday (Sept 9).

“As for specialists, we hope to see the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Duchess of Kent Hospital Sandakan, and Tawau Hospital have a total of 49 specialists respectively soon,” Khairy said.

He said the same plans were mooted for the Sarawak General Hospital, Sibu and Miri Hospitals.

Khairy said as for the Queen Elizabeth II and Bintulu Hospital, the target was to have 20 specialist services each.

“We are going to upgrade five minor specialist hospitals into major specialists hospitals in Sabah and Sarawak and they are the Keningau, Lahad Datu, Limbang, Sarikei and Sri Aman Hospitals where each is expected to have 20 specialist services,” he said.

For non-specialists hospitals, six – three each for Sabah and Sarawak – have been identified for upgrading into minor specialist hospitals.

They are the Kota Marudu, Beaufort and Tuaran Hospitals in Sabah and Serian, Mukah and Lawas Hospitals in Sarawak where 10 specialist services were mooted.

Khairy said operating theatres and intensive care unit beds involving an allocation of RM76mil (RM42mil for Sabah and RM34mil for Sarawak) will be added as well.

He said another RM1.5bil would also be required to provide at least one comprehensive health clinic for 30 districts that do not have these facilities in both Sabah and Sarawak currently.

Khairy was supposed to attend the town hall session but had to switch virtually when his flight got diverted due to bad weather.

Earlier, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Hajiji Noor said in his speech that Sabah was the state with the third largest population nationwide, after Selangor and Johor.

He said the geographical conditions posed numerous challenges for the government to provide quality and accessibility to all in the state.

He also said that funding, health facilities and lack of manpower, outdated equipment were the other challenges faced in Sabah’s healthcare system.

Hajiji’s speech was delivered by Sabah Community Development and People’s Wellbeing Minister Datuk Shahelmey Yahya.

“As for the doctor to population ratio, it is one doctor to 872 people in Sabah compared with a 1:441 ratio at the national level,” Hajiji said.

He said dental care was even worse where one dentist has to cater to almost 7,000 people, compared with the nation’s 1:2816 ratio.

On mortality rate, he said Sabah has among the highest maternal mortality and under-nourished children in the country.

Hajiji said the large presence of illegal immigrants and stateless people are also contributing to the outbreak of contagious diseases such as malaria in 2019 and polio in 2020.

He hopes the Health White Paper will help address these issues.