Saturday, October 1

‘Inconvenient, costly for Miri cancer patients to be treated at SGH’

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(From left) Chin, Lee and Dr Wong look at reports on cancer patients treated at Miri Hospital and SGH.

MIRI: Cancer patients in Miri Division have to make at least a trip to Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) for chemotherapy and radiotherapy, which is not only inconvenient but incurs high expenses.

Quoting statistics from Miri Hospital, Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin said last year alone, 663 such trips for chemotherapy and radiotherapy at SGH were made by cancer patients from Miri.

“663 trips a year is a high figure indeed. Our SUPP Senadin Service Centre received numerous complaints from patients having to make the trip to SGH for chemotherapy and radiotherapy. Many defaulted though some needy patients and those accompanying them were given financial assistance by the government.

“We appeal to the Ministry of Health to find speedy remedial measures to overcome the problems while waiting for the Miri Hospital’s expansion project to be completed,” Lee told reporters yesterday after being briefed by Miri Hospital director Dr Jack Wong and heads of sections of the hospital dealing with cancer-related issues, and the hospital expansion project.

Also present were Eric Chin who is special assistant to Lee, general surgeon Dr Aminnur Hafiz Maliki, physician Dr Andy Tang Sing Ong and paediatrician Dr Kiew Chung Hunn.

Lee said radiotherapy facilities and services are not available in Miri Hospital although chemotherapy is available.

“But with no inhouse medical oncologist and neurosurgeon, the hospital is handicapped when it comes to providing services on a continuous basis – they only come to Miri Hospital once every two months.

“Thus we urge the Ministry to have the relevant specialists, especially once the hospital expansion project is completed, so Miri Hospital can be the referral hospital for Northern Sarawak catering for Bintulu, Miri and Limbang divisions,” he said.

Dr Wong meanwhile said the number of cancer patients in Miri is on the rise each year with colon cancer topping the list followed by breast cancer – both common among adults; and blood cancer (leukemia) which is common among children.

On a weekly basis, two to three new cancer patients seek treatment at the hospital while one case of blood cancer is reported weekly.

On the expansion project, Dr Jack said it is still under tender and that the project will have more than 300 beds when completed.

Currently Miri Hospital’s bed occupancy rate is about 125 daily, causing congestion, and forcing the hospital to place beds too close to each other.