Wednesday, March 20

Dr Yii wants external audit on rabies control in Sarawak


Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING: Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii wants an external audit on rabies control measures in Sarawak.

He said the report must be transparent so that the people can together identify what needs to be done and also know what has been done before.

According to him, transparency will also allow people to see if the Sarawak government is on track with efforts done so far in accordance with international guidelines.

With regards to the issue of lack of veterinary support from the federal government to help curb the spread of the disease, Dr Yii said he will speak to the federal minister involved on the matter once parliament resumes this week and relay the urgency of the situation in the state.

“I will request the required assistance based on proper and real report on the ground so that together, we can effectively handle the situation,” said Dr Yii, who is also DAP Sarawak Youth secretary.

“I do hope a proper and honest briefing on the matter was given to the minister in order for the ministry to be fully aware and fully understand the situation on the ground as well. However, I believe the state government and the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee led by Datuk Amar Douglas Uggah Embas should be more up front and honest with the real situation with regards to the rabies outbreak that has spread all over Kuching and claimed 10 lives so far.”

The number of confirmed cases of rabies among humans in Sarawak stands at 11, resulting in the deaths of 10 victims.

The sole survivor – a young boy – was discharged from hospital with severe neurological problems and is on life support at his home.

On July 5 last year, Uggah, who is also Deputy Chief Minister, said the rabies situation in Sarawak was under control and he was confident that with the current standard operating procedure, the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee could contain the outbreak.

At that time, only five villages were declared rabies-infected areas but since then, the outbreak has spread to many different places. Currently, the number of areas across the state with confirmed cases of rabies stands at 33, based on information reported on July 5, 2018. They comprise areas in Kuching, Samarahan, Serian, Sri Aman and Sarikei divisions.

Dr Yii, however, said the number of affected areas could be more following reported new cases involving a pet dog in Kampung Sungai Agas Baru, Mile 12 Jalan Matang here on July 31; a pet cat in Jalan Padungan also on July 31; a stray dog in Lane 6, Hakka Avenue here; and a pet dog in Kampung Bumbok, off Jalan Batu Kitang here.

“We are getting conflicting reports of the seriousness of the issue where on one hand, the state government and Sarawak Disaster Management Committee continuously claim that the situation is under control and the spread has been controlled.”

On May 20, Department of Veterinary Services acting director Dr Adrian Susin Ambud claimed that they had managed to control the disease and reduce the number of bite cases, and that there were no more new cases of rabies.

“Even in Parliament, whenever the (rabies) issue was raised, members of parliament were constantly told that by the previous government that the situation was under control.

“Reports on the ground and the constant spread of the disease throughout the state speak differently on the effectiveness and urgency on the matter, which calls into question the strategy that is being implemented,” said Dr Yii.

We are receiving reports that dog bites have not decreased, and population control has not achieved its target. On top of that, some standards based on World Health Organisation recommendations are not followed, including a repeat six months vaccination in the specific area, he added.

He noted that the Sarawak government now appears to be laying the blame on the new federal government for not supporting efforts to fight rabies.

“The fact of the matter is, the financial constraint we are facing now is caused by the reckless spending and lack of good governance by the previous Barisan Nasional (BN) government,” he stressed.

Dr Yii said the public is seriously concerned about the real situation as calls by the Sarawak government not to panic and that things are under control have not addressed their fears, especially when the disease continues to spread to more and more places in the state.