KUCHING: Minister of Local Government and Housing Datuk Dr Sim Kui Hian has appealed for administrative autonomy and more funding to be given to Sarawak’s healthcare sector to meet the demands of the people for quality health related-services.
“Administrative autonomy as in we determine how many specialists (the state required), we determine how many medical officers, how many housemen and we create the post. We want to determine how we run the medical service in Sarawak,” said Dr Sim during Malaysian Medical Association Sarawak branch 47th anniversary dinner at a hotel here last night.
Dr Sim said the unique landscape of the state, coupled with its huge land mass, require a different approach when it comes to providing quality medical coverage to the people, compared with the strategy applied in Peninsular Malaysia.
Citing an example, Dr Sim said people residing in Peninsular Malaysia could arrive in another well-equipped hospital within the two hours of driving, while the people here might not even reach another town or district under the same time frame.
“People tend to forget that Sarawak is as big as Peninsular Malaysia. In rural medical service, whether you like it or not, we need to make healthcare accessible (to the people of the state),” he said.
Moreover, Dr Sim reckoned Sarawakians should be prioritised for the position of housemanship in public hospitals across the state because the chances of local medical graduates staying back and serve in the state are much greater as compared to if such positions are being offered to medical graduates from other parts of Malaysia.
Besides that, he opined the consideration of merging health clinics in the state with lower volume of patients might not be preferable.
“So maybe we can consider to whether to open on certain days or go mobile or not. We need to re-look (at the suggestion of) closing down (those clinics) as it is not a good option in terms of accessibility,” he said.
As for Kuching, Dr Sim believed the city does not require another general hospital to serve its people but specialist healthcare institutions such as a heart centre, cancer centre, woman and children hospital should be built instead.
“We do not need another general hospital because such hospital have limitations in terms of equipment and focus on how far we can go on,” he said.
Dr Sim remarked that doctors from Sarawak possessed the capabilities to deliver world-class service if they are given the opportunities.