Wednesday, October 27

Ramp up vaccination drive in Penampang

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Alphonsus                                            Albert                                         Batholomew

PENAMPANG: Several individuals from Penampang on Saturday urged the Gabungan Rakyat Sabah (GRS)-led State Government to ramp up the Covid-19 vaccination drive in the district and to mobilize grassroot leaders to contain the recent surge of cases while at the same time, to ensure continued compliance of standard operating procedures (SOPs) in all the villages.

It had been reported that the spike of cases in the State was due to the ‘community clusters’ where some 1,291 new cases were reported with 131 from Penampang on Friday while the State continued to register more than 1,000 daily cases for the past week.

The former Village Community Management Council (MPKK) chairman for Kg Dabak/Sapou, Alphonsus Sundangit, said that the trend is indeed worrying and he suggested for the State Government to introduce ‘prioritized appointment’ and to mobilize appointed JPKK chairpersons and village chiefs in Penampang to assist in the vaccination drive by identifying those who are still waiting for their appointment after a month or two being successfully registered.

“I believe that by now, many Penampang folks may have already registered themselves for vaccination through the MySejahtera app and I have heard of complaints before that some have yet to receive their doses despite having registered a couple of months earlier.

“I don’t know if this issue is still on-going but if it is so, then what the State Government can do is introduce ‘a prioritized vaccination appointment’ for those who have been waiting for a long time and thereafter, to authorise grassroot leaders such as JPKKs and village heads to identify and submit the names to those in charge at nearby vaccination centres (PPVs),” he said on Saturday.

“Most of us don’t even know how fast we can secure our appointment after we registered in the MySejahtera app – some said a month and others said depending on the available doses, so it would be good too if the government could tell us about this,” he added.

Meanwhile, the former MPKK chairperson of Kg Nampasan, Albert Chuan said that the State Government can instruct the grassroot leaders not only in Penampang but all over the districts in Sabah to do daily roundups in their respective villages to ensure nobody flout the SOPs.

“Look at the daily Covid-19 reports involving sub-urban and rural areas in Sabah – some are from funerals or even festivity which I presumed, a gathering that exceeds 20 people.

“This, I believe, tells us that unlike in the cities where people get compounded immediately for flouting SOPs, grassroot monitoring of Covid-19 in Sabah is comparatively weak, hence the State Government should instruct the Village Safety and Development Committee (JPKKs) to make daily roundups in their respective villages to ensure no activity that flouts the SOPs is happening.

“And obviously, the JPKKs should discharge their responsibilities in a courteous and friendly manner to avoid unnecessary tensions with their fellow villagers who may feel slighted when being reminded,” he added.

The affiliate member of Penampang Act of Kindness Association (PAKA), Batholomew Jingulam, said that while it is understandable why the movement control is being enforced, the State Government should act with prudence and justice whenever they decide to restrict the movement of the people.

“There has to be a balance on the part of our State Government between acting prudently to save lives by restricting the movement of the population within an area and in acting with justice by rendering to those affected what is due to them,” he said.

In the case of enhanced movement control order (EMCO) affected areas in Sabah particularly in Penampang, he said the State Government should provide immediate assistance and food baskets, including infant formula milk to those affected  because these are not deemed to be ‘contributions’ from the government in the likes of contributions by the MP Office of Penampang, PAKA or any other NGOs but rather, ‘what is due by the State Government to them’ in lieu of the restriction having being emplaced.

“But what saddened me is that this is not the case and especially in some villages affected by EMCO in this district where, I understand it, suffered delayed assistance,” he said.

Meanwhile, the member of parliament for Penampang, Datuk Darell Leiking, said that the State Government must prioritize the vaccination drive in the district of Penampang in view of its status as the satellite town for Kota Kinabalu.

“Being located just side by side with Kota Kinabalu, Penampang primarily serves as the residential and small commercial services hubs for those working in the city hence there is need for the State Government to push for the vaccination drive here.

“This is more so when Penampang, especially Donggongon and other commercial areas in this district are the major attractions for youths from all over the State to come and work whom I believe, would normally be renting in many of the low-cost apartments and shophouses in groups and unknowingly to all of us, these Sabahan youths are exposed to the deadly virus especially the Delta variant,” he said.

Leiking added the State Government had an obligation to protect the lives of these innocent Sabahan youths who left their hometowns in search of work here.

“Being a host to them, Penampang really need to ensure their safety and while we may not be able to arrange for their vaccination per se, we may at least be able to protect them if the district achieves the 80% immunity herd,” he said.