KUCHING (Jan 24): The federal Ministry of Health (MOH) is called to address the lack of health infrastructures in rural areas of Sarawak to address the state’s high mortality rate among infants.
According to Telang Usan assemblyman Dennis Ngau, he said the rural clinics have to be built at Long Anyat at Sungai Patah; Apau Nyaring and Long Atun – both in Ulu Tinjar.
This, he added, will help his constituents there to receive health treatments for their infants without having to travel far to do so.
“The ‘klinik desa’ (rural clinic) has to be built at Long Anyat in Sungai Patah where there are at least 15 Penan villages there, scattered very far away. The other one is at Apau Nyaring, Ulu Tinjar – there should be one clinic there. And there shd be another one in Long Atun, Ulu Tinjar. And maybe one or two more places.
“But if the MOH could build the clinics at these three areas in the shortest time possible, this will help a lot,” he said when contacted by The Borneo Post today.
The same sentiment was also shared by Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Minister Dato Sri Fatimah Abdullah, who is also Dalat assemblywoman, who mentioned some of the health clinics in her constituency were in a dilapidated state, lack basic amenities or has yet to have a new building to replace the existing ones.
“In rural areas, we not only have schools which are dilapidated and lack basic amenities , health clinics also suffer the same fate. In Dalat district, one wooden clinic in Ng Baoh only recently has treated water supply through Sarawak Alternative Water Supply Project (Sawas) – however the clinic still uses a generator set courtesy of SK St Luke to produce electricity.
“The mode of transport from Ng Baoh Clinic is either through a farm road heading to Mukah Hospital, or using river transport to Dalat hospital .
“One wooden health clinic Kampung Medong is supposed to have a new building. The land was already allocated since more than 10 years ago, but until now, nothing has happened there,” she added .
Yesterday (Jan 23), Deputy Premier Dato Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian revealed that Sarawak’s mortality rate among infants aged five years and below is 14 per cent higher than the national average, according to Sarawak Deputy Premier Datuk Sri Dr Sim Kui Hian today.
The state minister of public health, housing and local government said the Bumiputera communities in the rural areas of the state contribute the most to the high mortality rate when compared to the urban centres.
“Why do the Bumiputera communities have a very high mortality rate among infants? This is because the health infrastructure and equipment are lacking due to insufficient funding by the federal government,” he said.
Dr Sim’s comments were also echoed by Dennis, who said that due to the lack of health facilities in his constituency, the parents will have to travel far for their children to receive health treatments and regular check-ups, traversing through logging roads in order to reach the nearest clinic.
“There are villages situated two to three hours from the nearest clinic -and the parents, they don’t have their own facility, their own car. So if they want to go to a nearby clinic, they have to depend on others or depend on a company vehicle. So these are the things that caused the kind of issue – for example, they are supposed to go to follow up at a clinic on Jan 31, but if they have no transport maybe that could create a problem for them.
“So for that matter, I hope that the federal MOH will look at the needs to build additional health clinics,” he added.
Meanwhile, Dennis adviced his constituents in the rural areas and are from the underprivileged families, especially those who do not have a steady income, to plan on how many children they should have and what age they should bear children.
“Up in the rural areas, we cannot deny that among the Penans, at a very young age, they are married. And sometimes those who are married don’t even work. And nowadays, nothing is free. You still need to pay the fares if you need to go to the hospital, everything needs money.
“And so, my advice is like that – I ask them to think carefully and consider what kind of family size they should have,” he added.
Fatimah said despite the situation, it should not deter any newly-weds from bearing children, adding that what is important is to have regular prenatal checkup at clinics with ample facilities, to eat a balanced diet and also refrain from smoking.