Rotary Club, LDS join hands to enhance rural healthcare

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Hall (second left) hands over the clinical items to a representative of Lawas health clinic. Looking on are (from left) Wong, Baru and Dr Norliza.

BINTULU (Feb 22): Rotary Club of Bintulu Central (RCBC) and LDS Charities (The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints) have collaborated to enhance rural healthcare services by delivering 16 types of medical equipment comprising a total of 117 pieces worth RM786,368 to 18 rural clinics in Limbang and Lawas.

The official handover ceremony of the equipment was graced by sponsor Elder Sandy Hall to Limbang Division Health officer Dr Norliza Jusoh, and witnessed by Ba Kelalan assemblyman Baru Bian.

The project, which was carried out under the ‘Hope Delivery – Touching More Lives, Sequel 2 Division Limbang’, took place at Hotel Seri Malaysia Lawas on Monday.

RCBC president Allen Wong Ching Seng said Rotary is a global network of 1.4 million neighbours, friends, leaders and problem-solvers who see a world where people unite and take action to create lasting change.

“The mission is to provide service to others, promote integrity as well as advancing world understanding, goodwill and peace through our fellowship of business, professional and community leaders,” he said.

According to him, RCBC and LDS Charities visited Lawas in 2019 and 2021 for the eye-screening projects in schools.

“We came back to cover 18 clinics – nine in Limbang and nine Lawas – for this medical equipment donation, which included four categories of medical equipment, namely diagnostic, emergency care, neonatal, child health and safe motherhood,” said Wong.

Point of care testing (POCT) equipment, which is usually only available in major and bigger hospitals and health divisions, was among the equipment under the diagnostic category.

“Imagine having to spend at least one or two days in the city’s hospital to visit the doctor and get blood drawn for tests. It would be necessary to return in a few days or weeks. Many would just give up.

“Some may choose to ignore the symptoms, while others may go to traditional treatment. The good news is that the lab test can now be carried out at the rural clinics,” he said.

Baru, meanwhile, said it is a well-known fact that getting adequate and timely medical care is a huge challenge for the people in rural areas.

According to him, many have to travel long distances to reach the rural clinics, which can be difficult, at times painful, or even dangerous depending on the condition of the patient.

“Having reached the clinics, medical care is often hampered by lack of staff and equipment needed for diagnosis and treatment.

“In 2019 and 2021, LDS Charities organised eye-screening projects in the rural areas of Lawas and Ba Kelalan, which I had the opportunity to co-sponsor.

“During these visits, I voiced my concern about the plight of the rural people, particularly when it comes to medical care, and expressed my determination to see more effort in providing better health services for them,” he said.

Baru said during his time as works minister, he had requested a company to build the Long Sukang Clinic as a corporate social responsibility project, and that he was glad the project was successfully completed.

However, medical equipment is still insufficient for that clinic and other rural clinics in northern Sarawak, he noted.

“I am thankful that my words resonated with representatives from LDS Charities, Elder Jackson and Elder Baer, who made it their mission to donate much-needed medical equipment to the rural clinics of Lawas and Limbang,” he said.

He believed that the medical equipment would make a huge difference to the lives of rural folks as they no longer needed to travel to towns or cities for diagnosis and treatment, except for serious cases.

“I do not doubt that the staff at these clinics would also be relieved that they would finally have more equipment to help them carry out their duties,” he said.

RCBC had partnered with LDS Charities since April 2020 to launch a series of projects under the theme of ‘Hope’, complimenting the government’s efforts.

The project focuses on medical and health equipment donation to rural health service facilities, with the aim of improving the overall health and wellbeing of the community in Sarawak.

As part of the ‘Hope Delivery’ series, they had successfully donated medical equipment to 152 rural clinics in Sarawak in 2021, and fully equipped basic Point of Care Test equipment for 12 rural clinics in Bintulu in 2022.

Hall said they have collaborated with Rotary clubs in Sabah and Sarawak, as well as several collaborations with RCBC, in hospital and clinical delivery projects.

Having been involved in the evaluation of Project Hope and delivery of clinical equipment in Bintulu division, they were happy to be able to assist in providing needed clinical items for remote clinics in Limbang and Lawas divisions.

“We have learned that often, people in remote villages are unable to travel to larger centres for needed testing or treatment, which excludes them from getting the help they need.

“We hope that the equipment will make a difference for them, and help to provide better health and healthcare delivery for them,” he said.

Dr Norliza, on behalf of the state Health Department expressed her gratitude to RCBC and LDS Charities for the donation of medical equipment to health facilities in Limbang Division.

“We are pleased to receive the donation as it helps to equip our health facilities with better diagnostic, emergency and critical care instruments, along with replacing worn out medical equipment in order to provide better health services to the people especially those residing in rural areas,” she said.