Press Statement By Irene Chang:
I welcome the announcement by the state Health Director on 18 April on the 37 more ventilators which shall be sent in to 5 Sarawak hospitals, including Sibu Hospital. This is provided that the units sent in shall be in good functioning order.
Ventilators need anaesthetists to operate. Since the onset of COVID-19 in Sibu, I understand that our numbers of anaesthetists have been increased from 4 to 10 as of today. Sibu Hospital now has 3 wards managing ICU patients with more than 30 patients (including non COVID-19 cases); and anaesthetists are needed to operate the ventilators for patients as well as in emergency surgeries. At the moment, since these extra anaesthetists were sent in to help to cope with the COVID-19 patients, would they be reposted back after the curve has been flattened or are they here to
This issue of insufficient manpower, especially for specialists, in Hospitals outside Kuching Hospital has been raised many times before. Besides anaesthetists, hospitals outside Kuching also require other specialists such as Infectious Disease Specialists, Cardiologists and others to either improve the care of the patients or to support the exhausted local specialists in their fight against COVID-19.
On 15th April, MOH had announced that a total of 430 health ministry personnel would be sent to Sarawak to assist in the efforts to contain the COVID-19 situation here. Are these health workers here yet as the news had said that they would arrive on 21 April? And how many of them are specialists and how have they been distributed among the hospitals here?
In addition, in the same statement, the Health Minister had acknowledged that Sarawak needed about 1,436 health workers, including medical officers, assistant medical officers, microbiological science officers, nurses and drivers. (BP dated April 15th ). Since 430 are supposed to arrive on 21 April, when are the remaining medical personnel going to reach Sarawak and would they include any specialists?
In Sibu, because of insufficient manpower and resources, less urgent surgeries have been postponed. Even scheduled patients to see specialists in the polyclinics have been postponed a few times. We all know that COVID-19 is not going to disappear in a month or two. And while we look after COVID-19 patients, we cannot continue to neglect the non-COVID-19 patients. They cannot be made to wait indefinitely for them to receive treatment.
As has been acknowledged, the pandemic episode which is far from over, has revealed many things lacking in our health care system in Sibu. All these times, they have been mostly swept under the carpet. When the hospital lacks urgent medical equipment and resources, private individuals and companies would step in to provide for them.
While this philanthropist and community spirit is much to be lauded and encouraged, it is not right for MOH and State Health Department to continue ignoring our patients here and to leave the people of Sibu to our own device to keep our hospital and medical frontliners afloat. Only if we have a healthy health care system with all available manpower and resources can our hospital and medical personnel fight against the pandemic effectively.