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See calls on authorities to step up efforts in containing rabies
Tarikh : 22 Feb 2018  Sumber Berita: The Borneo Post
 

See calls on authorities to step up efforts in containing rabies

KUCHING: The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee and state Health Department have been urged to step up their efforts in containing rabies in Sarawak and to improve the state’s medical facilities to combat rabies and other infectious diseases in hospitals.

In making the call, Batu Lintang assemblyman See Chee How noted that since July 1 last year, 30 localities in five divisions in Sarawak; namely Serian, Samarahan, Sri Aman, Kuching and Sarikei were found to be rabies positive.

Late in January, a 59-year-old man from Jalan Batu Kawa-Matang succumbed to rabies encephalitis.

He was the seventh victim of the rabies outbreak, raising the death toll to six.

This had prompted the State Disaster Management Committee to issue a notification that all dogs in the whole state should be vaccinated against rabies earlier this month, he added.

“How effective will the measures undertaken now be, to stop the spread of this infectious disease and prevent further loss of human life?” See asked during a press conference here yesterday.

See, who is state PKR vice chairman, said he was more concerned with the inadequate funding for the state Health Department to be equipped to diagnose, treat and prevent the spread of rabies and other infectious diseases, the lack of specialist doctors, epidemiologists, consultants and trained medical officers in our general hospitals, and the poor coordination between the state Health Department and the various hospitals and clinics.

“I am informed that in Sarawak, we have only one epidemiologist in the Sarawak General Hospital and we are poorly equipped with the necessary facilities for post exposure prophylaxis (preventive treatment).

“I want to know if the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee and the Sarawak State Health Department had highlighted this fact to the federal Ministry of Health, since the rabies outbreak in July last year, to train more of our medical doctors and officers as infectious disease specialists and to upgrade our medical facilities such that we will have a full-fledged epidemiology unit in Sarawak to diagnose, treat and prevent the outbreak and spread of infectious diseases.”

In noting that the upgrading of the state’s human resources, medical supplies and equipment are crucial, See believes there are medical cases of animal bites and scratches in the state’s hospitals and private clinics each day.

“Their treatments now are very much involving medical examination, cleaning of wounds and victims are prescribed with antibiotics. Ideally, blood tests for the victims, especially those who are from the identified rabies positive areas, should be carried out.

“However, I was informed that there are not enough medical facilities for rabies confirmatory serology tests or diagnostic examination of blood serum for everyone. We are fortunate that the health units have so far not being blamed or accused of medical negligence, but these rabies blood tests should be viewed as life-saving, and the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee and the Sarawak State Health Department must vigorously persuade the federal Ministry of Health to give our state Health Department sufficient allocation in order that such blood tests can be carried out more extensively by our health units.”

See said he was looking forward to the clarification by the state Health Department on the situation as regards such important confirmatory blood tests, the record of number of victims of animal bites and scratches being given such blood tests since July last year.

“Not only are our hospitals unable to carry out confirmatory blood tests for the victims, I was also told that there are insufficient vaccines in our health units for post exposure prophylaxis (preventive treatment) to protect the victims.

“As at present, doctors and medical officers are giving vaccines solely based on the wound characters which are poor and inadequate clinical assessments.

“It is known that a few of the victims who had passed away were victims of animal scratches. I was told that in most cases of animal scratches, the victims are given anti-tetanus vaccine and not rabies vaccines.”

See added: “Are the various health units, the hospitals and clinics, including the private clinics, now properly coordinated with the state Health Department to keep record and monitor the number of medical cases of victims with animal bites and scratches each day?

“The Sarawak Disaster Management Committee and the Sarawak State Health Department must be open and transparent with the records as a way to promote public awareness and to enhance the coordination of all local health units thereby be more effective to engage them in a concerted effort to combat this infectious disease.”

See said he always has the highest regards to the medical doctors and nurses in public hospitals and private practice, working vigilantly and giving their best under much constraints of insufficient and inadequate medical facilities and training.

“I certainly am hopeful that the Sarawak Disaster Management Committee and the Sarawak State Health Department will do more to persuade the federal government to allocate more funds to Sarawak to train more of our medical doctors and officers as infectious disease specialists, to upgrade our medical facilities to include a full-fledged epidemiology unit in Sarawak, and most importantly to ensure that there are sufficient vaccines in our hospitals for post exposure prophylaxis for suspected rabies victims.”