The overcrowding problem at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here, the only specialist referral public hospital in the state, has been overlooked by the opposition party, by the Federal Ministry of Health and even the state Ministry of Public Health.
Instead, those opposition party and the government are busy with political tussles, minister's sex scandal, sending a space participant into space, and other fund-wasting projects.
The problem of overcrowding at SGH has been reported since last year and only now, it has caught the attention of an opposition party. Dominique Ng, the PKR Sarawak chairman and his troops are sleeping or too busy throwing bricks to fellow DAP.
As for the federal Ministry of Health, those officers there are busy trying to buy CSL private VCD. The state Minister of Public Health is busy with Toilet beautification.
Taib Mahmud himself is also too busy developing Mukah and its surrounding area instead of doing planning to improve the problem at SGH.
* Sarawak General Hospital badly overcrowded, Part 1
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Source: theborneopost.com/?p=34442 (Apr 23, 2008)
Call to review Sarawak’s medical services
By Yu Ji
KUCHING: The overcrowding problem at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here, the only specialist referral public hospital in the state, has caught the attention of an opposition party.
A delegation of Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR), led by Dr Francis Ngu, toured the 800-bed facility earlier this month, and described the hospital’s problems as “symptomatic of larger issues that have existed over a long time”.
A PKR press release yesterday called for sweeping changes, including the building of new general hospitals and increasing the number of medical staff throughout Sarawak.
Dr Ngu who is head of Sarawak PKR medical and health bureau also called for the “Borneonisation” of medical services and for the state government to appoint a minister to overcome the issues.
“A designated state government minister should work with the federal minister in drawing up a health master plan for existing and planned facilities in Sarawak,” Dr Ngu said.
Sarawak has the Minister of Environment and Public Health in the person of Datuk Michael Manyin Jawong.
“The under-provision versus service-needs in Kuching and other towns will get worse if there is no aggressive proactive planning undertaken immediately,” Dr Ngu added.
He stated that a health services ‘reform’ must address key issues like the “optimal mix of public-private healthcare, centralised versus decentralised decision making, long-term health containment and professional training”.
Citing the widely reported overcrowding at SGH, the politician said it is a “repetition of the same problem in the 1980s”.
“The overcrowding was only improved for a short while around 2000 after adding new blocks. However, the problem is now severe enough to have appeared in the press multiple times in recent months,” Dr Ngu said.
He said it was “most perplexing” that a polyclinic had not been set up in Petra Jaya, given its enormous population growth.
“It has been evident since the 1980s that the polyclinics at Mosque Road and Tanah Putih were inadequate to meet outpatient service needs of Kuching City,” Dr Ngu added.
Dr Ngu said the need for a reform was the more urgent in the face of increasing morbidity from ‘lifestyle diseases’ underpinned by the ‘rural-urban migration’.
Dr Ngu listed the following proposal as the crux of his reform:
* Kuching and surrounding areas will need three new polyclinics and three new 300-400 bed specialist general hospitals in the next 10-12 years. SGH will remain the designated premier regional referral hospital, focusing in tertiary specialist services, medical teaching and research.
If Sarawak International Medical Centre is re-designated as SIMC Public Hospital, it could very quickly complement SGH synergistically, providing high-end medical technology services.
* Sibu, Miri and Bintulu should be upgraded to ‘Regional Referral Hospital’ status, providing a wider range of second-level specialist services in five to 10 years’ time and some tertiary services later.
* Selected divisional and district hospitals should be upgraded in three to five years to general hospitals providing specialist services in five to eight basic disciplines, especially the hospitals at Serian, Sri Aman, Kapit and Limbang.
New hospital projects may need to be undertaken as some very old buildings may not be suitable for providing specialist services, like the Sri Aman Hospital.
Specialist services already available at the newer Sarikei and Bintulu hospitals should be consolidated and the range of specialities expanded, guided by catchment area morbidity data.
* Polyclinics with high daily patient attendance should be staffed by one or two specialist doctors. At least 60 per cent of patients should be attended to by a medical officer or doctor. A staffing ratio of one medical officer to 80 daily outpatients should be aimed for.
* A designated state government minister should work out with the federal ministries of Health and Education on a medical and personnel master-plan for existing and planned facilities in Sarawak in 2013 — the nation’s 50th anniversary.
* The intake of Sarawakians in government medical schools should fully reflect current and projected service needs in the state.
“The planning and management is, thus, enormous and quite daunting,” Dr Ngu admitted, adding: “However, the people of Sarawak expects no less, being part of a much touted advanced nation by 2020.”
He said a “strong political will for far-reaching health services reform” is called for.
Last week, The Borneo Post reported that SGH is sending more than 50 patients to peripheral medical facilities close to Kuching City, due to massive overcrowding at its wards.
About 25 bone fracture patients have been warded at the Rajah Charles Brooke Memorial Hospital and more than 15 post-surgery patients at the former nurses’ training centre opposite SGH.
In January this year, it was first reported that another 25 patients were also being sent to recuperate at Sentosa Hospital, a practise which continues today. SGH is also using all of its first-class wards to ward third-class patients.
Worse still, some patients needing intensive care treatment are being sent to private hospitals as SGH only has space for nine ICU beds and equipment. However, SGH pays for these cases.