Health Minister, you owe Sabah answers
Product Of The System (Letter)
Malaysiakini| Mar 2, 09 3:34pm
Dear Health Minister,
Ali, a 32-year-old road traffic accident victim, travelled three hours
from a district in Sabah and arrived in Kota Kinabalu six hours after the
After the initial assessment in the emergency department, a CT scan of the
head and abdomen was ordered to exclude intracranial bleeding and
He was whisked back onto an ambulance to the privately-owned Sabah Medical
Center (SMC) for the required scans. After the ten-minute procedure, he
was repacked into the ambulance back to Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) to
undergo further assessment while awaiting the results of his blood tests
and X-rays. His scans and X-rays were reviewed.
Ali was found to have a lacerated liver and a fractured long bone with
multiple superficial wounds. He was then prepared for emergency surgery.
For that, the young man was then re-wheeled into the ambulance and headed
once again to the SMC where the operating theatre and intensive care unit
of QEH are currently housed. By the time surgery starts, it was already
nine hours from the time of his motor vehicle accident.
My story hasn’t finished, Mr Minister.
One hour into the operation, our young chap bled tremendously that he
required more blood products to sustain life. It would not be another hour
or so before the blood products arrive from the blood bank of QEH to the
You see YB, blood has to be taken from the patient and passed to a house
officer. The house officer will fill in the necessary forms and hand them
over to an attendant. The attendant will wait for a chartered bus or
ambulance to head back to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital or rather, what
remains of it.
Back in QEH, the attendant will wait 45 minutes for the blood to be
cross-matched and then wait a while more for the arrival of a chartered
bus or ambulance to ferry him (or her) back to SMC.
Anyway, being a fit and healthy young man previously, Ali survived the
operation. He was admitted to the ICU and needed a repeated chest X-ray.
For that, the radiography team in QEH is informed. The duo will then take
a the chartered bus or ambulance to SMC to perform the X-ray. Shooting an
X-ray takes all but two minutes. Processing the cassette will take another
However, the processing is done back in the hospital and delivered by the
next available ambulance back to SMC. By the time the X-ray films reach
the patient, it could be anything from three to twelve hours later.
Dear Yang Berkhidmat (YB) Liow,
I hope you notice the unacceptable predicament our Sabahan patients (and
medical staff) are facing currently. It is already six months since the
initial and abrupt closure of Kota Kinabalu’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.
Since then, we have been without a proper operating theatre and intensive
We are also without distinctive wards for many of our surgical patients of
most disciplines. Frankly speaking, the health crisis of the state of
Sabah has run so deep and so far along that I do not where to begin.
I will instead serve an eye-opening fact to you, Mr. Liow. At the height
of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) epidemic, the the
communist government of the People’s Republic of China erected a 1,000-bed
hospital within seven days.
Work on the Xiaotangshan Hospital started on April 24, 2003 and was
completed on April 30, with 7,000 workers and 500 machines tirelessly on
duty around the clock. Far from being a melamine-laced structure, the
Xiaotangshan Hospital is equipped with the then state-of-the-art
anti-infective measures and facilities.
The structure built within a week is still standing firm six years later
today, ready to house any ill and potentially infective patient in the
event of any unforeseen health crisis.
Mr Health Minister,
That is exactly what Sabahans are in right now – a health crisis. The
Barisan Nasional government chants ‘Malaysia Boleh’ like some proverbial
battle-cry but the Sabah state health crisis has proven that empty vessels
make the most noise.
Unlike MCA members, not everyone enjoys being labeled a ‘squatter’. For
six months, the medical staff and patients of Sabah have been housed in
sections of the Sabah Medical Center paying a whooping rental of RM 90,000
For five months since our forced relocation into your prized SMC, we only
had one operating room for life-threatening emergency cases. Elective
surgeries were postponed indefinitely even those involving cancers and
prostates and suspicious breast lumps.
We only restarted elective surgeries a month ago but even so, the backlog
of cases is tremendous and catastrophic. I wonder Mr Minister, how would
you like to have a tumor growing in your rectum with no avenue of getting
That is exactly what our poor Sabah folk are facing. They were without
money and without a hospital to get operated in. In fact, they still don’t
because they do not have a formal general hospital for Kota Kinabalu
Heck, we don’t even have our own CT scan. What we do have, however, is
lots of bills to pay and debts to settle.
Is it true that the state department of health owes SMC a total of RM 6.1
million for CT scan services? Is it true that Hantaran Wira, the company
contracted to provide transport to and fro SMC-QEH is paid RM500,000 per
You owe the 3.4 million population of Sabah a lot of answers for wasted
lives and needless deaths. Money cannot solve all problems in life. Thank
you for listening.