KOTA KINABALU, July 12 — All the children in Sabah, including stateless children must have access to immunisation.

Former Sabah State Health director Datuk Dr Christina Rundi stresses the importance of the struggle to ensure all children who are in Sabah are immunised.

“You cannot not put them together. You cannot say we just immunise the locals and we forget about those not locals,” she warned during her talk at the Sabah Society forum on challenges of the unregistered population in Sabah at KPJ Sabah near here on Tuesday night.

Dr Christina said that this was to do with herd immunity and urged the people to understand what this meant.


She explained that herd immunity was to provide immunity to a large group of the population, particularly in terms of infectious diseases.

She said that if there are people who are sick and contagious in a community where most of the people are not immunised but are healthy, those who are sick and contagious will impact the entire population.

“But when there are a lot of people who are immunised, they provide protection for the rest of the group,” she said.


She cited that in the context of measles, in order to protect one person, about 95 percent of the people must be immunised.

Dr Christina also claimed that based on available data, the number of children with zero dose of DPTI vaccine in Sabah has increased from 11.2 percent in 2013 to 40.4 percent in 2021.

“The numbers are going down which is ridiculous. In 2015, people had to pay for service so a lot didn’t come anymore,” she said.

“When we had a report in April, this year, that Sabah had a 900 per cent increase in whooping cough (cases), we were surprised, but we shouldn’t be surprised. If you don’t know the background of it, you think: ‘Wah, these people (the stateless people) are spreading the disease and all that’,” she said.

But this was expected, said Dr Christina.

“We know already (from the immunisation data), so when it happened, we know already. It wasn’t a surprise,” she said.

She also recounted the polio case in Sandakan involving a local boy a few years ago whose infection has links with the Philippines and cited that there was a lot of cross border movement.

“This (case) is a reminder how we have failed to protect the children. We think that the children affected are the children of undocumented population. This is our child. And the herd immunity I mentioned is to protect every child regardless of statelessness. For the rest of his life, he will use the trachea (tube to breathe), for the rest of his life he won’t be able to walk.”

She reiterated that this case was due to the failure to look after the children and the failure to look at the sciences and not talk about the undocumented as if it is just a problem about people who have no rights to be here.

Dr Christina also said people always think of health as an investment.

She added that if people invest in the health of a child, they will reap the benefit from all the children in the community.

“If you invest in the health service of the undocumented, you will free up some beds for other diseases,” she said.

She reminded that the undocumented people are already in Sabah.

“If you don’t bother about them, one day they will bother you,” she said.

She also said that infectious diseases like tuberculosis (TB), is not going down in Sabah, and is occurring a lot among the undocumented population in the state.

“One of the things we talked about is whether they bring it from outside. In the paper we know that from the undocumented that they get TB from living within, meaning, after they resided in this country, in this state, for more than two years. So there is a local infection going around and don’t think that infectious diseases don’t cross borders. These are the people serving at supermarkets, food in the restaurants, these are your maids, people who do construction and extension of your houses, these are people who will do things.” — Borneo Post