Reply to Sabah health dept’s response on ‘sick hospitals’ — A government doctor

APRIL 13 — Kudos to Dr Christina Rundi, director of Sabah State Health Department. However, the letter that was written also mentioned Hospital Sultan Aminah JB — where is their response and apology to the public for the loss of lives that resulted from an unsafe building?

Where is the response from the ministry and the director general regarding issues facing hospitals nationwide? Do they dare to be transparent with the number of major issues facing hospitals in this country, and give deadlines for these issues to be settled?

More specifically, let me respond to Dr Christina’s reply. She says that she hopes that old issues will not be brought up to “smear” the name of the ministry. Firstly, these are not old issues and some of them are currently still plaguing us; secondly, this is not to smear but to urge authorities and those in power to take action. Furthermore, the public deserve to know as these issues directly affect patient care.

The fact that Hospital Sandakan and the operating theatre that was closed for more than a year is a serious enough issue — causing patients to be sent to other hospitals for operations, thus resulting in delay of care and congestion in other hospitals.

In Hospital Lahad Datu, the statement that only the third floor operating theatre was used to fulfil current needs and efficiency is completely false! Many urgent cases had to be postponed due to a lack of operating theatres available. The real reason why the operating theatre on the ground floor has not been used since it was built is due to maintenance and staffing issues — another reflection of failure of administration.

Take a walk in Hospital Lahad Datu even as you read this and look at the elevators and you will realise that at any one time, either one of the elevators are spoilt. This is a long standing issue that has not been resolved completely.

The lights that fell from the ceiling in Hospital Likas is said to be replaced this year. It has been five months! Does it really take that long to replace a light? The remaining lights malfunction and it makes it hard to perform operations properly.

The issue of inadequate supply of antibiotics and anaesthetic drugs is not only happening in Sabah but also around the country. The reason given that the suppliers fail to deliver is not acceptable as drugs are one of the main pillars of a hospital. Something needs to be done to ensure that this supply is never broken.

I challenge the ministry to conduct a nationwide audit and survey of all these issues and declare them to healthcare professionals. Most audits thus far are conducted in such a way that it does not pick up such issues. The audit system needs to be revamped to ensure that transparency and standards are maintained, rather than a whole show of paperwork and coats of new paint days before an audit.

Issues such as staffing of doctors/nurses in hospitals in Borneo, budget for asset purchase and so many more issues have not even been explored. To those in Putrajaya, please wake up and respond this call. Sabah and Sarawak have been left behind in more ways than one. Let not the ministry of health suffer the same fate.

*This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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