KUCHING, Dec 4 — Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg tonight said that the state aims to achieve some degree of health autonomy in accordance with the Malaysia Agreement 1963 (MA63).
He said this is a crucial move in order to develop the healthcare system in Sarawak based on the needs of the locals.
“Sarawak now has adequate healthcare professionals to manage our own healthcare system. With health autonomy, we can leapfrog the quality of healthcare in Sarawak beyond the standard care by 2030,” he said at the 50th-anniversary dinner of the Malaysian Medical Association, Sarawak branch here.
He said that he will ask Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Fadillah Yusof to bring health related issues to the federal Cabinet.
“We are very fortunate that we have five ministers in the federal Cabinet from Sarawak,” he said.
He said Sarawak will continue to prioritize the development of healthcare facilities in rural areas to achieve equality in healthcare.
“We will need more trained doctors and medical staff to provide quality medical care in rural areas,” he said.
The premier also said the state government has identified a site in Kota Samarahan as a medical hub dedicated to medicine.
He said this area, which will site all the important and strategic medical agencies, already has the Sarawak Heart Centre (SHC).
He said the Sarawak Tropical Infectious Disease Research Centre with a cost of RM200 million will be built in the same area.
“Then we are going to build a cancer center, in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Health and the state government.
“What we do is we will build the hardware for the cancer centre first and then the MoH will lease it from us. In other words, we pay for it first,” he said.
Abang Johari said the state government feels that the cancer centre is very important for this region.
"Otherwise, we have to send the cancer patients to Kuala Lumpur and it is very expensive.
“With that state government willing to build the hardware ... MoH will provide all the software, including the medical staff and the specialists needed to man the centre.
“If you don’t do this, I think, we will have to wait for a long time from the federal government to build it. For the sake of the people, the state government is willing to do it first,” he said.