DAP rep urges Health Ministry to review 10km-radius restriction in Sarawak

Sulok Tawie
Dr Yii said MOH should take into consideration the local demographics and healthcare access for rural folks, who make up a huge chunk of Sarawak’s population. — Picture by Yusof Mat Isa

KUCHING, April 2 — DAP’s Bandar Kuching Member of Parliament Dr Kelvin Yii Lee Wuen today urged the Ministry of Health (MOH) to give special consideration to Sarawak on the enforcement of regulations that restrict travel to within a 10km radius from a person’s residence.

He noted that the regulations prohibited people from seeking treatment at medical facilities that are located more than 10km from their homes amid the Covid-19 outbreak.

“These regulations do not only add unnecessary bureaucracy for the sick persons to get the needed medical attention, but it also causes much inconvenience, especially for those patients in the rural areas,” he said when commenting on the enforcement of the regulations, which took effect yesterday.

Dr Yii said MOH should take into consideration the local demographics and healthcare access for rural folks, who make up a huge chunk of Sarawak’s population, many of whom may need to travel more than 10km for access to a public health facility, especially hospitals.

“A district clinic may not provide the necessary medical attention of even supplies to patients, making it a necessity for them to travel further to the hospitals which are normally in the city,” he added.

He said such trips are also a necessity, especially for crucial follow-ups or treatments such as for cancer or even heart problems.

He said the treatment centres for cancer and cardiac patients in Sarawak are in Kuching, while people in the far northern regions of Miri or Limbang may need to fly all the way down south for such specialised treatment.

Dr Yii said even cardiac patients residing in Kuching have to go to the Sarawak Heart Hospital, which is more than 10km away in Samarahan district.

“Such regulations may also affect follow-ups and even medication refilling for patients with other chronic diseases,” he said, adding that pregnant mothers, especially in the rural areas seeking for prenatal follow-ups and babies due for scheduled vaccination, are also affected by the regulations.

“That is why I see no reason to add bureaucracy and inconvenience to the public, especially forcing them to crowd around or even register at police stations for such travels beyond 10km for medical attention,” Dr Yii said.

He added that proper documentation of hospital/clinic appointments or even a legitimate prescription should be allowed for special consideration at roadblocks.

The new regulations known as the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases (Measures Within the Infected Local Areas) (No. 2) Regulations 2020 were gazetted yesterday.

They limit the population’s movement unless they have obtained special permission or work in essential services.

The new conditions for movement state that a person is allowed to move within a set radius to purchase or deliver food, daily necessities, medicine or dietary supplements. They are not allowed to be accompanied by anyone unless it is reasonably necessary.

The same applies when it comes to seeking healthcare; however, the person may be accompanied by another person as may be reasonably necessary.

For those who need to travel beyond the radius due to special or particular reasons, they must obtain written permission from the police officer in charge of the nearest police station to their residence.

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