KUCHING, Jan 16 — Sarawak Premier Tan Sri Abang Johari Openg tonight said the state government is keen to collaborate with the federal Ministry of Health to set up a cancer treatment centre in Samarahan.
He said it is costly to build the centre, estimated to be about RM800 million to RM1 billion, and that is where the state can collaborate with the federal government.
“We can advance to you to build the centre at Sarawak’s cost while the rest, including the medical doctors and personnel and the equipment will come from MoH,” he said at the 20th anniversary dinner of the Sarawak Heart Centre here.
He said the state government can provide the funds to build the centre at a cost of RM800 million to RM1 billion.
He said the details of the financial arrangement can be discussed later between the state government and MoH.
“With that kind of facility, then we can provide the treatment to people suffering from cancer,” he said.
He said it is costly for cancer patients to seek treatment in Kuala Lumpur, especially for those from rural areas and low-income groups.
“If we have the cancer centre here, patients from other parts of Sarawak as well as from Sabah or Kalimantan, Indonesia, can come for the treatment at the centre at a lower cost,” he said.
“For the future, we have to think forward how to build this facility for our people,” he said, hoping that the Minister of Health Dr Zaliha Mustafa, her deputy Lukanisman Awang Sauni and Health director-general Tan Sri Noor Hisham Abdullah can discuss with the state government on the setting up of the cancer centre.
“Actually, I have done my homework and if you agree, we can start it by the end of the year,” he said, referring to Putrajaya.
He said it is up to the federal government to decide how the cancer centre should be financed.
He also agreed that medical facilities in the rural areas of Sarawak need to be upgraded.
“I have informed the prime minister (Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim) to give the money to the state government to build medical facilities in the rural areas,” he said, adding that it costs about RM10 million to build a rural clinic.
“I pity our doctors and nurses who have to stay in not so conducive quarters when they are posted in the rural areas,” he said.
The premier said he will discuss with the prime minister the state’s request for health administrative autonomy.
“So, we have to wait for this when he comes on January 19 to Sarawak,” he said, adding that with administrative autonomy, the state can provide better health services to the people in tandem with the national policy.
“Our issue is basically implementation and at the same time, we need to have a new approach to have first-class facilities for our patients,” he said.