KUCHING: Rural people in Bau district have to spend at least one day or even more to attend to their dental problems at polyclinic at Tanah Puteh, Kuching or to Kota Sentosa bazaar just because there is no dental unit at the Bau district Hospital.
“They have been doing this for the past 19 years since the opening of the hospital,” said Boniface Willy Tumek, a member of PKR Mas Gading Division.
“This arrangement is very inconvenient to patients from Bau especially those who are poor and have to depend on public transport,” he said.
He said that the government has approved a proposal some time ago to construct a two-storey building partly to house a dental unit in Bau, but for reasons undisclosed the construction of the building has been delayed.
“As a person coming from the area, I am inclined to ask what has happened to the project. Can our three elected representatives – Peter Nansian (state assemblyman for Tasik Biru), Ranom Anak Mina (state assemblyman for Opar) and the MP for Mas Gading Tiki Lafe do something about it?” Boniface asked.
“Tiki should be in the forefront in the health problems in the area, not because he is the MP for the constituency, but more so that he is a specialist doctor,” he said.
This is the second major project that apparently has been abandoned in the Bau and Lundu districts; the other abandoned project was the RM500,000 bridge which was supposed to be constructed across Batang Kayan near Kampung Selampit.
On the condition of the 68-bed Bau hospital, which was officially opened in 1993, Boniface said it is woefully inadequate to fully meet the medical and health needs of the growing population of the district.
“Currently there are five resident doctors serving at the hospital, comprising the hospital director and four other medical officers to serve the needs of more than 50,000 people of the district,” he said.
Due to lack of space, he said that the physiotherapy unit is housed at one of the buildings originally intended as a living quarter for the doctors.
“Equally pressing needs at the hospital are to have separate wards for the paediatrics and the maternity units.
“There is no separate government medical clinic in Bau town so health screening and out-patient treatment, including mother and child health (MCH) services are conducted from the A&E unit of the hospital.
“This has caused severe congestion at the A&E unit on most days, causing inconveniences to the patients and making working conditions a lot more stressful for the staff,” he added.
According to Boniface, the average occupancy rate of the hospital is at low of about 37% but this is not because of low numbers of the sick needing in-house (warded) treatment,
He said the availability of relatively good roads has made it easier for the sick to head directly for the Sarawak General Hospital in Kuching to seek specialist treatment and by-pass the Bau hospital, thus contributing, in no small way, to the severe congestion in the wards at the Sarawak General Hospital and under utilisation of the wards at the hospital.
Boniface said: “There is every reason to upgrade the Bau hospital to accommodate these much needed services in proper settings and the rakyat in Bau are now demanding for such an upgrading.
“In fact the government should upgrade this hospital to a specialist grade hospital. Such a hospital will serve as a referral centre for patients from Lundu District Hospital, who are in need of specialist treatment and this will help ease the congestion at the Sarawak General Hospital.
“The Lundu district hospital currently has a patient’s referral rate to Sarawak general Hospital of 63%,” he added.
He said that the people in Bau have been loyal ‘fixed deposit’ supporters of the BN government and giving them a specialist grade hospital will be one fitting and meaningful way for the government to reciprocate and to reward them for their fervent and untiring support.
“Towards this end, the people now call on the Federal Minister of Health Liow Tiong Lai, and their three elected representatives especially Dr. Tiki to take immediate and appropriate actions so that soon they may have a specialist grade hospital in Bau to serve them,” he said.
He urged the government to commence on the construction of the dental clinic as soon as possible, preferably before the year end.
He said Tiki who is a medical doctor and a native son of Bau should be able to help especially he was a deputy federal minister possessing the necessary network needed to deliver the hospital.