THE JOURNAL consists of selected, most notable and newsworthy POSTINGS OF THE DAY.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

> Where is new hospital for Kota Kinabalu ?

Hospital No More!

Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai came under heavy fire today from SAPP after the party was apparently flooded with an avalanche of complaints in recent weeks from the public unhappy with the closure of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu on Nov 11. 

Earlier, the 27-year-old hospital was ordered to close after the 10-storey Tower Block was declared unsafe on Oct 23. 

"It is obvious from the nature of these complaints that the minister in particular has been sleeping on the job," said Sabah Progressive Party (Sabah) information chief Chong Pit Fah (below), fielding questions from the press.

No one is addressing the immediate problem of the patients of QEH, now scattered to the four winds at various government and private hospitals in the state. 

"Have any of the unfortunate cases been airlifted to Kuala Lumpur and elsewhere in Malaysia for the right amount of medical and health care? Why not? Why place further stress on the already over-stretched government and private hospitals in the state?" he asked.

Chong claimed that private hospitals in the state are not too happy with the Ministry of Health dumping the QEH patients on them without any warning whatsoever. 

Apparently, this has forced them to compromise on the usual quality and standard of healthcare they provide. 

"Their patients are screaming bloody murder and surely this will affect the infant medical tourism industry in Sabah," said Chong. "Who will bear responsibility for the losses in the millions and the damage to the state's reputation?" 

Meanwhile, Chong said government hospitals in Kunak along the east coast, Sipitang near the border with Sarawak and Keningau in the interior are no help either because "they have become white elephants sitting in the Borneo sun because of the shortage of doctors and medical specialists."  

'Nightmare of unimaginable proportions'

The Sapp information chief identified patients awaiting, undergoing or recuperating from surgery as one area of particular concern. 

It has gathered a "reliable estimate" that 500 QEH emergency patients, excluding accident cases, are waiting for their turn on the surgeon’s table at any one time and wonders how many will make it there before it is too late. He did not disclose any figures he had for patients waiting for non-emergency and other kinds of operations. 

"This is a nightmare of unimaginable proportions for everybody involved. How many people have actually died directly as a result of the sheer incompetence and gross negligence of the authorities in handling the QEH crisis? We demand answers and figures," said Chong who warned that he would not hesitate to call for heads to roll if the authorities concerned don’t get their act together soon. 

"We are not at this stage demanding the resignation of anyone involved in this sorry episode. That might only further compound the woes of the long-suffering patients of QEH. We urge everyone involved to get cracking on the job. Shape up or ship out!" 

The fear is that what the party has learnt so far may just be the tip of the iceberg and there is suspicion that the health minister is yet to comprehend the sheer magnitude of the problem caused by the closure of QEH.  

"Is this the kind of efficiency the federal government is going to demonstrate with the so-called Sabah Development Corridor i.e. if it is not just another BN gimmick to hoodwink the masses?" asked Chong whose party pulled out from the Barisan Nasional on Sept 17 expressing no confidence in the federal leadership and citing a long history of unkept promises. 

"We demand that full disclosure be made on the continuing saga of the patients of QEH and whether the necessary level of support is there for them from the medical community." 

Poor crisis management

The party suspects that the health minister did not authorise a crisis management team as soon as the magnititude of the QEH crisis surfaced, and if so, the team could have been keeping everyone in the dark while not making any visible difference to the problem either.  

The federal government's bungled response to the landslide tragedy at Bukit Antarabangsa in Kuala Lumpur is cited as an example of the poor preparedness of the authorities to manage crisis situations. 

Also, the fact of the matter is that the people of Kota Kinabalu are today in the most unfortunate situation of having no General Hospital because the criticism is that the Ministry of Health failed to take pre-emptive measures to save the QEH when serious problems surfaced shortly after it was first built 

"Yet the federal government casually mentions in Parliament that KK might be hit by an earthquake in the future," points out Chong. 

"God forbid that such a thing ever happens. This federal government surely has no capability to handle the crisis that would surely follow - the fires, floods, outbreak of diseases and disruption to the infrastructure and services and the economy." 

In a parting shot, the SAPP information chief drew unfavourable comparisons with Singapore which has a population only slightly more than Sabah in a tiny area and yet has made so many hospitals available to its people. 

"They left Malaysia in 1965 and look where they are today? We remained and what have we to show for it? At the bottom of the dung heap," fumed Chong. 

“Not even a decent general hospital for the state capital! Where is the justice for the people of Sabah when the federal government and Petronas have been heartlessly milking us dry?” - Malaysiakini.

What is the Chief Minister doing? What is the Health Minister doing? Where is the new hospital for Kota Kinabalu? - My Journal.