Allegations That Health System In Sabah Collapsing Not True

PUTRAJAYA: Director-General of Health, Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah has refuted allegations that the health system in Sabah was collapsing due to the spike in COVID-19 cases in the state.

He said finance had never been an issue in tackling the outbreak as the Finance Division of the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) had approved several allocations, including the emergency procurement for Sabah.

“The public is assuming that we are not implementing a good health system or it seems to collapse, but it is not true.

“In terms of hospital capacity (in Sabah), the use of beds is only 52 per cent and the ICU (Intensive Care Unit) has 128 beds with usage at 60 per cent. We also have 26 quarantine and low-risk treatment centres for level one and two cases.

“Right now, we are considering level three patients who are stable and have no risk to get treatment at the quarantine centres. We are also looking at creating six more quarantine and low-risk treatment centres if there is a need,” he said at a press conference on the developments of COVID-19 at the MOH, here, today.

A news portal reported that the health system in Sabah was still lagging behind in terms of infrastructure and lacked specialists while the medical equipment needed to be improved, especially in dealing with the COVID-19 pandemic in the state.

Dr Noor Hisham, however, explained that the RM30 million emergency allocation for Sabah had also been channelled to the state.

He also refuted a report yesterday claiming that there were only nine hospitals in Sabah. “That is not true as we have 24 hospitals in Sabah with a public health laboratory in Kota Kinabalu.

“We are using 24 hospitals and the addition of the recently-opened (Malaysian Armed Forces) Field Hospital in Tawau. All the 25 hospitals are functioning well and we do not lack beds and equipment such as ventilators and so on,” he said.

Asked on COVID-19 patients in Sabah to receive treatment at home, Dr Noor Hisham said the idea was being considered in case of bed shortage at hospitals or the quarantine centres, and it was not a policy yet.

Dr Noor Hisham said there was a delay in getting the results, however, this had been resolved as the MOH had sent 200,000 RTK-Antigen (RTK-Ag) rapid test kits to Sabah.

He reiterated that the health system in Sabah was not collapsing, but admitted that the situation was more difficult and challenging. 

“However, we are more prepared this time than we were in March in terms of human resources, facilities and personal protective equipment (PPE),” he said. 

Dr Noor Hisham said coordination in Sabah should be enhanced further to win the war against COVID-19, adding that there were positive signs in the east coast of Sabah and the focus now was on the west coast, namely Kota Kinabalu, Penampang and Putatan. 

“We think that in four weeks, we should be able to contain the infection,” he added.