Abang Johari (right) arrives to officiate at the ‘Innostre Special Edition 2020: The first Global Summit on Viral-Immunology and Antiviral Therapy of Covid-19’ conference at UiTM Kota Samarahan. Photo: Ghazali Bujang

KOTA SAMARAHAN: Sarawak plans to have its own research centre on infectious diseases, said Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg.

He said the RM190 million centre will be a platform for local researchers to work on drugs and cures for current and future infectious diseases, including tropical diseases.

“The state government has set aside RM190 million to establish a centre for infectious diseases. This will be a research centre where scientists can work and collaborate between academia, government and institutions.

“There will be collaborations with international institutions such as Cambridge, Oxford and the Imperial College on researches especially on tropical diseases.

“We believe this is crucial in this part of the world and in Malaysia, we are the first to do that on tropical diseases and we hope that those involved in medical research will work with us,” he said today.

Earlier, he officiated at the launch of ‘Innostre Special Edition 2020: The first Global Summit on Viral-Immunology and Antiviral Therapy of Covid-19’ conference at UiTM Kota Samarahan campus.

Abang Johari said the proposed centre would be situated next to the new Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (SBC) which would also be set up in Kota Samarahan.

“It will commence under the 12th Malaysia Plan and will be implemented in 2021,” he said, while hoping the facilities would be completed by 2024.

“This will be the facility where our scientists can work together and identify course materials for us to develop products or drugs that can control or mitigate the spread of new diseases, of which Covid-19 is one of them,” he said.

Meanwhile, Education, Science and Technological Research Minister Datuk Amar Michael Manyin Jawong said the state government was identifying a site for the research centre.

“This will be fast tracked, the new SBC building will also be set up which will be bigger than the existing one. Its (SBC) site has been approved, while the old SBC building will remain operational,” he said.