Dr Kelvin Yii

KUCHING: Sabah and Sarawak need greater leeway in terms of distance limitation for dwellers to travel when obtaining health treatments.

Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yii said the 10km travel restriction imposed by the Health Ministry should not apply to both the east Malaysian states.

“This regulation does not only add unnecessary bureaucracy for patients to get the needed medical attention but it also causes much inconvenience, especially for patients in rural areas,” he said.

He was responding to a recent restriction imposed by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba prohibiting people from seeking treatment at medical facilities which are located more than 10km from their homes.

Dr Yii said although the reasoning behind the regulation is sound, a special consideration has to be given due to the demographics of the two states.

“A huge chunk of the population in Sarawak may need to travel more than 10km for access to a public health facility, especially hospitals.

“A district clinic may not provide the necessary medical attention or even supplies to these patients making it a necessity for them to travel further to hospitals which are normally in the city,” he wrote in a Facebook post yesterday.

Dr Yii said that in an event of an outbreak of an infectious disease, patients do not just make “casual trips” to hospitals due to concerns of catching the virus.

“This means that a huge majority of the trips are of necessity, especially for important follow-ups or treatment such as for cancer or even cardiac patients.

“In Sarawak, the main treatment centre for both are in Kuching and people in the northern regions of Sarawak may need to fly all the way down south for such specialised treatment as well,” he said.