KUCHING: A mechanism should be in place to ensure undocumented Sarawakians are not left out of healthcare services.
In stating this, Kuching South City Council (MBKS) Mayor Datuk Wee Hong Seng pointed out that the urban poor in Sarawak face many social challenges that affect their health.
Taking the undocumented ones as an example, he said due to them being stateless, they tend to have limited access to primary healthcare such as vaccination.
“As we all know, vaccines are used to fight against some major infectious diseases. Hence, they are provided to our primary as well as our secondary school children to prevent such diseases.
“However, dropping out of school is a common social issue among the urban poor. These children do not attend school which means that they would miss the benefit of having these important vaccines.
“So we can foresee that the effort to improve the health of Sarawakians would not only be hampered but also amount to a major health issue affecting this group.
“I hope that the Health Minister (Khairy Jamaluddin) will be able to assist us with the mechanism because I think it will take a long time for them to get their identification cards,” he said.
He said this during the Health White Paper (HWP) development town hall session at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) auditorium yesterday.
Responding to the mayor, Khairy pointed out that the measure of the White Paper will be how it takes care of those who are at the margins of society.
“If those at the margins of society can enjoy universal health coverage and world class public healthcare, then this White Paper would have succeeded in creating a system that we can be proud of. That includes everybody who lives in Malaysia,” he said.
He pointed out that his track record is very clear in giving health accessibility to the stateless.
“When I was in charge of the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK), people tended to think that all these undocumented migrants are lured into the vaccination centre to be detained and deported
“Then I said, ‘No, hands off my vaccination centres. Public health is the number one priority. I don’t care about the status of these people. They come here and get themselves vaccinated then they are free to go.’
“So my view is that, as far as healthcare is concerned, it is a robust debate that we have in government between the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Home Affairs but my ministry is very clear, no wrong door policy.
“We will certainly not report you to be detained and to be deported,” he said.