KUCHING: Bukit Assek assemblywoman Irene Mary Chang alleges that the Sarawak government has lost control over the battle against rabies.
She lamented that since July 2017 when the first human case was reported, 12 human lives have since been lost.
These lives, she said, could have been saved if the Sarawak government had acted swiftly, decisively and without fear of any backlash.
“I understand that Sarawak has a much larger and different geographical land mass, but the State Government should not fall back on that as the reason for their loss of control against the spread of disease.
“Everything starts small before it becomes humongous. Likewise, the disease has started with two deaths in Serian before spreading to almost every division, save for Mukah and Limbang.
And if we do not step up in our effort, it would only be a matter of time before these two divisions are also affected,” she said when debating on the State Budget 2019.
Chang acknowledged that the fight against the disease had started out as localised but because, right from the very beginning, the State Disaster Management Committee was anxious to play down the severity of the matter, it had led to a complacent attitude by the people, lack of cooperation and the unchecked early spread of rabies.
“I am baffled as to why the Budget presented by the Chief Minister did not even touch on any funds being allocated to fight this disease at our doorstep.
“The Budget focuses on physical development, especially in the rural areas. That is not wrong but physical development should not override human development.
“What is the good of all these physical developments if one by one, our people are struck down by this disease which has already gone out of hand? Is the State Government therefore serious in eradicating and removing rabies from our midst?,” she said.
Chang called on the Sarawak government to get its priorities right and take control.
She said with only Mukah and Limbang left, more urgent and aggressive actions are required; more teams need to be formed and tasked for humane capture and quarantine of stray dogs.
She suggested that where those dogs are found to be infected while under quarantine, they should be put to sleep humanely and where found to be healthy, to be given vaccination to be released thereafter.
She believed that a lot more needs to be done to ensure that the population immunity of the animals is sufficient to prevent circulation of the rabies virus.
She said and all these need financial allocations for the relevant authorities to ensure that they would be implemented and enforced efficiently.
“And the story should not end here, once the disease is under control. A stray management machinery should be put in place for the local authorities and State Veterinary Department to carry out strict enforcement measures to ensure that strays are kept out of the streets.
“This should be made a way of life even without the rabies around,” she said.
SUMBER : theborneopost.com