DAP rep slams Sarawak govt over 15 rabies deaths

Bukit Assek assemblyman Irene Mary Chang Oi Ling says people feeding stray dogs are contributing to the spread of rabies in Sarawak. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: A Sarawak DAP representative today said the Sarawak government has “lost control” over the rabies outbreak in the state after it recorded its 15th death from the disease since it broke out in June last year.

Bukit Assek assemblyman Irene Mary Chang Oi Ling said Sarawak was the only state in the country recording deaths from rabies, compared with three other states which had experienced an outbreak over the years.

“Despite our vast wealth from our natural resources and having the biggest state reserve funds at its disposal, our state government has allowed the situation to get out of control.

“The 15 human deaths point to the lack of political will on the part of the state government to take the necessary action right from the beginning. This has led to what we have today – human deaths and complete loss of control of the situation.

“Though our state government has lost control, that does not mean that the people themselves should also lose control. This is the time when, for their own sake, the people of Sarawak should step in to help in preventing the circulation of the rabid virus,” she said in a statement.

Chang said the state government had failed to hire more veterinary officers and dog catchers to cover more affected districts in the state.

She said there were only two teams from the veterinary department to cover Sibu, Selangau and Kanowit districts, which she said was “humanly impossible” for them to cover.

Chang said vaccination levels at the Sibu district, as a result, reached only 32.9%, below the desired target of 70%.

Chang said people feeding stray dogs were a contributing factor to the spread of rabies, adding that they should alert the local councils so that the strays could be taken away.

She said Sarawak could learn from Perlis, Kedah and Penang as the rabies outbreaks there had only lasted three months from July 2015 to November 2015, without any deaths.

She asked if people could trust the state government to handle larger issues confronting the state if it could not tackle the rabies problem.

According to the health ministry, there are 16 rabies-related cases in Sarawak, with 15 dead so far. This morning, a 64-year-old man from Kuching died, while another 74-year-old man died last Friday from the disease.