KUCHING (Jan 17): Sarawak is open to working with the federal government to set up a cancer treatment centre here in the state, said Premier Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri Abang Johari Tun Openg on Monday night.
He said while the proposal would be costly, the state government is willing to share the cost of funding with its federal counterpart to build the facility.
“I would like to suggest to the federal government to have a cancer treatment centre here. It is very costly, I know – maybe it would cost about RM800 million to RM1 billion.
“But we can give you an advance to build this centre at Sarawak’s cost. Then the rest, in terms of doctors and equipment, can come from the Health Ministry. We can also help to build the building,” he said in his speech during the Sarawak Heart Centre’s 20th anniversary dinner at the State Legislative Assembly complex in Petra Jaya here.
Abang Johari said setting up a cancer treatment centre is vital, given the increasing trend of cancer patients.
He added that expanding Sarawak’s healthcare services was also necessary, especially to cater to cancer patients from rural areas as well as other parts of Borneo such as Sabah and Kalimantan, Indonesia.
“For us in Sarawak, there is a rising trend of cancer patients. It is very costly to refer these patients to Kuala Lumpur – therefore, it is very necessary for us to have cancer treatment facilities so rural folks can be referred here and it will also provide access to our friends across Borneo to receive treatment,” he said.
Abang Johari added such a facility would held reduce congestion in the Sarawak General Hospital, thus he urged the federal government to provide better healthcare services for cancer patients in Sarawak.
“With a facility like this, we can provide treatment to cancer patients. If they go to Kuala Lumpur, this is a cost for them. Providing a cancer centre here means they can stay in Sarawak for treatment and it is not expensive.
“That’s why in the future we need to think forward on how to build this facility for our people. So, I hope the Health Minister (Dr Zaliha Mustafa) will think about it. The deputy minister (Lukanisman Awang Sauni) knows the needs of rural people. I hope we can discuss this and how to implement this,” he said.
Abang Johari said that construction work for the building could begin at the end of this year if the federal government agreed with his proposal.