More cardiac diseases
RM 60 mil short for Centre for heart patients in Sabah
Plans to construct the country’s fifth Cardiac Thoracic Centre (CTC) in Sabah is being hampered by an increase in its cost. Originally the construction of the CTC in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) was supposed to cost RM80 million but because its scope of work has been expanded, it now costs RM140 million. “We are short of RM60 million and I will be discussing this matter with the Finance Ministry so that the much-needed medical facility will be built as soon as possible in Sabah,” Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said. Speaking to reporters after visiting the QEH yesterday, Liow disclosed that he had approved the application to construct the CTC and the contract had already been awarded but the contractor felt that they could not do it with that amount of money so they are negotiating for more. “I am looking into this matter... (the) scope of work has expanded that is why the cost increased and we want to add some things into the original design,” he said, adding that once completed, the CTC will be fully equipped with all the necessary equipment and will be fully functional with between 80 and 100 beds. According to him, with the increasing number of people diagnosed with cardiac diseases, there is an urgent need for a CTC in Sabah as none of the hospitals in the State including the QEH has such a facility. The CTC will cater to the needs of the whole State and it will not be necessary to send heart patients to Institute Jantung Negara (IJN) anymore for treatment and surgery. “We will be able to conduct operations in Sabah,” he said, adding that the CTC, which is the fifth in the country, will be built as part of facilities in QEH. .The other CTCs are located in Johor Baharu, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Kuching. Liow also disclosed that QEH sends about 100 heart patients for treatment in IJN annually and Sabahans make up most of the patients treated there. At the moment, non-serious cases are treated in QEH when the specialists from IJN visit Sabah once a month, he said, adding that on average, QEH performs 600 angiogram a year and 174 open heart surgeries. “We have specialists from IJN coming to Sabah on a monthly basis to do the operations and angioplasty but some complicated cases can’t wait, so we send them to IJN,” he said. Meanwhile, Liow said that during his visit to QEH, he noticed there was much that needed to be improved, especially in the old wards. He noted that the occupancy at the wards was more than 100 percent, resulting in not enough beds and patients have to be placed on roll- away beds in the corridors. “This problem needs to be addressed immediately and I have instructed the Development Division of my Ministry to expedite the construction of the ‘twin towers’ in this Hospital,” he said, expressing hope to see the buildings under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) completed by 2010. The RM300 million twin towers will have a total of 661 beds and is expected to address the problem of overcrowding in the wards. He said he has approved a RM4 million allocation to QEH to improve its equipment with the aim of providing better services. Asked to comment on the complaints against the flying doctor service in the State, Liow said that he will be looking into it and find out how they can improve the service to cater to villagers in remote areas.