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Friday, September 30, 2016

Sabah Flying Doctor Services terminated after 41 years

Financial reasons cited for non-renewal of Flying Doctor Service, affecting 'thousands of rural villagers across nine districts in the state'.

After 41 years of flying to aid the sick in rural areas in Sabah, the Flying Doctor Services (FDS) has been terminated, ‘The New Sabah Times’ reports.

In confirming the news, Sabah Air Aviation Sdn Bhd CEO Terry Chan said the State Health Department’s decision would affect “thousands of rural villagers across nine districts in the state”.

“I’m quite sad with the decision to not renew the contract with Sabah Air as we have been running the programme for over 40 years, without making any profit from it,” Chan was quoted by the local daily as saying, adding that the department cited financial reasons for not renewing FDS’ contract.

Chan went on to reveal that the firm had borne the flying cost to provide healthcare services.

“Each flight using the twin-engine choppers costs around RM6,500, while the Health Department had only been charged RM4,250,” Chan told ‘The New Sabah Times’.

He said the Sabah FDS should be able to continue operating as the one in Sarawak was still running.

Set up in 1975, the FDS brought monthly medical aid to rural folks and attend to medical emergencies such as childbirth for those who did not have access to medical facilities.

Meanwhile a recent visit by the daily to Kg Perupuk, Pitas, revealed that villagers there were used to waiting for their monthly medical supplies for serious ailments, such as high blood pressure, hypertension, diabetes as well as other common sicknesses like cough, flu and fever.

Pitas is a two-hour-plus drive from Kota Kinabalu, the capital of Sabah.

Children as young as three to the elderly, up to age 80, would make a beeline for the monthly healthcare session, as they would have to walk over an hour to the nearest town if they missed the FDS team, ‘The New Sabah Times’ reported,.

Some, it reported, would opt for river transport, crossing the Bengkoka River with boats to reach the town faster.

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