Materia Medica Malaysiana

May 31, 2008

Flying docs back in the air

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:52 am

Star: MIRI: The Health Ministry has reactivated the “flying doctor” service in Sarawak’s vast interior areas.
The unique service was suspended early last year due to technical issues faced by aviation company Hornbill Skyways which had been operating it for decades.
The ministry recently issued a directive to urgently resume the daily flying doctor programme following constant appeals from rural folk who had been adversely affected by the suspension.
However, the ministry has now divided the state into two zones – southern Sarawak (Kuching and Sri Aman divisions) and northern Sarawak (Kapit, Miri and Limbang divisions).
The southern zone will be under Hornbill, while another aviation company, Layang-Layang, will handle the northern zone.
Sarawak Health and Medical Services director Dr Zulkifli Jantan said the two companies had been given six-month contracts to operate the flying doctor service.
“For the time being, the service will be via a short-term contract arrangement. We (ministry) have long-term plans to open up the flying doctor programme to an open tender system.
“Through this tender system, we hope to appoint only one contractor to handle the whole state, but that contractor must be able to meet our stringent requirements.
“One of the most important requirements is that the company must be able to provide twin-engine helicopters daily without any interruption,” Dr Zulkifli told The Star.
He said other companies wishing to operate the service must “fly as and when they were needed” as medical help must reach remote areas.
“The flying doctor must operate every day and when there are emergency cases, instant service must be activated,” he said.
He said the ministry hoped to sort out the open tender arrangement by end of the year.

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