Materia Medica Malaysiana

November 12, 2008

An extra RM3m to clean up fungus attack

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:51 pm

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Some RM14 million was spent to solve the problem of fungus attack at the Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor in 2005.
Now the government will have to spend another RM3 million on the same problem.
This is the amount Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai has set aside after directing his officers in the ministry’s engineering division to solve the problem once and for all.
Acknowledging the problem yesterday, Liow told the New Straits Times that the ministry was made aware of the fungus attack before yesterday’s report in the paper.
He said a consulting company, Sistem Hospital Awasan Taraf Sdn Bhd (Sihat), had been engaged to check the hospital.
“We are aware of the problem. It’s because the ground beneath the hospital is wet,” said Liow.
He said the problem has been there ever since the RM557.8 million hospital was built near the swampy area.
The hospital initially started operating in July 2004, with the opening of the outpatient department and its haemodialysis centre.
Two months later, it was ordered closed as the infection of the aspergillus and penicillium fungi had spread throughout the hospital, contaminating the equipment. It only reopened 17 months later in February 2006.
The hospital is again infected and the fungus is said to be of the aspergillus variety.
Liow said the ministry had been monitoring the hospital’s condition and was taking remedial measures to rectify the problem.
“What we need to do is to find ways to stop water from flowing into the ground beneath the hospital. The Sihat team, together with experts, are studying the matter, including studying how to divert the water flow.
“The fungus attack poses no danger to staff and patients at the hospital. Business at the hospital will go on as usual while the ministry carries out repair and refurbishing works,” said Liow.
When told that similar problems have also affected the Sarawak General Hospital, Liow said, Sihat and a special consultation team were looking into conditions of all hospitals in the country.
Non-governmental organisations, however, have questioned whether the initial amount of RM14 million spent on treating the fungal attack years ago was worth it.
Malaysian Nature Society adviser Vincent Chow said this was a case of taxpayers’ money not being properly spent.
“I remember clearly saying in February 2005 that it was ridiculous to spend RM14 million for the clean-up although there are cheaper and better alternatives.”
Chow said the government should consider using anti-fungus paint, installing dehumidifiers, improving the lighting and imposing tighter regulations for visitors.
Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations research manager Cheah Chee Ho said the hospital was a classic case of first-class facilities but third-class maintenance.

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