KUCHING: The Veterinary Public Health (Amendment) Bill 2022 was unanimously passed by the State Legislative Assembly (DUN) sitting today, after debate.
Four state assemblymen took part in the debate.
Minister for Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom who tabled the Bill sought to amend the Sarawak Veterinary Public Health Ordinance 1999.
It was seconded by Minister for Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development Datuk Seri Fatimah Abdullah.
It is to allow the State Veterinary Authority to delegate its functions and duties to any public officer, and to allow authorisation of other persons by the State Veterinary Authority to dispense veterinary drugs.
“As we all know, there’s an outbreak of rabies and to be exact, the first rabies case was detected in Serian on July 1, 2017.
“Up to now, there are a total of 72 areas in the state, which have been declared as rabies-infected areas.
“To date, there are a total of 51 rabies cases in Sarawak and from the figure, 44 have succumbed to the disease,” he said, adding that it is a serious matter that the state needs to look into.
The GPS-Kemena assemblyman said the Sarawak Security and Enforcement Unit (UPKS) has established the Immune Belt Enforcement Team (IBET) on June 22, 2020.
He pointed out that IBET will play a significant role to complement the Department of Veterinary Services (DVSS) in its rabies control effort and conduct awareness programmes among community.
As of now, they (IBET) are empowered to conduct controls by carrying out the awareness programmes.
“Currently, there are no existing provisions in the Sarawak Veterinary Public Health Ordinance 1999 to authorise and give due power to IBET officers to vaccinate dogs and dispense veterinary drugs.
“Therefore, it is proposed that they be given any legal authority and power to any person, especially IBET officers, in performing their task of dispensing vet drugs and vaccinations as stipulated in Section 57 of the Ordinance.
“We have a total of 32 IBET officers, and they can strengthen our fight against rabies with DVSS to cover the whole of Sarawak-Kalimantan border, especially vaccinating dogs in some 1,000 settlements and villages along the border,” he said, adding that it provides an effective strategy and prevents the spread of rabies in rural areas.
Rundi acknowledged that Sarawak is shorthanded in terms of manpower compared to Sabah, which has about 700 staff members and Sarawak only has about 200 people.
“With that, what we like is to have full cooperation from the public and authority as it is near impossible for the authority to do it alone.
“But with public cooperation, we should be able to contain this and by 2025, rabies will be fully eradicated,” he said.