Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom
23/11/2022 01:41 PM

KUCHING, Nov 23 (Bernama) -- The Sarawak State Legislative Assembly today passed the Veterinary Public Health (Amendment) Bill, 2022 to delegate the power of the Department of Veterinary Services (DVS) Sarawak in the fight against the spread of rabies.

State Food Industry, Commodity and Regional Development Minister Datuk Seri Dr Stephen Rundi Utom said apart from delegating functions and duties to any public officer, the bill seeks to allow the authorisation of other persons by DVS to dispense veterinary drugs.

He said the rabies outbreak in Sarawak started in 2017 when the first human case was reported in the Serian district and to date, a total of 72 areas in the state have been declared as rabies-infected areas.

Dr Rundi said due to this outbreak, Sarawak has recently established the Immune Belt Enforcement Team (IBET) to complement and support DVS in rabies control and conducting awareness programmes among communities.

“Thus, this amendment is significant as it allows the authorisation of IBET personnel to assist DVS to administer vaccination and carry out the relevant statutory functions and duties of DVS,” he said when tabling the bill. 

When debating the bill, Lo Khere Chiang (GPS-SUPP) said the deployment of IBET officers in assisting DVS will maximise coverage of rabies detection and surveillance programme along the Sarawak-Kalimantan border.

“Due to DVS Sarawak's lack of manpower, the amendment is timely and will allow IBET to assist DVS to contain the diseases. The inter-agencies collaboration and cooperation will enhance and strengthen enforcement effectiveness,” he added.

IBET which is supervised by the State Security and Enforcement Unit (UKPN) have a membership of 108 people who are assigned to monitor 978 villages, farms and control posts throughout Sarawak and its border areas.