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The Flying Doctor Service
General hospitals and government clinics are easily found in cities, towns, villages, and FELDA settlements. The same cannot, however, be said for rural areas especially in East Malaysia. Roads and streets that connect rural dwellers to cities are still scarce in most Sabahan and Sarawakian districts. And the lack of connecting routes has made it that much harder for clinics to be built closer to rural dwellers.
To address this issue of out of reach patients, Ministry of Health and Malaysian Royal Air force have joined sources to run the Flying Doctor Service for the last 30 years. FDS is for those who live in areas which are unreachable through land transports.
In Sabah, two teams of FDS, in Kota Kinabalu and Sandakan, provide medical services to 11 Sabahan districts. The Kota Kinabalu team catered to 34 villages last year alone, while the Sandakan team handled 29 villages. The FDS teams visit these villages on a rotational schedule, five times a week.
In Sarawak, the FDS teams are centered in Kuching, Sibu, and Miri where they attend to 141 remote areas. One FDS team usually consists of a medical officer, medical assistant, and two nurses.
The FDS provides preventive and curative services such as general practice, follow-up treatments for hyper tensional and diabetic patients. The teams also focus on maternal and child healthcare, as they are aiming to increase Sabahan children immunization coverage. FDS also transports patients to hospitals and brings in supplies of medicine to rural health clinics.
Although we have a long way to go in bringing adequate healthcare to all Malaysians, especially those in remote areas, the Flying Doctor Service is a good effort at bridging that gap.
And I say, this is one of the nice things we Malaysians have.