Sarawak’s Hidden Health Scandal – Maternal Deaths

Sarawak’s Hidden Health Scandal – Maternal Deaths

10 Feb 2011

This post is also available in: Iban, Malay

Evidence shows that three times as many mothers die in Sarawak than in the rest of Malaysia and ten times as many as in Australia or the UK.

The Sarawak Government has been covering up a health scandal by deliberately concealing the true level of maternal deaths, according to exclusive information which has been made available to Sarawak Report.

Concerned doctors and health professionals have been investigating the true level of inadequate health care provided in the state, which is the richest in terms of resources in the whole of Malaysia.  They say their findings show that the deaths of women in childbirth are far higher than are being admitted to in the official statistics, yet the spending on healthcare per person in the state is less than one quarter the amount spent on health care in West Malaysia! 

“Sarawak is a large state with a small population spread over difficult terrain” commented one of the health professionals who passed on their information to Sarawak Report.  “This means that you would expect far more money to be needed to provide adequate healthcare, not less.  But the BN Government has clearly chosen to abandon the indigenous people of the interior instead.” 

No facilities for problem childbirths 

No way to travel in an emergency - crammed in the boot on a road like this. No wonder so many women die if things go wrong.

The shocking figures bear out the practical experience of doctors working in the field in Sarawak.  Another senior obstetrician commented that most women from the interior suffer grave risk in childbirth, because the simple precaution of bringing them into hospital a few days before they are due to give birth has been ignored by the authorities.  

“This precaution would be very cheap in comparison with the flying doctor service, which is a big waste of money” he commented.  However, he says that since there is no opportunity for profit-making by people in power, there has been no interest in developing this method of saving hundreds of lives. 

The obstetrician also commented that poverty and the appalling state of the roads are a major factor in deaths in childbirth.  “People are getting poorer and costs of food an fuel are getting higher.  This makes the women less strong and they cannot afford to go to hospital. If there is an emergency the roads are so bad it takes too long”. 

Key statistics

The doctors state that the main causes of maternal deaths in Malaysi are caused by haemorrhage, infection, brain seizures, hypertension, anaemia and obstetric fistulae.  These are all conditions that can be managed if women are safely in hospital.  However if they are a long journey away they will nearly always die.  Because there are so few health professionals working in the interior there is virtually no monitoring of women in their pregnancy and dangerous conditions are not picked up until the woman is already in labour. 

However, the doctors say that figures being promoted by the Sarawak State Health Department are highly misleading and attempt to give the impression that the death rate in the state is no higher than in Malaysia as a whole:      

“We believe the Sarawak Health Department are fudging its figures.  They are quoting the standardised figures for the whole of Malaysia and then just dividing them by the number of pregnancies in Sarawak.  But in fact what available information there is implies that the death-rate is far higher in Sarawak .  A paper published in 2008 based on genuine research in the 1990s shows that at least 92 in 100,000 women were dying in childbirth then, compared to the 30 in 100,000 currently quoted by the Sarawak Health Department.  There has been no improvement in Sarawak’s health facilities since then and we challenge the Sarawak Health Department to produce the evidence for their statistics.”

The contested figures are to be found in the Sarawak State Health Department’s publication ‘Health Facts About Sarawak’, published 2008.  However, the experts say that it is not based on genuine research in Sarawak, only on Malaysia-wide statistics.

Misleading statistics? 30 deaths in 100,000 births is the story according to the Sarawak Health Department.

By contrast the doctors say that a paper published in the book “Women and Health – Village Mothers, City Daughters” 2007, by Adeda Baer, quotes a peer-reviewed report “Sudden Maternal Deaths in Malaysia – A Case Report” by R Jejasothy in the internationally accepted Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecological Research (Vol 28, No 4, pg 186-93) calculates the death rate to be 92 in 10,000 births.

Low spending for Sarawakians – less than one quarter what is spent on average Malaysians on health!

The doctors also point to shocking figures that indicate the people of Sarawak receive less than a quarter in health spending per person compared to people in mainland Malaysia, even though the remote communities would indicate the need to spend more money not less.

The same Sarawak State Health Department figures say only RM 422 is spent per person in Sarawak on health each year, whereas World Health Organisation figures state that the average spending per person in Malaysia is RM 1,800.

Shocking - Sarawakians receive less than a quarter health care spending compared to the average Malaysian

Helicopters ‘Useless for sick patients, but healthy for Jabu’s bank account!’  





Flying healthy doctors, but not sick patients!

However, even more shocking is the allegation that what small amount of money is spent on Sarawak healthcare is spent on programmes that will more benefit Ministers’ bank accounts than sick patients!

The doctors spoken to by Sarawak Report say they blame the BN Government for the shocking death-rate, because they have been more interested in providing expensive facilities which provide Ministers with opportunities to make money, than far cheaper and more practical services that could save lives.

One obstetrician who has worked as a so-called Flying Doctor said he was sickened by the corruption of this service, which costs the country around RM 90 million a year.  He told us:

“This Flying Doctor Service is a waste of money as far as the patients are concerned.  It cannot fit people who are lying down and there is not enough room for the doctors to bring more than a few pills in terms of equipment.  We go on scheduled trips and arrive in villages at a time convenient to the service and not when people are actually sick.  We hand our a few panadol out and then we fly on to the next place.  We very rarely perform emergency rescue trips. These helicopters are good for flying healthy doctors but not sick patients!”

The obstetrician told Sarawak Report that it would be far cheaper and more effective to have para-medics stationed in all communities to identify sick mothers and patients and to arrange for them to be transported to proper hospitals in good time.  He also said that money should be spent on providing accomodation in District Hospitals for mothers for at least two weeks before their birth date.  He said these two measures would save very many lives, while the Flying Doctor helicopters save virtually none.

However, he gave one good reason why the BN Government has always preferred to maintain the helicopter service.  

 “It is corruption.  Ministers compete for who will get the contract for this service!  It is worth RM 4,000 for every stop the helicopter makes.  We go to four stops in one day and there are 3 helicopters.  There are millions to be made for the company which gets the Flying Doctor contract and they like to take it in turns!”

Sarawak Report has investigated the ownership of the company that received the latest contract for the Flying Doctor Service, which was tendered in 2009.  We can confirm that one of the major shareholders is the son of the Deputy Chief Minister, Alfred Jabu!  We therefore challenge the BN Government to answer the charge of doctors that it has ignored the advice of medical experts and allowed ministers to put illegal profits before the lives of hundreds of vulnerable women in Sarawak!

Conflict of interest - How dare the BN Government hand the multi-million ringgit helicopter service to the son of the Deputy Chief Minister?

Kam Agong a case in point

Unsuitable transport for a pregnant women - often they have to travel for many hours while in labour

Chief Minister Taib himself has referred to the acute shortage of qualified medical staff in Sarawak’s rural areas.  In 2008 he was reported admitting that only 22.2% of medical officers posts were filled in Sarawak’s health clinics!  He also admitted that a third of Sarawak’s population has NO ACCESS to any hospitals or clinics, compared to 95% of the rest of Malaysia who do have access.  Just last month the Prime Minister suffered the embarrassment of opening a clinic in Belaga for rural people, only to discover that it will have no doctors!

Surely addressing this scandal and not providing a useless helicopter service should receive what money is available?  The family of Kam Agong, a mother of 8 who died in childbirth due to medical neglect have waged a determined campaign to publicise the greed and corruption that has drained the money from helping women in the interior into helping Taib’s ministers get richer.  They have condemned the poor roads and transport that mean heavily pregnant women have to travel to clinics by sitting for hours in the back of open jeeps on bumpy tracks. 

Every woman's right and Sarawak could afford it if ministers were less greedy!

They have shown how the lack of specialist care in all but 4 clinics in the whole of Sarawak meant that their mother was operated on and killed by an unqualified worker.  Read their website and support their campaign for more trained doctors, more mid-wives and more medical officers.  Sarawak is the richest state in Malaysia, so it can afford them if the money can be kept away from greedy ministers!


Waiting in line – these women have made it to hospital


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  • Rude

    Is there no cheap dirty penny pinching scam these cockroaches scumbags will not resist? Not satisfied with destroying the environment , stealing from the poor, tax evasion , money laundering etc etc etc , they also profit from preventing the people the access to healthcare by making a few more miserable bucks here and there. These womens and childrens blood is your hands you parasites. Burn in hell you will . Lah

  • http://none Watch Dog says…

    Too bad for Sarawak,from a country with vast resources to a mere state losing her grip on her natural wealth after jloining Malaya to form Malaysia.5% oil Royalty..what a shit??So what's next after PETRONAS twin tower..a RM1 Billion disappearing from UMNO that found it's way to Israel national Bank in Singapore which are the expense of Sarawak people.Our people are suffering and death..death and death..Let us ALL unite now.

    • http://none Raja Manggeng says..

      Watch dog,I pity you and understand your sentiment but what can you do.Rentap was reported enjoying himself with beautiful ladies at Hilton sending RM1k on a bottle of liquor.How lucky this boy is..

      I advise you watch dog just to stop posting comment as NO one appreciate you.Please just go and read books instead

      of posting your comments.Just let Taib win but there is a rumour that he will NOT stand this time.

      God bless you watch dog.

      • http://none Watch Dog says…

        Thanks. Ok,I will stop from now on at your request.I really enjoying sharing my ideas but I am being asked to stop,then I should stop.

        Wishing you all a Blessed day ahead.

        • Rude

          @watchdog. Don't be so rediculous Watchdog . You contributions here are very important. It is vital that the people speak and share their ideas and greivences. Just because some Taib cronie not happy with your comments not mean you should stop.

          Keep up the good work .

      • shredders

        one of supporter taib.

        • Lawrence Jayaraj

          Taib a common criminal….KICK him OUT of SARAWAK.

  • najibrazak

    So there is almost as much money in flying doctor helis that cannot accomodate sick passengers as there is in submarines that cannot dive! Trust Taib to make money out of the sick and the dying as well as everywhere else

  • theAlphamale

    Beer End will always be beer end.. only through the ballot box can we oust this corrupted regime. On the contrary, they will manipulate the vote counting at the end of the day… Hopefully through divine intervention can Sarawak be free from the grips of evil..


      the alphamale….do u really think d ballot box is d way..after 35years n many examples FROM OTHER COUNTRIES…take egypt or tunesia..u really think GE is going to change sarawak political landscape…God's intervention maybe…or people unite as one voice ousting Taib off the throne. he claimed to be sitting on as sultan.n exploiting sarawak n its people…

      to be frank sarawkians are on a wait n see mode n many fence sitters…so ballot box…..its nothing much…do u know how much budget the ketua bahagians are given n how much one form e will cost….beliv me its like buyng n selling…go to the ground..n see…kip an open mind n u know wat i m talking about…

      people know..u vote against…u get booted later…people know who u vote for from u voting slip…so u think the dayak hav a choice…they are scared for the future,can u blame them.i know many in tis position…jus go wit d flow..asal ada makan…sudahlah…they are having their back on d wall,

      so yes…protest,not really who is ready..n willing…maybe another 2 general election later. people will realise, it d only option left…

  • antitaip

    May Jabu and his family be haunted by all the ghost of these restless souls seeking for justice. Hey, Syamsul Yusuf and Ahmad Idham, theres another good plot for your next cerita hantu.

  • Adam

    Leaked info that Mutang Tagal took the $300,000 grant by gov to acquire Spring Bookshop.?

  • BorneoSubsea

    Insider tips…BY selling gov approved license to Chinese towkays in return for $$ & Director in company?

  • http://[email protected] Dr. Patau Rubis

    Flying Doctor Services serves as an interim measure to help those in rural areas who had no access to medical and health facilities.

    Although maternal care can be one of those services, it is not designed for obstetrician to extend their rural services.

    Village Health promoter system was to be introduced to slowly replace PDS. It was never introduced to be a business concern for Ministers and their children. Unfortunately every thing turns to be a business concern nowadays.

    Health and medical care are not serving the population well now for many reasons which BN through its transformation program and its feedback program must urgently address itself.

    Malaria and Dengue control are also below expectation too.

  • Tiarama

    Well done, Sarawak Report for exposing all the greeds and corruptions of the Taib's Regime. Can you also publish all the major public works contracts that they awarded to themselves? Can civil servants who has accessed to those information pass on the info to SR please.

  • Naavi

    What more do we need to vote the current government out? Change!!!!!!


    vast resources taken for the pleasure of taib n cohorts…to enjoy lifes even overseas…living like king/sultan of sarawak families akin to sultan of brunei…n even health is being traded,people who owned the land n timbers got nothing at all…not even d scrump from the table is given…tis reminds me of my sunday school story in St thomas..35years ago…of the rich man n lazarus…wen they died lazarus wen to heaven n d rich man wen to hell…and the rich man pleaded wit lazarus jus to dip water to put on his lip….but Abraham answered dat during his life time d rich man hav d best but lazarus had nothing…tis may be d scenario later…cos wen this life is over we will met in d next…its wun take dat long….many my age are already flocking there….RIP….rip…not so…we hav to pass d test here on earth…exam for eternity….carnal men..get ready…its there b4 u know it…serve ur fellow human wit kindness n humanity….or..u fail d test..n flunk d exam for etenity….n get ready for d fire….taib n cohorts get ready…..i know u wil ask these poor dayak lazarus for the dip of water…see u there…

  • MataTagal

    Encik Tagal Mutang or better known as Pak Tagal Is trying to cover up when MACC Exposed them with several fraudlent awarded contracts. Website is undergoing restructuring?

    WE have been tipped by insider informationt that his close ties with YB NELSON balang rining in getting gov license and sell it to Chinese Towkays?

    He also sits in Board of director of Semaring and Borneo subsea?

    Chinese work like a slaves/hardwork and the TAGAL FAMILY can do whateva they want?

    WTF? Any info on Tagal?

  • retired cop

    As reported in today newspapers, both Taib and Jabu who admiited themselves are old will not step down until they can find qualified people to take over from them. Very good an excuse, isn`t it?

    They forget Sarawak that has 2.5 million population, do they think that there is no qualified people to take over from them?

    Wah very embarrassing to Awang Tengah, Abg Johori, Adnan, Masing, Mawan, Toyad Affendi Narawi, Manyin and others. Are these people not qualified too?

  • Disgusted

    Those who can afford it travel down to the major towns to give birth. They stay with relatives. imagine others in the interior who can't be that lucky.

    Also, all Barisan representatives, state and federal have lots of funds to hand out to various organizations for you can guess reasons. The priority should be health care for the poor, esp. in the interior!

    • Kay Girl

      Well Disguted,as you all know that Them wouldn't think about the poor…what are they thinking is the money is running into their pocket..

  • karma believer



    ya in hell n they listen to d screaming of d souls of those they torture n oppress in tis life for eternity…but u know..they think they can bribe God…u know wat's so beautiful about life…we will continue in the fren…don think d poor rural folk hav no saviour…maybe not in tis life but after.bye now…be bless ya,,,

  • oA


    looks like natives' medicine man is more reliable than flying doctors.

    poor native sarawakians – ever so confused between the old and the news and not sure what to make of.


  • Anak Sarawak





  • KD

    sebok buat klinik 1 mesia tapi org2 pedalaman sabah sarawak menderita! bkn shj klinik, sekolah pun daif!! hati saya menangis bila tgk sekolah kat sana masih kayu dan takde bkln elektrik! walaupun saya dr semenanjung, saya tak halalkn kerajaan mesia buat anak bangsa saya di sana mcm ni!!

  • Ajan Anak Entili (71

    Everyone out there,

    I really want, those who govern and rule the country or state use their will to do, whatever they want to do, up to them. Why the people complaint for this. Perhaps the time will come to you, I am strongly beleive you also do the same things like them. For me, it was a small problem, what i say that, because it was not the war, if a war mean, we all die, like the conflict countries around the world. Hopefully, you all much better go to the rubber estate and tap the rubber, you will get much money and you also enjoy it.

    Your Sincerely

    Ajan Anak Entili

    Entigis Ulu Sungai

    • http://none Watch Dog says…

      So you want to tap rubber,your son also tap rubber,your grandson also tap rubber,your great grandson also tap rubber.It seems that you all follow Jabu's advice.

      Please go ahead.Yes I know that there is nothing wrong in tapping rubber as I also tapped rubber before going to school in the 60s.

      So you mean that we all are deemed to tap have a pea brain or it was said by someone that your brain is underneath your feet.No wonder your NCR land taken also you do NOT will be your rubber garden taken by the Thief Minister,you continue to tap ribber but cannot collect the latex like in Pantu and Kpg Muggu Kopi.

      May GOD bless you Mr Rubber Tapper!!

      • Ajan Anak Entili (71

        Talking about the NCR is very-very useless and wasted time, many-many years talking about the same agenda. but until this second may not getting the good decission. More better do our own work like tapping and farming. I tell you the truth watch dog, whatever weapons you use to keep down aki uban and his coronies, more better, keep quiet and sit at the back. As long as aki uban and his coronies still lives, as long you working under his foot.

        Your Friend of all

        Ajan Anak Entili

        Entigis Ulu Sungai

        • http://none Watch Dog says…

          Bro,we need people like you for support.Go out to the ulu and let our people know.Jangan putus asa bro..we have to do this together.My children do NOT want to tap rubber and do the farming what my father and myself are doing.

          United we stand and divided we fall now ,we have to fight the King of Sarawak,Sultan of Betong,Prime Minister of Miri together.Please,please bro,do not give up hope as we care about you,your family and the whole of Sarawak too.

          May GOD bless you and your family bro.

    • bucklynn rimbar

      ajan…i m proud of u..nuan amat berani laban nuan..merik nama gau numbor i.c nuan…ati semua bala anak dayak baka nuan…siap taib yaak…jadi baka mubarak…sarawakians…tis is a brave…dayak…bravo bro..bravo…more sarawakians like u…we wil not leave in fear any longer….lets come out and stir d hornet nest…let get rid of d hornet king wit fire,,,,burn his nest to d ground…..burn baby burn…mubarak him mubarak him….

  • nyamok

    why waste ur time, go educate ur ppl,how to vote its the system that makes things difficult for us all. So if u want to change the system u have to change the gomen.

    • bucklynn rimbar

      nyamok…d system is gud…democracy is fair…but the system is abuse…n as such fail to function properly…so now even if u educate d people,they cannot vote out taib n his cronies…u see he is d leader of b.n n wen b.n wins he automatically wins….dats how d system works…so voting is not going to work nor does tis coming election.d only way is oust him out of sarawak like mubarak.would u come out wit all of us n protest,,////?????/WIL U????/OR u thinking of d house instalment or d car…pls get real..would u??

  • imam frustrated

    Taib..kamu adalah anak dahjal yg memalukan islam..di dunia bukan saja di sarawak…walaupun org2 dayak bukan islam,islam tak megalakkan kamu mengexploitasikan merekan sampai taraf ini bila kamu telah merapas kan tanak mereka dan kayu kayan mereka…tak malu kah kamu…jadi ketua badan islam di sarawak tapi peraigai syirik.dan bomoh bomoh mu..adalah genjala syaitan…hentikanlah kerja mu ini..atau keluar dari ugama islam…kerana mu ugama islam tercemar…dan jijik di sarawak….org2 islam patutnya…beradat…dan pentingkan Ketuhanan…tapi kau telah mencemar nama baik Islam…keluar kau dari Islam jangan memalu kami semua….yg beriman…dahjal…pulangkan hasil rempasanmu kepada org2 sarawak..dan org2 dayak…walaupun mereka bukan islam..kau jijik…dan memalu kan islam..dan ALLAH..sebab apa yang kamu lakukan tiada belas kasihan…kerana ALLAh adalah Nir Rahman Hir Rahhim…merciful n compassionate…keluar kau…jangan memalu kan Islam lagi di sarawak….

    • Ajan Anak Entili (71

      Tok Imam, jangan marah Taib Mahmud, beliau bukan nya mahu ini semua, tetapi bila sampai pilihanraya, rakyat sarawak beria-ria mahu undi beliau. Beliau mahu berehat sebenarnya, tetapi rakyat sarawak mahu ngan nya memimpin sarawak. Sarawak maju jaya kinek tu, sik ada masallah.

  • http://none Watch Dog says…

    Due to economic disparity,there will be chaos,maybe like West Malaysia,but slightly different a repeat of May 13,1969 due to the people's sentiments.

    If it occurs,Taib,Jabu and George Chan are to be blamed. Sarawak is finished now.

    1. No more timber concessions

    2.No more land for plantations as all land have been alienated and given away,and sold for hefty profit.

    3.No more contracts as all are given to Taib's crony.

    4.NO licences like cement as Taib's family is enjoying the monopoly.

    5.More shits but Taib got the contract,given to his sister and gave away to HSL.

    6.Sand Extractions license given to his cronies.

    7.Quarry license given to his cronies too,

    8.Bridges project given to his son's company.

    9.Roads maintenance project including given to his son's company.

    10.All timber exporters must pay Taib's brother company RM100 per MT.

    Talk about jobs created ,yes but the pay is RM15 per day and poverty level is RM720.00 er month (RM15 X 30 days=RM450) assuming that there is NO off.All these are SLAVERY to TAIB's cronies.

    RISE and UNITE now people's power.We cannot stomach it anymore.How long do we have to wait?

    • Ajan Anak Entili (71

      Watch Dog, How to rise and unite? our dayak themselves never looks upon their faces and very clearly our Dayak Leaders never unite amongst them. What i mean, we can voice out our opinion and suggestion here, but the difficult things we could not avoid is when the election day comes, where our peoples, where they are going and why not voting the oppose party to make more voters and perhaps can change we must. The present government are easy to make our peoples stupid. On the election day, they (government) put 100 cracks of liquor or cap langkau in every area that doing the election, that's enough for them to stop talking.

      May the blessing of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you and your family too.

  • imam frustrated

    TAIB MAHMUT MEMALUKAN ISLAM KAMI YG SUCI DAN MURNI…kamu nak dia kamu sokong lah dia…inilah angkara minum arak…ajan…kamu dah palau kah…u nak sonkong taib…kami…tak mahu dia di islam…dia dak murtat.dan memalukan islam…dia telah murtat bila dia percaya pada ilmu hitam dan bomoh2..ialah sesuatu yg haram dan syirik di islam..dalam rukun islam,kalau org didapati syirik,mereka dan keluarga haru dirajam…kau tengok peraigai dia…dia mengexploitasikan rakyat yang dipimpinnya…ini pun salah di segi islam…kami nak usirkan dia dari islam…kamu ambiklah dia ubtuk jadi pemimping iban…kami islam tak nak dia…lah..kenapa kamu pikir kami bawa pas masuk sarawak….kerna dia dan umno ingin mengexploitasi kan ugama kami yg suci murni….kami orang islam..ada dekat 17juta di malaysia…kamu ingat kami biarkan org2 hina ugama kami..ALLAHUAKBAR..ALLAHUAKBAR….HAPUS KAN TAIB.YANG MEMALU ISLAM….

  • Ajan Anak Entili (71

    Tok Imam, Jangan marah, bukan angkara minum arak, saya tidak minum arak dan tidak palau, banyak air lain yang bagus diminum, jangan suka-suka hantam. Saya bercakap benar, selagi beliau memerintah sarawak selagi itu lah, Tok Imam dan saya merana. Saya pun tidak sokong beliau, saya menykong parti pembangkang, tetapi kalau sekadar Tok Imam dan saya yang menyokong mana cukop. Oleh yang demikian, kita rakyat sarawak amnya, perlu bersatu padu, pada hari pilihanraya, jangan sekadar membuang batuk atas tangga. Hantam sampai CHANGE WE MUST.

  • imam frustrated


  • God is Good

    Thanks God..Kerajaan di Sarawak akan pulih tidak lama lagi di bawah pucuk kepimpinan PKR dan DAP. God Bless PKR & DAP.

  • Besi api

    Sapa-sapa parti yang majoriti dlm pilihanraya itulah yg nemerintah.

  • kesian sarawakians

    hidup paling altenative ke b.n walapun masih parti org melayu semenanjung tapi lebih baik dari b.n parti sik guna,menipu rakyat untuk kocek sendiri.

  • taman luk meruked

    We'll have a new (BARU) CM called BARU BIAN. Amen!!!

  • W

    Voice out brothers and sisters especially those in the ulu Baram, Bakong, Limbang and Lawas. Let your voices be heard through your ballot papers. Want changes orang Lawas vote for PKR Baru Bian.

    Pray in name of Jesus with your sincere heart God our Heavently Father who is the creater of Heaven and earth will surely come and do something great for you all. Amen.