KUCHING: The Ministry of Health (MOH) has been urged to review the closure of Institut Latihan Kementerian Kesihatan Malaysia (ILKKM) Kota Sentosa as it is the only public health college serving Sabah and Sarawak.

Sarawak United People’s Party (SUPP) Public Complaints Bureau chief Wilfred Yap and SUPP Opar Branch chairman Niponi Undek appealed to the MOH’s training division to continue providing training for aspiring assistant environmental health officers and public health assistants from Sabah and Sarawak at the college.

“There is a need for more assistant environmental health officers and public health assistants to better serve especially the rural communities of Sabah and Sarawak in carrying out preventive measures to reduce vector-borne diseases,” they said in a joint statement yesterday.

They pointed that there are currently four ILKKM facilities in Malaya – namely, ILKKM Sungai Buloh, Selangor; ILKKM Ipoh, Perak; ILKKM Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, and ILKKM Alor Setar, Kedah.

KCH-psupp opar-1302-tl (PR): Yap (right) and Niponi at SUPP headquarters appealing for ILKKM Kota Sentosa to remain and continue as a training centre for Sarawakians and Sabahans aspiring to be assistant environmental health officers and public health assistants.
Yap, who is also SUPP Kota Sentosa Branch chairman and Niponi were recently approached by members of the public expressing their concerns on the possible closure of ILKKM Kota Sentosa.

Niponi claimed he was recently informed that the MOH’s training division had plans to shut down ILKKM Kota Sentosa and that there were no repair and maintenance works carried out at the facility.

“There have been no new intake of trainees since July 2019 and no reasons have been given by MOH on why there are no new intakes,” he said.

The RM22 million ILKKM in Kota Sentosa was completed in 2007. Niponi was its director from 2007 until he retired in 2016.

The institute had provided training to aspiring assistant environmental health officers and public health assistants from Sabah and Sarawak.

“The courses offered at the public health college are meant to equip the trainees with basic knowledge on personal hygiene, animal husbandry, environmental sanitation, health education, communicable diseases and its prevention and control, construction of rural water supply, latrine and solid wastes and simple treatment of common diseases found among the rural population.”

According to Niponi, the courses were especially relevant to Sabah and Sarawak due to the large rural-based population and vast rural areas of the two states.

“It also gives opportunities to more Sarawakians and Sabahans to be trained and employed as assistant environmental health officers and public health assistants closer to home and their families which is also more cost effective as Sarawakians and Sabahans can save on their air flight transportation costs to Malaya,” they said.