Kuching,06 July 2022
The Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) and Sunway Group have established a special partnership designed to address the socio-economic barriers to HIV treatment, prevention and care services in Sarawak and the neighbouring state of Sabah.
Officially known as the MAF-Sunway HOPE Borneo Project, support by Sunway to the tune of RM 1 million per year over the span of five years will cover the cost to run three flagship programmes under this umbrella initiative, namely the Teratak Kasih Tok Nan and the Sarawak Health Access Programme, both serving the HIV community in Sarawak, and the SAGA Health Access Programme for Sabah.
HOPE is a Sunway programme which stands for Health Outreach Programme for Everyone.
The partnership was officiated today at Teratak Kasih Tok Nan by Sarawak Premier, Datuk Patinggi Tan Sri (Dr) Abang Haji Abdul Rahman Zohari bin Tun Datuk Abang Haji Openg. He was represented at the event by Dato’ Sri Fatimah Abdullah, the Sarawak Minister of Women, Childhood and Community Wellbeing Development.
In his officiating speech, the Premier expressed his appreciation for the multi-stakeholder CSR partnership and contribution by Sunway and MAF to Sarawak.
“The State Government is fully committed to continuously improving our healthcare services to our people. Efforts are underway to achieve the ratio of 2.06 hospital beds for every 1,000 people by 2025. Of course, it is inevitable – at least for now – that certain specialised services, including HIV treatment, are still retained at centralised facilities in urban centres.
“It is through the good work of the NGO community like MAF that we are able to bring treatment closer to those that need them. The State Government is also pleased that a responsible CSR partner like Sunway is willing to shoulder the burden of care for the B40 community here,” concluded the Premier.
Explaining Sunway’s participation, Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr. Jeffrey Cheah remarked;
Our belief that no one should be left behind is one of the fundamental reasons why Sunway is deeply committed towards advancing the sustainable development agenda. We have fully embraced the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs, adopted by the United Nations in 2015. That includes a goal to eradicate the AIDS epidemic by 2030.
But let me be clear. We are not here to reinvent the wheel. Sunway’s role is to support and build on the good work of all our partners here today who have greatly contributed to this noble cause.
On her part, Professor Dato’ Dr Adeeba, Chairman of MAF, remarked;
“It is important for us to plug the gaps that are preventing progress towards ending AIDS, especially in Sabah and Sarawak, where access to HIV medication is more often than not, shaped by poverty and geographical vulnerability. Long distances to clinics, travelling barriers and the lack of integrated care which requires people living with HIV to obtain treatment for co-morbidities in multiple treatment settings are the consequence of disproportionate distribution of health services.”
“We are grateful that Sunway has responded favourably to our call for support to improve access to treatment and built on the success of Teratak Kasih Tok Nan that was initiated by our Patron in Sarawak, Datuk Amar Hajjah Jamilah Haji Anu, some 5 years ago,” added Dato’ Dr Adeeba.
Commenting on Sunway’s contribution, Datuk Amar Jamilah Anu remarked;
“I am immensely proud by what we have achieved with Teratak Kasih Tok Nan. When we started, our focus was to provide immediate support to my fellow Sarawakians who were in a disadvantageous position due to their HIV status. We offered help, care and compassion to our clients and at the same time, spent considerable time and resources to also educate the public here about HIV as well as stigma and discrimination.”
“With Sunway on our side now, Teratak Kasih Tok Nan is entering an exciting new phase where we have started to venture out into the heart of the rural community, beyond Kuching. I am excited that we are now able to do better for the People of Sarawak.
Teratak Kasih Tok Nan’s operations started in 2017. From its humble beginning as a halfway home for HIV patients seeking treatment at the nearby Sarawak General Hospital, the service offering of the Centre has grown considerable over the years – turning into a comprehensive One-Stop Support Centre that caters to the needs of the HIV community in Kuching and beyond. At the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, Teratak Kasih Tok Nan also served as a crisis centre that provides immediate relief support to local HIV community whose livelihoods were affected by the pandemic.
Starting from January this year, a brand-new hospital travel subsidy programme for HIV and other chronic disease patients was introduced by MAF Sarawak. A small subsidy scheme, starting from RM30 for every return trip for treatment at the local Clinics / Government Hospitals was offered to 200 individuals from the B40 background. The programme emulated the success of the SAGA Health Access Programme in neighbouring Sabah which has been offering a similar subsidy scheme since 2019 in the East Coast of Sabah.