The operation of the Malaysian field hospital in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, which has catered to the medical needs of Rohingya refugees since Dec 1 last year, will continue until end of this year, according to Deputy Health Minister Dr Hilmi Yahaya.
As such, he said a discussion would be held at the ministry level to plan the deployment of its staff to the field hospital in stages.
“The (deployment) plan was initially made only for three-month period. Now that the operation of the field hospital will be extended until year’s end, a discussion need to be convened to make new plans.”
He said this to reporters after welcoming the return of the third team comprising 41 staff who had served at the field hospital in Cox’s Bazar, at the KL International Airport today.
Earlier reports stated that the field hospital operation, coordinated by the Health Ministry with the support from the National Security Council, Foreign Ministry and Malaysian Armed Forces, would only be for three months and cease operations on Feb 16.
At present, Hilmi said the Malaysian field hospital in Cox’s Bazar remained intact as there were nine logistics staff currently monitoring the situation and medical equipment.
The fourth team will be deployed after the discussion, he said.
On the operation of the field hospital between Dec 1, 2017 and Feb 14, 2018, Hilmi said they had managed to provide treatment to a total of 6,578 patients, carry out 218 surgeries, and deliver 31 babies.
During the period, 144 staff from the ministry were deployed to Cox’s Bazar, with exchange made every fortnight for specialist doctors, every month for the paramedics and every three months for the logistics staff, he said.
“There must be 50 staff on duty at the field hospital at any one time. They comprised medical experts from various fields, such as surgery, anaesthesia, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics and psychiatry.
“Other staff were medical officers, pharmacists, nurses, medical assistants, environmental health assistant officers, X-ray technicians and lab technologists,” he said.
Hilmi also described the planning, setting up and operating a field hospital in Cox's Bazar, Bangladesh, as a valuable experience for the ministry’s staff involved.
The humanitarian crisis in the Rakhine region in Myanmar became critical since August last year as more and more Rohingya refugees entered Bangladesh daily, causing many refugee camps to be set up.
Malaysia is the first country to set up a field hospital in Cox’s Bazar to cater to Rohingya refugees who fled west of Myanmar due to military operations.
To date, the actual number of Rohingya refugees cannot be confirmed but many claimed that there were more than one million Rohingya refugees in Cox's Bazar.