Serving in rural area like Belaga District often dreaded and even cursed by many including Sarawakians.
Until 2013, reliable access to the outside world was via express boat to Sibu – a half day journey along the mighty Rajang River.
The other option – a four to five hours grueling journey on-board a Toyota Hilux 4-wheel drive vehicle to Bintulu.
Inaccessibility is probably the most dreaded part of being posted to this remote place. However many seems to cherish moments, experiences gained, and missed the local people hospitality and charms after leaving Belaga.
“An awesome experience I feel everyone should experience,” confessed Dr Sentilnathan Subramaniam in his Facebook photo album of his brief stint covering the district in 2012 in absent of local doctors.
“At least once in a lifetime. Loved every bit of it… will cherish these memories for a lifetime,” he said.
Belaga District is a huge district – larger than the state of Perlis but sparsely populated.
Doctors serving the District main clinic at Belaga will have to cover another clinic at Sungai Asap – the Bakun resettlement area – now an hour away from Belaga.
Occasionally they were also had to be part of the State Flying Doctor Services – serving remote Penan settlements near the Kalimantan border.
Dr Sentilnatahan said it’s challenging job partly because of lack of equipment and basic medical amenities.
Asked what he loved most about Belaga?
“The people. They’re so nice,” Dr Sentilnathan said without hesitating.
Dr Sentilnathan had since returning to Peninsula Malaysia, serving at a hospital unlike what had seen in Belaga.
Dr Sentilnathan treating his patient who live in the far flung of Sarawak.
The flying part is perhaps one of the perk of serving in rural area like Belaga.
One of the many remote longhouses where Dr Sentilnathan often visit as part of the Flying Doctor Service in Belaga.
Dr Sentilnathan with British medical students on training at the local clinic.
The Sungai Asap Health Clinic.
The Belaga Clinic medical team treating patients.
VIP patient. Dr Sentilnathan treating Sarawak Assistant Minister of Health Datuk Dr Jerip Susil during the latter visit to Belaga district.
The Belaga district map.
One of the remote longhouse in Belaga district.
Belaga District Health Clinic.
Belaga town – the last time along the Rajang river. (Photo/Zacky Wee Chung Ng)
All photos courtesy of Dr Sentilnathan