[The Borneo Post] US Embassy all for collaborative research on respiratory virus

Conny Banji

Lakhdhir (seated, sixth left) in a group photo with SEGi University and Sibu Hospital staff.

SIBU: A collaborative research on respiratory virus between Duke University, Sibu Hospital and SEGi University has received the support of the United States Embassy in Malaysia.

US Ambassador to Malaysia Kamala Shirin Lakhdhir said the research being conducted at the Clinical Research Centre (CRC) laboratory in Sibu Hospital was for the benefit of not just Malaysians or Americans, but for all human beings.

“Global health belongs to everyone. I really appreciate and honour the people who have worked on the research in Sibu and I look forward to supporting it,” she told a press conference during her visit to the CRC laboratory yesterday.

Recalling her experience while serving at the US Embassy in Beijing, Lakhdhir said there was Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak at the time.

She said each embassy staff was told to wash their hands frequently and to check their body temperature before they go to work.

“The message is ‘disease knows no border’. Disease doesn’t need a visa. Disease is carried rapidly around the world.

“The most recent experience we saw was Ebola, which was something in Washington I also professionally worked on,” she said.

On a similar matter, she said the embassy also supported research in Sabah and the peninsula, and is now beginning research in Sarawak on human-wildlife contact.

The research is on what is known as ‘emerging diseases’ among people who eat wildlife meat, she added.

“The US government has been supporting this (research) for a number of years because Malaysia has rainforest and has wildlife. As human beings, we are not really sure what is going to happen.”

SEGi University vice-chancellor Prof Dr Patrick Kee Peng Kong and CRC labarotary head Prof Dr Toh Teck Hock were among those present during the ambassador’s visit.