Consumerist: Dengue Means Death – Time To Change Intervention Strategy Nationwide!

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Consumerist: Dengue Means Death – Time To Change Intervention Strategy Nationwide!

I told the broadcast journalists from the TV station recording my interview that in Malaysia we need a fast catching sign and I recommended – Dengue = Death!

She felt I was negative and the producer wanted something more positive?

Something positive?

Before I started I asked her to have a great cup of coffee my maid had prepared while I took her back in time!

I told her the basics as I did not want to trouble her young brains nor upset her producer who wanted something ‘constructive?’

I started to inform her when I started addressing health ministry and health issues – 1977!

To date I have worked through 7 ministers and several DGs!

Three of whom were my dear friends – Chua Jui Ming and Dr Chua Soi Lek and former DG Dr Ismail Merican who in my book was the best DG Malaysia has seen – truly professional, visionary, dedicated tolerating no fools!

I have been a consumer advocate for the last 37 years and

So that too should mean something for a track record – No?

I told her that I was very passionate about dengue as I had worked on it since 1997 and several years later increased the rate after losing a dear friend, an Associate Professor and Eye Specialist who was my wife’s and Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail’s colleague and peer at Universiti Hospital to dengue!

She lived in Subang Jaya!

That was tragic!

Flashback!

Let us look at the facts –

Malaysia had suffered then its worst dengue bout on record in 2010, when 134 people died and 46,171 cases were reported!

In 2011, 36 people died in Malaysia, with 19,884 people infected.

In 2012, 35 people died in Malaysia of dengue!

In 2013, 43,346 cases were reported nationwide with 92 deaths in total.

Dengue cases are on the rise, with a total of 5,141 cases reported so far this year, eight of those being fatal.

This represents a 300 per cent increase over the same period in 2013, when the Health Ministry reported 1,580 cases and five deaths. The dengue fever and dengue hemorrhagic fever situation is worsening nationwide, with the number of cases hitting 9,453 and 17 deaths, all within the first 37 days of this year.

Fast forward: 2014!

I do not to ask anyone to resign, call them names or make things worse than it already is!

What do we need! CASSA recommendations!

1. We need an inter-ministerial commission chaired by the DPM – where the Ministry of Health, Housing & Local Government, Home, Multimedia & Communication ministries with CASSA are brought together to address the issues. With each ministry going to the ground and addressing the problems of an ecosystem created which is conducive for dengue! A detailed plan of action to eradicate with audits present deliberated at the commission meetings!

2. A hot line and email be prepared for feedbacks from the community and NGOs.

3. Punitive action taken on construction sites, foreign workers living quarters, housing estates and high rise buildings where foreigners live by the local council driving the action with fines and arrests and work order halts, at ground zero and reporting to the commission.

4. Foreign workers be specially targeted which includes their illegal shops, eateries, and others! Incoming foreign workers be put on medical screening at the entry points and repatriated if found carrying communicable diseases with the costs borne by the agents! All foreign workers both legal and illegal be screened. This is also because of TB! The Health Ministry recorded 22,710 TB cases, 810 more than than the 21,900 dengue cases reported in the same year.

5. The influx of foreigners was said to be one of the contributing factors for the rise of the disease, which has seen an increase of seven to 10 per cent in the past five years. Many foreigners work in various sectors, including food and beverages and as domestic helpers.

6. A nationwide campaign be launched using the multimedia ministry, uniformed groups involving community in the electronic and print media!