Is there a dengue outbreak?
The EdTeam has received several emails from USJ-Subang Jaya residents about their concern over the menacing dengue fever. The gave us facts, people's contacts and the exact location of suspected breeding grounds.
If you, too, have similar discoveries, please drop us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. We will take it from there. Many thanks.
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4:17pm Thu Jan 16th, 2003
Is there a dengue outbreak?
While the government concedes that there has been a recent increase in the number of cases caused by dengue, it is not at the epidemic stage.
Opposition leader, Lim Kit Siang, however begs to disagree. According to him, the current outbreak is the worst in the nation's history.
Health Ministry statistics show that dengue fever claimed 54 lives in 2002.
Lim, DAP chairperson, claimed a much higher figure, though he couldn't provide an exact death toll.
"On Jan 7, I said there were over 60 dengue deaths last year. Two days later, I said there were over 66 deaths. And yesterday, I said there were over 72 deaths," he said in a press statement released today.
"What was remarkable was that there was not a single occasion in the past month when the health minister, or any of his officials, sought to question the truth of my figures on dengue casualties or to accuse me of being alarmist in giving inflated figures."
The reason for the silence, claimed Lim, was because the authorities knew that his figures, "if not accurate, err on the low side from the actual statistics which would show an even higher fatality rate".
He accused Health Minister Chua Jui Meng of practising an official 'black-out' policy for refusing to release data on the escalation in the number of dengue cases and deaths.
The World Health Organisation issued an alert last July to countries in tropical regions, including Malaysia, to be prepared for an increase in the number of dengue cases in view of unusually wet weather conditions.
Dengue fever causes painful joints, fever and rashes within a week of infection spread by the aedes mosquito.
Last September, Kuala Lumpur and four states were placed on a dengue alert. Selangor topped the list of cases with some 5,000, followed by Kuala Lumpur with 4,094. Other states considered to be at high risk were Perak, Kelantan and Johor.
But said Chua: "People do not understand dengue. It is an endemic disease in over 100 countries and affects 50 million people globally including developed countries such as the United States. Only that the press in those countries do not play up the issue."
Conceding that dengue cases were increasing, he said that the figures last year were still lower than1998 when 27,379 cases were reported with 58 deaths.
Nevertheless, he said his ministry has carried out many activities including educating the public on how to prevent aedes mosquitos from breeding around their homes through awareness programmes.
Epidemic continues unabated
Lim said that recent reports of dengue cases show that the epidemic is still at its worst phase.
English daily The Star reported today that Universiti Putra Malaysia has issued an alert to students, especially those living near Serdang and Balakong, following a 80 percent surge in dengue cases.
Meanwhile, another English daily New Straits Times reported that a Pahang state assembly representative M Davenderan had been hospitalised for dengue, believed to be contracted during his visit to villages in his constituency.
The opposition party wanted the government to declare a nationwide alert on dengue before more people die from the disease.
But it is not going to wait for that to happen.
DAP is organising a roundtable conference next Wednesday at the Chinese Assembly Hall in Kuala Lumpur to discuss ways to prevent more dengue deaths.
Chaired by the party's national vice-chair Dr Tan Seng Giaw, who is a trained medical doctor, the conference is expected to be attended by representatives of political parties, NGOs and the mass media.