Call on the Malaysian Government to improve the services, facilities and equipment in 855 health clinics, 101 maternal and childcare clinics and 1,940 rural clinics, to cope with the SARS epidemic

Press Statement
by Dr Tan Seng Giaw

(Ipoh, Thursday): Although the Health Ministry spends RM54 million to improve facilities and equipment in hospitals, the services, facilities and equipment in hospitals, urban health clinics, maternal and childcare clinics and rural clinics must be improved. This is especially so because of the SARS epidemic. These clinics especially the rural ones are short of doctors. The Government is attempting to get 1,149 foreign doctors to man them.

There are over 3,000 SARS cases with over 160 deaths in 25 countries in the world. More than half of these cases are in China. On 17 April, 2003, the New York Times reported that international investigators suspected that the Chinese authorities had significantly understated the prevalence of SARS.

On the other hand, on 17 April, 2003, the Asian Wall Street Journal showed 3,556 cases with 163 deaths. Malaysia had 56 cases and one death; three diagnosed as SARS but 53 others suspected. On 16 April, 2003, the New Straits Times recorded 3 deaths (one probable, two suspected), 6 probable SARS, 219 notified cases, 29 isolated on wards and 19 quarantined.

Clearly, the number of cases in each country depends on the criteria used. However, as further work is being done by international experts on defining Coronavirus that is confirmed as the cause of the atypical pneumonia, we hope that all countries are truthful and open in their statistics.

The people are scared of the epidemic. The economy is affected. So, the Government should be more transparent and accountable.


* Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP Vice Chairman & MP for Kepong