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We call on the Health Minister to let us know the true situation of dengue infection in this country, so that we can all cooperate to take effective measures


Media Statement
by Dr Tan Seng Giaw

(Kuala Lumpur, Sunday):  There are four strains of dengue. From time to time, each strain becomes dominant. Now, Strain 1 (or is it 3?) takes centre stage, infecting people who have not had enough immunity against this strain. Hence, the number of cases increases all over Southeast Asia.

Although the media report the number of deaths due to dengue in the whole of 2002 as 26, we donít know the actual figure. If we take the number of dengue cases recorded as 30,218 for the country last year, then we find that the figure speaks very loudly. For example, Selangor alone has 9,385 with 17 deaths. The Menteri Besar says that there is 62% increase in the number of cases compared with last year. If this is not an epidemic, what is it?

We doní t want to cause an alarm because this may affect many things such as tourism. So, let us say that it is more than an endemic, that is, occurring in some places in this country throughout the year.

If we only call it more than an outbreak and more than an endemic, would it help in our efforts to control the disease? True, this definition may save the face of the Health Minister. But, it does not necessarily help to control the situation.

As Aedes mosquitoes spread dengue, Datuk Chua Jui Meng has a point when he asks everyone to ensure that his or her backyard is not a mosquito-breeding ground. Many construction sites, factories and parks breed Aedes.

Female mosquitoes feed on human and animal blood so that they can procreate. In an ideal condition, a female Aedes may breed up to one million off-springs in five weeks. Half a million will be females that carry the virus.

Once a person has dengue, we hope that he or she does not bleed or haemorrhage. Meanwhile, we expect the Health Minister to announce the actual figures on dengue endemic plus situation and the effective measures.

(12/1/2003)


* Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Vice-Chairman and MP for Kepong