We urge the Director-General of Health to announce the actual figures of dengue cases and fatalities in Malaysia, making himself transparent and accountable
by Dr Tan Seng Giaw
(Kuala Lumpur, Thursday): Tan Sri Dr Nohamad Taha Ariff should rethink on the best way to control the dengue infection in the country. One logical way is to come out with the truth, showing transparency and accountability.
On 29 January, 2003, the Director-General refused to give the number of dengue cases. Instead he said that the situation was not as serious as in 1998, when more than 17,000 cases were reported.
Dr Mohamad Raha Ariff has a point when he mentioned the major breeding grounds of the aedes mosquitoes such as construction sites. The public must cooperate to eradicate these breeding sites. If we can get rid of these breeding grounds, we can reduce the number of aedes. Without aedes, the dengue virus cannot spread.
What is unacceptable is that while the Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng concentrates on passing the buck to local authorities, his Director-General only releases figures on inspection sites that contain clear water to breed the mosquitoes. They are running away from the infection. They should give the true figures on dengue cases and fatalities.
The media reveal over 32,000 dengue cases with over 70 deaths compared to over 27,000 cases and 57 deaths in 1998. These figures show that there is a dengue epidemic.
In the past 7 years, the Health Ministry has been taking over myriad of health functions from local authorities. Hitherto, although the Ministry has established the Health Department in the Federal Territories in November, 2000, the Kuala Lumpur City Hall still carries out these functions. But, the Ministry has taken over those in many local governments.
* Dr Tan Seng Giaw, DAP National Vice-Chairman and MP for Kepong