Why the Health Department did not warn the people about Dengue outbreak in Bukit Mertajam  at the first instant?


Media Statement
by Chong Eng

(Penang, Sunday): It was reported by the vernacular press that five persons have been diagnosed dengue fever in Bukit Mertajam town area from 14 to 17 this month and one of them died on 23rd afternoon. Berapit state assemblyman Lau Chik Tuan gave the figure.

It was further reported that out of the five, three are traders in the Bukit Mertajam town market and the other two are sisters living at Jalan Pegawai, near the market. The three traders live in three different areas. As there was no dengue case in their residential areas, it was concluded that they were most probably infected at their place of work, this is Bukit Mertajam town market.

If the above information is accurate, then five cases of dengue including  one death is tantamount to an outbreak. A question  the DAP would like to ask is why the health department did not caution the people at the vicinity at the first instant so that they could have taken precautions and a life may have been saved?

The life of the 37 year old trader who passed away on 23rd could have been saved if the health department had issued a warning to the people at the vicinity on 17th itself. He was down with high fever and pains at joints and
muscles, two initial symptoms of dengue on 17th. He went to see two doctors within three days. The second doctor gave him a reference letter and told him to go to a hospital. He went to Seberang Jaya Hospital  with the letter on 19th.  He was given treatment and sent home on the same day. The next day the illness became more serious. His family sent him to a private hospital and diagnosed a suspect dengue case.

If the health department had cautioned the  people about the dengue cases in the vicinity on 17th itself, then the trader probably could tell the doctor to check for dengue virus and he may still be alive.

DAP demands an explanation from the health department as to why it did not caution the people early? Even after a life was lost, the health department did not perform its duty in informing the people. But a state assemblyman has to do the department'ss duty instead. We demand the State Health Committee Chairman Datuk Rajapathy to immediately look into the possible weaknesses in the District Health Department.


* Chong Eng, DAP deputy secretary general, Women National Executive Committee chairwoman and MP for Bukit  Mertajam