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Media Statement (2) by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Saturday, 1st August 2009: 

Why was health, in particular the war against two killer epidemics – A(H1N1) and dengue – excluded from Najib’s National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) announced last week?

Health Minister, Datuk Liow Tiong Lai cannot be serious about his ministerial commitment to provide the best health services in the country when the health front, in particular the war against the two killer epidemics of A(H1N1) and dengue are excluded from the National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) announced by the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak last week.

In fact, it is not only Liow but also the Minister for KPIs, Tan Sri Dr. Koh Tsu Koon who should also explain why the Prime Minister’s short-term targets for six NKRAs had excluded health, especially with the country facing two killer epidemics.

There have been 69 new locally-transmitted influenza A(H1N1) cases reported on Thursday, bringing the total number in the country to 1,371 with four deaths so far.

At a recent briefing to the National Influenza Pandemic Task Force meeting (July 27, 2009), Dr Tee Ah Sian, director of communicable diseases of WHO, painted a possible scenario for the Malaysian A (H1N1) pandemic.

For our 27.7 million population, if simply 20% are at risk and exposed, then some 5.5 million people will contract the A (H1N1) flu. Based on other serious influenza statistics, if 2% to 9% require hospitalisation then, some 110,000 to 500,000, respectively, would need hospital care.

If the case fatality rate is estimated to be from 0.1% to 0.5%, then some 5,500 to 28,000 of infected patients would die, respectively.

In the latest updates of the most seriously ill patients identified and confirmed infections, the global case fatality rate has risen from the 0.4% to 0.66%.

On the second killer epidemic front, dengue has killed 64 persons and recorded 26,446 cases since January – set to break even last year’s worst dengue epidemic of 49,335 cases and 112 casualties.

As the worst in Malaysia on both killer epidemics are yet to come, the Cabinet next Wednesday should censure Liow’s deplorable ministerial performance and announce the seventh NKRA on the short-term targets in the war against these two killer epidemics.

In the past two days, I have received numerous public complaints about the government’s handling of the A(N1H1) epidemic as well as the quality of hospital services, like the following three from Malacca, Kuching and Johore Baru: -

(1) Malacca - On the Influenza A(H1N1): I find that what the minister of health and the DG of MMC say is not what is being practiced at the government hospitals.

My girl is sick since Monday night and has been to 2 private clinics three times, and one clinic, the Dr. said to wait for three days for the antibiotic to take effect.

As she continued to have high fever, and as advised by the Dr in the 2nd private clinic, today she went to Malacca Hospital.

After waiting for three hours, she finally gets to see the Dr. only to be told to wait another three days, and new medicine issued. When asked, they said she did not have to undergo the swab test. This inspite of the several cases of the A(H1N1) at her university in Bukit Beruang.

Dato’ Seri Liow is quoted as having said that all those with symptoms should undergo the swab test. However, sad to say, the message is not going to the ground level, where a totally different stance is being taken. They call it the ‘mitigation phase’.

I ask: What if three days or one week is too late? (My girl is underweight and not terribly strong.) Is that how the other deaths occurred?

Why minister and DG say one thing, but hospitals and IMR not listening? Does it surprise you then that the number of cases are escalating day by day?

DG of MMC today said the people are not doing enough. I was informed by a doctor in private practice that countries like Hong Kong are doing a great job in containing this pandemic. Why Malaysia cannot do? How many more deaths is it going to take?

(2) Kuching - My daughter had fever, sore throat and cough after visiting KL and Malacca. We brought her to a private hospital in Kuching and she was given antibiotics and sent home.

At night, she developed high fever, chills, headache and nose block and I was horrified after searching on the internet that she was displaying symptoms of H1N1. We went back to the hospital and was advised to go to SGH, as they did not have the checking facilities.

At the SGH, it was chaotic with babies and other cases all waiting to be seen at the same place. They were totally unprepared, understaffed, and one staff was angry to see us waiting at the H1N1 area, shouting, “another one? I havent even eaten”.

We were told they were at the “mitigation stage”. When I asked what that means, it means the H1N1 is too prevalent, they are treating it as the normal flu. They would not be doing any blood test, or throat swab. We were told to quarantine ourselves, continue taking the private hospital medication, and they would only treat us if we have blue lips, vomiting blood or have difficulty breathing!

They said this direction came from up.

Today, I read in the news paper, 14 new cases discovered. I wonder how do they know when they dont conduct checks?

This Government is a joke!

3) Johore Baru - I been to 3 general hospitals in JB and waited 4 months to diagnose that I have a kidney stone that is too big and needed urgent surgery. Worst is that I have to wait until end of the year to get it removed (because, all booked), they say they will put a tube for temporary measure.

Last 2 weeks, I have got it removed in Private Hospital with only 2 days upon diagnosis & the stone is bigger than my thumb.

Story behind on general hospital in Jb:

unable to diagnose first hospital after 3 days hospitalised)

Send to second hospital then subsequent third hospital, stayed for 13 days for antibiotics then only send for MRI… unfortunately, it broken down, have to wait another one & half month (for it to get parts to fix it), after MRI, says that that particular hospital do not have urology specialist (whole of Johor, only got one hospital for it).

Upon presenting letter, straight given another month of appointment (the place is cramp like…cannot describe). on the said appointment (although having the MRI scan) need to go for x-ray, then says comeback 3 more weeks.

After 3 more weeks, they says, it is dangerous need surgery but unfortunately have to wait until end of the year.

Come on, is the doctor incompetent? or other circumstances (equipments, hospital utilities etc) render them unable to work properly….Motto…’LET’s Wait until their life in on a thread, then, send for as Emergency case’

Liow should personally respond to these three complaints from Malacca, Kuching and Sarawak.

*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor



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