Press Statement by Charles Santiago in Klang on Tuesday, 6th January 2009:

Urgent efforts by the state & people needed to fight increasing dengue deaths 

I strongly call upon the government to focus its efforts on fighting dengue and Chikungunya as a national epidemic. It is frightening to note the complacency of the federal and state governments despite a spike in deaths due to the mosquito-borne disease and Chikungunya infection.

Dengue-related deaths totaled 108 last year compared to 98 in 2007. Selangor recorded the highest increase from 230 to 653 cases (184 per cent); Kedah, from 30 to 72 cases (140 per cent), and Putrajaya from five to 10 cases (100 per cent).

The authorities and Health Ministry officials must come up with stringent monitoring of residential areas, shop-houses, idle land, factories, cemetery and dumping sites as these are identified as common breeding grounds for the aedes mosquito.

I also urge the Selangor state government to pay urgent priority to stop the spread of the aedes mosquite. Both the federal and state government's must step up their efforts to ensure a safe and clean environment as people should not be dying due to the irresponsibility of those in power.

I appeal to the people to cooperate with Health Ministry officials by keeping drains and other breeding grounds in their homes and work places clean. I urge fellow Malaysians not to turn drains into garbage bins.

In my constituency Klang, we will be organizing our second gotong - royong this week end in Taman Palm Grove to clean-up drains, aedes mosquito breeding areas and dumping grounds. The first gotong-royong took place in Taman Chiu Leong in mid December 2008.

It was a joint effort between my office, the local councilors, Majlis Perbandaran Klang, and local resident associations.

There will be a series of gotong-royong's in the Klang constituency in the next 6 months. A special committee has been formed to undertake this responsibility.

Besides dengue, a total of 4,167 cases of Chikungunya infection were recorded in 2008. Malaysia is heavily dependent on migrant workers from countries were Chikungunya is endemic and it had been speculated that the virus had been re-introduced into the country through the movement of these workers.

The authorities dealing with migrant workers must, therefore, conduct thorough health screening to detect for Chikungunya infections.

* Charles Santiago, MP for Klang