A(H1N1) and Dengue killer epidemics

By Lim Kit Siang

Tiong Lai should take leave from MCA party duties to lead a 24/7 national campaign, resign as Health Minister or take leave as Health Minister so that a “full time” Health Minister can provide leadership

It is shocking that instead of leading the national war against the double epidemics of A(H1N1) and dengue, the Health Minister, Datuk Liow Tiong Lai is leading the national blame game with the MCA-owned Star putting him on the front-page headline news blaming “the lack of vigilance by members of the public and even some doctors”.

Let me tell Tiong Lai. Don’t blame others. If you want to blame somebody, blame yourself for failing to provide the needed leadership to mobilize Malaysians to fight the double epidemics as Health Minister.

Liow does not seem to be a Health Minister who is confronted with the two killer epidemics, with A(H1N1) claiming four deaths and recording a total number of 1,302 cases while dengue has killed 64 and recorded 26,446 cases since January, set to break even last year’s worst dengue epidemic of 49,335 cases and 112 casualties.

The worse is yet to come for both deadly epidemics.

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 populations, 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 hospitalization 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%.

As Health Minister facing such a possible national catastrophe, Liow should fully focus all his time and energies to lead and mobilize Malaysians to combat the A(H1N1) and dengue epidemics, even on a 24/7 basis, doing nothing else but getting the two killer epidemics under control.

But Liow is not doing this as he is more engrossed with the MCA internal power struggle between the MCA President Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat and the MCA Deputy President Datuk Dr. Chua Soi Lek, ignoring his responsibilities as Health Minister who should be spending every ounce of his energy and every second of his waking hours on the two killer epidemics!

Liow should seriously take leave from all MCA party duties so as to be able to concentrate fully and completely on combating the A(H1N1) and dengue epidemics or he should resign and let another person take over as Health Minister who is prepared to completely focus on the two killer epidemics until they are brought under check.

Yesterday, my blog received a typical complaint by a distraught parent, viz:

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?

Over to you, Liow. If Liow is not prepared to go “full time” as Health Minister to spearhead the national war against these two killer epidemics and wants to continue to dabble in the MCA power struggle, and also not prepared to resign as Health Minister, he should take leave as Health Minister from the Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak so that a “full time” Health Minister can take over the battle against the two killer epidemics.


Lim Kit Siang








世界卫生组织西太平洋区域办事处传染病部门主任Dr. Tee Ah Sian最近于2009年7月27日向全国流感专案小组会议汇报,描绘了A(H1N1)型流感在马来西亚的可能情况。