I have furnished the Health Minister the Internet information about offers of help from foreign medical experts with regard to the suspected Cocksackie Virus B outbreak


Media Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
(Petaling Jaya, Saturday):
My office has furnished to the Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, the Internet information about offers of help from foreign medical experts with regard to the suspected Cocksackie Virus B outbreak which has claimed another life yesterday, bringing the total to 25.

These information referred in particular to the views of Dr. Will Taylor, Associate Professor of Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Georgia who had suggested that there are two drugs which might help in fighting the viral outbreak.

One is Pleconaril made in the United States while the other is Selenase manufactured in Germany.

Dr. Will Taylor had also contacted Dr. Jian-Chu Hou, a professor at the Chinese Academy of Medical Sciences in Beijing, who is prepared to share his expertise in regard to the use of selenium versus an acutely lethal viral infection. Dr. Hou has considerable experience in regard to dose and toxicity issues in treating CVB myocarditis with selenium, and he could also help to get in touch with other Chinese scientists and clinicians.

Dr. Will Taylor had also offered on 6th June to contact the German manufacturer of the drug Selenase to ask them to donate and immediately ship the drug to Sarawak, provided this was needed by the Malaysian medical authorities. However, up to now, the Malaysian medical authorities have not indicated that they want the Selenase drug shipment.

I leave it to the Health Ministry to pursue these leads with Dr. Will Taylor and Dr. Jian Chu-Hou as their telephone, fax and even email addresses are available in the bundle of Internet information given to the Health Minister.

It is most unfortunate that exactly two months since the first death from the deadly viral outbreak on April 14, neither the viral epidemic had been brought under control nor the actual cause of the viral attack definitively established - as to whether the culprit is Coxsackie Virus B or some other virus.

All Federal and Sarawak State Government leaders should be impressed that they should not say or do anything which could undermine public confidence in the government’s handling of the biggest medical crisis in Malaysian history.

For instance, the Information Minister, Datuk Mohamed Rahmat was reported in the press yesterday as saying that the Information Ministry would co-operate with the health authorities in efforts to curb the coxsackie virus B by regularly airing reports and developments on the disease while in today’s press, the Deputy Education Minister, Datuk Dr. Fong Chan Onn was quoted as saying that the Education Ministry would co-operate with the Health Ministry to prevent the spread of cocksackie Virus B by holding talks in schools detailing the dangers of the disease and ways to avoid it.

Both these statements were made with good intentions, but the impression they convey is that these two Ministries had to wait for two months after the initial outbreak and 25 deaths before they could focus on co-operating with the Health Ministries in these aspects - resulting in a further undermining rather than the restoration of public confidence in the government crisis management.

(14/6/97)


*Lim Kit Siang - Malaysian Parliamentary Opposition Leader, Democratic Action Party Secretary-General & Member of Parliament for Tanjong