(Petaling Jaya, Monday): The information released by the Disease Control Unit of the Public Health Division of the Health Ministry that there had been 42 fatalities resulting from the enterovirus infection so far this year has come as a great shock to all Malaysians and concerned parents.
Apart from the 31 deaths in Sarawak, which had been blamed on Coxsackie B Virus by the Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, although no medical expert, whether local and foreign, had been able to diagnose the real cause, there were nine deaths in Peninsular Malaysia (two in Malacca, five in the Federal Territory and two in Kedah) and two in Sabah. The 11 deaths comprise six boys and five girls, all below the age of five.
There are two other deaths in Penang and one in Kedah but these are not yet confirmed to be the result of the enterovirus infection.
The Director of the Health Control Unit, Datuk Dr. Abdul Aziz Mahmood revealed that there had been 5,476 reported cases of enterovirus infection between April 1 and October 18 this year, of which Sarawak had the highest number of 1,139 reported cases. The states in Peninsular with the highest number of reported cases are Perak 564, FT Kuala Lumpur 538, Johore 467, Penang 461 and Kedah 455.
For quite some time, there has been increasing concern among health practitioners, NGOs and knowledgeable members of the public that the Health Ministry has not been fully open and forthcoming with regard to the enterovirus epidemic in Peninsular Malaysia after the so-called Coxsackie B Virus epidemic in Sarawak in the middle of the year and that vital information and statistics about the epidemic are being denied to the public. DAP is gravely concerned about the enterovirus epidemic causing 42 deaths so far this year and demands to know why information about the gravity of the epidemic in Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah had been withheld
The Health Ministry should make all available to the public all information which have an important bearing on the maintenance of the highest standards of public health and it should work with the closest co-operation with the Malaysian Medical Association and all organisations and individuals concerned about public health in the country.