On expiry of 48-hour ultimatum to Chua Jui
Meng tomorrow, DAP will convene an all party/NGOs/mass media meeting to
launch a high-impact multi-prong campaign to create nation-wide alert of the
worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history among Malaysians particularly
urban Malays who suffer the highest incidence of dengue cases and deaths
Media Conference Statement
by Lim Kit Siang
Yesterday, DAP issued a 48-hour ultimatum to the Health Minister Datuk Chua
Jui Meng to declare a dengue epidemic and launch a high-impact anti-dengue
counter strategy or DAP will initiate a multi-prong campaign to create
nation-wide dengue alert among Malaysians particularly among urban Malays
who suffer the highest incidence of dengue cases and deaths.
On the expiry of the 48-hour
ultimatum to Chua tomorrow, DAP will convene an all party/NGOs/mass media
meeting to launch a high-impact multi-prong campaign to create nation-wide
alert of the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history among Malaysians
particularly urban Malays.
The severity of the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history was again
highlighted today when the New Straits Times reported that two Malay
children, a boy and a girl, died of dengue at the Ipoh Hospital in the new
Perak State Health director, Dr. Abdul Razak Kechik said Nurul Shazlyn Ab.
Fairul Hisman of Kampung Ahmad Said Tambahan died last Friday (3.1.2003)
while Adam Danial Zarisham of Kampung Manjoi, Ipoh died on Tuesday
These are two dengue deaths in the Ipoh Hospital alone in the first seven
days of the new year. What about dengue deaths in other hospitals in Perak
and in the other states in the whole country in the new year?
Nurul Shazlyn's mother, 24-year-old Missda Zulkaarnain, told the NST that
the Ipoh Hospital had treated the girl for normal fever, and only confirmed
three days later that it was dengue - by which time it was too late, as her
condition had become critical.
Missda's complaint has become too frequent and heart-rending in Malaysia in
the past six months of doctors who did not immediately suspect that patients
suffering from fever could be dengue cases only to discover too late to be
able to save lives - demonstrating that the Health Ministry's failure to
launch a high-impact media compaign to create nation-wide alert and
awareness about the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history has not
only lulled the general public but also medical practitioners into
complacency about the lethal threat of the dengue epidemic.
I have said publicly that from the various official accounts and media
reports, there were over 30,000 dengue cases and over 66 dengue deaths last
year, making it the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history - as the
worst fatalities from dengue in previous years were 58 in 1998 and 50 in
It is most significant that neither Chua nor any Health Ministry official
had made any attempt to challenge or question these estimates, which is the
strongest proof of their veracity.
Chua broke his long silence on the dengue outbreak yesterday, not to
belatedly create the nation-wide alert about the worst dengue epidemic in
the country but to claim that fingers should not be pointed just at his
Ministry as the Housing and Local Government is also responsible in fighting
What I find totally unacceptable, inexcusable and unforgivable is not merely
his attempt to exonerate himself from the unchecked rise in the number of
dengue cases and deaths, but his most irresponsible attempt to play down the
severity of the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's history, as it could
only lead to more avoidable deaths and as if Malaysians have no reason to be
upset that the country recorded over 30,000 dengue cases and over 60 dengue
deaths last year and should be instead be grateful and thankful to Chua!
I feel so outraged that I have decided to call this media conference when I
had intended to take a day's rest as I cannot bear the thought of more
avoidable deaths in the current dengue epidemic because of the continued
irresponsibility of the Health Ministry and other government departments.
Why should more lives be lost in the dengue epidemic because of the
irresponsible attitude of the Health Minister?
I agree with Chua that fingers should not be just pointed at the Health
Ministry for the unprecedented toll of deaths in the dengue epidemic, as
under the principle of collective responsibility, all Ministers - including
UMNO Ministers - are also responsible, especially as before the Cabinet
meeting this week on Wednesday, I had proposed the establishment of a
Cabinet Committee to deal with the dengue epidemic.
Chua's attempt to say that the dengue situation in Malaysia is endemic and
not epidemic is the height of Ministerial irresponsibility, and this ground
alone, he should be removed from the Cabinet.
Dengue is endemic in Malaysia and this is the reason for the high number of
annual dengue cases and deaths, as for instance, the following dengue
statistics for the country from 1991 - 1996:
However, in 1997 and 1998, dengue is no more endemic but reached epidemic
proportion when it recorded the following figures:
Year No. of
How can Chua claim that the dengue outbreak last year is only endemic and
not epidemic when there were over 30,000 cases and over 66 deaths?
What I also find most shocking is the deliberate misinformation by Chua
yesterday about dengue fatalities, saying that Malaysia has been able to
keep dengue haemorrhagic fever (DHF) case fatality rates to 10 per cent (Berita
Harian) while claiming that in other developing countries, the DHF case
fatality rate is as high as 50% with some countries reaching 70%. (Sin Chew
Why is Chua comparing Malaysia
with the worst countries in the world instead of with the best - or just
with Malaysia's own past public health record?
Chua seems to be proud that Malaysia's DHF case fatality rate for the worst
dengue epidemic last year was 10 per cent, when the World Health
Organisation (WHO) had declared that "With appropriate intensive supportive
therapy, mortality may be reduced to less than 1%". (http://www.who.int/inf-fs/en/fact117.html)
Chua should refer to the same WHO website about information on DHF case
fatality rates, viz:
"Some other statistics (world):
During epidemics of dengue, attack
rates among susceptibles are often 40 - 50%, but may reach 80 - 90%.
An estimated 500 000 cases of DHF
require hospitalisation each year, of whom a very large proportion are
children. At least 2.5% of cases die, although case fatality could be twice
Without proper treatment, DHF case
fatality rates can exceed 20%. With modern intensive supportive therapy,
such rates can be reduced to less than 1%. "
Chua should explain why Malaysia's
DHF case fatality rates is 10 per cent and he is very proud of it when WHO
said that "With modern intensive supportive therapy, such rates can be
reduced to less than 1%"!
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National