Health Ministry is still in the bullock-cart age when it should be in the information era to give Malaysians first-hand and real-time information about dengue outbreak instead of just peddling media reports on its website
by Lim Kit Siang
(Parliament, Wednesday): On Monday, I had called on the Health Minister Datuk Chua Soi Lek to take the Health Ministry into the information age by breaking away from the past secrecy syndrome and post the latest weekly updates of dengue cases and deaths on the Health Ministry website for public information and to end the Health Ministry homepage’s pathetic example of a “cobwebsite”.
I pointed out that three days after Chua’s warning of a dengue outbreak, there was still nothing on the Health Ministry website about the dengue alert – raising the question as to how the country could be on dengue alert when the Health Ministry itself was not yet on dengue alert!
Five days after Chua’s dengue warning, the Health Ministry website has finally sprung into action, with the “Maklumat Terkini” on its index page on the dengue warning. However, disappointment is in store for anyone who accessed this “Maklumat Terkini”, for it was only a reproduction of one newspaper report today on dengue – Berita Harian’s p. 14 report headlined “Peningkatan kes denggi serius”, a round-up of the dengue situation in several states in the country.
It is sad that the Health Ministry is still in the bullock-cart age when it should be in the information era to give Malaysians first-hand and real-time information about dengue outbreak instead of just peddling media reports on its website.
If the Health Ministry website has lost sight of its duty to provide primary information and is content to feature secondary information in the media reports on the dengue threat, why is it so selective in only choosing the Berita Harian coverage and not those from all the other printed and electronic media, of all languages?
What is expected on the “Dengue Alert” website of the Health Ministry are all the relevant information about the preventive measures that should be taken by the public as well as the latest update information on a daily or weekly basis of the number of dengue cases and death, state-by-state and even hotspot-by-hotspot, to drive home the seriousness of the dengue alert!
The statement by the Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Lee Kah Choon that his ministry will consider publishing the latest dengue-related information such as the reported cases on the ministry’s website is a sorry admission that Health Ministry is still a long way from the information age and mindset, as such a practice should have been put in place at least eight years ago when the government was presenting the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC) as a “gift to the world” and e-government as one of the seven MSC flagship applications.
The question is whether the Health Ministry has the up-to-date statistics on a week-by-week, state-by-state and year-by-year basis going back to 1997 on the number of dengue cases and deaths which it could put up on its “Dengue Alert” website within 24 hours?
* Lim Kit Siang, Parliamentary Opposition Leader, MP for Ipoh Timur & DAP Central Policy and Strategic Planning Commission Chairman