Thursday, June 24, 2010

Malaria: Entry points screening tightened


Malaria: Entry points screening tightened

By: (Jun 24, 2010)

PUTRAJAYA (June 24, 2010): The Health Ministry will tighten screening process at all main entry points in the country to control imported malaria cases.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said although the situation was under control, the steps were taken to prevent those entering the country, from places or countries where malaria was still endemic.
"Now and then we come across 'imported' cases from Indonesia and Thailand.

"Three such cases, involving Myanmar nationals, are being treated at the Tanjung Karang Hospital, while another fisherman from Myanmar had died in Sekinchan, Selangor due to malaria," he told reporters after handing out Excellence Service awards to his staff at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC) here today.
Liow said initial investigations showed that the three were 'imported' cases of malaria because Sekinchan was free from malaria.
"The Health office in Sekinchan had conducted tests on 122 locals and 216 foreign workers and all had tested negative. So, there is no signs of a malaria threat here," he said.

Liow said malaria cases in Malaysia had dropped to a satisfactory level with only about 3,000 cases recorded every year, mainly involving foreign workers.
"In the 1970s and even in the 1990s, malaria was a serious endemic in the country, infecting about 60,000 people a year, but we have been able to bring it down significantly to just about 3,000," he said.
He added that the ministry would continue efforts to control the spread of malaria.

In GEORGE TOWN, Opalyn Mok reports that the number of malaria cases in Penang is increasing, with four deaths recorded this year.
The four are illegal immigrants and a Rohingya refugee and are believed to have contracted the disease in their native country.

Between January and June this year, a total of 58 malaria cases were recorded, including the four deaths. In the same period last year, there were 55 cases.

State health, welfare, caring society and environment committee chairman Phee Boon Poh told a press conference today that 54 of the 58 cases involved illegal immigrants while four are locals.

"These illegal immigrants contracted the disease in their home countries and brought it here," he said.

Describing the situation as serious, Phee said the number of malaria cases needs to be curbed with the cooperation of locals, especially those who hire foreign workers.

"A lot of illegal immigrants come here and hide in the hills, so we hope employers will only hire legal foreign workers who have undergone medical check-ups before coming here," he said.

Phee said the high-risk areas where malaria can spread are the hiding places of these illegal immigrants such as the hilly jungle areas of Air Itam, Relau, Balik Pulau and Southern Seberang Perai.

As for dengue, another disease spread by mosquitoes, the number of reported cases have gone down by almost 60%, with a total of 509 cases between January and June.

"Comparatively, in the same period last year, we have a total of 1,429 cases," he said.

As for chikungunya, as at June this year, there were only two confirmed cases.

A total of 475 cases of hand, foot and mouth disease have been reported in the first half of the year.

"There was a high number of HFM cases even during the school holidays and to date, we have ordered for 16 nurseries and kindergartens to close when cluster cases were detected," he said.

In the most recent case, a kindergarten in Tanjung Bungah was ordered to close from June 23 until July 2 following four reported cases there. -- theSun

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