14 January 2020
Press statement by MCA Central Committee Member cum MCA Social Development Committee Chairman Datuk Dr Lee Hong Tee
Pakatan places lives at stake with poor health crisis management & infighting
The Influenza A (H1N1) outbreak which began towards the end of the previous year has spread rapidly till it has become life threatening. Our hospitals are filled patients. This outbreak is growing more and more dangerous.
Stocks for the Influenza A vaccine began to deplete last December. Residents in Penang, Johor and Selangor, especially those with young children, are forced to live in a state of worry and fear.
On 13 January 2020, Health Minister Dato’ Sri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said that the issue about vaccine stocks has been resolved. However, what the rakyat see and feel is opposite, that is, vaccines are still lacking. In fact, there is also an insufficient supply of medicines.
MCA is sceptical as to whether the Health Ministry is truly aware of the actual situation. Where did it get the information that there are sufficient vaccines? When a Cabinet Minster’s statement is not based on facts, this is deeply irresponsible, and even disappointing.
It appears that the government is not able to do anything against the spread of this H1N1 outbreak. In fact, it is not acting seriously although there has been a fatality, like as if, life is not important.
Although the threat of this Influenza A epidemic is growing gradually and the number of patients have increased, the government to date has yet to issue any directive or action plan, nor has it published any relevant information. It is as if the hospital authorities are no longer able to address the situation, and can merely convey to the patient to return home. The government’s predicament is akin to being incompetent, passive and damp, thereby causing the rakyat to feel fearful, confused and worried.
This situation is similar to the Sungai Kim Kim contamination incident in Johor last year. Both these incidents raised consternation and frustration among the rakyat against the feeble government.
Value and prioritise life. The government should establish a mechanism to overcome this crisis and provide thorough information to the rakyat in a systematic, structured and accurate way as well as in a timely manner, including information on the causes of the disease, besides preventive measures, treatment, healthcare and others. Announce what needs or are not needed to be done. Do not leave patients confused and in fear.
In this situation where there is a shortage of vaccines, the government needs to find a remedy to obtain more vaccines to effectively distribute them to protect the rakyat.
1) The Government / Health Ministry should establish an Influenza A Special Action Committee to address this epidemic and to disseminate the relevant information;
2) The Committee should conduct a briefing session at least once a day, to report on the latest development of the outbreak, including the number of patients, fatalities, location of the infection, vaccine stocks and others;
3) Establish special evacuation rooms at terribly hit locations, coordinate the distribution and method of usage of medicines and vaccines, such as prioritising the distribution of medicines and vaccines to hospitals and health clinics in severely affected areas, or prioritising government hospitals and others; or to prioritise government hospitals and others;
4) This Committee is also responsible to deliver information on preventive measures to assuage the public. This must be executed in a systematic and structured manner, via various channels and platforms;
5) Announce the reasons for the epidemic’s spread; examine which party must bear the responsibility, besides outlining long and short-term solutions.
High risk groups which have been infected by the virus in addition to preventive methods:
1. High risk groups
• Children beneath the age of 5 years
• Pregnant mothers
• Senior citizens aged 65 years and above
• Patients who are afflicted with diabetes, high blood pressure and chronic illnesses.
• Those with a lower immune system as a result of diseases or treatment (cancer or AIDS)
2. Preventive measures
• Receive Influenza A vaccine injection
• Wear a face mask, covering the nose and mouth
• Cover with tissue paper or handkerchief when sneezing or coughing
• Wash hands regularly
Datuk Dr Lee Hong Tee
MCA Central Committee Member
MCA Social Development Committee Chairman