Does Tiong Lai agree with WHO estimates that some 110,000 to 500,000 people in Malaysia need hospitalization in A(H1N1) outbreak with 5,500 to 28,000 deaths?

The A(N1H1) death list has shot up by another two victims from four to six – an 11-year-old boy who died at 8.30 am at Hospital Sultanah Aminah Johor Baru yesterday and a 10-year-old girl from Bagan Seri who died at the Bagan Seri Health Clinic at 3 am on Friday.

In New Sunday Times yesterday, the Health director-general Tan Sri Dr. Ismail Merican warned that the influenza A(H1N1) outbreak is getting serious and about to break out of its present “cluster” level into a community disaster.

There have been 39 reported new cases of H1N1, all involving Malaysians – bringing the total number of H1N1 cases so far to 1,429.

It is shocking and outrageous that at a time when the country is facing the onslaught of two killer epidemics, A(H1N1) and dengue, they are not the No. 1 priority concern of the Health Minister, Datuk Liow Tiong Lai who abdicated his responsibility as Health Minister to Dr. Ismail on the day-to-day management of the two killer epidemic outbreaks and to the Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin at the macro level as Muhyiddin is the chairman of the inter-ministerial committee for H1N1.

All this abdication to allow Liow the time and energy in the past crucial weeks to go round the various states in the country with the MCA President, Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat to prop up Ong’s stocks in the MCA power struggle with MCA Deputy President Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek which is why there are people who liken him to “Nero who plays with the fiddle while Rome burns”!

There are already grumblings that Liow is proving to be the country’s worst MCA Health Minister, definitely in the past 15 years when his two predecessors were Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek and Datuk Chua Jui Meng.

Liow should prove these critics wrong and the first thing he must do is to out of the sidelines and stop being a bystander in the national war against the two killer epidemics, by assuming responsibility as the commander-in-chief in the battle against A(H1N1) flu and dengue epidemics.

At a recent briefing to the National Influenza Pandemic Task Force meeting (July 27, 2009), Dr Tee Ah Sian, director of communicable diseases of WHO, painted a possible scenario for the Malaysian A (H1N1) pandemic.

For our 27.7 million population, if simply 20% are at risk and exposed, then some 5.5 million people will contract the A (H1N1) flu. Based on other serious influenza statistics, if 2% to 9% require hospitalisation then, some 110,000 to 500,000, respectively, would need hospital care.

If the case fatality rate is estimated to be from 0.1% to 0.5%, then some 5,500 to 28,000 of infected patients would die, respectively.

In the latest updates of the most seriously ill patients identified and confirmed infections, the global case fatality rate has risen from the 0.4% to 0.66%.

Liow should state publicly whether he endorses the WHO estimates and warning that some 110,000 to 500,000 people in Malaysia would have to seek hospitalization in the A(H1N1) outbreak and that there could be as many as 5,500 to 28,000 deaths from the deadly flu.

If not, what are Liow’s own figures and statistics. If Liow confirms that the Heath Ministry endorses the WHO’s dire warnings, then what contingency plans have Liow , the Health Ministry and the entire government devised to deal with a national calamity that could claim from 5,500 to 28,000 lives? What is he doing to ensure that these WHO estimates are proven wrong?

The second thing that Liow should do to take ownership and responsibility to spearhead the war against the two killer epidemics is to get the Cabinet on Wednesday to include targets in the war against two killer epidemics, A(H1N1) and dengue, as the seventh National Key Result Areas (NKRA)?

The Gerakan President and Key Performance Index (KPI) Minister, Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon should give his full support in Cabinet on Wednesday to include the targets to win the war against the two killer epidemics in the NKRAs by the end of next year – with monthly as well as six-monthly targets.

  1. #1 by k1980 on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 11:53 am

    Wonder what excuse the pm can come up with if NS trainees start dying from A(H1N1) in the camps. Will he say “It is an act of god?”

  2. #2 by palmdoc on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 12:00 pm

    Well he can blame the Malaysian public for low hygiene standards.

  3. #3 by Jeffrey on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 12:20 pm

    Gerakan President and Key Performance Index (KPI) Minister, Tan Sri Koh Tsu Koon should include, and bve made to include, the targets to win the war against Malaysian A (H1N1) pandemic because Malaysian A (H1N1) is no respecter whether one is BN/UMNO’s hotshot or PR’s. Surely realisation must dawn on the powers-that-be that none has special immunity for highly contagious viral infection like H1N1!

    If 20% of our 27.7 million population are at risk and exposed (“some 5.5 million people will contract the A (H1N1) flu”) what makes our political elites think that with their frequent jet seting around and going around shaking hands with their constituents and supporters, they are going to escape???? If there were no certain “cure” for a viral infection of such nature, epecially in mutation – and that only repreiove is strong immunity system – what makes them think that having money and privilege to first class ward, and medical attention places them in safer position that the rest of the underprivileged rakyat??

  4. #4 by i_love_malaysia on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 12:27 pm

    Yes, it is an act of God that those A(H1N1) patients died because they should died in order to show the incompetency of the Minister and the BN govt!!!

  5. #5 by i_love_malaysia on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 12:32 pm

    LTL – It is not that BN-UMNO dont want to be the Health Minister, but because they know it is a hot seat which requires someone to cool it!!! If you could not cool it, please let others to do it instead of in the expense of more deaths!!!

  6. #6 by OrangRojak on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 12:55 pm

    I was wondering if Jeffrey’s observation was the root cause (along with it being a disease caused by pork-eaters, in the same way that homosexuals invented AIDS) of the difference in noise about H1N1 compared to dengue. I imagine you are more likely to be infected with H1N1 if you travel and meet strangers, more likely to be infected with dengue if you can’t afford to.

    Wealth probably does positively affect one’s chances of surviving either disease. On the other hand, accountants may be concerned that a disease that affects wealthy people is more expensive to the nation that one that affects the poor.

    When all is said and done – it is the Flu, so most of us are going to get it. The UK is often criticised for its laid-back approach to seasonal and pandemic flus, but their current decision makers may well have lost siblings to the flu when they were still children. My father lost 3 siblings (14 survived – family gatherings are very large!) to the Spanish Flu 90 years ago. I’m in rough agreement with the UK’s attitude to flu. You do what you can to reduce the (high) chances of getting it. When you’ve got it, you do what you can to avoid passing it on, and get plenty of rest, fluids, try to reduce your fever – and you don’t bother your doctor unless you have complications or your condition goes beyond what is ‘normal’ for flu. Flu is terrible, especially if you’re a parent watching your children suffering from it, and a hundred times worse if you get “Man Flu”.

    It’s hard to criticise the Malaysian government for their reaction to H1N1 on any new basis. They could have produced better information, earlier, and made it more available to more people. But you could say that about any issue they face! In many ways, you can’t blame them for even not attempting a public information drive, as I suspect many citizens’ ears and eyes have already scarred over from previous government ‘information’.

    I don’t know. I’m looking forward to getting H1N1 (I had “Man Flu” last week – perhaps that was it). Once I’ve had it and recovered, I know I have no bogeyman pandemics to look forward to. Let’s just record our disappointment with the official response, and make sure we’ve got a good stockpile of ‘comfort foods’, disinfectant handwash, tissues, plenty of drinking water and paracetamol (do seek the advice of a pharmacist on this one), do our best to make sure our experience of flu is as light as possible and move on.

    One of the things I think PR could win at, if they were arsed, or even really existed, is to produce their own ‘public information’ on matters like this. There is a battle for public trust to be won in Malaysia. Blogs won’t cut it, because any idiot can do that, as we’ve seen recently. I’d like to see PR demonstrating their competence in the public information arena.

  7. #7 by Jeffrey on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 1:15 pm

    Anyone knows if our hospitals and their existing facilities can cope in terms of conducting throat swab tests, and if tested positive, administering sufficient anti-viral therapy? What are MOF’s guidelines to private doctors of when to refer patients of suspected H1N1 to hospitals for testing and admission and costs of such testings?

  8. #8 by raven77 on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 1:17 pm

    The strategies employed by the MOH are beginning to show results –deaths affecting young people.

    They know not what they do. The strategy is to engage with frontline GPs – not to fight or squabble with them. And this Ismail Merican will not do leaving Liow helpless and clueless..

    If deaths are to be reduced and the disease curbed, change the DG fast and get both the GPs and Ministry to work together. This is not the time to squabble or point fingers…the mortality figures are going to mount and before we know it …it will be another dengue situation.

  9. #9 by decapod on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 1:24 pm

    Mr Lim,

    Why don’t PR come out with a solid contingency plan and prove to the nation that PR has the thought leadership in battling this pandemic rather than just complain unconstructively like everyone else does?

    Whether the Government will consider putting the PR plan in to action is another story. That’s the least PR can do for the country in time of crisis such as this.


  10. #10 by the reds on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 1:51 pm

    Liow Tiong Lai, with your Bsc. background (not sure what major is he taking, as he feel shamed to display in his website), you are not qualified to be our Health Minister! Don’t be over-politicking at our expense. If you don’t have the background, plse learn humbly and come out with effective measures to reduce the epidemics!

  11. #11 by boh-liao on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 1:55 pm

    Maybe the country’s untouchables and elites carry with them antiviral drugs all the time
    They no worry one
    They no die one

  12. #12 by AhPek on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 2:18 pm

    A throat swab test is done by rubbing a sterile cotton swab along the back of one’s throat near the tonsils.One needs only to resist gagging or closing one’s mouth when the swab touches the area.The test lasts a few seconds,is completely safe and is well tolerated by most people.By doing this the doctor can isolate and identify organism that is causing the infection of the throat.Sounds easy enough test to be administered by any medical personnel.I would suppose this can be done either in government clinic or private clinic.Yet,in your earlier post,a parent has come out to say his request for a swab test has been denied by the doctor.How then are we to cope in containing the spread and the resulting number of deaths if Dr.Tan Ah Sian’s painting of a scenario of 20% of our population getting the A(H1N1) were to come true? Identifying and confirming A(H1N1) is only the first step in trying to contain the pandemic.There is also the question of whether there is enough stock of Tamiflu and other anti viral medications.

  13. #13 by k1980 on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 2:21 pm

    LTL’s Bsc. major Hair-Dressing and minor Batik Printing? Bet he can’t differentiate between a bacteria and a virus

  14. #14 by SpeakUp on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 2:26 pm

    So many in Malaysian will be infected? Sure or not? Oh man … this is nuts …

  15. #15 by rabbit on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 2:42 pm

    no big deal lah, ah1n1 is small case lah. let’s get infected lah. hohohoho

  16. #16 by sheriff singh on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 2:55 pm

    It is not boLiow’s problem alone.

    Isn’t the Ministry of Health allocated to the MCA? And MCA nominated boLiow to head the Ministry.

    So MCA itself should be held responsible for boLiow’s incompetencies and failures and the party itself must take the blame.

    Similarly with the Transport Minister Ong Tee Keat. The party was given the portfolio and they appointed all the “incompetent” MCA idiots to the Ministry, PKF, PKFZ etc. And see what happened? They made a big mess of it.

    MCA, the party, should be held responsible and accounatble. They are lacking in talent. They are a disgrace. They have let their people down.

  17. #17 by limkamput on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 4:07 pm

    Why must we have KPI and KRA before we could get any damn thing done? Are we saying that before the advent of KPI and KRA, we did nothing? I just wonder why they are so many nincompoops around who must immediately get attracted to KPI and KRA. Soon the whole country will be obsessed with the methodologies and processes KPI and KRA rather than the actual output. A chief monkey is what a chief monkey does.

  18. #18 by nckeat88 on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 8:31 pm

    LKS, please organize more demonstration and causing more people to contact H1N1. If there is any mortality due to this, this could be your golden opportunity to blame Liow.

  19. #19 by vsp on Monday, 3 August 2009 - 9:47 pm

    To emphasise how deadly the H1N1 virus is, I think the entire Cabinet and their families should be wiped out by this disease, and hopefully Malaysia will be rid of all these scroundrels for good.

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