Large-scale H1N1 awareness campaign welcome but why so belated – after 33 deaths and some 2,000 cases?

The Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Razak yesterday announced that the government will launch a large-scale public awareness campaign on influenza A(H1N1) beginning this week to educate the public on the pandemic in view of the worsening scenario in the country.

This is a welcome though belated initiative and the questions uppermost in everyone’s mind is why this decision was taken so late, after 33 deaths and some 2,000 cases.

Furthermore, why must it take the Prime Minister to intervene personally before such a decision is taken? What then is the use of having a Health Minister?

Would more lives had been saved if the large-scale public awareness campaign had been launched when the first death from the A (H1N1) flu had occurred 25 days ago on July 16?

It is not only the Health Minister who had failed to provide the proper leadership in the campaign against A (H1N1) flu, even the Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin who headed the inter-ministerial committee on A (H1N1) was guilty of a most flippant and irresponsible attitude with his shocking remark: “Even if I am health minister, I cannot guarantee your safety.”

Is Najib going to replace Muhyiddin and personally take over the Cabinet Committee for A (H1N1) to provide the necessary leadership and proper motiviation?

Before last Wednesday’s Cabinet meeting, I had been pressurizing the Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai to convince the Cabinet to give top priority to the war against the killer A (H1N1) pandemic as well as the dengue epidemic but my calls fell on deaf ears.

I had warned Liow that he cannot be serious about his ministerial commitment to provide the best health services in the country when on the health front, the war against the killer A(H1N1) pandemic and the killer dengue epidemic are excluded from the National Key Result Areas (NKRAs) recently announced by the Prime Minister as both killer diseases are long-term national threats.

I could not hide my disappointment when the Cabinet last Wednesday failed to rise up to the occasion to include as the seventh NKRA the war against the killer A(H1N1) flu pandemic and the killer dengue epidemic, with daily, weekly, monthly, six-monthly and annual targets.

The Cabinet should not disappoint Malaysians at its meeting tomorrow and demonstrate that it is serious about the A (H1N1) flu pandemic and dengue epidemic killer outbreaks with commensurate contingency plans to deal with both, including incorporation into the NKRAs as benchmarks to evaluate ministerial and cabinet performance.

  1. #1 by a2a on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 11:38 am

    The person in charge is disqualified to hold the post.

    In early June, the mask should make available cheap/free in large quantity. Recommend heat detector check in mass.

    Only now August became too late they are panic.

    They think Malaysians life worth a penny.

  2. #2 by k1980 on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 11:47 am

    Liow is just waiting for the A (H1N1) virus to knock out all the PR assemblymen, so that Naj can take over not only in Selangor, but also Penang, Kedah and Kelantan.

  3. #3 by SpeakUp on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 11:52 am

    I think there are many issues:

    i. Minister took it too lightly, assumed it was controllable;
    ii. Ministry made bad decision to quarantine all GPs who refer positive cases, this ensures loss of income so they are not keen to do so;
    iii. Malaysians who are indifferent, even Sabah DCM’s son was infected as they took a holiday to Australia where it was a hot bed for the virus;
    iv. The virus has no real cure, so hospitals are also indifferent, wait and see really kena or not, might be too late;

    This needs the full cooperation of Malaysians and the government. Not just the ministry.

  4. #4 by peter sng on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 12:04 pm

    S’pore Health Ministry is headed by Khaw Boon Wan, a former Penangite.
    Gok Chok Tong now Senior Minister praise him openly as the BEST Health Minister S’pore ever has!
    Look how well S’pore is able to cope with the H1NI. Malaysia Loss is S’pore GAIN.

  5. #5 by kcregister on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 12:29 pm

    Title : “H1N1”, not “N1H1”

  6. #6 by ClO2 on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 12:54 pm

    Not many people know Chlorine Dioxide has sceintific proof to prevent H1N1, pls let more people know abt this. Can we calm down, go internet and find out more abt Chlorine Dioxide. U can log in wikipedia/ chlorine dioxide and go to references No 6, there is a doctor research published in Journal of Virology comfirm Chlorine dioxide can prevent H1N1.

  7. #7 by GreenBug on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 1:00 pm

    They found out only on Aug. 9th that 8 deaths that occurred between Aug. 3rd and 6th were caused by the A(H1N1) virus. During this time, did the authorities take the precaution to treat and isolate those who were exposed to these 8 victims?

    I think if we have a Minister who is not directly in charge of such a dangerous crisis but spend more time politicking and travelling the country to do party works and playing internal politics, it is best he resign or be sacked.

  8. #8 by OnandOn on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 1:18 pm

    Did you check out yet? The website were poor designed. Not much information about H1N1. Why the phone line need to by office hour? So, people feel sick after 6pm are not allow? Why it’s not a toll-free line? Damp, Telekon Malaysia making money from there agian! What a setup to trap people.

  9. #9 by SENGLANG on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 1:38 pm

    MOH has became body counting agency now. This minister is the worst ever, and in the west he has long gone and some one capable should take over immediately.

  10. #10 by AhPek on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 1:51 pm

    Can Mr.Health Minister,Sir, explain the following?

    (1) The mortality rate for A(H1N1) is very low (0.5%) as compared to SARS (20%) or Nipah Virus (40%) or the Spanish Flu (said to be 15% to 20%).But if we have to-date some 2,000 people inflicted with the disease 10 people would be expected to die.Yet we have 33 deaths,far exceeding its mortality rate Mr.Health,Sir,how come?
    (2) If one were to travel by the public transport system,be it the LRT,KTM or Rapid or Metro),you will find hardly a handful wearing the mask.Washing one’s hands frequently and wearing of mask are sensible,
    simple and practical steps to reduce effectively one’s chance of contracting the flu.
    Why then Mr. Health Minister,Sir, this practice
    in the face of a pandemic (I presume you know its meaning) has not been kicked in?
    (3) Singapore has started off with more people inflicted and death also has started earlier.Malaysia’death has now overtaken that
    from Singapore by leaps and bounds!Is there an explanation for this,Mr.Health Minister,Sir?

  11. #11 by GreenBug on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 2:26 pm

    If you divide the total deaths worldwide by the number of countries… you’d get an average death worldwide rate. Malaysia’s 38 is way above this average! Malaysia Boleh!

  12. #12 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 3:20 pm

    While NR warned that H1N1 may become more aggressive and destructive
    H1N1 has indeed mutated to a virulent form, M1N1
    And M1N1 1Selangor, 1Penang, 1Kedah
    Yes, DPM and PM want semua – we want, we one

  13. #13 by boh-liao on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 3:28 pm

    “Singapore has started off with more people inflicted and death also has started earlier. Malaysia’death has now overtaken that from Singapore by leaps and bounds! Is there an explanation for this, Mr. Health Minister, Sir?”

    The Minister will proudly declare – Yes, yes, this shows that we are better than Sg, we beat Sg in terms of number!
    We started as a tortoise, but slow and steady, we beat the hare.
    Achieved a higher number. M’sia truly boleh! High 5!

  14. #14 by AhPek on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 4:10 pm

    One more comparison,Mr. Health Minister Sir.It has been reported on 9th August 2009 that A(H1N1) has hit Israel with 2000 people having been diagnosed with the flu virus so far and 5 deaths reported.
    According to this account,the mortality rate of the disease has even dropped to 0.25%.How lah Mr. Health Minister,we can’t even keep to the 0.5% mortality rate as is known in the medical fratenity, got shame or not?
    For those interested to know,click on to

  15. #15 by House Victim on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 4:12 pm

    I was told H1N1 is handled as follows:
    1. It takes one week for Lab report on suspected case.
    2. Medicines were centralized in Sungai Buloh in KL. So suspected patients have to go there for medicines and then go home.
    3. Patients were asked to turn up to hospital if they have bleeding with High Fever.

    Promoting Public awareness with Government support of the necessary measures, such as speedy Quarantine of suspected areas and people are essential as well as speedy and prompt medical services.

    What has the Ministry of Health done?

    From the Symptoms, the virus will attach “poor” respiratory and digestive systems or those with “internal heat” built up by Hot & Spicy Food or lack of rest. These should be the guidelines NOT only Fever! Promotion should be on KEEPING both systems healthy!

    Dehydration due to over sweating or diarrhea will cause HIGH FEVER “burning” the Brain and eventually lead to coma and gone! Learn from HK and China on what can be done!

    Only thorough study on Medical and management from others country can help! THIS IS NOT A POLITICAL TOPIC. SO ACT PROFESSIONALLY AND NOT POLITICALLY!! But, does BN ministers know anything except Power but no Duty or just Dirty Politics?

  16. #16 by sheriff singh on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 4:22 pm

    Liow got an “A” for H1N1, his KPI.

  17. #17 by michgyver1 on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 4:45 pm

    China/Hong kong was one of the first asian countries that infected by the virus and yet no death reported in china and only one H1N1 death in Hong Kong according to the article in Wikipedia on 2009 flu pandemic.

    The Chinese and Hong Kong governments has contigency plan to combat the disease. What do ours have? Total Mess.

    Malaysia had been infected and death has been skyrocketed and yet the MOH outdated H1N1 awareness programme that flashing frequently on the TV screen suggest otherwise. This give perception that if one did not visit infected countries, he/she would not be inflicted.

  18. #18 by karenleehs on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 5:10 pm

    What house Victim said is correct.

    ‘From the Symptoms, the virus will attach “poor” respiratory and digestive systems or those with “internal heat” built up by Hot & Spicy Food or lack of rest. These should be the guidelines NOT only Fever! Promotion should be on KEEPING both systems healthy!’

    My son is a chronic bronchitis sufferer and he is only 5. We live in Kota Kemuning where the haze is all year round due to open burning.

    Everytime when he got the runny nose and cough, i had to give him steroid inhailer and sabutamol to ease his airways.

    Now he is in his third day of coughing and phelmy and wheezing etc…. but he has no fever…… he is on his usual medication and i am monitoring his situation.

    Question now… should i go to GH to let him be tested? What if his flu isn’t H1N1 but he get infected by queueing for hours in the hospital?

    I wanted to get our usual pediatrician to give him Tamilflu but was informed that the government has all the stock and none others has it…… there aren’t enough to go around. Suppliers of Tamilflu are having a big meeting to discuss this headache…..

    Tell me, dear HM, what should i do.

    Also, i heard that in Subang, schools like Lick Hung, Chee Wen has H1N1 cases, some up to 15 cases but were not reported….. we are like chasing rumours in the wind.

    Please, sir, we should adopt the most conservative measures ie close the all schools for at least a week….. we are taking about many deaths in a day…….. !!!!! Malaccan schools are wise in closing the schools to curb the spread….. students spend so many hours under such hot and hazy condition in schools, naturally their immune system will be weak…. and this will increase the chances of getting H1N1. Already many in Kota Kemuning are coughing but no case has been heard yet…..

    Malaysians are very well known for ‘tidak apa’ attitude and the stupid mentality of why need to take medicine when it’s just a light sickness……. so that’s why there are many deaths, they do not know what kind of medicine to give…..

    Especially to the children…. you think Tamilflu is ok for children, studies have shown it has a very bad side effect…. please read this

    Conclusion, these are what i want to know from the government….

    1) of the many high risk deaths, other than tamil flu, what other medication / medical measures have been taken?

    2) of the many high risk deaths, what are the races, i am not being racist, but i want to know the type of food they usually consume, ie nasi lemak, chilli stuffs, fried stuffs, durians, too much high fibre vegetables etc, do they also take papaya, barley water, herbal concortion, significant doses of Vitamin Cs etc….

    3) of the high risk deaths, what are the prevention method they use prior to them falling ill and while they are ill and subsequently after that.

    4) of the high risk deaths, how well aware are they of the symptoms and the treatment of the symptoms eg, knowing they are at high risk, do they use steroid inhalers, sabutamol / bronchiodilators, anti histamines???

    Please, YB, help me get the answers to the above questions…. my son’s life is at stake…

    Karen Lee
    Mummy from Kota Kemuning

  19. #19 by AhPek on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 5:24 pm

    Another piece of information for you Sir,Mr.
    Health Minister. Australia,with her city Melbourne termed the Swine Flu Capital of the world is reported on 11th August 2009 to have 27,663 confirmed cases of A(H1N1) with 95 deaths.But if youdo abitof arithmetic you will arrive at the answer0.34% as the mortality rate of A(H1N1),again lower than the0.5% mortality rate acceptedinternationally
    If you don’t believe Sir,Mr.Health Minister,you can check it out.Just click on
    Measured against the stats from the 3 countries (deaths resulting from the flu in Singapore is only 9),can you honestly say,Sir,
    that you’re doing your job as Health Minister,the fatality from dengue is not even mention yet?

  20. #20 by wesuffer on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 5:38 pm


  21. #21 by newchief on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 7:28 pm

    every commentor on this blog now blames liow for h1n1 seige-me too!!! however, i 100% remember 2 VERY SPECIAL PERSONS who made comments when h1n1 made its initial landings on malaysia discovered as declared by liow. both such persons said liow should not overly comment on the arrival of h1n1 .

    a) one such person who says to the media to say that liow should stop talking about h1n1 BECAUSE IT WILL SCARE AWAY THE TOURISTS!!!

    b) the other who thinks he’s the most wise man of malaysia says to change the name of h1n1 to influenza flu BECAUSE he thinks this is not a dangerous sickness that can KILL!!!

    you commentators know who they are??? well , one is NG YEN YEN & the other is RAIS YATIM!!! THESE ARE THE REAL ‘KILLERS’ who give the rakyat the idea that h1n1 CAN’T KILL!!!

    yes, liow and his deputy ahould resign & SO SHOULD NAJIB who did things TOO LATE after so many innocent lives are wasted!!! however, as for NG YEN YEN & RAIS YATIM, they should be sent to JAIL or better still, GANTUNG THEM as a present of relief for those families whose members are dead!!!

  22. #22 by nus on Tuesday, 11 August 2009 - 10:34 pm

    We have ministers who “talk big”. He said he has everything ready for the pandemic what more with past experiences like Sars, etc. Also they are quick to defend businesses like quickly stating that such and such product (like melamine tainted ) never came into Malaysia even before carrying investigation. “semuanya o.k.” There is a lack of care in PPUM Trauma Dept and I could sneak in by coming down from the Level one opencourt cafe and going down a lift to Level G. There was no “temperature check” station to man the 2 lifts. Even my motorcycle accident patient walked in unaccousted after I dropped him at the main entrance. I heard Assunta checks everyone entering limited doors with forehead scanners which some claim to be inaccurate. There is a huge shortage of manpower so checks at airterminals and borders are not stringent enough. Forms duly filled are not read by authorities on the spot. Forwarding address and handphone numbers should be on forms, too. Since Thailand has a high rate of sufferrers the check points should be more beefed up. It has been reported that temperature checks may falacious as some recent serious and fatal cases show no high temperature.

  23. #23 by Onlooker Politics on Wednesday, 12 August 2009 - 12:34 am

    Let’s examine the political issues of implementing H1N1 vaccination in the perspective of American situation, as described in wikipedia

    Since most of any H1N1 vaccine will be controlled by the federal government, the question of how it will be allocated should there be an insufficient supply for everyone is critical, and will likely depend on the patterns of any pandemic, and the age groups most at risk for serious complications, including death. The most likely case of a pandemic, people will be demanding access to vaccine and the major problem will be making it available to those who want it. While some have argued that the federal or state governments could force people to be vaccinated in a pandemic, there are no constitutional authorities that permits the government to vaccinate competent adults. The only populations likely to face compelled vaccination are deployed military personnel (who can be given routine vaccinations as part of their service obligations), health care personnel (whose employer can require vaccinations to protect patients), and grade school and day care students, who could be required to be vaccinated as a condition of attending school –at least if public health authorities make this recommendation based on the increased risk to this population. For all Americans, the best health defense is a healthy population backed up by universal access to decent medical care.

  24. #24 by boh-liao on Wednesday, 12 August 2009 - 2:23 am

    Minister of Health 1Entry into the Guinness World Records to impress his boss
    So, at the expense of lives, minister 1Record A(H1N1) deaths!

  25. #25 by charlieKC on Wednesday, 12 August 2009 - 7:49 pm

    Green Bean , have you all try Green Bean ‘ Lok Tau’, sometimes you find ah pek selling along roadside. In fact Green Bean soup (sweet) is good to detox.
    Everyday I boil soup for my kids, White reddish (a bit of Bones, dry oysters red dates) , herbal soup with chickens- .– This is one recipe many recommended when you got dangue…mix with carrot, red dates, a few bones and boil , bitter taste it may be, but it is good for unknown disease.

    These are preventative dinning menu for simple family.
    We all can share some old nenek recipes…Nothing can we loose listening to our nenek…

  26. #26 by charlieKC on Wednesday, 12 August 2009 - 8:07 pm

    The simple facts is there is no system of recording the infected persons, infected. For the facts of secrecy, private , freedom of movements. In fact when HK quaranteen the entire hotel, the Govt was hammered, CHina tough actions also invited diplomatic rouse with Mexico. Many Govt. just in a fix any tough actions of restricting human movement would affect the entire traveling and tourism, business economics.
    But one fundamental things govt and local govt can do is to ensure every outlets, public places are maintain with highest cleaniness. In the past, many people ignoring the cleaniness, you can find rat bigger than a cat in bangsar, you can find many rats in market palces, insects in many hawkers centre. The run down of business of these dirty places should be a lesson to all the dirty places.
    Funny, a community needs massive death to learn to keep the environment clean.

    As the virus spreading fast…people call it SWINE…

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