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WHO lauds Malaysia’s dengue fight

Country’s health chief says international health body wants other countries to follow Malaysia’s example

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 12:18pm
UPDATED : Wednesday, 12 October, 2016, 12:23pm

Malaysia’s efforts to combat dengue has been praised by the World Health Organisation (WHO), but the Government says more needs to be done.

Malaysian Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said WHO wanted other countries to emulate Malay­sia’s approach in getting the people involved in fighting the deadly di­sease.

He, however, cautioned that the country was far from being “home free”, as the Western Pacific region remained a hotbed for the disease.

“We have yet to contain one of our biggest health threats in this region, which is paradoxically, the small mosquitoes.

“Yet the same vector, the aedes aegypti mosquito is troubling the region with the spread of the Zika virus,” Dr Subramaniam said at the 67th session of the WHO Regional Committee in Manila yesterday.

The Western Pacific region, one of the six regions of the WHO, is home to about 1.8 billion people and stretches over a vast area – from China in the north and west to New Zealand in the south and French Polynesia in the east.

Malaysia is among the 37 countries in the region.

In 2015, the region suffered more than 1,000 deaths due to dengue, with more than 450,000 cases reported.

Dr Subramaniam said Malaysia, which holds the chairmanship of the committee this year, endorsed the WHO Regional Action Plan for Dengue in the Western Pacific 2016 and wanted all to ramp up efforts to combat the disease.

He said the action plan would be a launchpad for countries in the region to consider more effective vector control that also applied to the other arboviruses such as Zika and chikungunya.

“On the other hand, the elimination of malaria is within reach as, since the year 2000, malaria-related deaths have declined by over 90 per cent in the region.

“This is promising as we aim for malaria elimination by 2030,” he added.

Besides communicable diseases, other regional health issues slated for discussion at the meeting include the Asia-Pacific strategy for emerging diseases, haze, sustainable development goals and anti-microbial resistance.

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