Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Liow Wants Immediate Treatment For High-Risk Flu Patients

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 17 (Bernama) -- Doctors in the public and private sectors must give immediate treatment to high-risk influenza A(H1N1) patients as most of them apparently died as a result of late treatment, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.

He said anti-viral medicines had to be administered to high-risk patients including those with heart ailments, diabetes and asthma and having fever for more than two days.

"If you feel that you have influenza-like illnesses (ILI) and you have other sickness, we advise you to go for an anti-viral treatment.

"Do not wait for the testing of H1N1 results," he told reporters after launching the Asia Healthcare 2009 Conference here Monday.

Influenza A (H1N1) or swine flu claimed two more casualties - a seven-year-old baby boy and a 74-year-old woman - bringing the death toll to 64.

On the situation, Liow said the country was in a state of alarm and not in the health emergency situation and asked the public not to be misled that a health emergency had been declared.

He said the health emergency would be declared by the National Security Council if the death the virus mortality rate of those infected breached 0.4 per cent.

"We have disease control specialists, virologists and many others monitoring the health situation everyday and they give reports to me on the situation on the ground.

"The mortality level of the virus at the moment is below 0.1 percent, if the mortality rate goes above 0.4 percent, then we have to announce very stern measures and may even have to announce an emergency situation," he said.

Liow said the ministry would tighten monitoring to ensure that the second wave of the H1N1 pandemic would be controlled as it was reported to be more severe by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

"As we are now entering the wet season, monitoring has to be intensified especially on small children, who easily catch cold that could be infected with H1N1.

"Those having ILI should use surgical masks. If they are caught without the masks, they will be slapped with fines or charged in court for disobeying the ministry's advice," he said.

On Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin's suggestion that surgical masks be made a controlled item, Liow said he would discuss it with the Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumerism Ministry on the ceiling price.

In his speech, he said there must be better cooperation between the public and private healthcare sectors to resolve issues related to equity, accessibility, effectiveness, efficiency and the use of preventive services and health promotion.

"There is also a need for the private sector to shoulder more social responsibilities, particularly in the provision of services to the less financially endowed.

"More dialogues, seminars and workshops among public-private healthcare providers are also needed to raise the level of understanding and collaboration and to explore other strategic activities to enhance both sectors," he said. -- Bernama.

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