KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 23 – Despite numerous measures taken by the Health Ministry to resolve the dengue outbreak, the phenomenal increase in daily cases is yet to cease. Efforts to contain the outbreak look bleak, especially in the Klang Valley where it is learnt that government clinics are treating around 200 cases per day.
According to a doctor at a government clinic in Klang, it refers its dengue patients to the Klang Hospital. But he said there was now an overwhelming number of dengue patients. “Klang Hospital is recording close to 240 admissions daily and there are no more beds available.
“At the moment, all dengue case referrals in nearby districts are still going to the Klang Hospital. “But due to the overcrowding, the (hospital) management is trying to outsource the patients to the Kuala Lumpur and Sungai Buloh Hospitals,” the doctor told The Rakyat Post on condition that he be not named.
When asked whether private hospitals were full with dengue patients, the doctor said this was unlikely as they were usually not equipped with blood banks to treat advanced cases of dengue. “Private hospitals do not accept very serious dengue cases because of that particular risk.
“As such, the best place for many patients to head to are government hospitals,” the doctor said. Klang Member of Parliament Charles Santiago expressed frustration with both the federal and state government authorities for failing to tackle the issue effectively over the last two years.
“Personally, I am very upset and tired over the entire situation. “I do not know what has happened to the National Committee on Dengue, which is led by Deputy Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, or the state-level committee on dengue run by the Selangor state government.
“What are they doing to curb this?” Santiago said the shortage of beds at the Klang Hospital had been apparent over the last few years. “When the dengue cases increased then, the shortage of beds was highlighted and I requested Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam to add extra beds in the hospital which he did, adding 30 more hospital beds.
“However, this is merely a temporary solution to a longstanding problem.” He said he had tried to organise gotong royong campaigns in the past but failed due to poor attendance by local government officials and residents’ associations.
Santiago said the problem was with residents who refused to be more vigilant and take precautionary steps, such as keeping their residences clean and mosquito-free. “There is also a lack of enforcement by local governments to ensure that each district is clear of mosquito-breeding areas. “I do not know what the state government is doing about this as the number of cases keeps piling up.”
– Lack of beds a nationwide problem –
Admitting that the problem involving the lack of hospital beds was a nationwide problem, Malaysian Medical Association president Dr H. Krishna Kumar said Malaysian hospitals should have a ratio of 3.4 to 4 beds per 1,000 people. “At the moment, there are only 1.9 beds per 1,000 people, fewer than what is required. “This is due to the lack of government hospitals in the country.”
Dr Krishna said dengue fever was getting impossible to curb as it was a cyclical and nationwide problem. “Usually, during the rainy season, the number of cases drops and during the dry season, it goes up. “But since there is a surge of dengue cases, irrespective of the season, MMA has instructed doctors to be more alert to identify the source of the disease so that they can provide immediate feedback to the local governments for fogging exercises.”
According to the Health Ministry’s latest statistics in October, Selangor recorded the highest number of cases (37,077), followed by Kelantan (12,965 cases), Kuala Lumpur (5,236), Johor (4,274) and Perak (4,086). The ministry said during the Jan 1-Sept 13 period last year, there were 72,603 cases nationwide, with 136 deaths, compared with 20,507 cases and 43 deaths during the same period the previous year.