Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Swine Flu Alert at level 4/ 猪流感警戒升级

The swine flu spread rapidly. It has struck more than 2000 people involving 16 nations with more than 150 deaths.

The WHO raises the swine flu alert to level 4, two notches before level 6, the full blown pandemic. When there is human to human transmission and with the convenience of travel, a full blown pandemic cannot be ruled out.

We need to be alarmed, but we should not panic and overreact. People talk about banning travel to the affected countries. It is too drastic. We should travel to the affected countries if it is essential, otherwise just avoid it.

In the same way, we should not ban travellers from the affected nations.
Screening air travellers is the most we can do. Even then it is not effective since the infected travellers may not have symptoms at the airport. It is crucial that we treat and isolate the “suspected” cases of swine flu, and trace his contact. This is often the most basic and most effective in containing an outbreak. Healthcare workers should be alert and sensitive. Any travellers with flu liked symptoms from the infected nation should be isolated and monitored while waiting his illness to be diagnosed and confirmed.

There is a tendency to allude to pass pandemic flu like the Spanish flu in 1919 that kills thousands of people. Today the healthcare systems of most nations are better compared to the 19th century. We have better disease control protocol and surveillance system in place. There are better medical technologies with well trained healthcare provider. There have been great advancement in the medication and treatment of viral diseases including rapid diagnosis and preventive vaccines. However we must still be on the alert.

Information is important and there should be daily update about the swine flu epidemic. The rakyat becomes more prepared instead of unfounded rumours running wild. The Director of General of Ministry of Health should be able to do a good job. He has vast experience gained from the Nipah, SARS and Avian flu epidemic.

For many nations the swine flu comes at the worst time. Many have to face the economic slowdown and the limited financial resources are now diverted to combat an impending pandemic. In short, many nations have to face the economic tsunami and probably a health tsunami.

Nations have to monitor the health of the economy and the health of its people. SARS epidemic cost the Asia Pacific region an estimated USD40 billion. It lasted 6 months and killed 775 of the 8000 people infected in 25 countries. Let’s hope the swine fever will not come to our shore.

In any crisis, there are those who stand to benefit. In this context many Malaysian companies involved in glove and masks production will be busy fulfilling new orders. Theirs share prices shot up in the last 2 days. Tourism related counters like airlines and hotels facing a drop in prices.

The MOH should revive its stockpile of tamiflu. I understand that it has about 2 million dosages which is less than 10% of our total population of 28 million.
It should have the minimal for the treatment of the frontlinners who are involved in the prevention and treatment of swine fever should it come to our nation. It should have stockpile to treat personnel who are maintaining the essential services of our nations, eg: police, banking staff, water work, TNB etc.











James said...

Dr Chua,
Your blog content is good. And i believe that you are capable of doing your job that is to serve the nation. Last but not least, JPJ and kastam need a serious revamp.

"When you killed the lion,those who in the jungle will follow what you said" Sean Penn

shankar~selina said...

It is now level 5.

Malaysian said...

Dear Dr Chua,

we miss the kementerian under you...

nowadays seen like the kementerian never update everyday the lastest ifo about swine flu and many of my friends do not know this flu also.

should our government must put more effort in fighting this swine flu???


马来西亚人为先 上

Unknown said...

look like is time for every department to estimate what can be worst. Not just Health ministry to do this now, Others like Finance, Work, Agriculture, and Tourism,need to listdown the actioan plan if the Alert level increase.

Unknown said...

meeting is boring
how do u think?

Unknown said...

I agree with Low C. W, the cabinet needs to work out some solid action plans involving cross-ministries cooperation...However, more often than not our cabinet under BN is very "re-active" rather than "pro-active"...if we look at the "qualities" of some of our ministers we will know why the Rakyat are concerned..

Sarcastically (and totally sad for Rakyat), some of our ministers under BN leadership can always "tai-ci" things around when bad things happen and blame it on the GOD..and worse still, no disciplinary actions had ever been taken on those slackers....

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