HEALTH officers have been tasked with finding ways to overcome the recurrence of malaria among the Penans in Marudi district.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said that malaria cases recurred among the Penans because it was difficult to treat them due to their nomadic lifestyle.
“When we send our health officers there, it’s difficult for them to locate the patients because the Penans move from place to place and go into the jungle to hunt,” he told a press conference in Kuching yesterday.
In addition, he said the Penans seldom completed the full course of the 14-day treatment and would usually stop taking malaria tablets after three days when they felt better.
“Malaria will continue to recur if you don’t complete the treatment. So, I’m asking our medical personnel to find ways of helping the Penans in the Marudi area and make sure they complete the treatment,” he said.
However, he said the type of malaria occurring among the Penans was of a mild variety and did not cause death.
Dr Chan also said there had been four malaria deaths in Sarawak this year which were caused by a more serious strain of the disease. The deaths occurred in Sri Aman, Sibu, Song and Kanowit.
Sarawak recorded 1,331 malaria cases in the first six months of this year.
Marudi had the highest number of cases with 683, followed by Belaga (157) and Bintulu (77).
Last year there was a total of 2,158 cases and eight deaths.
On another matter, Dr Chan said an intensive anti-dengue campaign would be held soon in Sibu and Miri to counter the high number of cases and deaths in the two divisions.
He said the state had recorded 11 dengue deaths so far this year compared to only seven throughout last year.
Five of the deaths occurred in Sibu, two in Kuching and one each in Samarahan, Serian, Miri and Betong.
The number of dengue cases statewide as of last week was 2,478. Miri had the highest number at 550 cases followed by Sibu with 536.
“We need to inculcate the habit of not discarding rubbish where water can collect and create breeding places for mosquitoes. It only takes 10 minutes a week to check that your house compound is free from mosquito breeding places,” said Dr Chan.