Improve table on SARS, Malaysia urges WHO


  • Nation
  • Wednesday, 16 Apr 2003

BY IZATUN SHARI

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia wants the World Health Organisation to come up with better and clearer classifications to differentiate countries with local transmission of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) from those with “imported cases.” 

“We urge WHO to refine their classification system so that we may not have a situation where countries with just one case of local transmission (of the disease) will be added to the list of SARS-affected countries,” Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said. 

“We have a problem with WHO’s classification system. We realise that countries like Taiwan are complaining that their condition is very different from that of the SARS-affected countries but are still placed in the list,” he said yesterday after briefing senators in the Parliament House about the disease and measures taken to control its spread. 

Without a clearer classification, Chua said policy makers would face difficulties in deciding how to deal with those from SARS-affected countries. 

“It would be helpful if WHO could come up with a few classifications and then recommend measures accordingly. This will be a big help to countries like Malaysia in making policy decisions to prevent the spread of SARS.” 

He said those placed in the SARS-affected countries list were subjected to more serious actions by other countries. 

There are now eight countries with local transmission of the disease on the list. They are China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Vietnam, Canada, Singapore, the United States and London in the United Kingdom. 

He said WHO included a footnote on its chart to indicate Taiwan, the US and London as areas with limited local transmission of the disease. 

“Although they are mentioned in the footnote, they are all listed as affected countries,” Chua said. 

It said there was no evidence of an international spread of SARS in the areas since March 15, and no transmission other than those who had close contact with a sufferer. 

To date, there are 23 countries with probable SARS.  

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