TUBERCULOSIS remains prevalent in the country – with some 40 new cases each day – because foreign workers bring the disease in along with HIV, hepatitis and sexually transmitted diseases.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said despite being certified “healthy” by clinics in their home countries, between 2% and 4% of the workers had been found to be infected in the random checks by the Foreign Workers Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (Fomema).
“There is an average of 40 new tuberculosis cases per day and 15,850 cases yearly,” he said at the Parliament lobby.
Dr Abdul Latiff said tuberculosis was difficult to control as most cases were resistant to normal antibiotics and because of the increasing number of HIV carriers in the country.
“There is an average of two tuberculosis deaths daily and this is HIV-related,” he added.
He also said the cumulative figure for HIV carriers was 60,000 to date, with 19 new cases daily and 5,000 per year.
Dr Abdul Latiff acknowledged that there were cases of fraud in the issuance of medical certificates by foreign-based clinics. He said the ministry would blacklist the foreign-based clinics if they were found to be involved in such cases.
The ministry, he added, would consider introducing security features in the certificates to ensure workers were genuinely healthy when they entered the country.
Finance Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Dr Hilmi Yahaya said the Government through its automatic pricing mechanism had also provided subsidies to reduce the impact on consumers.
“The price increase is only temporary,” he said in his reply to Datuk Yap Pian Hon (BN – Serdang).
Dr Hilmi said prices were expected to go down with the Organisation of Petroleum Exporting Countries increasing production this month by two million barrels per day and next month by 500,000 barrels.
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