PUTRAJAYA: Malaysians may be well-educated about dengue but they little effort to help eradicate the menace, says Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
The Health Minister said if Malaysians changed their attitude and helped to reduce the number of dengue breeding sites, it could cut the number of dengue cases by half.
“Studies show that about 93% to 94% of Malaysians have good knowledge of dengue. They know that the Aedes mosquito causes dengue; they know where it breeds and how it bites.
“The only thing they do not want to do is take the effort to destroy the breeding sites.
“The dengue problem in the country is not for lack of knowledge; it is the conversion of knowledge into behaviour.
“If Malaysians lack knowledge, we can educate them. But the fact is they all know, but they do nothing about it,” said Dr Subramaniam at a press conference here at his ministry yesterday.
The minister said a previous visit by the ministry to Shah Alam found that one dengue breeding hotspot was an area where many students from a nearby university lived.
“These are university students. When we visited their houses, you could see the way they kept their house compound – every place was a dengue breeding site.
“These people are not uneducated. There is a need to change this attitude.
“We need to increase civic consciousness and get people to clean up their house compounds.”
On the increasing number of dengue cases in Terengganu, Dr Subramaniam said his ministry would intensify public health measures in affected areas.
“The measures that we take in Terengganu are the same that we apply in other states.
“First, we will intensify public health measures, which means cleaning up affected areas. We will also increase larvicidal fogging at hotspots.
“The doctors in our primary care system, be it private and government, must identify cases early so it can be treated early.
“Lastly, our ongoing public education efforts will continue,” he said.
Earlier, Dr Subramaniam witnessed the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) between the ministry’s Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM) and the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Initiative (DNDi).
The MoU will see the commencement of a Malaysian study on an alternative and more affordable treatment for Hepatitis C virus.
“The cost to treat a Hepatitis C patient here is a massive US$40,000 (RM175,000), which is a huge burden for most Malaysians.
There are about 500,000 patients in this country.”