KUALA LUMPUR: Political differences took a backseat as several lawmakers from both sides of the divide set up a Malaysian Parliamentary TB Caucus to combat the infectious disease.
The founding chair of the caucus, Kuantan PKR MP Fuziah Salleh said the time has come for Malaysia to be more aggressive in raising awareness about TB or tuberculosis.
She said that TB, which is an airborne disease, had recorded an increase of 14.7% in its death rate.
"In Malaysia, there were 1,945 deaths out of 25,739 cases in 2016 and 1,696 deaths from 24,440 cases in 2015," she said at a press conference in Parliament on Thursday.
She said what was even more disturbing was the presence of a type of TB bacteria that was highly-resistant to existing drugs.
"And it is more worrying that there are only two types of TB drugs that exist in the market today.
"This means if the TB patient is not well taken care of, the disease can make a comeback and then it would be difficult to treat the patient," said Fuziah, adding that the causus also aims to inform the public to seek early treatment.
Bagan Serai Barisan Nasional MP Dr Noor Azmi Ghazali, who is also the founding member of the caucus, said the move was a good initiative and showed their commitment as lawmakers.
"Since 2000, TB has risen. If we are quick to act and diagnose early, we can control it. What we want is universal health coverage, safe and affordable medicines to treat this disease," he said.
Also sitting in the caucus is Kuala Kedah PKR MP Dr Azman Ismail.
Fuziah said they will recruit more MP's to be on board and would work closely with the Health Ministry.
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