GUA MUSANG: The Health Ministry is working towards determining the illness which has killed 14 Bateq people since last month, says Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail.
“This is a new problem to inflict the Orang Asli. They may have had chronic problems before but now we need to find the tipping point which led to the deaths,” she said.
She said test samples had been taken from the sick as well as from remains from the dead.
“Retrieving samples can be quite complex as some were given customary funeral rites,” she said, adding test results would be out soon.
Tests done by the Department of Environment on water samples taken near a manganese mine about 3km from the Bateq settlement in Kuala Koh and water catchments in the area were free of contaminants and complied with national drinking water standards, she added.
She said a former National Service camp was converted into a temporary shelter for the Bateq who had recovered from the disease after seeking treatment at hospitals.“Although they have been discharged, their movements will need to be controlled until we know what kind of disease we are dealing with,” she said.
She said the Bateq would also be given counselling to help them deal with any psychological trauma.
Dr Wan Azizah, who visited the operations centre near the entrance of the settlement yesterday, also brought along aid from the Welfare Department, Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry and Food Aid Foundation to be distributed to the Bateq.