KUALA LUMPUR: Investigations on the cause of death among the Orang Asli in Kampung Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, Kelantan is still ongoing even though measles has been cited as the cause of death, says the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa).
Its director-general Dr Juli Edo said that the department was still waiting for the results of the investigations such as the post-mortem on the exhumed bodies, and water and soil test results.
"We have not received the full report. If we do not have the full investigation report, we cannot carry out the needed work," he said in reply to questions from the press after the panel discussion, "What has led to the Kuala Koh catastrophe?" on Friday (June 28) evening.
Since the full investigation results were still not released, the Bateq community settlement is still in the red zone, he added.
Dr Juli was asked on the challenges Jakoa faced in getting the needed cooperation from other ministries and agencies in solving the problems of the Bateq tribe in Kuala Koh.
The Orang Asli community has come under the spotlight lately following the deaths of 15 of their people since May.
Three deaths had been confirmed to be the common measles, combined with a fragile immune system and severe malnutrition, has been cited as a possible cause of death.
From June 3 to 18, the respiratory-related illness in the village reported to the Kelantan health department had remained at 113 cases, and 43 had been confirmed to be measles, said the Health Ministry.
Dr Juli said that at this early stage, measles was found to be a cause but the investigation is still ongoing.
He said that government agencies were ready to work together but coordination was important.
"The Cabinet has set up a committee on minority groups and it is hoped it will be the coordinator and gather all the resources to address the problems faced by the Orang Asli," he said.
Dr Juli said that he was satisfied with the operations they carried out to save them from further spread of infection following the deaths of the 15 Orang Asli but the department was still waiting for the full results as there were still many questions unanswered.
He also said that the way forward for the Orang Asli still needs to be discussed.
"We cannot discuss about their health only but also the environment," he said, adding that Jakoa would have to work with the Federal and state governments.
Dr Juli also expressed concern that Orang Asli was given low priority in development and the budget for the community's development was small and limited.
"They should be treated equally as they are also the citizens of this country and want to develop," he said.