PUTRAJAYA: Fifteen cases of malaria, all involving Orang Asli children, have been reported in Kuala Lipis, Pahang, and the cause of the outbreak is being investigated, says the Health Ministry.
The outbreak, however, was no cause for concern as the type of malaria that the Orang Ali contracted was Plasmodium vivax malaria, which was a mild type and not life-threatening, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.
“We came across the cases when we went in (to Pos Lenjang) to do active case detection,” he told reporters after opening the 33rd Scientific Meeting of the Malaysian Society of Pharmacology and Physiology yesterday.
It was earlier reported that nine Orang Asli suspected of having Plasmodium vivax malaria at Pos Lenjang have been hospitalised.
Dzulkefly said authorities had made good progress in eliminating malaria but cases do sometimes emerge and the cases at Pos Lenjang were not the first in recent times, as similar cases had been reported in Sabah.
In a statement yesterday, Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that since July 11, there have been 15 malaria cases involving Orang Asli children aged four to 10 from Kampung Pagar and Kampung Serdang.
The children were admitted to Hospital Kuala Lipis and were in stable condition.
They were made up of four clusters of malaria cases and were reported to the Kuala Lipis District Office from the Betau Health Clinic, he said.
“The cause of the infection is being investigated by the Kuala Lipis health office because the area did not have any reported cases of malaria for the last eight years.
“The last case was reported in 2011,” he said, adding that 393 blood samples for microscopic examination had been collected from the people in the two villages.
Universiti Malaya Faculty of Medicine dean Prof Datuk Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, who was at the press conference with Dr Dzulkefly, explained that P. vivax malaria is one of the less threatening forms of malaria and that patients recover quickly, even if not hospitalised.
“Doctors will prescribe three days of anti-malaria medication,” she said.
Dr Adeeba added that Malaysia should be proud that it was on the right track to eliminating the disease.
On another matter, Dr Dzulkefly said he expected to receive the report on claims that Orang Asli women were given birth control treatment without consent by the end of the month.
The findings of an internal inquiry into the matter are to be submitted to the Perak Health director on July 26.
He said the committee carrying out the inquiry headed by family medicine specialist Dr Ayob Bah Laos would meet tomorrow.
On why other authorities were not roped in to investigate the allegations, Dr Dzulkefly said that the ministry must look into the matter internally first before deciding on the next step.
Last Tuesday, representatives from five Orang Asli villages submitted a memorandum to the government, claiming that birth control pills were given to women in their communities.