KUANTAN: Early findings on the effects of haze on health has shown an increase of 30% to 40% in certain illnesses.
Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye said the ministry was monitoring respiratory tract infection, conjunctivitis and acute asthmatic attack cases at 22 health clinics nationwide.
"Our early understanding is that there is an increase in these cases by 30% to 40% in the past two to three weeks. I feel this is due to the haze.
"The public should pay attention to the Air Pollutant Index (API) and avoid outdoor activities or wear face masks if necessary. Those with heart or lung diseases must be aware as their condition may deteriorate," Dr Lee said after visiting the Sungai Lembing health clinic here Friday (Sept 13).
On social media postings about drug-resistant tuberculosis (TB) apparently spread by foreign workers, Dr Lee explained that the illness was actually persistent in Malaysia with 25,000 to 26,000 cases per year.
"Multi-drug resistant rate is only at 5% but for those who received prior treatment and relapsed, the resistance rate may reach 20%. Those who have TB must make sure they complete their medical treatment," he said.
Dr Lee added that legal foreign workers do undergo tests for TB and if they show symptoms, no work permit would be issued.
However, he noted that there were various issues that could arise from illegal foreign workers but said this would be managed by the Home Ministry.
"There is no need to worry if a restaurant hires foreign workers legally," said Dr Lee.
On another matter, Dr Lee said the ministry had presented an initial proposal for Budget 2020, which included a focus on the PeKa B40 scheme, pneumococcal vaccination and the stop smoking campaign.
"We also hope there will be an allocation for us to start implementing the electronic medical record system next year," he said.