Don't stigmatise monkeypox patients, says Deputy Health Minister

KUALA LUMPUR: Do not stigmatise monkeypox patients to avoid panic among the public, says the Deputy Health Minister.

Datuk Lukanisman Awang said stigmatising the patients would only discourage more people from undergoing health screening tests and would potentially lead to an outbreak.

“Don’t stigmatise monkeypox patients because it will lead to a panic and cause more people to be uninterested in undergoing screening.

“Eventually, this would lead them to infect their partners or even society,” he said during Ministers’ Question Time in response to Dr Mohammed Taufiq Johari (PH-Sungai Petani) on Wednesday (Nov 29).

Dr Mohammed Taufiq had earlier asked what were the Health Ministry’s guidelines to educate the public on differentiating monkeypox symptoms with other skin diseases to avoid panic.

“Since we’re in the era of social media where anything uploaded would be viral, the Health Ministry is emphasising health education among the public.

“This includes increasing infographics on identifying criteria of infections such as how to identify lesions (caused by monkeypox) on the face or genitals.

“If one shows such symptoms, please visit the Health Ministry’s facilities immediately,” Lukanisman said.

The Sibuti MP also revealed that as of November, Malaysia recorded a total of nine monkeypox cases.

He said that the locations of the infection were in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Sarawak.

To curb the infection of the disease, Lukanisman said that the ministry is working with several other agencies such as the Immigration Department to help in screening travellers entering the country.

“We will carry out monitoring at the country’s entry points with the collaboration of the Immigration Department.

“We also monitor the enrolment of international students from countries with monkeypox cases. They would need to undergo self-monitoring for 21 days and if they show symptoms, they would be asked to receive treatment as soon as possible,” he said.

Lukanisman also said that the disease only spreads through close contact which includes high risk activity and advised travellers to be wary when visiting countries with monkeypox outbreaks.

“Travellers who want to visit countries with a monkeypox outbreak must be wary of the situation.

“The virus only spreads through ‘high risk’ activities. Therefore, I advise those in the high risk group to be careful,” he said.

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