KUALA LUMPUR: Stigmatising monkeypox patients will only discourage people from getting treatment and health screenings, says the Deputy Health Minister.
Datuk Lukanisman Awang said this would also lead to panic among the public and could potentially cause an outbreak of the disease.
“Don’t stigmatise monkeypox patients because it will lead to panic and cause more people to be reluctant to undergo screening.
“Eventually, this would lead them to infect their partners or even the society,” he said during the Minister’s Question Time in Dewan Rakyat in response to Dr Mohammed Taufiq Johari (PH-Sungai Petani) yesterday.
Dr Mohammed Taufiq had asked what were the Health Ministry’s guidelines on educating the public about differentiating monkeypox symptoms from other skin diseases to avoid panic.
“Since we’re in the era of social media where anything can go viral, the Health Ministry is emphasising on health education among the public,” said Lukanisman.
“This includes increasing infographics on identifying criteria of infections such as lesions on the face or genitals (that are caused by monkeypox).
“If one finds that they have the symptoms, please visit the ministry’s facilities immediately.”
The Sibuti MP also revealed that as of November, Malaysia has recorded a total of nine monkeypox cases in Kuala Lumpur, Selangor and Sarawak.
To curb the infection of the disease, Lukanisman said the ministry was working with several other agencies such as the Immigration Department to help in screening travellers entering the country.
“We do 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 will need to undergo self-monitoring for 21 days and if they show symptoms, they will be asked to receive treatment as soon as possible,” he said.
Lukanisman also said the disease only spread through close contact, which includes high-risk activity, and advised travellers to be wary when visiting countries with monkeypox outbreaks.