Can we not find the source of the Sarawak HFMD epidemics after 10 years?
DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong calls on the Government to identify the source of the sarawak Hand, Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) epidemics and to create a vaccine, if possible. It is not enough to take immediate precautionary measures such as cleaning and avoiding contacts.
Dr Tan took part in the debate on the Emergency Motion by Kuching MP Chong Chien Jen at the Dewan Rakyat on 16 March, 2006.
Epidemics of HFMD due to Enterovirus 71 (EV71) recur every three years, 1997, 2000, 2003 and 2006. There have been 4,994 cases in the current outbreak with 8 deaths. Kedah is reported to have 15 cases; the Government must release the details.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek announces correct measures such as closure of the 488 kindergardens and some of the 1,265 primary schools in Sarawak, cleanliness, education and increase of health staff members. We hope all people follow these measures.
During the school holidays, some parents are bringing their children to Peninsula by MAS flights. The Government must look into this to ensure that the disease does not spread.
After nearly ten years of repeated outbreaks, the Government has not discovered the source of EV71. Why? Is it feasible to create a vaccine as a long-term prevention? EV71 infection in children below 10 is similar in some aspects to poliomyelitis (polio) which is also an enterovirus. Polio spreads by oral-faecal route, whereas EV71 tends to be by oral-oral route among humans. We have polio vaccine. Why can't we have EV71 vaccine?
The Government must release more information on EV71 which is unlike the influenza virus H5N1 and the four types of dengue virus that mutate readily. It must also investigate the various factors such as the disturbance of the eco-system in Sarawak and the failure to encourage our experts to do further research on HFMD. Malaysia has the experts. They are capable of genetic sequencing and other research techniques. Why can't they find the source of EV71? Are they sidelined? Do they have enough fund?
It is unreasonable to say that it is too expensive to create a vaccine. The Government must tell us whether it is feasible to have a vaccine. Let us know further details such as the cost.