Media Statement by Lim Kit Siang in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 19th August 2009:
How and why has Malaysia swiftly joined the world’s top eight countries with the highest death toll from A (H1N1) flu pandemic in less than a month?
It is a great relief that there has been no single case of fatality from A (H1N1) flu pandemic in the past 24 hours after a meteoric rise in the past week, totaling cumulative death toll of 67 as of yesterday in a matter four weeks since the first case of fatality.
The question remains however how and why Malaysia has swiftly joined the world’s top eight countries with the highest death toll from A (H1N1) flu pandemic in less than a month, chalking up a cumulative death toll of 67 after United States (482 fatalities), Argentina (404), Brazil (379), Mexico (163), Australia (118), Chile (112), Thailand (97) and tying with Canada (67) for eighth place?
In a matter of four days, the cumulative death toll in Malaysia had increased by eight fatalities, moving it up from world’s ninth placing with 59 deaths to eighth placing with 67 fatalities, while in other countries the mortality rates have stopped or slowed considerably, like Chile which had registered 105 deaths last weekend, with Thailand remaining static at 97 while Canada had increased by one fatality during this period.
Unless the momentum of this cumulative death toll is stopped or reduced drastically, Malaysia is set to overtake Canada, and might even overtake Thailand and Chile in terms of the total A (H1N1) mortality cases.
This world-beater role is one Malaysia must not achieve.
It was only in yesterday’s press that the Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai announced a national health emergency due to the pandemic, with him toying with the possibility of a health curfew if the mortality rate goes above 0.4 per cent. The country was told that the mortality rate for A(H1N1) flu is currently between 0.1 per cent and 0.4 per cent.
Today, however, Malaysians are told a different version with the idea of a health curfew pooh-poohed by the Director-General of Health, Tan Sri Dr. Ismail Merican who said that the A(H1N1) mortality rate in the country at present is only 0.007 per cent.
How can be there such a vast difference in the estimates of A(H1N1) mortality rate between the Health Minister and Health Director-General, a difference of some 400 to 700 per cent between Ismail’s 0.007 per cent and that Liow’s 0.1 to 0.4 per cent.
What are the figures that Ismail and Liow are using to arrive at these vast differences in estimates about the A(H1N1) mortality rates, which should be made public, as it is such mixed signals and confusion emanating from the highest Health Ministry quarters which are undermining confidence in the efficacy and professionalism of the national campaign against A(H1N1) flu pandemic.
*Lim Kit Siang, DAP Parliamentary leader & MP for Ipoh Timor