PETALING JAYA, 12 June 2009: Don’t blame private doctors for the dengue epidemic, the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia said today.
Its medical affairs committee representative Dr Ng Swee Choon said the disease continued to plague Malaysians because the authorities lacked the political will to enforce eradication measures.
(Pic by enimal / sxc.hu) “Unless there is political will to take enforcement measures on the many big developers and the local authorities, blaming private doctors is just missing the point,” said Dr Ng in a statement.
She was responding to a statement yesterday by Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican who blamed private doctors for not reporting suspected dengue cases to the ministry. Ismail said 66% of dengue deaths could have been avoided if detected early and patients given immediate treatment.
On the same day, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai also said he was “angry with doctors who failed to detect dengue fever early because the tropical disease has been in the country for a long time.”
“In the case of dengue, we know the virus, and we know the vector — the Aedes Egypti mosquito. We know how to get rid of the mosquito … What we need is sustained effort to eradicate the mosquitoes’ breeding grounds,” said Dr Ng.
She said despite housing residents’ efforts to keep their homes free from the dengue threat, other areas such as construction sites, abandoned housing projects, and clogged drains continued to be breeding grounds for Aedes.
“These (construction sites and abandoned housing projects) are within the private properties of big companies which the public have no access to. Complaints to local authorities often fall on deaf ears,” said Dr Ng.
Additionally, she said early symptoms of dengue like fever, bone aches, joint paints and pain behind the eyes were common to many viral infections.
“If all private doctors were to send all cases of viral fever to the government hospitals and laboratories, will the system be able to cope?” she asked.
Dr Ng added that most dengue fever patients recovered on their own, with almost no therapy needed.
She noted that by the time the full-blown rash of bleeding under the skin occurs in a dengue patient, the case was already serious.
“We do not think that any reasonable doctor will miss that diagnosis,” said Dr Ng.
To that extent, Dr Ng said there was no excuse for doctors or hospitals to not report confirmed cases of dengue and the federation has advised all its private doctors to do so.