Sunday, August 9, 2009



The Health Minister should be sacked! He keeps on telling people to be calm and not panic when most of the hospitals are packed with patients having the flu symptoms. My son was diagnosed after a blood test with Influenza A last Thursday after waiting for 3 and half hours at Damansara Specialist and was referred to the Sg Buloh hospital mixing with other walkins. At Sungai Buloh, they didn’t even bother to segregate those who came from other hospitals and clinics who tested positive for Influenza A like my son from the others exposing everyone else to the risk of catching it for sure.
The doctor at Damansara failed to tell me that Influenza A is the normal flu that we get with a fever and running nose. From the blood test that she took and we had to pay for exhorbitantly, she could have said that my son didn’t have the Swine Flu because of the level of white blood cells that remained at level 6. She could have explained like the good doctor in Sungai Buloh that if the level went down to 2 it would confirm the Swine flu in him. That could have saved us the panick and the trip not to mention the 3 hour wait at the Sungai Buloh hospital exposed to the risk while standing with hundreds of other patients with high tempratures and some even fainting.

There should be a standard procedure after a blood test to determine whether there is an H1N1 infection at all clinics before they are sent to the Sungai Buloh Hospital. Apperently we can tell from the White Blood Cell Count from the report. I repeat, according to the doctor at Sungai Buloh Hospital, if the count states that it is around 2 or below, that means the patient has Swine Flu. My son’s white blood cell count was 6.3. The doctor at Sungai Buloh explained to us referring to the report from the blood test in Damansara Specialist that my son was only suffering from a normal flu with some fever. We waited for 3 hours exposed to the virus by hundreds of other patients only to be told that we could have been saved the trip had the doctor at Damansara explained to us reading then and there from the report of blood tests done at Damansara Specialist Hospital.

I respectfully suggested to the Prime Minister yesterday through his 1Malaysia Website to make a spot check at the Sungai Buloh emergency area where they have designated an area for H1N1 suspects as one of his walkabouts. He should see first hand how it’s done. Patients with high fever have to stand and queue to register. Even if their parents are there to do it for them, they still have to stand in line because there are no seats for the patients. Imagine one with very high fever and a heavy head that throbs having to stand up in line in humid weather exposing one’s germs to others vice versa? After the registration, they are shown to another area where they have to queue with some sitting while the majority stands. There, they mix the ones who’ve been tested positive for Influenza A with those who are not and they all wait for another hour and a half for their turn to see a doctor. No personnel told them to pay attention to the number on the cards while their names are being called. One good samaritan whose child was ill showed the patients after registration where to submit their cards before waiting further (because there was no hospital assistant to do it) got his registration mixed up by the authorities.
They lost it and people who came after him were given treatment ahead of his child. Can you imagine that? For a minute at Sungai Buloh Hospital, I thought I was in a thrid world African country. I had connections at the Health Ministry and could’ve easily been attended to much quicker but I wanted to experience what the Rakyat had to endure, even if it meant risking my son’s condition, because only then can I empathize with the people and know what they were feeling deep inside.

Ironically, 90% of the patients I observed at the Damansara Specialist (3 ½ hours) and Sg Buloh hospital, (3 hours), were those non Swine eating Malays and Indians. I’m wondering, is there a secret institute somewhere for the swine eating patients to go to for their check ups or are they immune from it? Surely they can’t be taking that perfect a precautionary measure that only 1 out of 20 patients come from their community? Could the reason be because most of the pig farms are located in Malay and poor settlements and not where there is a swine eating majority? Or could the reason be that this bug is airborne and festers in warm and non air-conditioned spaces where the Malays and Indians are usually living? A research should be made on how it attacks. It may not recognize race, religion or one’s eating habits but something has to be done to find out how and why a certain part of the community is the main target. This is not political. I met and spoke to many of them at the Sungai Buloh Hospital interviewing the public like the wakil rakyat for Sungai Buloh. I felt their pain, frustration and fear because they, like the rest of the Rakyat were not given proper information by the ministry, and had to be exposed to the virus while mixing in the same waiting area with those who were tested positive.

All the Health Minister is doing now is soaking in the television and print media publicity on a daily basis. He is reporting on deaths like the county coroner from a small town in Nantucket, while officiating small-time clinics here and there giving press conferences.

This is what he should do:

1. Station himself at the designated hospitals, checking out the mechanics and
format of dealing with patients, segregating the ones tested positive and
documented by other hospitals from the ones that aren’t.

2. Provide enough seats for patients while their loved ones register at the counter
so that they are comfortable and won’t turn into a statistic in the evening news
while waiting to be signed in.

3. Commission all clinics and private hospitals to check suspects using swabs and
blood tests sending them home with proper medication if the report states
that it’s just a normal flu and not the H1N1 instead of sending them to pack
the Sungai Buloh Hospital like a rock concert and be exposed. Again, I’m told
it can be detected through the blood test by checking on the White Blood Cell

When all the clinics and hospitals including the private ones share the burden of receiving and sieving through the patients, then and only then will we be able to contain the virus from turning into an epidemic. Otherwise, instead of 3 hours for the initial checkup, each patient along with the concerned relatives will be exposed to it for 7 hours in two hospitals in the same day altogether. The clinics and private hospitals must be allowed to charge the patients to ascertain whether they are infected. That, I’m sure will be the least of the problem for those concerned.

4. Find out why there are more of the poor section of the Rakyat, namely the
Malays and Indians who are infected and lost their lives. Could it be geographic
or the surrounding climate. Does it spread better in humid weather and less in
cool tempratures?

Heck! Make an effort to do some research instead of just letting it flow like it’s the plan to genocide the poor and certain segments of the community. Appearing on television looking smart and healthy, telling people not to panick isn’t going to cut it any longer. People want to know what the hell is being done about it!

Where is Koh Tsu Koon in all of this? He should be at the hospitals to see how it is working to gauge Liow’s performance as Health Minister. Is he evaluating ministers’ performances from the comfort of his leather chair and cool office in Putrajaya? Is he judging their KPI by reading cooked up reports by the respective ministers themselves?

As I have informed the good Prime Minister through his 1 Malaysia website/blog, the Rakyat won't be expecting a favourable KPI for the Health Minister and if it shockingly shows that it is favourable, then something is definitely wrong with Tsu Koon's grading system.

Liow should rope in the former Health Ministers for consultation and huddle up to find the best solution to arrest this crisis. Better yet, replace him with someone who is more hands on and committed to the task that is clearly threatening to reach epidemic status.

At the rate things are going, this time next week, we’ll hit 50 casualties and it will increase exponentially if this Minister remains in office doing the same thing he did when the first case was reported. We had more than two months notice to take pre-emptive and precautionary measures. I’m appalled that after that much time given in advance, we are still fumbling over each other with the system at the hospitals, unable to minimize its spread in the best possible manner.


armouris said...

info on swine flu here - FAQ on Swine Flu

Anonymous said...

Tq armouris - a very informative website indeed. But I agree that Health Ministry is not doing enough to educate the rakyat about H1N1. They should explain and advise the rakyat on what to do in a plain and simple language, everyday, in radio, tv and print media. The majority of the rakyat do not have the time or means to google or do research on the matter. They don't even have extra money to buy a piece of disposable face mask that is now more expensive than a kg of the most sought after sugar.

I've been to sg buloh myself. The registration area is a parking lot for ambulance! No shades, signage, instruction,guidance or any literature for us to read prior to registration. Face masks are given only if you ask for them. They are short-staffed but you should see the dedication of their doctors and nurses.

Health Ministry,your best in dealing with this pandemic is certainly not enough!

TPJ said...

Thanks Armouris,

I read it through and it says that eating cooked swine flesh that is infected above a certain degree in heat will not cause the person to get the disease.

I'm thinking the majority of the Swine eaters are probably immune to it because of the very fact that they consume the damn thing. But I could be wrong. Let's see among the majority of those who die in the next few days represent which community. The ones that eat them or the ones who don't. It's living within the surrounding area of the pig farm that will infect those in close contact to the germ. For instance, taking money as mode of currency from a pig farmer that visited the nearest crocer and the note in turn reaches your hand after getting change for your purchase of Kurma preparing for the Ramadhan.

Not all pigs that have the disease die and they can still be sold and cooked from what I gather. This is the problem. These beasts don't have to be culled and put to death like the chicks when they're infected, but they are certainly putting the humans "out of their misery". 27 so far.

Go figure.

TPJ said...

Anonymous, yes the staff were polite and dedicated but they said the system was created by the ministry and they were just following orders.

We should blame the ministry officials who dare not be in contact with patients like them risking their lives.