World Health Organisation (WHO) has applauded Malaysia’s commitment in combating dengue and wants other countries to emulate its approach, including participation of its people, in fighting the deadly disease.
Health Minister Dr S. Subramaniam, however, warned that the country was far from being safe, as the Western Pacific region remained a hotbed for the disease.
“We have yet to contain one of our biggest health threats in this region, which is paradoxically, the small mosquitoes.
“Yet the same vector, the aedes aegypti mosquito is troubling the region with the spread of the zika virus,” Dr Subramaniam said at the 67th session of the WHO Regional Committee in Manila on Tuesday.
The western Pacific region consists of 37 countries, including Malaysia, and has some 1.8 billion people.
It stretches over a vast area, from China in the north and west to New Zealand in the south and French Polynesia in the east.
Dr Subramaniam said Malaysia, which holds the chairmanship of the committee this year, endorsed the WHO Regional Action Plan for Dengue in the Western Pacific 2016 and wanted all to ramp up efforts to combat the disease.
He said the action plan would be a podium for countries in the region to consider more effective vector control that also applied to the other arboviruses such as zika and chikungunya.
In 2015, the region suffered more than 1,000 deaths due to dengue, with more than 450,000 cases reported.
On the other hand, the elimination of malaria is within reach as, since the year 2000, malaria-related deaths have declined by over 90% in the region.
“This is promising as we aim for malaria elimination by 2030,” said Subramaniam.
Besides communicable diseases, other regional health issues slated for discussion at the meeting include the Asia-Pacific strategy for emerging diseases, haze, sustainable development goals and anti-microbial resistance.