Malaysia criticizes WHO for dengue fever spread

The Malaysian government criticized the World Health Organization on October 13 for failing to halt the spread of dengue fever that has killed 832 people in the region this year.

Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai, who is the chairman of the WHO regional conference being held in Kuala Lumpur this week, told reporters that he felt the United Nation’s organization need to push countries harder to adopt a comprehensive strategy to deal with dengue, according to AFP.

While on the sidelines of the meeting of the organization’s Asia Pacific countries, Liow told journalists, as reported by the AFP, “"We want them to do a lot more. We want the WHO to do more on dengue. We think they are not doing enough.

“We want the WHO to... implement more comprehensive measures to eradicate this communicable disease effectively. We urge the WHO to pay more attention to dengue."

Malaysia has been hit particularly hard by dengue this year, with a 53 percent increase in the number of cases - 38,000 in all - and 117 deaths.

"It is multi-pronged, it cannot just be handled by the health ministry," Liow said, AFP reports. "The WHO must come in forcefully (and) enable more governments... to take the whole government approach. In some other countries they only leave (dengue prevention) to the health ministry. The WHO must enable a multi-agency, inter-ministry approach as well as a community approach to come in."

WHO regional director Shin Young-soo said that organization was cooperating with countries to fight dengue, adding that Malaysia was in a serious situation.

“We are working with governments on how to strengthen surveillance systems, how to improve detection and on preparedness," Shin said, AFP reports. "But the reality is that... people need to realize that fighting this disease is not only the government's job but everyone's responsibility. People have to protect their own health and take preventive action to eliminate the mosquitoes that spread the disease."