Malaysia is grappling with an unexpected health threat as monkeypox cases emerge across the nation. The Ministry of Health has reported a total of nine instances of the disease since July, with eight of the cases involving local citizens, primarily in the Klang Valley. As detailed by Deputy Health Minister Datuk Lukanisman Awang Sauni, the first two cases were identified in Kuala Lumpur in July, while Selangor witnessed the third and fourth instances last month. This month, another five cases have been reported, with one in Sarawak and four in Kuala Lumpur.
Preventive Measures Against Monkeypox
In response to a query about the current status of monkeypox in the country and the preventive measures to avoid widespread transmission akin to COVID-19, Lukanisman outlined the Ministry of Health's strategy. It includes early detection measures at all international entry points in partnership with the Immigration Department. The Ministry is advising students coming from countries reporting monkeypox cases or endemic areas to self-monitor for symptoms for 21 days and to seek immediate medical treatment if symptomatic. Locals traveling to countries with reported or endemic monkeypox cases are also being advised to take preventive measures and seek immediate treatment if suspected of infection.
The Issue of Monkeypox Vaccine
On the subject of introducing a monkeypox vaccine, Lukanisman stated that there are currently no plans to do so. The reason behind this is the high cost of RM1,600 per vaccine, making widespread vaccination a challenge at this time. However, the Ministry remains committed to preventing the spread of the disease through early detection and public awareness.
Public Awareness and Stigmatization
The Deputy Health Minister stressed the importance of not stigmatizing monkeypox patients to avoid unnecessary panic among the public. The Ministry is also working with other agencies to screen travelers entering the country and actively promoting awareness of the disease through various social media platforms. As Malaysia continues to face the challenge of monkeypox, it is essential that the public remain informed and vigilant, understanding the importance of early detection and seeking immediate medical help if symptoms are noticed.