KUALA LUMPUR, April 30 — Measles rose by 15 per cent from 2017 to 2018, but fell by almost 37 per cent in the first quarter this year compared to the same period last year.
Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye told Senator Paul Igai today that 77 per cent of the 1,958 measles cases recorded in 2018 involved unvaccinated children, while six children died from measles last year compared to two fatalities in 2017.
All who died from measles were unvaccinated children aged below five years.
“The rise in measles cases in 2018 was contributed from the rate of measles immunisation that did not reach 95 per cent; it was at 88.8 per cent for babies aged 12 months for 2017.
“For 2018, vaccination rose to 90.1 per cent. This increase was contributed by campaigns on the importance of immunisation.”
According to Dr Lee, Malaysia recorded 254 measles cases from January to March 31 this year, marking a decline of 148 cases (36.8 per cent) compared to the same period in 2018.
Dr Lee said the Health Ministry conducted additional vaccinations last year in states that experienced a rise in measles — capital city Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Putrajaya, Terengganu, and Sarawak. Selangor is the richest state in Malaysia, while Putrajaya is the federal government’s administrative centre. Terengganu, a predominantly Muslim state, is governed by Islamist party PAS while Sarawak is one of the poorest states in the country.
“These activities saw a decline in measles in 2019 in those states, therefore causing an overall decrease in cases for the first three months of the year.”
The Health Ministry’s special task force on vaccination is due to present to the ministry on May 8 its proposal for compulsory vaccination, before the report is tabled to the Cabinet.