Health Minister Insists Measles Killed Bateq People

Post-mortems on another 12 bodies from the Bateq tribe could not confirm the cause of death.

KUALA LUMPUR, July 8 — Lab tests and autopsies confirmed that three Orang Asli from the Bateq tribe in Gua Musang, Kelantan, died from measles, Dzulkefly Ahmad said.

The health minister also said post-mortems on another 12 bodies from the Bateq tribe in Kampung Kuala Koh, Gua Musang, could not confirm the cause of death.

“However, toxicology, heavy metals, and entomology test results have yet to be obtained,” Dzulkefly said in a statement.

The Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations Malaysia (FPMPAM) cast doubt last week on the official cause of death of measles in the Bateq tribe.

FPMPAM president Dr Steven Chow, who was the team leader of his group’s outreach programme, said his medical mission found no cases of measles among 140 patients that they saw in Kampung Kuala Koh last April 28, just a week before 15 deaths in the Orang Asli tribe were reported.

He also said what was experienced by the Bateq people did not fit the symptoms and clinical presentation of measles.

Dzulkefly said Saturday that 82 measles cases were confirmed in three Orang Asli villages from June 3 to July 5, which were 62 cases in Kuala Koh; 16 cases in Kampung Gerdong in Hulu Terengganu, Terengganu; and four cases in Kampung Ulu Sat in Jerantut, Pahang.

“As a response to the measles epidemic, the health district office has continued measles immunisation activities, including additional measles immunisation activities, in communities in the affected areas and nearby localities with cooperation from the Department of Orang Asli Development (Jakoa) and the Tok Batins in the relevant communities.”

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