KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 9 — Two students aged 19 and 21 recently died from tuberculosis (TB), an infectious disease, in Penang.
The Star reported that Carmen Yee, a 19-year-old Upper Six student of SMJK Heng Ee in Penang, died on August 26 after a bout of cough linked to TB.
According to MCA, a 21-year-old student from Universiti Malaysia Perlis also recently died from TB.
“According to reports, the hospital misdiagnosed one of the deceased’s condition as a mosquito-related disease,” MCA deputy president Dr Mah Hang Soon said in a statement.
“This shows the ignorance of both the hospital and the Health Ministry regarding the dangers from the spread of TB, where symptoms are simply dismissed as dengue without a second thought of whether it could be something more serious; this attitude could very well cause delays in getting the patient the proper treatment, adding to the patient’s suffering and even the risk of death.”
The Star reported that the death rate for TB in Selangor this year was five times higher than dengue fatalities. An estimated 152 out of 1,929 TB cases were reportedly fatal from January to June this year in Selangor, compared to 30 deaths from dengue in the same period.
The districts of Petaling, Gombak, Hulu Langat and Klang reportedly had the highest number of TB cases in Selangor last year.
According to Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, 25,837 TB cases were recorded in Malaysia last year, marking a 1.3 per cent drop from 26,168 cases in 2017. Most of the TB cases in the country in 2018, or 87.5 per cent, infected Malaysians.
The national TB death rate rose slightly to 6.7 deaths per 100,000 population in 2018 from 6.5 in 2017.
Selangor reported the highest number of TB cases in the country last year at 5,071 cases. A total of 87.6 per cent of TB cases in the state were locals.
According to the World Health Organization, TB, which is a contagious disease that mainly affects the lungs, is one of the top 10 causes of death worldwide.