The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) urges the Prime Minister to take into serious consideration the dangers to the general health of the population if general elections were to be held during the flood season.
We are concerned that if floods occur during the general election period, many Malaysians might be exposed to the risk of diseases, injuries, and deaths caused by floodwaters.
Not only is there a risk of injury and drowning, but floodwaters can also cause water and food borne diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, hepatitis A, dysentery, and food poisoning, and symptoms may include diarrhoea, vomiting, abdominal pain, fever, or headache.
There is also the risk of leptospirosis if a person were to be exposed to the leptospira sp bacteria found in the urine of four-legged mammals such as rats, dogs, cats, cows, and so on.
Without treatment, leptospirosis can lead to serious health issues such as kidney damage, meningitis (inflammation of the membrane around the brain and spinal cord), liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.
Other potential health issues as a result of exposure to floodwaters include conjunctivitis, skin irritation, and skin infections.
We are most concerned about the vulnerable groups such as the disabled, the elderly, and pregnant women, who may be exposed to such dangers if they were to brave the floods to exercise their democratic right to vote.
Another major concern is the issue of shortages in the supply of certain medicines that are in constant high demand. Most of the medicines that are currently affected will be needed to treat some of these diseases. The last thing we need is a health crisis at a time when such high-demand medicines are in short supply.
In recent years, it has been difficult to predict which areas will be affected by floods. Many places that have never before experienced floods have been hit by floods.
This too will need to be given some thought, especially in the planning of polling centres in the event that elections are to be held.
The country is on the path to recovery from the Covid-19 pandemic, and there are finally some signs of an economic upturn. We hope the Prime Minister will decide wisely on what is best for the people. Politics should never be prioritised over the health and wellbeing of the people.
Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai is president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
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