Deputy minister: Health Ministry to consider rabies treatment medical research

Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye Says the ministry will consider proposals from universities or the industrial sector to conduct medical science research on the treatment of Rabies. — Picture by Farhan Najib
Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye Says the ministry will consider proposals from universities or the industrial sector to conduct medical science research on the treatment of Rabies. — Picture by Farhan Najib

KUCHING, April 13 ― The Health Ministry will consider proposals from universities or the industrial sector to conduct medical science research on the treatment of rabies, particularly in Sarawak, said its deputy minister Dr Lee Boon Chye.

He said the ministry was taking the rabies or mad dog epidemic, declared as a Stage Two Disaster in the state, which has recorded 16 fatalities so far, seriously.

“We are keeping track of the data with regards to the number of (rabies) cases, percentage of animals carrying the virus and hope all dog owners who love their dogs get them vaccinated,” he told reporters after opening of the 4th International Conference on Advances in Medical Science 2019 organised  by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) here today.

Among others, his ministry is targeting to open up 15 more Dog Bite Clinics in early June this year in addition to the existing 10 clinics to overcome the outbreak in Sarawak.

The federal government has also spent more than RM2 million for the rabies vaccine injected on dogs in Sarawak.

On the various police reports lodged by the public relating to the anti-rabies operation in Padawan recently, Dr Lee said the ministry would get the relevant authorities to investigate the matter.

“The authorities and enforcement units have a standard operating procedure which requires them  not to encroach on private properties, including residential areas to catch a dog,” he said in referring to the arrest of a man for allegedly trying to obstruct a team from carrying out their duties on April 7.

Dr Lee said at present, the ministry had special allocations to conduct medical science research that focused on tropical diseases, including the control of dengue infection in collaboration with local universities and institutions. 

This entailed papaya extract to treat dengue while medical research involving treatment of burns using tilapia fish skin had also won international accolades, he said.

Meanwhile, UKM vice chancellor Prof Dr Mohd Hamdi Abd Shukor, in his speech, said the university had developed an artificial kidney through a joint effort between its Institute of Microengineering and UKM Medical Centre, which would benefit patients with kidney failure. ― Bernama