5 Tips To Prevent Infectious Diseases In Malaysia
When it’s hot outside (which is most times of the year), Malaysians often hear about the increasing number of dengue cases. Another common sight is the mosquito fogging operation and public announcements from the Health Ministry about the do’s and don’ts of protecting against dengue.
We try to be vigilant, hoping that the fogging will keep us safe. But, dengue is just one of the many diseases that continue to plague Malaysians.
While the recent outbreak of coronavirus has forced us to alter our travel plans and take a closer look at our hygiene and health, let’s not forget that there are many other infectious diseases prevalent in Malaysia.
What are the common infectious diseases in Malaysia?
The Disease Control Division of the Ministry of Health has listed 47 infectious diseases in Malaysia.
- Dengue fever
- Tuberculosis (TB)
- Hand, foot and mouth disease
- Food poisoning
- Viral hepatitis
- Japanese Encephalitis
Some of the cases that are prevalent in Malaysia are food and waterborne diseases such as bacterial diarrhoea, vector-borne diseases such as dengue fever, and water contact diseases such as leptospirosis.
In fact, some of these diseases have frequently affected Malaysians in recent years, while some have reappeared in the community after being under control for many years.
Dengue, the number one infectious disease in the country, hit an all-time high in Malaysia with a whopping 119,198 cases and 162 people death in 2019.
Apart from that, according to the Health Ministry, about 20,000 to 25,000 new Tuberculosis (TB) cases are recorded every year in Malaysia with an average of six deaths every day.
In 2014, leptospirosis cases peaked with 7,806 cases and 92 deaths. Leptospirosis is a bacterial disease that infects people who come into direct contact with the urine of infected animals. Often, rat urine poses a danger in natural water bodies as well as unhygienic premises. From 2,268 cases in 2011 to 8,291 cases in 2015, leptospirosis continues to be an issue of concern.
Many of these diseases come with symptoms akin to food poisoning and flu that are often dismissed and treated with carelessness by Malaysians, leading to complications and even death.
Infectious diseases affect more than just your health
Infectious diseases can have severe effects on your health and consequently, finances.
For instance, a severe case of leptospirosis will require hospitalisation ranging from a few weeks to a few months as well as a ventilator depending on its severity.
In these unfortunate events, the questions we need to ask ourselves are: What happens to our work, studies and social life? What happens to our travel plans? More importantly, how do we deal with financial stress?
A break of up to six months can put a dent in your savings. For a lot of companies in Malaysia, the maximum paid break for medical leave is 14 days and for hospitalisation, it is usually 60 days, which means you will have to take unpaid leave. The absence of a regular income may inadvertently affect your day-to-day spending and financial commitments such as your car and home loan.
Falling ill suddenly can cause cancellation or postponement of travel plans. If you have already made your bookings, you might lose your deposit or worse, the full payment. Not to mention, your visa costs and the purchases you made for your trip.
It is not uncommon for us to seek alternative treatment for illnesses, and travel for treatments. Unfortunately, these expenses are not covered by your medical insurance. This means forking out more money for these hidden costs, and the absence of an income and a depleting emergency fund can easily put you off track from your recovery journey.
5 Simple ways to prevent infectious diseases
Prevention is better than cure. Here are some simple yet effective ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.
- Practise good personal hygiene at all times. From washing your hands, preparing food, and caring for pets to covering your cough, tending to wounds and not sharing utensils, small steps can make big differences.
- Keep up with your vaccination schedule. If you are a parent, make sure your child receives all the vaccinations recommended by the Health Ministry. If you are travelling, make sure you do your due diligence and get vaccinated.
- Practise safe sex at all times. Using a condom and getting tested for STDs at regular intervals are simple ways you can safeguard yourself and your partner.
- Keep your environment clean and free from potential risks. Use insect repellents, discard empty cans and bottles that many become mosquito breeding grounds.
- Use technology to take care of yourself. From health monitoring to consulting with doctors and identifying outbreaks months ahead, health apps are here to guide you towards convenient and affordable healthcare.
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