KUALA LUMPUR — The number of tuberculosis cases is on the rise with Malaysians being the majority of patients, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya said.
He said the treatment for the disease had also gone up — to RM40,000 for a two-year treatment.
Dr Hilmi said Malaysia had seen an increase in TB cases over the last 25 years, from 10,800 cases in 1990 to 24,220 cases, including 101 drug-resistant cases last year.
“Last year, 12.3 per cent of the cases were among foreigners. Three per cent of them had other diseases including TB,” he told the Dewan Rakyat.
“Most cases detected were in Sabah, Sarawak and Selangor.”
The Balik Pulau MP said the biggest issue was with foreign workers who defaulted their treatment by going missing before their medical treatment was complete.
“We report cases to the Immigration Department as well and that is when they go missing and it is difficult for them to be found, which is a problem,” he said.
“They are afraid of being sent back when they have been detected to have TB.”
Dr Hilmi said the treatment for TB usually took up to six months.
Replying to Fuziah Salleh (PKR-Kuantan), Dr Hilmi said 275,972 people from the high-risk group had chest X-ray screenings for TB where 3,039 positive cases were detected.
The high-risk group consists of those in contact with TB patients, diabetes patients, dialysis patients, those who suffer from HIV, the elderly, smokers and chronic obstructive airway disease patients.
“The main strategy to prevent TB is early detection and treatment for all cases, until the patient has fully recovered and will not infect others,” Dr Hilmi said.
He said the ministry also purchased LED fluorescent microscope placed in 438 microscopy centres nationwide, covering 55 per cent of the country.
“Two mobile X-ray buses were also placed in Sabah and Sarawak to assist the screening and verification programme for TB that has been ongoing since December last year,” he said.
“We also outsource chest X-ray to registered private health facilities to make up for the lack of X-ray facilities at government health clinics.”