Malaysiakini NEWS

Bateq toddler died of measles

N Faizal Ghazali
Published:  |  Modified:

Kelantan Menteri Besar Ahmad Yakob has confirmed that the death of the three-year-old Bateq toddler from Kampung Kuala Koh was due to measles.

"This is based on the information obtained from hospital sources," he told reporters when met in Kota Bharu this afternoon.

The Health Ministry has also identified measles as the disease affecting the Bateq community in Kuala Koh.

As many as 37 of 112 members of the community who are reported to be suffering respiratory tract infections, have contracted measles, said Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

According to Bernama, he said these cases were confirmed by laboratory tests while the results for other diseases like tuberculosis, melioidosis, leptospirosis and corona virus were negative.

“Based on the laboratory results, the Orang Asli in Kampung Kuala Koh are infected with measles,” he told reporters today.

He said the contributing factor for the spread of measles among the Orang Asli community was their low resistance coverage at only 61.5 per cent for the first dose of the measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine and 30 per cent for the second dose injection.

“The health team has difficulty providing comprehensive health services because of the way of life of this tribe which is always moving. The lack of nutrients has also contributed to the risk of infection and complications,” he said.

"Only 61.5 percent have received their first dose of MMR vaccine, and 30 percent have received their second dose," he added.

Earlier, Malaysiakini reported that the Bateq child, Nasri Rosli, died at the intensive care unit of the Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital in Kota Bahru yesterday evening.

Read more: Three-year-old Bateq toddler dies, death toll hits 15

Minister in the Prime Minister's Department P Waythamoorthy said that the hospital's forensic unit would conduct a postmortem to ascertain the cause of the toddler's death.

Dr Dzulkefly said of the 112 Orang Asli cases, the Health Ministry recorded three deaths, with the latest victim being a boy aged 2 years six months, due to complications from measles.

He added that of the 112 cases, 51 were still warded in hospitals, including three in the Intensive Care Unit.

Another 19 mild cases were at the Orang Asli Health Homestay in Gua Musang and 39 had been allowed home, he said.

According to Dr Dzulkefly, the health status of 170 of the 185 Kampung Kuala Koh residents had been checked.

He also said that as of 6.40 pm yesterday, the police team which was assisted by the Health Ministry’s forensic medical team had transported the bodies of 12 victims from Kuala Koh to the Gua Musang Hospital to ascertain the cause of death.

Last Friday, Deputy Prime Minister Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail ruled out water contamination as the cause of death, as initially believed.

Bateq lifestyle under scrutiny

Ahmad also said that the Kelantan government believes the lifestyle of the Bateq tribe must also be scrutinised.

"Other (Orang Asli) tribes lead a more modern lifestyle. I hope all quarters look into changing the (condition) of the Bateq tribe for the better through education and so forth.

"Much needs to be done to help the Bateq tribe,” he said.

This was echoed by Dzulkefly, who said that the nomadic lifestyle of the Bateq complicated the provision of healthcare to the community.

“Our medical teams find it difficult to reach out and provide health services in a more wholesome way to the Bateq tribe due to their nomadic lifestyle," he said.

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