Monsoon polls come with extra health hazards, says MMA
KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 4 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) today advised the federal government against holding the 15th general election during the year-end monsoon season with its high risks of floods nationwide.
Its president Dr Muruga Raj Rajathurai cautioned that on top of the danger to life and limb, the floodwaters increased the risk of water and food-borne diseases being spread.
“Not only is there a risk of injuries and drowning, floodwaters can also cause water and food-borne diseases such as typhoid fever, cholera, hepatitis A, dysentery, and food poisoning where symptoms include diarrhea, 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,” he said in a statement.
He added that untreated leptospirosis could lead to more severe health issues such as kidney damage, meningitis, liver failure, respiratory distress, and even death.
He said it was a huge concern if those vulnerable groups such as the elderly, disabled, and pregnant women chose to brave the floods to cast their ballots.
The MMA president also said a shortage of certain high-demand medicines might also add to the trouble if the polls were held during flood season. “Most of the medicines that are currently affected will be needed to treat some of these diseases.
“The last thing we will want is a health crisis at a time when the most needed medicines are in short supply,” Dr Muruga Raj said.
He added that with the unpredictability of flood areas, the government would need to spend extra time to properly plan where polling centres are to be held.
Politicians from other ruling parties like Bersatu and PAS as well as those from the Opposition bloc have been speaking out against holding GE15 this year with the Meteorological Department forecasting the annual year-end monsoon season bringing thunderstorms and potential floods nationwide.
But Umno is pushing for national polls to be held this year with its president Datuk Seri Ahmad Zahid Hamidi accusing his political foes of playing up the flood dangers.