In a recent news report, a State assemblyman from Kelantan told the legislative assembly that the current dengue outbreak is a calamity from God because the government does not fully adhere to Islamic principles.
“Through the ages, God had brought disasters to those who transgressed His laws and it is the same in these present times, where any spread of a disease stems from non-compliance of God’s laws,” said Hasan Mahmood, the elected representative for Tawang.
While he is probably not the only one to hold such beliefs, it is of particular concern that Mr. Hasan was speaking in his capacity as an elected official during a legislative session addressing the ongoing dengue outbreak. Spoken from a position of authority, such comments influence official policy and public sentiment. Were his theories to be taken seriously, it would prolong suffering and increase deaths from the disease.
Dengue has been a long-standing issue in Malaysia, and has reached critical levels this year. From January to September 2014, there have been 74,335 reported cases of dengue infection, and a record 143 deaths so far.
To tackle the disease, our best efforts in healthcare and municipal management must be put forth. There is simply no room for irrational theories in any level of government action. By denying the real cause and circumstance of the disease, Mr. Hasan is wasting precious time and resources from developing rational and effective measures against the outbreak.