Friday, June 26, 2009

I feel vindicated!

Influenza A(H1N1) terminology stays – Health Ministry

PUTRAJAYA, June 26 — Health Ministry Director-General Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican today gave three reasons why his ministry is sticking to the term Influenza A(H1N1) instead of swine flu.

Dr Mohd Ismail Merican said firstly that the virus that causes the spread of the disease is a mixture of three aspects – human beings, avian and swine – as identified by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

He also said Malaysia must comply with the directive of WHO because if it were to use another term, it would mean that other countries too could use different terms and that could lead to chaos in controlling the spread of this pandemic.

Furthermore, he said that using the term ‘swine flu’ could lead to a misunderstanding as the people would have the wrong perception that only those who consumed pork would be infected by the virus.

“Because of these three reasons, the Health Ministry would maintain its stand of using the term Influenza A(H1N1).

“I have conveyed this information to the minister and I hope he (Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai) will bring up the matter for discussion by the Cabinet ministers today,” he told reporters, here today.

He said this when asked to comment on the statement yesterday by Information Communication and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Dr Rais Yatim, who suggested that the media used the term ‘swine flu’ instead of Influenza A(H1N1) used currently.

Dr Rais had said the suggestion was made to ensure that the public was aware of the danger of the flu and that the message could be conveyed more accurately to them.

Commenting further, Dr Mohd Ismail said “on April 29, WHO had issued a statement to change the name ‘swine flu’ to Influenza A(H1N1) because of the combination of the three factors, that is, human beings, avian and swine. This is not the swine flu that you see every day. This is a new virus,” he said.

He said the use of a different terminology would also make it impossible to carry out a comparative study.

Dr Mohd Ismail also said that he did not intend to dispute the suggestion made by the minister concerned but a directive from WHO must be complied with because Malaysia was part of WHO.

“If you don’t follow WHO, whom would you follow. And you have to make sure that every country will use the same terminology,” he added. – Bernama


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