Rotary Club of Greentown and Persatuan Khidmat Masyarakat India organised a health forum at Sri Maha Maraimman Hall. Dato’ Dr M. Majumder, President, Society for Promotion of Mental Health in her opening address said that the number of mental health cases in the country is increasing. Compared to other races, the incidence of mental health issues among Indians is higher. Mental health care has moved from institution to community care. This forum is to disseminate information on health issues.
Dr M. Thiruchelvam, Medical Officer, Vector Borne Disease Control Unit, Perak State Health Department spoke on ‘Awareness of Zika Virus Infection’. He informed the audience that the Zika virus was discovered about 80 years ago in Africa and was first detected in Malaysia in 1969. The virus is a mosquito-borne flavivirus that is closely related to the dengue virus. In the last two years it has spread widely. In Malaysia there are seven known cases, five of whom had visited Singapore. The sixth victim in Sabah has contracted the local strain of the virus and similarly with the 7th victim, also from Sabah. The signs and symptoms of Zika are similar to that of dengue fever. If ten people are infected by the virus only three would show symptoms while seven would be normal but can transmit the disease. There is no specific medicine or vaccine and childbearing women who contract the virus can give birth to children with birth defects.
Prevention is essential by destroying Aedes mosquitos and potential breeding grounds and to avoid being bitten by using anti mosquito repellents.
Dr Swaminathan, Associate Professor of Psychiatry, Melaka Manipal College spoke on ‘Understanding Depression and Dementia’.
He said that feeling down from time to time is a normal part of life, but when emotions such as hopelessness and despair take hold and just won’t go away, you may have depression. Depression makes it tough to function and enjoy life like you once did. Just getting through the day can be overwhelming.
Dementia is progressive decline in one’s intellectual capacity characterised by failing memory, language disturbance, inability to recognise familiar faces and poor concentration. The patient is not able to carry out activities of daily living like personal care.
Patients suffering from depression and dementia do not know of their condition and it is the responsibility of relatives and friends to take them for treatment.
To a question on why the suicide rate is high among Indians, Swaminathan answered that it is mainly due to the negative influence of Tamil films and TV serials.
The day after the forum there was a feature article in NST on Mental Health which stated that one in three Malaysians has mental issues.