ASEAN Dengue Day Media Workshop 2015 : Dengue Does Not Discriminate

Monday, June 08, 2015

Assalamualaikum and hello! I still can't forget the days when I was warded due to dengue. It was so awful I thought my 'time' has come. Yes, that bad. I wish dengue to be wiped off the grid, I wish for it to never exist so that no one else would feel the pain or lost their lives to it. I documented my dengue diary here for a reminder, and I hope I'll never see it again happening to me, my family and friends. And to you too..

It is now already halfway past 2015 and dengue cases in Malaysia does not show any sign to recede. In conjunction with ASEAN Dengue Day 2015, Sanofi Pasteur has brought a media workshop in which I had the liberty to attend thanks to Manoah, where I learned the most shocking fact : Only 11% of Malaysians feel that they are at risk of catching dengue. What happened to the remaining 89% of Malaysian population?

Mr. Baptiste De Clarens, Managing Director at Sanofi Pasteur giving his opening speech

An Unleashed Epidemic: ALL Are At Risk 
Misconception #1: Only the very young and the old are at risk of dengue infection.
Truth: Everyone, including young adults are at risk.  

The media workshop was divided into separate sessions where 4 panels talked about different touch points on dengue. It was indeed very alarming for me to learn that in the first quarter of 2015, Malaysia reported a total of 136 deaths which surpassed 50% of quarter one report in 2014. Dengue now has crowned itself as the most rapidly expanding mosquito-borne infectious disease on the planet and infecting at least 390 million people per year. In his welcome speech, the managing director of Sanofi Pasteur, Mr. Baptiste De Clarens mentioned that it is everyone's responsibility to be proactive towards implementing preventive measures towards dengue. It is shocking when learned that not all Malaysians are fully aware that dengue does not choose its victim. At Sanofi Pasteur, they feel the need to re-engage Malaysians and get everyone well versed on every possible aspects regarding dengue, as each life counts.

The Malaysian Attitude: But I'm Highly Aware On Dengue 
Misconception #2: Malaysians feel that they are Knowledgeable about Dengue
Truth: While Awareness on Dengue is at a high, only 11% foresee being at high risk

The first speaker, Ms Katherine Davis, Country Manager of IPSOS Malaysia presented their 2014 research findings on Malaysians awareness towards dengue. They found out that Malaysians' knowledge about dengue is at 98% which is almost well-versed but the question is, is it enough and why does the number of victims are increasing? Well, the answer is the most shocking thing I ever heard, which is only 11% of Malaysians feel that they are at risk of getting dengue. ARE YOU KIDDING ME? -_-'' I nearly died battling my life out of dengue and at this workshop I found that my fellow Malaysians are not seriously considering the fact that dengue affects anyone and everyone without mercy. Dear fellow Malaysians, being knowledgeable does not exempt you from falling victim. I myself, never knew where I was bitten by the Aedes mosquito and I consider myself very knowledgeable about dengue. Even though you really take care of your surroundings (because you know what to do) such as never leaving any containers filled with water to become a mosquito breeding place, use sleeping nets (kelambu), use Shieldtox spray every night, use electric mosquito repellent, these all wont stop you from getting bitten at a place far from your house. Thus my dear Malaysians, I hope now everyone can accept the fact that you are never an excuse for an Aedes mosquito to bite. 

But I Won't Die From Dengue 
Misconception #3Dengue is Not Life Threatening 
Truth: There is No Known Cure for Dengue, Early Detection Saves Lives

Well, if so, why do we see deaths on dengue spiking across the graph? I think this is due to the "takpelah, demam sikit je esok lusa ok la tu" attitude. I heard this story from my parents, friends and lecturers that their colleague, kids and friends (all deceased) complained about having a fever but they still pushed themselves to work, thinking that it is just a mild, normal fever and the biggest effort they took was to eat some Panadols. It claimed their lives without any alarms :'( We had Assoc. Prof. Dr. Zetti Zainol, a senior lecturer and clinical microbiologist from UKM to talk about Dengue Epidemiology and How All Malaysians Are At Risk of Dengue and I learned that there are now 4 serotypes of dengue and this virus is still mutating. The most vulnerable age groups to get in contact with dengue are adolescents to young adults, and we were told that the more active your lifestyle is, the higher the chance for you to get bitten by an Aedes mosquito because you're going places and you don't know if the surrounding is infested with Aedes mosquito.

Next up was Prof. Datin Dr. Chia Yook Chin from UM who spoke on dengue management. She mentioned about the characteristics of an Aedes mosquito, and she highlighted that people with low immunity like children and elderly people, or people with compromised immunity like cancer patients and diabetes patients are at high risk of getting dengue and fighting it off would be a trouble if the detection was late. More shockingly, I learned a new fact that if a menstruating woman was infected, there is a probability that she will have excessive bleeding which is not a heavy menstruation flow, but that is dengue affecting her slowly from the inside. This is so scary (T_T) since there is no confirmed medication yet for dengue, patients are advised to consume lots of plain water or isotonic water (however isotonic doesn't work on me because I had severe gastric as well). The symptoms of dengue include high fever, nausea, vomiting, low blood pressure, muscle/joint aches, rashes, and low platelet count, in which all I had experienced thanks to dengue. Please, if you're reading this I pray (and you should too) that none of us will catch this virus. 

Lastly, we had Dr. Shahnun Ahmad, Associate Medical Director from Sanofi Pasteur to wrap up the workshop with a presentation called The Future of Dengue, in which he talked about the possible cure for dengue, a vaccine (in-progress) that is hoped to be able to lighten the burden of dengue illness, which is estimated at approx. RM 359.79 million per year in Malaysia alone.  

panel of speakers from left: Dr Shahnun Ahmad, Mr Baptiste De Clarens, Katherine Davis, Prof. Datin Dr. Chia Yook Chin, Assoc. Prof. Dr Zetti Zainol

About Sanofi Pasteur :
Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccines division of Sanofi, is a global company that provides more than one billion doses of vaccine each year, making it possible to immunise more than 500 million people across the globe. A world leader in the vaccine industry, Sanofi Pasteur offers the broadest range of vaccines protecting against 20 infectious diseases.
The company's heritage, to create vaccines that protect life, dates back more than a century.  Every day, the company invests more than one million Euros in research and development. For more information, please visit

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