PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry would have raised the alarm if there were a high number of deaths due to thrush (oral infection) even among the orang asli community in remote areas, says the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa).
Jakoa deputy director general Suhaimi Mahmud said he was taken aback over reports in The Star in which the orang asli claimed that many had died in Royal Belum State Park in Perak.
“We are going down to the ground to check. It is impossible that such a high number of deaths had gone unnoticed,” he said.
The orang asli claimed that some 200 people have died of the disease.
Suhaimi said they would check the number of new graves in the area.
“We will talk to the locals, find out the actual number of deaths, and if they have any reservations about seeking modern medication,” he said.
Suhaimi said he would personally go down to the ground to investigate the claims and would get a clearer picture after inspecting the area.
“If there is high number of new deaths, there would certainly be many new graves,” he said.
Suhaimi said there was no point jumping the gun without checking the facts.
A Jakoa official said the villages were accessible by boat.
“It takes one hour to reach the site.
“But people in the area continue living like nomads although we have built homes for them,” said an officer who wanted to stay anonymous.
He also said they would investigate claims that the Jahai tribe were wary of modern medication.