Dee Baer, who has written a book about Orang Asli health issues, has some recent (January 2000) news about the poor health of many Temiars in Malaysia. The statistics quoted below are quite alarming, particularly for an advanced country like Malaysia.
According to the references listed below, there
is now good information of the poor health conditions for the Temiars. The Ariff
and Rahmah reports are overlapping reports of the same study on Brooke.
These 4 reports show that all ages have health problems and strongly
suggest that children are the most unhealthy. Most kids (ages 1 to 10
or 12 yrs.) seem to have 1 or more intestinal worms (including hookworm),
with 60% at Pst Brooke having at least Ascaris. Most also have
intestinal protozoa species, with 62% having Entameba histolytica in
Temengor kgs.--which also had 39% of kids with malaria.
While filariasis was rare (max. 11% in all ages studied in Temengor),
dental caries were common (35% of kids at Brooke and 19% of all ages at
Piah). The Brooke kids also had 45% of them showing clinical signs of
anemia (Hb <10 gm/dl). And for all ages, 38% of Piah Temiar had signs of
vitamin A deficiency.
Beyond this, it appears that 50% of families at Brooke reported having had
1 or more children die.
Brooke was reported to have medical teams visit 4 times/yr. and a small
clinic with a medical aide; Ramah et al. urged that a large, well-staffed
clinic be placed there. The Temengor area has a medical post near Ulu
Banum and some (unspecified) visits by a medical team; logging occurs near
the study sites of Kg. Samlor and Sg. Tekam and the 2 villages have no
piped water supply or toilet facilities. Karim et al. urged that poured
latrines and gravity-fed piped water be provided to the 2 sites. Piah has
some sort of "health activities" (largely unspecified). Norhayati et al.
made no recommendations for improving health at Piah.
Ariff, R. H. T., et al. Health status of aboriginal children at Post
Brooke, Kelantan. Malaysian J. Child Health 9 (1): 60-64, 1997.
Karim, R., et al. Parasitic infections in the aboriginal community at
Temengor, Hulu Perak, Malaysia. Malayan Nature J. 48: 425-432, 1995.
Norhayati, M., et al. Health status of Orang Asli (aborigine) community
in Pos Piah, Sungai Siput, Perak, Malaysia. S. E. Asian J. Trop. Med.
Pub. Hlth. 29 (1): 58-61, 1998.
Ramah, N., et al. Parasitic infections among aborigine children at Post
Brooke, Kelantan, Malaysia. Med. J. Malaysia 52 (4): 412-415, 1997.
We wish to thank Dr Dee Baer for the above information