KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia remains vigilant about the possible emergence of new pandemics, including the so-called “Disease X”, says health minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa.
She said that even though there were no discussions regarding the potential spread of “Disease X” during the recently concluded 78th United Nations General Assembly (UNGA) in New York, Malaysia is continuously monitoring for potential new diseases or pandemics that may arise in the future.
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “Disease X” refers to an unknown pathogen that could cause a serious international epidemic.
“I have just returned from New York, where we gathered with representatives from the 194 UN member countries, including their health ministers,” said Zaliha.
“There were no discussions about the possibility of ‘Disease X’ or anything similar. It’s called ‘Disease X’ because we don’t yet know what disease it might be, hence the name X.
“But if we look at our preparations at the health ministry, we are always ready for the possibility of a future pandemic. At the WHO level, if there are concerns, they will certainly alert the respective countries.”
Zaliha was speaking to the media during a press conference after the handing-over ceremony for a new surgery hall and additional wards at Hospital Kuala Lumpur’s urology and nephrology institute here.
Last year, WHO launched a global scientific process involving over 300 scientists to update the list of priority pathogens — agents that can cause outbreaks or pandemics.
The term “Disease X” was first used by WHO in 2018, a year before the emergence of the Covid-19 pandemic, which has claimed nearly seven million lives globally.