In Malaysia, RSV is one of the most prevalent respiratory viruses, primarily infecting children under three years old. To raise awareness of this relatively unknown respiratory infection, healthcare experts recently convened at a media roundtable titled ‘Taking a Closer Look at RSV, organised by Pertubuhan Kumpulan Sokongan Ibu Bapa Dan Bayi Pramatang Malaysia (BPM) in partnership with the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy.
RSV is a highly contagious respiratory infection that particularly affects premature infants and babies under 6 months old with compromised immune systems, lungs, and hearts. It infects the nose, throat, and lungs, leading to breathing difficulties. RSV causes flu-like symptoms and is the primary cause of hospitalizations in infants. Babies with congenital heart disease (CHD) and bronchopulmonary dysplasia (BPD) are also at higher risk.
Associate Professor Dr Adli Ali, Senior Lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and Head of Clinical Immunology at UKM Children’s Specialist Hospital, emphasised the importance of prevention due to the economic and social impact of RSV on patients and healthcare systems. He noted that preventive treatment in Malaysia is mainly recommended for infants born at 29 weeks or less or weighing less than 1 kg at birth with BPD/CLD requiring oxygen therapy.
Associate Professor Dr Choo Yao Mun, Consultant Neonatologist and Paediatrician at the University of Malaya Medical Centre, highlighted the need to align guidelines with global recommendations to ensure access to preventive options for high-risk infants.
Norazleena Yaha, Founder of BPM, emphasised the lack of information on diseases like RSV in Malaysia and the importance of support for parents and caregivers dealing with such diseases.
Azrul Abdul Khalib, Founder and CEO of the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy, called for urgent action to address RSV, including streamlined prevention guidelines and improved support channels for parents.
Parents shared their challenges in dealing with RSV, including the lack of information and financial support.
While there is no cure for RSV, preventive options are available and can significantly reduce mortality and save children’s lives. (press release)