GEORGE TOWN: The Health Ministry has poured cold water on the possible death of a Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) officer in Manjung as being due to the Zika virus.

Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said it was highly unlikely that the 30-year-old man died due to the mosquito-borne virus.

"He was suspected to have dengue and leptospirosis as well, so it (the death) is highly unlikely because of Zika.

"We are still investigating thoroughly," he said after launching the Malaysia-Ireland Training Programme for Family Medicine at RCSO & UCD Malaysia Campus here today.

The deceased, identified as Lieutenant Maritime Mohamad Ikmal, was found vomiting and suffering from diarrhoea on Sept 26.

He was admitted to the hospital the following day before being transferred to the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at Manjung Hospital here on Sept 29.

The infection was registered with the state Health Department on Oct 12.

It was learnt that the deceased, who served on board the MMEA vessel KM Nusa Maritim in Terengganu, was pronounced dead at 4.45am on Friday.

The Health Ministry is waiting for the test results on the cause of death which would be made known in two weeks’ time.

Meanwhile, earlier in his speech at the event, Dr Noor Hisham said Malaysia still faces a shortage of doctors trained in family medicine.

He added that these doctors are capable of managing chronic diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular and mental health issues at an affordable cost at their clinics.

Currently, there are only 700 of the doctors with majority of them are serving at the private sectors.

"The country needs at least 8,000 more family medicine specialists to fulfil the needs of the population with the target ratio of one specialist to 4,000 people.

"While we strive to ensure we reach a sufficient number of doctors required to meet the size of our growing population, we must also ensure they are sufficiently trained and are of good quality," he said in his speech.

Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah delivers his speech during the launch of the Malaysia-Ireland Training Programme for Family Medicine at RCSO & UCD Malaysia Campus. - NSTP/Danial Saad