Dr. Siti Fatimah Kader Maideen, PMC
Prof. Dato’ Dr. Abdul Rashid Khan, PMC
Assoc. Prof. Dr. Rozita Hod, UKM
Dr. Lau Seng Fong, UPM
Dr. Tengku Renalfi Putra Tengku Azizan, UPM
Orang Asli is the indigenous people, among whom some are hunters and eat bush meat for a living. Eating raw contaminated meat, improper handling of infected meat or carcasses, especially with bare hands increases their risk of contracting zoonotic diseases. A health awareness program to improve the knowledge of the Orang Asli community on the risk of contracting diseases associated with hunting activities and increase their personal hygiene practices is essential to reduce the impact of these diseases on health. A health promotion program was conducted among Jahai adults aged 18 years and above in Belum from 18-20 August 2017. Prior to the program, ethical approval was obtained from Joint Penang Independent Ethics Committee (JPEC) and Jabatan Kemajuan Orang Asli (JAKOA). A self-developed questionnaire on knowledge and practices was used to interview the participants whereby there after a health promotion program was conducted. The community was educated on the identification of healthy and sick animals; types of diseases that they are at risk of contracting to if they eat or handle contaminated bush meat; sign and symptoms of infection, mode of transmission and the prevention methods. They were also educated on the importance of proper hand hygiene, including cutting fingernails periodically, washing hands with soap before and after eating, and after touching animals. They were also educated on the importance of getting treatment, should they notice any differences in their health. The community was informed of the precautionary measures that to be taken while handling the animals and its carcasses. A total of 102 out of 150 adults participated in the program, giving a response rate of 68%. Majority of them (81.4%) eats bush meat for a living. However, only 37.9% of them knew that animal transmits diseases to humans. The most common bush meats that they eat were monkeys (77.1%), porcupine (62.7%) and squirrel (46.9%). Majority of them (76.2%) cooks the bush meat immediately. About 98.5% of them hunt a wild animal to eat. Only about 11% of the participants used personal protective equipment when handling the carcasses. In conclusion, despite the majority of the community were bush meat eaters, yet they had poor knowledge and practices in regards to disease transmissions and handling of contaminated bush meats and its carcasses.