Chua Jui Meng
should leave finding a herbal treatment for AIDs to the professionals and
concentrate on his Ministerial responsibility to improve the basic health
and hospital services in the country
by Lim Kit Siang
The Health Minister, Datuk Chua Jui Meng, grabbed the headlines yesterday
with his announcement of progress in experiments on herbal treatment for
AIDs, while he continued to remain thunderously silent about serious
allegations that he had mishandled the worst dengue epidemic in the nation's
history, manipulated dengue statistics to mislead Parliament and the nation
and must be held responsible for the long list of unnecessary and avoidable
dengue fatalities after the WHO global dengue alert last July.
As a result, his announcement a day earlier about the Patient Safety Council
of Malaysia to identify latent problems, human errors, failures and
weaknesses in the existing health care system had elicited derisory
responses, such as the following email which I received from a retired
medical professional formerly in the public service:
last year I took my mum to the Johore Baru Govt. Hospital Diabetic clinic
which was being run by the state Physician, and since we were there early at
1.30 pm, I decided to weigh myself, at the weighing scale that was there in
the waiting area, but I found that the scale was not at zero! So I looked
for the knob that will allow one to zero the scale, but the knob was
missing!!...so I decided it was no use weighing myself when the machine
could not be zeroed.
"When it was 2 pm out came the staff of the diabetic clinic to weigh the
patients on that machine! It went on for a while until one young Chinese
lady told the nurse 'saya baru timbang di klinik sebelah sana dan di sini 7
paun besar'...and the nurse replied 'OK lah saya tolak 7!'...problem solved!
"I was seated beside an Indian chap and asked why he was there and he told
me he brought his aged mother to the diabetic clinic, and that the previous
month his brother had brought his mother there.
"A little later his mother came out of the clinic because she was scolded
for coming in the afternoon, whereas she should have come in the morning to
take blood for her fasting blood sugar test.
"The lady opened her purse and took out a bottle and handed to the nurse
saying that that was her blood. As it turned out she had come last month
they had taken her blood and they handed the bottle to her assuming that she
will take it to the lab, but she did'nt know what she was supposed to do, so
she took it home and kept it for month and brought it back on this visit!!
For this she got even more scolding!!
"I can tell many more horror stories like this...but it wll go on 'Malaysia
"Unless this Patient Safety Council has a fair number of brave lay people,
very little will come out of the investigations.
"For a start the Malaysian Medical Council, the Malaysian Dental Council,
the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Council etc should have a few lay members to
allow some sense of fair play in investigations to complaints. Just having
one lay person will not do the trick!...worse still when he/she is appointed
by the Minister!
"This problem exists in all the other bodies like those governing the
Engineers, Architects, Lawyers etc."
should should leave finding a herbal treatment for AIDs to the professionals
and concentrate on his Ministerial duties to improve the basic health and
hospital services in the country, such as bringing the worst dengue epidemic
in the nation's history under control and stop the growing list of
unnecessary and avoidable dengue deaths, ensuring that weighing machines in
hospitals work and that patients are given efficient quality treatment and
services in public hospitals.
Acting Prime Minsiter, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawai had publicly
lamented the "First World Infrastructure, Third World Mentality" Malaysian
malaise, calling on Malaysians to co-operate to root out such "Ugly
In the First World, medical experiments and research are left to
professionals, and their Health Ministers do not make announcements like
those made by Chua.
should start being a "First World Minister" who assume full personal
authority and responsibility to provide the most basic health and hospital
services to the people and do not run away from an immediate accounting for
his Ministerial performance whether in Parliament or outside.
Lim Kit Siang, DAP National