PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has set up an internal committee to investigate allegations that ministry officials had forced members of the Orang Asli communities in Perak and Kelantan to take birth control pills and injections.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the committee was set up two days ago and would have its first meeting next week.
He said the committee was headed by Dr Ayob Bah Los, an Orang Asli family medical specialist from the Kampar health clinic in Perak.
The committee includes doctors, staff nurses and observers.
“The committee will investigate whether the said allegations took place.
“It also aims to identify any weaknesses in the ministry’s family planning programme as well as any possible improvements.
“The committee will conclude the internal inquiry by July 26,” he said after officiating the World Foood Safety Day programme at eCurve, here, today.
He said his ministry was open to scrutiny and would meet with relevant parties regarding the allegations.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha Moorthy had previously said that the government would establish a panel to probe the allegations, and said it did not condone such actions.
“I will discuss this with him (Waytha) during the cabinet meeting,” said Dr Dzulkefly.
“Making such allegations without evidence is bad for Health Ministry staff.
“All health personnel are required to comply with the guidelines and standard operating procedures set by the World Health Organisation.”
Women of the Temiar tribe in Perak have accused the health authorities of forcing them to take birth control injections.
A Temiar villager from Gua Musang, Kelantan, also alleged that Health Ministry officials attached to the mobile clinics had told women in her village that their medical cards could be confiscated if they did not take birth control shots or pills.
Dr Dzulkefly said healthcare professionals must obtain consent before providing any proposed treatment or procedure to a patient.
He said consent must be given freely and voluntarily, and obtained in a language which the person understood, or with the help of an interpreter.
He said the treatment or procedure must be explained together with alternative choices and any possible known complications.
“The ministry fully respects patients’ autonomy and it is of the utmost importance for all healthcare professionals to adhere to the code of conduct related to this, including in choosing or refusing family planning.
“The service must be provided with respect, in a non-coercive and non-judgmental manner, while maintaining privacy and confidentiality throughout the process of care,” he said.