Tuesday September 25, 2012
Ministry: Proposed Bill to monitor unethical practices and organ trafficking
KUCHING: The Health Ministry has assured the public that the proposed new law governing organ transplantation is not to force them to donate their organs.
On the contrary, the ministry said the proposed Bill was more towards regulating untoward activities such as unethical practices, organ trafficking and commercialisation.
The drafting of the Organ Transplant Bill would not be done in a hasty manner but through a series of meetings by a committee which would comprise experts in this field, said the ministry in a press statement issued by its Medical Practice Division yesterday.
The statement was in response to a news report quoting Sibu MP Wong Ho Leng in this paper saying that the donation of organs after death should be on a voluntarily basis instead of force.
Wong had expressed fear concerning one part of the ministry’s online public engagement survey questionnaire which asked if a donor would agree that Malaysia adopt an opting out (presumed consent) system practised by countries such as Singapore, Spain and Austria whereby every citizen was considered a donor unless he or she objected in writing.
The MP equated any action to force someone to donate his or her organs to violating human rights. Wong said the new system appeared to suggest that organs or tissues could be removed when someone died without further need to seek consent from the deceased’s next of kin, adding there should be consent by the donor first or else it would be no different from robbery.
“I feel that conducting an online survey alone is not sufficient to reflect the opinions of the majority of the people in the country”, he was further quoted as saying.
Wong suggested that the ministry conduct the survey through more media channels as many people were unaware of it. The ministry’s Medical Practice Division ex-plained that presently Malaysia practised an opting-in system, whereby an expressed consent was required from the person during his lifetime, either verbally or in writing (donor card) and/or from the next of kin at the time of death, before his or her organs or tissues could be donated.
It said that the organ donation was governed by the Human Tissues Act 1974 (Act 130) which regulated the removal of organs from deceased persons for therapeutic, medical education and research purposes. The existing law, however, had not been able to address issues such as living donation, it added.
The division said the recently held 14-day Online Public Engagement was held to obtain public opinions on various aspects of Organ Transplantation so that the drafting of the new Bill would be a comprehensive one.
It further said that the ministry appreciated the concerns shown by those who participated in the Online Public Engagement, adding their invaluable opinions, comments and ideas would be taken into account in drafting of the new Bill.