By Hassan Zaggi
The President, Commonwealth Medical Association (CMA), Dr. Osahon Enabulele, has applauded the withdrawal of the bill for the amendment of the Poison Act in Malaysia.
The act was first enacted in 1952. Medical experts across the African Region expressed their objection over the proposed amendment.
The Bill which was initially listed as one of the topmost item to be discussed on Parliament’s Order Paper was scheduled for second reading and debate on December 5, 2019.
However, when stakeholders in the health sector both in Malaysia and other parts of the world were keenly awaiting the outcome of the hearing, the Malaysian Health Minister, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad, announced that the second reading will not hold.
He explained that the second reading was put on hold to March next year to allow for more input and views from stakeholders.
This, to many is an indication that the Malaysian government has bowed to pressure from medical experts across the world.
A terse statement signed by Dr. Enabulele reads: “Information reaching me indicates that the bill for amendment of the Poison Act in Malaysia, which the Commonwealth Medical Association strongly objected to, has been withdrawn by the Malaysian Government for further discussions with stakeholders as requested by the Commonwealth Medical Association.
“Congratulations to everyone for your firm resolve, unwavering support and understanding.”
It would be recalled that the Bill was tabled in Parliament on November 25 for its first reading but attracted outrage from medical and dental experts in different parts of the world.
Medical experts had objected to the proposed amendments which stipulated among other things, to jail private doctors who refuse to give prescriptions upon request by patients.
Findings by our correspondent indicated that the proposed amendment sought to penalise private doctors, dental surgeons, and veterinarians with a maximum fine of up to RM50,0000 or five year’s imprisonment, or both, should they refuse to provide prescription slips upon request by patients.
Medical experts were also not comfortable with the amendment which included the use of an e-prescription signed with a digital signature in the absence of safeguard measures for patients.
The proposed amendments also permitted any civil servant or officer of a statutory body to grow ketum for research, education and medicinal purposes.
The planting of the ketum plant is, however, subject to conditions including obtaining a letter of approval from the Minister of Health.