Internal inquiry to probe claims of forced family planning, says minister

File photo of Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaking during a press conference in Putrajaya January 2, 2019. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif
File photo of Health Minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad speaking during a press conference in Putrajaya January 2, 2019. ― Picture by Firdaus Latif

PETALING JAYA, July 13 — Aninternal inquiry to investigate allegations of Orang Asli women in Perak being forced to accept birth control treatment has been set up by the Health Ministry. 

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the inquiry, to be held until July 26 the latest, will involve three terms of reference.

“The inquiry will investigate if there was force involved in the administration of birth control among the Orang Asli women as alleged.

“Secondly, it is to identify weaknesses in the delivery of the family planning programme and thirdly, to improve delivery of the (family planning) programme itself,” he told reporters after officiating the opening of the 2019 World Food Safety Day here today.

The inquiry’s first session will be held next week with the observing panel headed by Dr Ayob Bah Los of the Perak Health Department.

 “We have standard operating procedures and guidelines to be followed by health practitioners for this (family planning) programme. However, if there are shortcomings, then I am allowing room for an inquiry,” he said.

Dr Dzulkefly said he was also ready for criticism and was willing to discuss the matter with activists on the issue.

He reiterated the ministry’s stand that getting consent was one of the main components in professional health care, adding that health officials must respect the patient’s autonomous choice of accepting or rejecting family planning.

On Tuesday, five representatives from Orang Asli villages in Perak submitted a memorandum to the government on the matter, claiming that women from their community were being forced to accept birth control treatment. — Bernama

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