SEPTEMBER 5 — We refer to Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin's announcement yesterday stating that the purchase of Covid-19 self-test kits will also be liberalised so that consumers may purchase them from grocery stores, for example, instead of just pharmacies and healthcare facilities.
While the aim is to encourage the use of self-test kits to test for Covid-19, we should be mindful that the self-test kits are medical devices and therefore it is imperative that the sale of such items be controlled and strictly regulated.
Self-test kits go through stringent checks by the Medical Devices Authority (MDA) before they are approved for use. Once they are available in the market, authorised sellers must ensure responsible sale of the self-test kits. For example the self-test kits cannot be sold if the packaging has been tampered with or opened as this will contaminate the kits and therefore cannot be used.
If the self-test kits are sold in grocery stores, there may not be proper handling of the product. It will also be more difficult for the authorities to monitor and regulate.
Those selling the self-test kits also need to be properly trained to guide consumers when more information on using the kits is required.
MMA is deeply concerned that this decision by MOH may also lead to widespread commercialisation of self-test kits and other issues such as fake, pirated, contaminated or even recycled kits.
We urge the health ministry to revert to its original policy of only allowing healthcare facilities and pharmacies to sell the self-test kits to ensure responsible sale of these medical devices. After all, there are more than 10,000 pharmacies and healthcare facilities nationwide which is already easily accessible to the community.
Alternatively, the government can look into pooled procurement of the self-test kits to enjoy the maximum reduction in pricing. These kits can then be given free to the B40 groups or partly subsidised for all through a special programme.
*Professor Datuk Dr Subramaniam Muniandy is President of the Malaysian Medical Association.
**This is the personal opinion of the writer or publication and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail.