Bill to clean up labs to be tabled in June


  • Nation
  • Friday, 14 Feb 2003

By A. LETCHUMANAN

PETALING JAYA: The Pathology Bill, which is expected to “clean up” operations of clinical laboratories, has been forwarded to the Attorney-General Chambers for approval before tabling in Parliament in June. 

Health Ministry parliamentary secretary S. Sothinathan said the purpose of the Bill was to regulate and control the pathology laboratories and other related matters. 

“The provisions in the Bill encompasses wide ranging issues and policies governing the establishment and operation including the quality of services, responsibilities of licensees and the managers of such premises,” he said. 

Sothinathan said there were specific provisions that control the operation of special and specialised tests in addition to the simple routine tests. 

“The persons eligible to conduct the tests are clearly defined. The facilities and equipment are tightly regulated. All standards and requirements shall comply with specifications as determined by the Director-General of Health,” he said. 

Sothinathan was commenting on a letter in The Star which quoted the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) as saying that its survey on medical tests results in such laboratories were highly inaccurate, and may pose grave repercussions to consumers. 

CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris said there were wide variations in the results of the same tests done by five different laboratories in Penang as well as other laboratories in the mainland. 

He said that only 12 of the 153 tests done by the medical labs had matching results while the others had high variations. 

Sothinathan said the issues raised by CAP were pertinent but the magnitude of the problem might have been exaggerated, with the credibility of the survey and the validity of the findings being suspect. 

“The enforcement powers under the Bill provides for the entry, seizure, sealing and closure of premises, with harsher penalties upon conviction,” he said, adding that unethical practices of errant advertisement and imposition of unjustified charges were also addressed. 

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said it had been fighting for the Bill to be implemented for the last 10 years and had conducted forums to regulate the 250 private laboratories in the country. 

Its president Datuk Dr N. Athimulam said the MMA together with the College of Pathologists, Academy of Medicine Malaysia and the Malaysian Society of Infectious Diseases were anticipating the Bill to be tabled in Parliament this year. 

He said the three associations and about 230 qualified pathologists in the country would like the legislation to be implemented urgently to ensure that all medical laboratories met the required standards and norms of medical practice and were subject to continuous medical audit.  

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