SUNGKAI (Bernama): Contraceptive injections given to Orang Asli women were aimed at protecting them from pregnancies that were a risk to their health and life.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the birth control initiative under the ministry was carried out responsibly to protect the indigenous women from conditions such as anaemia during pregnancy.
"It is done as a precautionary measure to protect them. If the red blood cell count is less than 11, we will refer them for medication as it unsafe for them to get pregnant,” he told a press conference after launching the 2019 national-level Orang Asli teeth icon programme organised by the ministry in collaboration with the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa) here Thursday (July 11).
Dr Dzulkefly said the birth control programme was only for two years and those given the injections would be able to conceive after that.
He reiterated that it was done for the safety of the women and the injection was to protect them from an "unsuitable pregnancy”.
On Wednesday (July 10), a news portal had reported that health ministry staff had given contraceptive injections to the Orang Asli women, especially those who had recently married, causing them to have side effects.
On Tuesday (July 9), Orang Asli from five villages in Gerik and Sungai Petani were reported to have been at Parliament to urge the government to stop the ministry from giving birth control injections and oral medication to the community.
In another development, Dr Dzulkefly said the Health Ministry (MOH) handed over its investigations regarding a man who had impersonated a doctor and sexually harassed women through the telephone in Klang.
The ministry, he said, was not conducting any internal investigation.
"We will deal with the matter firmly and will not compromise as this is not only a criminal offence, but also affects the health and safety of patients," he said.
Dr Dzulkefly said quack doctors and fraudulent medical practices were risky for the patients and health authorities had warned them not to carry out such unethical acts.
Asked if there were procedures for doctors to conduct medical check-ups through phone calls, Dr Dzulkefly said that the practices of registered physicians should not be compared to that of impostors.
"While health authorities are now heading towards tele-medicine and digital health, it should not be compared to the actions and practices of quack doctors,” he said.
On Wednesday, police detained a 39-year-old man for impersonating a doctor and sexually harassing his female victims on the phone from a hotel in Klang.
Selangor CID chief SAC Fadzil Ahmat said there had been three police reports lodged last month on the impostor who was from Terengganu.
Further investigations found that there were another 21 reports lodged by victims from other areas in the country. - Bernama