HSA safety measures were reinforced after 2016 fire, says former health minister

  • Nation
  • Tuesday, 30 Jun 2020

KUALA LUMPUR: Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad (pic) claims that development plans had been carried out during his tenure as health minister to ensure the safety of the Hospital Sultanah Aminah (HSA) buildings, including approving the rewiring of the hospital complex.

The former health minister said that after a comprehensive investigation was conducted on the 2016 fire at the intensive care unit of the hospital that killed six patients, some short-term and long-term plans were made based on the suggestions in the investigation report.

“The first phase on ensuring the safety of the building was carried out exhaustively by the various government agencies, ” he told The Star.

However, he said he could not confirm if the hospital's Women Medical Ward 1 was included.

He was asked about the measures taken by the ministry during his tenure to prevent such an incident from recurring.

Fire broke out at Women Medical Ward 1 on Sunday (June 28), four years after the 2016 fire which killed six patients and injured four others.

Following the previous fire, then health minister Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam had called for a thorough investigation into the incident.

Dr Dzulkefly who became the Health Minister after the general election in 2018 until the fall of the Pakatan Harapan government on March 1, said that during his tenure, the rewiring for the whole hospital complex was approved and the ministry had plans to build a second hospital for Johor Baru and the area had been identified.

“A plan to ease the congestion in the HSA by building an ambulatory care centre was in the pipeline and the area within HSA was identified for this purpose, ” he said on a question whether the older buildings were unfit and whether hospital staff and patients should be transferred out.

Asked if the new health minister should reveal the 2016 report to the public now that another fire has broken out, Dr Dzulkefly said that in principle, the 2016 Inquiry Panel Report into the HAS fire should be revealed to the public.

He said the previous Cabinet under Pakatan Harapan had decided to reveal it to the public.

“At a post-Cabinet meeting of the Health Ministry, we were planning to execute that decision (at that time).

“If l could recall correctly, there was no dispute about wanting to declassify the report. The delay was because of the decision of the post-Cabinet to do a briefing to the families' victims first before presenting it to the public, ” he said.

He said that the report was declassified on Feb 24 and even before it was declassified, the then government had carried out some of the recommendations in the report.

Dr Dzulkefly urged current Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba to look into the various recommendations by the enquiry panel and work out an action plan, both for short- and medium-term, and to implement them as soon as possible.

“I am extremely saddened by this event and I thank the Almighty that no lives were lost in this recent incident, ” he said, referring to the fire on Sunday.

On Sunday, Dr Adham, who visited the affected ward, said all 24 patients there had been evacuated and transferred to other nearby wards and to Hospital Permai.

“No injuries or deaths were reported and all patients, including those who were in critical condition, were rescued, ” he said.

However, he declined to comment on the independent investigation on the 2016 fire that broke out at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital which was published by a health news portal initiated by a market-driven organisation.

“The issue is under police investigation so I should not comment on it, ” he said.

An editor of the portal has recently been questioned by police.

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