Malaysians upset over "no state healthcare" comment in science journal

PETALING JAYA: Malaysians are upset over comments of a Malaysian molecular immunologist who commented that the country "does not have state health care".

Audrey Teh, in an article entitled,"The scientist-gardener who is harnessing tobacco’s power to heal", published on Oct 19 by Nature Research, spoke about using tobacco plants to produce antibodies for drug development in efforts to fight diseases including cancer and Covid-19.

Teh, who works in the St George’s Hospital at the University of London, was also quoted,"I’m from Malaysia, where we don’t have state health care, and I’ve seen families bankrupted by medical bills."

The statement caused an uproar among Malaysians, who shared the article and criticised the Kota Kinabalu lass for making the statement.

Some have also gone onto Nature's Facebook page to express their dissatisfaction on the issue.

"Did she actually say Malaysia has no state health care? Coz that's nonsense. Malaysia has one of the best (albeit unsustainable) health care systems in the world. (sic)" wrote Aqtar Mohamed Ummar.

Tan Zhi Shan commented if Teh had mixed up the situation in Malaysia with the United States.

Muhammad Dzullfickaar noted that Nature should have fact-checked the article before publishing it.

"We Malaysian don’t have any problem with her (on her tobacco research). The only thing’s that we (do not) agree is (Teh's) statement about Malaysian healthcare.

"We are offended by that statement," he wrote.

Nature responded to some of the comments on the post on Facebook, stating that it will pass the comments to the editors of the section.

To put context to the situation, the fee for outpatients at general hospitals and clinics under the Health Ministry cost as low as RM1. Meanwhile, the fee to see a specialist in these facilities starts from RM5. (

The Star has made attempts to get Teh and Nature to comment on the issue.

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