No compromise on violation of WHO convention on tobacco control by Health Ministry officials, says deputy DG

KUALA LUMPUR: There will be no compromise with any health official who violates the guidelines of Article 5.3 of the World Health Organisation Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (WHO FCTC) and the related policies, says the Health Ministry.

Health deputy director-general (Public Health) Datuk Dr Norhayati Rusli (pic) said the ministry viewed seriously the allegation that two of its senior officials had met with tobacco industry representatives which allegedly violated Article 5.3 of the WHO FCTC.

Dr Norhayati said initial investigations by the ministry found that the two officials were visited by two individuals who had introduced themselves as the owners of a Putrajaya bicycle company and a printing company.

The purpose of the meeting was to discuss a proposal for organising a weight loss intervention programme, but nothing was agreed upon during the discussion.

"The ministry is taking the allegations which have now gone viral, seriously. This is putting a bad light on the ministry as well as the government,” she said in a statement on Thursday (Feb 2).

At the same time, Dr Norhayati said as civil servants, especially Health Ministry staff, it is their responsibility to ensure that any conflict of interest is avoided when meeting with any private company or non-governmental organisation.

Article 5.3 of WHO FCTC stipulates that Malaysia, as a member state, must implement a public health policy regarding tobacco control and protect it from commercial interests and the interests of the tobacco industry based on the laws of the country.

The article sets the guidelines on control measures that must be established such as limiting any interaction with the tobacco industry, ensuring transparency of the interaction that occurs, rejecting partnerships and agreements with the tobacco industry and avoiding conflicts of interest for government officials and employees.

As such, Dr Norhayati said as a member of WHO FCTC since Sept 16, 2005, MOH had always ensured that any interaction with the tobacco industry complies with the guidelines of Article 5.3.

"In addition, related policies that are also referred to are Conflict of Interest Management Policy, Anti-Corruption Policy, Gift Management Policy, External Influence Management Policy and Letter of Support; and Code of Ethics and Conduct Policy," she said.

"Recently, the media reported that the Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control (MCTC) was concerned over a meeting held between two senior MOH officials and tobacco product industry representatives which it claimed had violated the WHO FCTC.- Bernama

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