Health DG: Claims of human organ trade must be taken seriously

KUALA LUMPUR: Any claim on the existence of sale and purchase of human organs in this country must be taken seriously by all parties because it is an exploitation of certain groups and is against medical ethics.

Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pic) said should there be human trafficking for the purpose of marketing human organs, it must be investigated under the Anti-Trafficking in Persons and Anti-Smuggling of Migrants Act 2007.

"The authorities may use the existing provisions under the act to take action against any party or individual, if trafficking in persons is for the purpose of illegal organ removal," he said in a statement here on Friday (April 7).

Dr Noor Hisham said organ donation and transplant services in this country involved organ donation from living or cadaveric (deceased) donors, while the recipients were patients with organ failure problems, involving the kidney, liver, heart or lungs.

Dr Noor Hisham said the policies and procedures of the Health Ministry Malaysia were clearly stated in the Human Tissues Act 1974 which regulated the harvesting of organs from cadaveric donors.

He said Malaysia had also signed the Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism (2008) which stated that organs for transplant must be distributed equitably to suitable recipients regardless of gender, ethnicity, religion, social or financial status.

According to Dr Noor Hisham, the declaration emphasises that the practice of targeting impoverished or vulnerable organ donors must be prohibited because this was seen as brokering for the purpose of transplant commercialism, organ trafficking, or transplant tourism.

He said to tighten clinical governance of organ transplant in this country, the Health Ministry has established a transplantation committee that regulated the organ donation programme among living donors involving the prospective donor and prospective recipient who were not related or donors and recipients who were non-citizens.

He said the committee evaluated various aspects including the transplant surgery applicants’ background, medical problems, mental health and socio-economic level to ensure that the prospective donors had a good support system following surgery.

"It is important to have a clear guideline in managing organ transplant to protect the rights of prospective donors and ensure that organ donation does not involve any coercion or have elements of trafficking.

"Consistent with national and international obligations, the ministry does not support any individual or organisation that is involved in illegal and unethical organ procurement and will cooperate with the authorities in their investigations, if necessary," he said.

Noor Hisham advised the public who had pledged to be organ donors to inform their family members of their wish, to ensure the success of organ and tissue transplantation in this country. - Bernama

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