MPs must not take people’s health and safety for granted

Malaysia recorded double-digit expansion in exports in June. We are also getting closer to hitting our target of vaccinating 80% of our adult population by October, months ahead of schedule. Of course, such positive news does not augur well for opposition MPs.

We are into the fourth day of the special sitting and except for a few, these MPs are childishly continuing to intensify their plans and strategies to get rid of the present government-of-the-day. Since Day 1, this august House has descended into chaos, compounded by the change in the seating of Gua Musang MP Tengku Razaleigh Hamzah in the Dewan Rakyat with the independent bloc.

Science, Technology and Innovation Minister, Khairy Jamaluddin told the MPs the good news of Malaysia being able to meet the goal of vaccinating 80 percent of the population well ahead of schedule. This followed a record of 1.07 million doses administered over two days this week.

On Wednesday (July 28), the daily vaccination rate reached its highest with 553,871 doses administered nationwide. Additionally, Malaysia saw double-digit export market growth to Asean nations, China, the United States, the European Union and Japan in June. This news is something that we have all been waiting for amidst these trying times. Of course, such news doesn't work in the opposition's favour as the government's outstanding achievements will mean their failure.

The shouting match that ensued after Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Adham Baba brought up the subject of ivermectin during his winding-up speech on Tuesday (July 27) really exposed some of the opposition MPs’ true colours. Dr Adham’s statement that the ministry has given special approval for the anti-parasitic drug to be used off-label for a clinical study to determine the safety and efficacy of the drug to treat Covid-19 patients, resulted in a prolonged shouting match with jeers.

These MPs don't seem to care for the welfare and safety of the people if their objections are anything to go by. Some of the opposition MPs demanded for the drug to be used directly to treat patients. One of them even went to the extent of saying that more people would die while waiting for the clinical trials to be completed.

Khalid Samad, the MP for Shah Alam, has been making his presence felt since Day 1 through continuous shrieks and shouts. And on ivermectin, he drowned the floor through reckless, uncalled for questions like “how long are you going to wait for? Are you just going to let the patients die?” Additionally, other MPs joining in the chorus in support of him, including Datuk Johari Abdul (Sungai Petani) and Tan Yee Kew (Wangsa Maju) to name a few.

They surely know that the drug is still undergoing tests for scientific evidence and its clinical data on its effectiveness has yet to be determined and also that the final say would only be made by the National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency, but these lawmakers can’t wait.

When the drug’s efficacy has yet to be confirmed, is it safe for use? Perhaps, they should use the drug on themselves or their relatives first before anyone else since they are so adamant about the government using it on patients! They continue making several false and emotional claims but such divisive and confrontational attempts must be rejected at all costs as far as people’s safety and well-being is concerned.

They should listen and be rational enough to accept the opinion of their colleague, Bandar Kuching MP Dr Kelvin Yi, who had cautioned fellow lawmakers to base their opinion on ivermectin on scientific evidence. On Twitter, the chairman of the Parliamentary Select Committee on health, science and innovation reminded that there is no miracle cure to combating the pandemic.

“Even if you want to lobby for anything, I do hope it is evidence-based,” he tweeted right after the debate.

No worldwide health body has approved the use of ivermectin to treat patients as a preventive measure, while countries like India and Peru which have previously allowed it have since retracted their decisions. Reports have it that in Malaysia, the drug is being pushed among others by those opposed to the vaccines, conspiracy theorists and alternative medicine practitioners

The European Medicines Agency (EMA) has advised against the use of ivermection for the prevention or treatment of Covid-19 outside randomized clinical trials. Its statement issued in March stated that the available data did not support its use for Covid-19 outside well-designed clinical trials.

As Dr Adham has said, the government-sanctioned clinical trials being carried out at 18 general hospitals nationwide are crucial in ensuring that ivermectin is safe as part of treatment because of existing limited data. As such, those claims by the MPs of the drug being safe for treatment without trials will only mean putting patients’ well-being and safety at stake.

These YBs should not tread on dangerous ground in as far as this controversial drug and unproven effectiveness is concerned as all lives matter and must never be compromised at all cost.

Ainuddin Sharuddin

Shah Alam, Selangor.

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vaccination , ivermectin , Adham Baba


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