KUCHING, Aug 15: The Ministry of Health (MoH) today condemns and is against any form of organ trafficking or the obtainment of an organ for transplantation via trading.
According to its director general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Malaysia’s healthcare system neither condones nor allows for such heinous acts to occur.
“Malaysia is committed to protecting the health and safety of every donor and recipient in transplantation. This commitment is illustrated in the enactment of the Human Tissue Act (1974), which legally controls the removal of an organ for therapeutic purposes.
“In addition, Malaysia is a signatory of The Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism (2008) and the declaration states that organs for transplantation should be equitably allocated to suitable recipients without regard to gender, ethnicity, religion, social or financial status,” he said in a press statement today.
Dr Noor Hisham explained the declaration also emphasised that organ transplant commercialism should be prohibited because it targets the impoverished and otherwise vulnerable donors leading subsequently to injustice and inequity.
Hence, he said, any practice that induces vulnerable individuals or groups to become living donors is seen as encouraging organ trafficking, transplant tourism and transplant commercialism.
“Consistent with these national and international obligations, the MoH does not support any individuals or organisations engaging in such illegal and unethical procurement.
“In this regard, the MoH will give full cooperation to the investigating authorities if required. Apart from that, the ministry will continue to collaborate with the relevant bodies and organisations to promote public awareness as well as to educate and encourage ethical donation,” he assured.
At the same time, he also noted that the MoH has an established transplant committee that governs its organ donation programme.
For example, he explained, if an unrelated person wishes to donate to a potential recipient, a thorough assessment including medical and psychosocial evaluations will be carried out by this committee to ensure the donor’s wellbeing and availability of a reasonable support system once the donation has taken place.
“This step is to protect the donor from complications arising from inadequate or false information on organ donation and to assure that the activity does not involve any form of coercion or organ trading. All these measures are crucial as patient safety is the highest priority in our healthcare system,” he said.
Dr Noor Hisham said the MoH called for more Malaysians to pledge as organ donors, however, it was crucial that the decision to be an organ donor is conveyed to respective family members.
“The Ministry has established the National Transplant Resource Centre (NTRC) as a one-stop centre that provides information and assistance with regards to organ donation and transplantation in Malaysia. All queries can be channeled to NTRC (03-2681 0681 or email at email@example.com),” he added. –DayakDaily.