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Thursday, September 17, 2009

H1N1 Vaccine:clear guideline for 400,000 people eligible?

DAP National Deputy Chairman and MP for Kepong Dr Tan Seng Giaw calls on the Health Ministry to issue clear guideline for the people eligible for the 400,000 doses of Influenza A H1N1 vaccine, so that 27 million Malaysians will not feel that they have been unfairly treated.

It is urgent for the ministry to ensure that the initial batch of 40,000 doses go to the people who deserve such vaccination.

We understand that the vaccine will be given to priority groups such as doctors, nurses, pregnant women and children.

On 17.8.2009, Dr Tan comments further on the H1N1 vaccine.

Yesterday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai confirmed that 40,000 of the 400,000 doses of vaccine ordered by his ministry from GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) would arrive in the country by next month. The remaining 360,000 doses would reach here by early January 2010. This order was said to cost RM14 million.

If similar vaccine from China and Taiwan has the quality and the price is reasonable, then the ministry should also order from them. But then, pharmaceutical trade is complicated. There are many factors including traditional channel. European companies such as GSK have been here for years.

According to media report, the minister said that although this batch of vaccine had not undergone clinical trial and the ministry believed that it was safe to use. This statement causes doubt. Datuk Seri Liow should get experts from the ministry to clarify. A reputable firm such as GSK usually subjects its products to clinical trials before these products are produced in mass. Otherwise, an unreliable vaccine that causes unacceptable side-effects on patients mean that it has to pay massive compensation.

Liow has said,"we are also in the process of building a vaccine-producing facility. Ninebio Sdn Bhd has been directed to set up the plant." The ministry must be very careful. Even if we can set up such a plant, it has to be transparent and accountable. Let us learn from the Port Klang Free Zone (PKFZ) scandal in which the people involved did not follow financial procedure and did not manage properly. There was no open tender.

Influenza virus mutates. The pandemic may get worse any time. We need extra measures to improve medical facilities. But, there must be strict supervision so that hundreds of milllion of public fund will not be misused and wasted.

Dr Tan Seng Giaw


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