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MCA opposes non-Muslim mandatory testing

KUALA LUMPUR, 31 Dec 2008: The MCA’s government affairs monitoring bureau is against any plans to make it compulsory for non-Muslims to undergo human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) screening before getting married.

Bureau head Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, who is also the party deputy president, said: “We feel that it should not be made mandatory or compulsory for non-Muslims.

“The test is only to get confirmation that a person is infected but there is no follow-up after that. We should concentrate on that.

“Another fact is about (the privacy) of those tested. We must ensure that their identities are kept a secret due to social stigmatisation,” the former health minister told a news conference at Wisma MCA here today.

He added that if the test was made compulsory, it would require more resources which could instead be used for prevention and counselling.

Dr Chua said that creating awareness on the dangers of HIV should be paramount before other measures like pre-marital testing were made mandatory.

He also said that the suggestion by a menteri besar that HIV carriers be quarantined showed the lack of awareness about the disease among politicians.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak on 20 Dec said the government would study whether to make it mandatory for non-Muslims to undergo pre-marital HIV screening purportedly to prevent the spread of the disease.

Two days earlier, Najib announced that to reduce the incidence of HIV infection

among women, Muslim couples, beginning in January 2009, would have to undergo mandatory screening for HIV before tying the knot. The testing would be part of the pre-marital course conducted for Muslims by the religious authorities.

Dengue and chikungunya

Dr Chua also said that the government, especially the Health Ministry, should do more to create awareness of the dengue epidemic and chikungunya due to the alarming rise in such cases nationwide.

Although dengue was seasonal, 106 Malaysians have died and 46,000 have been infected in 2008. There have been some 4,000 cases of chinkungunya, which is a foreign disease, due to foreign workers from Myanmar, Vietnam and southern India, he said.

“Steps taken so far by the Health Ministry to create awareness among Malaysians of these two diseases are not enough. It should be given proper publicity.

“We hope the Health Ministry will appoint officers to meet the media every week to update Malaysians on the situation. The people need to know the situation because the lack of information gives rise to a lot of speculation and rumours.”

Dr Chua said the Health Ministry needed to work hand-in-hand with the local councils, even those in the opposition-held states, to curb the dengue epidemic. — Bernama


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