Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye has defended the appointment of transperson Rania Zara Medina as a member of Malaysia’s Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) for the Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
This came after the appointment of the former beauty pageant queen to the national committee for its 2019-2021 term drew brickbats on social media.
Lee, who is also the CCM chairperson, said the Global Fund stipulates that a CCM should comprise 25 members representing stakeholders such as the government, NGOs, academics, and representatives from target populations.
“These target populations include transgenders, men-sex-with-men (sic), female sex workers, people who use drugs, and people living with HIV/AIDS.
“Representatives from target populations are chosen from amongst the populations concerned and verified through a letter of appointment from the CCM chairperson, namely the deputy health minister,” he said in a statement today.
Rania’s appointment reportedly came into effect on July 1.
Lee said the Malaysia CCM was established through a cabinet decision in 2009 to tackle HIV/AIDS using contributions from the Global Fund, a Geneva-based NGO that is the world’s largest financier of efforts to tackle AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria.
The CCM is a national committee, whose functions include applying for funding from the Global Fund, as well as monitoring and providing technical support for projects.
This is to tackle HIV/AIDS in line with the National Strategic Plan for handling the epidemic.
The Health Ministry acts as a coordinator for the CCM.
The first CCM Malaysia committee was chaired by the deputy minister at the time, Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad, Lee said.
Meanwhile, when met in Kuala Lumpur today, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said he is aware of Rania’s appointment but will need more information before commenting on the matter.
He said the matter would be brought to his ministry’s post-cabinet meeting for discussion.