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YOURSAY | Public interest justifies disclosure of Najib's medical condition

YOURSAY | 'Health DG should read the MMC Revised Guidelines 2011 on confidentiality.'

MOH can't disclose Najib's health details without court order, says DG

Apanama is Back: Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, I am aware of the issue of confidentiality in the Medical Act 1971.

Yes, you need to protect the medical records of all patients. Confidentiality is an essential part of the bond of trust between doctor and patient.

However, the law recognises several justifications for breaching confidentiality:

  • Disclosure with patient’s consent – elements of legally valid consent to be satisfied, either express or implied;

  • Disclosure allowed by statute – for example, Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, Poisons Act 1952 and Criminal Procedure Code (Chapter 6);

  • Disclosure in the public interest.

Hisham, did you notice that you can disclose jailed former premier Najib Abdul Razak's medical conditions under "public interest"?

Moreover, the Malaysian Medical Council Revised Guidelines 2011 on confidentiality state that a practitioner may disclose personal information if:

a) it is required by law

b) the patient consents, either implicitly for the sake of their own care or expressly for other purposes; or

c) it is justified in the public interest.

Again, there is the element of public interest. Hisham, you better go and read the MMC Revised Guidelines 2011.

Coward: The decision not to disclose is the right one. Today you are up in arms because it is Najib. Tomorrow you are up in arms because I want your medical information disclosed. We cannot have one rule for Najib, and another for you.

What the DG failed to say is there is another route to disclose, that is, public interest. Nevertheless, the public interest is also not applicable here.

Given the internet is full of rumours that doctors were forced to admit the patient, I find it interesting that the DG chose not to disclose that the doctors agreed with the decision to admit.

Remember the Health Department chose to disclose that they did not believe the said patient need not be warded when he was discharged not long ago.

This tells me that they can answer whether the doctors agree with the course of treatment without disclosing what it is and violating privacy.

Draw your own conclusion on why they choose to hide behind privacy law. What I can tell you is the DG is very aware that we are not disputing the patient should get the treatment if he requires it.

He can just say his doctors agree with the treatment received without elaborating, but he chose not to do so.

Redwolf4463: Why is it that there is no end to the controversy surrounding Najib? From the days he was PM, when he was on trial, when he was convicted, when he was out on bail pending appeal, when his appeal was heard and when he was finally imprisoned?

We thought that will be the end of the story. He was campaigning after he was convicted. He was feted by the palace when his appeal was underway.

He was making political statements from his prison cell. His 12-year prison stay lasted only a few days before he was out again on medical grounds.

Why can’t Najib be treated like any other convicted prisoner? Just lock him up and throw away the keys.

Public Transport is Better than Highways: It must be recognised that Najib's treatment now, by Malaysian standards, is extraordinary and no convicted Ali, Muthu or Ah Hock would be able to receive such superior attention and treatment.

It would be easier, in the view of the Prison Department, to see their convicts die in their cells while serving time rather than providing them welfare for years to come.

OCT: Kajang Prison for Najib is a blessing in disguise. In courts, his team of ‘best lawyers money can buy’ are no match against the judges, including the chief justice.

However, when it comes to imprisonment, Najib has "his boys" at all levels of the government. Now the rakyat can see how the government machinery is working overtime to make his life in prison comfortable.

The Health Ministry and Home Ministry are the two divisions managing Najib's affairs. When Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin says Najib's medical conditions are confidential and cannot be disclosed to anyone except on court order, it effectively ended the debate on the matter.

In addition, the Home Ministry keeps an elegant silence on all matters regarding Najib's prison stay. The rakyat cannot, and will not, expect to entertain questions and grievances from anyone, especially from an opposition party like DAP.

It is a foregone conclusion that Najib is getting special privileges that are not available to other prisoners. It’s better to focus on GE15 and win big so as to put all the culprits where they belong.

Ada Harapan: The High Court judge currently hearing Najib’s case should order the DG to reveal his so-called illness that prevented his trial from proceeding and this may well include getting the doctors to testify. That is within the jurisdiction of the court.

Malaysians suspect the usual monkey tricks and the complicity of the Umno-led government to pervert the course of justice by providing preferential treatment to a crook who robbed our nation blind.

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