MoH to study long-term effects of Pasir Gudang victims

By NUR HAZIQAH A MALEK / Pic By ISMAIL CHE RUS

THE Ministry of Health (MoH) is expected to conduct a cohort study on victims of the Kim Kim River chemical pollution in Pasir Gudang and its long-term effects for monitoring purposes.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the study will be carried out the soonest possible and take into account aspects of the methodology, protocol and financial provisions.

“Our focus is on the victims. Patients who are exposed to chemicals… you do not subject them to the lab (carrying out tests in the laboratory). When you get an opportunity like this, you must take the chance to follow through and conduct cohort studies,” he told reporters after officiating the Asean Healthcare Transformation Summit 2019 (AHTS 2019) in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Dr Dzulkefly added that the study will be somewhat easier as the data of the victims is contained in the MoH’s database.

“What needs to be determined is the long-term impact on the victim, whether the individual is at risk of getting cancer, or if it has an effect on the reproductive system. We cannot be slow in conducting this study,” he said.

So far, thousands of people have been affected by the toxic fumes caused by illegal chemical dumping in Kim Kim River, forcing the government to close down all 111 schools indefinitely.

No fatality has been reported despite a few victims being admitted to intensive care unit.

Prior to this, Energy, Science, Technology, Environment and Climate Change Minister Yeo Bee Yin said a report by the Department of Environment (DoE) revealed that the toxic fumes were caused by the dumping of black lubricants into the river.

It was also revealed that the samples taken from the river indicate that the river was polluted with chemicals such as methane, hydrogen chloride, acrylonitrile, acrolein and benzene.

Meanwhile, Dr Dzulkefly said the MoH would roll out the Electronic Medical Record (EMR) system at 145 public and private hospitals nationwide within the next three years.

He said the implementation will be done in stages throughout the period due to the costly nature of the system.

“That’s why two different modes will be implemented, one is light whereby the information in the record is lean while the heavy mode is more in-depth which we plan to implement for referral and state hospitals,” he said at the AHTS 2019 yesterday.

EMR is an electronic record and data storage system on medical information shared among physicians, hospitals and patients, replacing the traditional medical records that are entirely dependent on paper use.

Dr Dzulkefly added that district hospitals and clinics will be using the lighter EMR system.

Currently, about 20% of hospitals in the country, including the Selayang and Ampang Hospitals, have the system in place but not fully operational.

As such, Dr Dzulkefly said the ministry is working closely with the Collaborative Research in Engineering, Science and Technology for joint cooperation in research, development and commercialisation of digital innovation in healthcare delivery and solutions.