CYBERJAYA, Feb 23, 2016:

The spread of baseless information such as the halal status of vaccines used to immunise babies, and the trend of giving birth at home must be tackled immediately, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

He said there were currently differing views which challenged the ministry including delivering babies at home or using certain methods to deliver babies, as well as the claims that immunisation was bad for health.

Even though the ministry, especially the Health Clinics, had been successful in managing the health of pregnant women and babies, attention must be given to such information so that the public could make the right choice concerning health issues, he said.

“Our responsibility is to provide valid information to the people so that they can make the right choice,” he said when commenting on the “National Health and Morbidity Survey 2016: Mother and Child Health’ conducted by the ministry from today until May 30.

Among the objectives of the survey, which is part of the effort to reduce the mortality rate among pregnant women, were to improve the standard of existing health services as well as increase the scope of child health by looking at immunisation levels and data on autism.

Speaking to reporters after visiting the Global Service Centre (GSC) of the World Health Organisation (WHO) here today, Dr Subramaniam said among the risks of refusing to follow the immunisation process was that babies would become vulnerable to diseases as well as the re-emergence of diseases which had been eradicated.

The Health Ministry had previously confirmed that all vaccines it used were in accordance with international standards including those set by WHO, in quality, safety and efficacy, while immunisation was for the prevention of diseases, which was required in Islam.

The ministry was also reported to have taken various measures to curb the influence and the idea of pro-natural birthing or gentle birthing which could lead to unsafe deliveries.

Commenting on his visit, Dr Subramaniam said the centre which was set up in 2008 in cooperation with WHO had exposed local workers to a work culture of international standards.

The centre which handled matters relating to human resource and procurement for WHO, including salary disbursement to 8,000 WHO staff throughout the world, had 300 employees, of whom 280 were locals, he said.

“People who work here have been exposed to a corporate work culture that is of international standards, and those who perform well and are capable are given the chance to be posted to the WHO headquarters in Geneva, Switzerland,” he said.

Dr Subramaniam said the government contributed RM12 million for every 15 years for the infrastructure of the centre, beginning 2008 until 2022.

Also present during his one-hour visit was GSC director Francisco Cardenas and deputy-director (general management) of WHO headquarters, Dr Haris Troedsson.

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