Release report on 2016 fire at Johor hospital, govt urged

Fire and rescue personnel at the scene of the fire at Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Bahru in October 2016. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Putrajaya has been urged to release the findings of an inquiry into the 2016 fire at Johor’s Sultanah Aminah Hospital which killed six patients.

Last year, a seven-man inquiry panel headed by retired judge Mohd Hishamuddin Yunus presented a 230-page report to health ministry secretary-general Chen Chaw Min. Nearly a year later, it has yet to be made public.

Speaking to FMT, Transparency International Malaysia president Muhammad Mohan said public disclosure of the inquiry’s findings and recommendations could help prevent similar incidents.

“Inquiries are important so that we can learn from mistakes. Perhaps there were lapses or gaps in safety which led to the fire.

“These gaps may also exist in other hospitals across the country so if these are highlighted, we can take corrective action.”

He called on the government to make the report public and act on its recommendations, adding that this is in line with Pakatan Harapan’s stand on transparency.

The Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy also said Putrajaya should release its findings as part of its commitment to reforms, particularly in transparency, accountability and good governance.

“The government should do so to ensure that the six lives lost in that incident are not in vain but will lead to improvements in safety, maintenance and construction of public buildings,” the think tank’s CEO, Azrul Khalib, said.

Following completion of the report last year, Hishamuddin said the inquiry committee had made 23 recommendations and that the ministry should declassify the report and make it public.

The committee was appointed by then-health minister Dr S Subramaniam and endorsed by the Cabinet in December 2016.

The Oct 26, 2016 fire broke out at the southern intensive care unit on the second floor of the hospital.

Four female and two male patients died in the fire. Another male patient was rescued by firefighters.

Doctors said the patients were dependent on ventilators and could not be moved without their beds.

Another fire broke out at the hospital the following day. However, there were no reports of casualties.

FMT has reached out to the health ministry for comment.