PETALING JAYA: A special committee has been set up to probe allegations of forced birth control among Orang Asli women, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad said today.
This comes after news reports stated that health ministry staff had given contraceptive injections to the Orang Asli women, especially those who had recently married, causing them to have side effects.
Dzulkefly said the committee was set up a day after the memorandum was delivered by five Orang Asli villages to the government at Parliament on Tuesday. Among others, they had complained about forced birth control.
Dzulkefly said the special committee will complete its investigation by July 26.
He said the committee will be tasked with investigating whether the allegations were valid, identify any weakness in the delivery of the family planning injections for Orang Asli women and suggest improvements.
The report will then be handed over to the minister.
Dzulkefly said there are standard procedures and guidelines for all medical staff to follow the best practices.
He said those involved in the committee will include various officials handling the Orang Asli.
He said he also empathises with his medical staff working at the Orang Asli centres.
“I want to make sure my staff are not accused of anything bad. However, I am open to criticism,” he added.
Two days ago, Dzulkefly said the birth control medications given to Orang Asli women were meant to avoid pregnancy complications associated with anaemia.
He said the intervention was done out of a sense of responsibility as it is important for women with anaemia to avoid pregnancy.
“It was done out of a sense of responsibility to save them so that they don’t suffer complications during pregnancy. Many of them suffer from anaemia,” he said, adding that the intervention is an important precaution to save the pregnancies and safeguard the health of the Orang Asli women.
He further said it is not a permanent measure and after two years, they would no longer be given the medications.