Opposition Leader and DAP Member of Parliament for Bandar Melaka Mr.Lim Kit Siang, on 24th August, 1973, sent the following letter to the Minister of Health, Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew urging a public Commission of Inquiry into the unusual number of deaths in the Malacca General Hospital in August during the break down of the sterilisation plant.
Tan Sri Lee Siok Yew,
Minister of Health
Dear Tan Sri,
I appreciate your immediate action in asking for inquiry by your officials on my Press Conference statement in Malacca on 22nd August, 1973, on the unusually high rate of maternity, surgical and medical deaths in the Malacca General Hospital in the last month, especially during the period from August 6th to the 16th.
This is unusually high rate of maternity, surgical and medical death cases coincide with the breakdown of the autoclave – the sterilisation plant – in the Malacca General Hospital. As you are no doubt aware, with the breakdown or malfunctioning of the autoclave, bottles and containers will remain contaminated as they cannot be properly sterilised. Thus, blood, saline or glucose put into these bottles or containers for transfusion for patients will be contaminated in turn and such contaminated blood and saline transfusion into the bodies of the sick and weak can only lead to fatal results.
It has become public knowledge in Malacca that the Hospital’s autoclave broke down for sometime without action being taken either for replacement or repair and at the end of last week, the hospital destroyed 42 pint-bottles of blood and over 2,000 bottles of saline.
I am iformed that the Malacca General Hospital is installing two new autoclaves and meanwhile getting supplies of sterilised equipments from Seremban. There must however be no attempt to hush up a full scale public Inquiry into the unusual high number of deaths in maternity, surgical and medicals cases during the period when the autoclave broke down and the Malacca General Hospital took no action to ensure that all equipments were properly sterilised.
In your opening speech to the First Seminar and Workshop on Blood Banking at the Institute for Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur yesterday, you stressed that there must be a high standard of laboratories organisation to make transfusion safe and effective under all circumstances. I hope you will leave no stone unturned to ensure that this high standard you have set for public services is maintained, by a thorough enquiry into the entire unfortunate affair in the Malacca General Hospital. It is sad but true that the Malacca General Hospital has acquired a most undesirable reputation for its standard of patient care, and there is an urgent need to change the poor image of the Malacca General Hospital to restore the people’s confidence in the public medical services.
In view of this existing poor image of the Malacca General Hospital, and because of the gravity of the unusual number of deaths during the breakdown of the autoclave during the last two months, only a public Commission of Inquiry can satisfy public opinion and social conscience.
I also suggest a meeting so that I can further discuss this very grave matter with you.
(Lim Kit Siang)
Opposition Leader and
M.P.for Bandar Melaka.