by Parliamentary Opposition Leader, DAP Secretary-General and MP for Tanjung, Lim Kit Siang, in Petaling Jaya on Wednesday, 12th June 1991:
DAP calls for an independent public inquiry into the government hospitals’ babies BCG overdose scandal
DAP calls for an independent committee of inquiry into the scandal of the government hospitals throughout the country giving an overdose of the BCG vaccine to all newborn babies early this year.
It has been reported that the overdose of BCG vaccine had caused abnormal reactions in many of the new-born babies in the country, some of whom suffered severe swelling of the lymphatic nodes in the armpit and cervical region which had to be removed surgically. There were babies who contracted tuberculosis and are now undergoing treatment.
The independent committee of inquiry should also inquire as to whether there had been any deaths among babies given the wrong dosage of BCG vaccine.
It has been reported that the overdosage of BCG vaccine was administered to new-born babies in all government hospitals early this year because of administrative foul-up when the Health Ministry switched from a Taiwanese supplier of the vaccine to a French firm.
The new French supply was stronger than the old Taiwanese supply and half a dosage should have been administered but because of communication failure between the ministry and the hospitals, the old dosage was administered to new-born babies.
It is most shocking that such an overdosage of BCG vaccine can take place in the government hospitals. It is because of the frequent occurrence of such carelessness and negligence in government hospitals which is the chief cause for the loss of public confidence in government hospitals, leading to the thronging of private hospitals by Malaysians.
This is actually a greater problem in the national medical service which needs urgent attention instead of the Prime Minister’s proposal of allowing foreign doctors to practise in private.
I hope the Health Minister, Datuk Lee Kim Sai, would not seek to cover-up the babies’ BCG overdosage scandal and allow the fullest and most thorough investigation to ensure that such carelessness and negligence would never recur in the government hospitals.