KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 — A human rights group demanded today action from the Health Ministry after a young Sungai Buloh prisoner died from tuberculosis (TB) without being quarantined prior.
Lawyers for Liberty (LFL) also alleged that prison authorities had denied M. Proosothaman medical treatment as the 25-year-old was only given panadol, even though he had complained of severe symptoms like inability to walk due to intense pain.
“Why was the deceased not accorded timely and proper medical treatment when he first showed signs of prolonged or serious illness and was only brought to the hospital a few days prior to his death?” Melissa Sasidaran from LFL, who also represented Proosothaman’s family, said in a statement.
According to Melissa, pathologists who conducted an autopsy on Proosothaman said the deceased would have shown gradual symptoms of TB like coughing with blood and prolonged coughing, and that the infectious disease would have been contracted a few months before his death.
She said Proosothaman was only taken to Sungai Buloh Hospital on May 21, 16 days after he complained to his family members during their visit on May 5 about symptoms like severe fever, stomach ache, diarrhoea, and difficulty walking due to pain.
Proosothaman died on May 25.
“As tuberculosis is a highly infectious disease and Proosothaman was only diagnosed with the illness after his admission to the hospital, this raises serious questions on whether the proper medical and quarantine procedures were implemented by the Sungai Buloh Prison authorities as the deceased would have mingled freely with other prisoners and wardens,” said Melissa.
“This is a serious public health issue which must be dealt with by the Ministry of Health and the Prisons Department as there is now a risk of exposure to other prisoners, prison wardens and even members of the public who have come in contact with them.
“A prison detention should not become a death sentence by a deadly disease due to apathy, negligence or a ‘couldn’t care less’ attitude by the Prisons Department,” she added.
She called for a police investigation into Proosothaman’s death that she alleged contained elements of criminal negligence.