KUALA LUMPUR, July 11 — Dzulkefly Ahmad defended today the government’s family planning among the Orang Asli that some alleged as forced sterilisation, claiming it was aimed at protecting anaemic women from pregnancy.
The health minister said authorities gave contraceptives to the indigenous out of a “sense of responsibility”.
“It’s an intervention,” Dzulkefly told reporters in Sungkai, Perak, after launching a dental programme among the Orang Asli.
“We take this action out of a sense of responsibility so that they do not fall pregnant when they are anaemic,” he added. “This is not done on them permanently.”
Orang Asli women from the Temiar tribe in Perak have reportedly accused health authorities of forcing them to take birth control injections.
They complained about side effects like dizziness and stomach aches, with one alleging that her baby was born deformed after she received a birth control shot.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department P. Waytha Moorthy said earlier today that he was shocked to read about a Temiar villager’s allegation that health officials, who visited Orang Asli villages in mobile clinics, coerced indigenous women into taking birth control pills or injections, failing which their medical cards would be confiscated.
“This is a serious allegation and the government takes this matter seriously. These acts do not define the moral ethical practices of the multi-racial social fabric in our country.
“I will discuss this matter with the Health Minister and get to the bottom of this. I will also set up a panel to investigate this matter,” he said in a statement.
Anaemia is a condition where one lacks enough normal red blood cells. UPI reported in March 2018 a study by Queen Mary University of London researchers that found anaemic pregnant women had a doubled risk of dying during or shortly after pregnancy than those without the blood condition.