Lukanisman Clarifies Parliament Remarks, Now Touts Expansion Of PrEP Programme

Deputy Health Minister Lukanisman clarifies his remarks in Parliament, tweeting today that the PrEP pilot programme will continue and even be expanded. He reiterates that groups at risk cannot be prevented from receiving the HIV prevention drug.

KUALA LUMPUR, March 24 – Deputy Health Minister Lukanisman Awang Sauni has clarified his comments in the Dewan Rakyat on PrEP, saying today instead that the HIV prevention drug pilot programme would be expanded.

CodeBlue reported Lukanisman as telling Parliament yesterday that the Ministry of Health (MOH) was reviewing the PrEP pilot programme – which has been under fire from religious conservatives, including among Opposition MPs – and that it could be potentially cancelled.

Community organiser Numan Afifi tweeted the CodeBlue report, saying: “PrEP is lifesaving. If they do this, all MPs would have blood on their hands. We’re not gonna go down without fighting for our lives.”

Lukanisman replied to Numan’s tweet, saying that the “PrEP pilot programme will continue and I will expand the programme.

“I told MPs yesterday we cannot prevent groups at risk from getting PrEP. This is the third time I’m addressing the issue in dewan and pls be with me and KKM to do more awareness and explanation to this MPs.”

Infectious disease expert Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, in a tweet, thanked Lukanisman for his clarification: “We/ @KKMPutrajaya must stay the course. It’s a life-saving medical intervention, nothing more, nothing less.”

During Question Time in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday, in response to Kuantan MP Wan Razali Wan Nor, who had asked about MOH’s response towards the Selangor Mufti Department’s objection towards providing PrEP to gay people, Lukanisman first said that “we cannot prevent groups at risk from getting PrEP”.

The deputy minister carried on by saying: “The MOH will review the pilot programme that is currently being implemented – whether it should be continued or whether we need to have a way forward so that we can prevent this HIV problem, especially the lifestyle among this group of men.”

Lukanisman’s verbatim comments in Bahasa Malaysia, as per Parliament’s recording of yesterday’s sitting (from minute 1:48:09), are as follows: 

Maka, kita, saya memohon agar kita sentiasa menjalankan satu sesi libat urus dan juga KKM akan melihat semula program rintis yang sedang dilaksanakan – adakah perlu diteruskan, ataupun kita kena mempunyai satu way forward supaya kita dapat mencegahkan masalah HIV ini, terutama sekali gaya hidup di kalangan lelaki ini.

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