Union: More Health Inspectors, Tech Needed For Upcoming Anti-Tobacco Regulations

Ahead of anti-tobacco regulations expected in June, the Health Inspectors Union Peninsular Malaysia (KIKSM) calls for more PKP/ PPKP positions and tech, as health inspectors still manually write compound notices. KIKSM also wants a new PKP/ PPKP uniform.

KUALA LUMPUR, May 23 — The Health Inspectors Union Peninsular Malaysia (KIKSM) has called for an increase in the number of environmental health officers (PKP) and assistant environmental health officers (PPKP) to enforce upcoming anti-tobacco regulations next month.

KIKSM noted that there only 6,000 PKP and PPKP, or health inspectors, in the Ministry of Health (MOH) nationwide who are not only responsible for anti-smoking and anti-tobacco enforcement, but also infectious disease control, food safety, occupational and environmental health, health promotion, and health control activities in public hospitals and the country’s international entry points.

The union cited the International Federation of Environmental Health’s (IFEH) recommendations of one PKP or PPKP for every 3,000 residents. 

Based on this standard, Malaysia should have at least 11,333 PKP or PPKPs for its 34 million population, nearly double the current workforce of 6,000 health inspectors.

“As a workers’ union of PKPs and PPKPs who were previously known as health inspectors, KIKSM hopes that the Madani government under [Prime Minister] Anwar Ibrahim, through the health minister, will be able to implement the Cuepacs president’s recommendations to increase the number of PKPs and PPKPs, as well as to upgrade the image and logistical needs for PKPs and PPKPs, to ensure that they can play a stronger and more effective role as frontliners in facing public health threats in this country,” KIKSM president Mohd Ruhaizie Riyadzi, who is also a Cuepacs member, said in a statement yesterday.

Congress of Unions of Employees in the Public and Civil Services (Cuepacs) president Adnan Mat previously urged the MOH to create a special team to enforce anti-smoking rules in restaurants.

The 2023 Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) for Malaysia by the Institute for Public Health (IKU) found that 76.4 per cent of respondents reported exposure to second-hand smoke in restaurants, up from 68.3 per cent in 2011. 

Next month, Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad is expected to prescribe regulations under the new Control of Smoking Products for Public Health Act 2024 (Act 852), the country’s first standalone tobacco and vape control Act.

KIKSM suggested, as an immediate measure, the promotion of PPKPs with degree qualifications to PKPs, and to promote public health assistants (PKAs) who completed environmental health diplomas from the MOH Training Institute to PPKPs.

“There are an estimated 1,000 PPKPs with degrees, of whom some are still at U29, whereas about 100 PKAs have completed diploma training.”

KIKSM also called for a change to the PKP or PPKP uniform to upgrade the image of health inspectors to be of the same level as other enforcement agencies, like the police, the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Cost of Living (KPDN), and the Department of Quarantine and Inspection Services Malaysia (Maqis).

The current PKP or PPKP uniform of a white shirt, black trousers, and a blue tie is often equated to a trainee at a uniformed body or a temp worker at a shopping centre, KIKSM pointed out.

The health inspectors’ union further complained that PKPs and PPKPs are still writing compound notices manually, unlike the police or even vehicle parking enforcement officers under local councils.

“Besides running public health prevention and control activities, we suggest that the government consider automatically recognising PKPs and PPKPs as Occupational Health and Safety Coordinators (KKPs) in all government agencies and offices, seeing that all PKPs and PPKPs have been intensively trained on KKP throughout their study at the diploma or degree level,” said KIKSM.

“This will lead to savings for the government from having to conduct new training or appointments, seeing that the Occupational Safety and Health (Amendment) Act 2022 will be fully enforced this June.”

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