Infectious Diseases Act Amendments To Be Tabled Next Month: Minister

Dr Dzul says amendments to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) will be tabled in July, without specifying further. He said previously MOH will act as the IHR Focal Point, after the WHA approved IHR amendments last June 1.

KUALA LUMPUR, June 29 — Dzulkefly Ahmad yesterday announced that amendments to the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342) will be tabled in the current Parliament meeting.

Although the health minister did not specify the proposed amendments to the Act that was heavily enforced during the Covid-19 pandemic, it is likely that the Act 342 amendment bill will include provisions related to the International Health Regulations (IHR) amendments recently adopted by the World Health Assembly (WHA).

“I can share that the month of July will begin with a rather significant legislative agenda for MOH (Ministry of Health),” Dzulkefly posted on Facebook yesterday, listing the planned tabling of the Medical Act (Amendment) 2024 Bill and the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act (Amendment) 2024 Bill.

“I believe that when we start with major work at the beginning, this will increase the momentum for the second half of 2024…insya-Allah.”

The health minister made his statement during yesterday’s Cabinet meeting, the last for the first half of the year. The current Dewan Rakyat meeting is scheduled to end in three weeks’ time on July 18.

Dzulkefly said in a statement earlier this month that the Malaysian government will evaluate the IHR amendments that were approved by the recent WHA, before deciding on whether to accept or reject any of the legally binding amendments.

At the 77th WHA in Geneva, Switzerland, the annual meeting of the World Health Organization’s (WHO) 194 member countries made an historic decision last June 1 to agree on a package of critical amendments to the 2005 IHR.

“Based on Article 59 of the IHR, Member States will have a period of 10 months to reserve or reject any of these amendments. Malaysia intends to carefully scrutinise the IHR amendments, article by article, in consultation with the related ministries and agencies, following which, the necessary domestic administrative and legislative requirements and processes will be undertaken,” Dzulkefly had said in his June 3 statement to CodeBlue.

The health minister also said the MOH will act as both the IHR Focal Point and also the National IHR Authority, following Cabinet approval.

The National IHR Authority – under Article 4 of the IHR amendments – is an entity established by the State Party, or country, at the national level to coordinate the implementation of the Regulations within the State Party’s jurisdiction.

“The amendments to the International Health Regulations will bolster countries’ ability to detect and respond to future outbreaks and pandemics by strengthening their own national capacities, and coordination between fellow States, on disease surveillance, information sharing and response,” WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last June 1, following WHA’s adoption of the IHR amendments and commitment to the pandemic treaty, a separate agreement.

It is also possible that Malaysia’s Act 342 amendment bill may increase penalties for non-compliance with regulations on the prevention and control of infectious diseases.

Under Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob’s administration, the government tabled an Act 342 amendment bill in December 2021 – during the Covid pandemic – that raised compounds of offences from the current RM1,000 maximum to RM10,000 for individuals and up to RM500,000 for corporate bodies.

Individuals convicted of offences under Act 342 faced penalties of a maximum RM50,000 fine, up to three years’ jail, or both under Section 24 on the proposed amended general penalties. For corporate bodies, a maximum RM2 million fine upon conviction was proposed.

After public uproar and opposition from Umno and DAP lawmakers, in particular, Ismail Sabri announced during the Umno general assembly in March 2022 that his administration has decided not to table the Act 342 amendment bill.

You may also like