KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa on Thursday (Mar 16) said that every patient must be treated regardless of the clothes they wear, amid a viral incident of a woman who was turned away at a government health facility for improper attire.
“I acknowledge this issue and the viral incidents (that have happened) in recent weeks.
“I want to state that actually, in principle, every patient must be given priority treatment regardless of race, ethnicity or dress code ethics,” said Dr Zaliha in parliament.
She said this in response to a question posed by Balik Pulau Member of Parliament (MP) Muhammad Bakhtiar Wan Chik who asked whether the Ministry of Health accepts every patient in emergency cases, regardless of how they are dressed.
Dr Zaliha stressed that all medical practitioners must uphold their ethics and fulfill the Hippocratic Oath.
“We take an oath - the Hippocratic Oath - which is pledged by doctors and medical practitioners (and the oath) includes the willingness to help patients to the best of their ability,” she said.
Dr Zaliha said that a viral incident that happened in a hospital in Perak last month could have stemmed from miscommunication issues.
“I think maybe what happened was a communication problem,” she said.
“Usually, if we get a complaint, we take immediate action to make sure it doesn't happen again.”
Local media previously reported that a woman in her early 20s was reprimanded by a medical officer at Kampar Hospital in Perak for wearing shorts and was denied entry from the hospital’s emergency room on Feb 12.
Three days later, Kampar Hospital director Dr Khairul Azha Azam released a statement saying that the officer involved in the incident had been reprimanded.
He added that hospital staff have been instructed to accept patients regardless of their attire and that action has been taken to ensure that similar incidents do not happen again.
Clarifying the situation, Dr Khairul said: “(The woman) was reprimanded by the officer for wearing shorts. The officer on duty then brought a shirt and hospital gown for the woman to wear temporarily, but she had left the triage counter and informed the other staff that she would seek treatment at a private clinic."
Besides hospitals, similar incidents of people being denied entry into government facilities due to their attire have been reported by local media.
Last Friday, a civil servant was denied entry to the Companies Commission of Malaysia office in Ipoh for her attire as her dress did not have a hemline below the knee, according to Free Malaysia Today.
On Feb 15, a 60-year-old businesswoman was barred from entering the upper levels of the Pasir Gudang City Council for dressing inappropriately in a “see-through” dress, reported The Star.
Local media also reported that a woman was not allowed entry into the Kajang district police headquarters in Selangor on Jan 30 as she was wearing shorts that ended above the knee.