Minister stresses on improving health literacy

Syazwani Hj Rosli

“Miracle” products, as raised by Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari, were one of the topics of discussion on the fourth day of the 16th Legislative Council (LegCo) meeting yesterday.

She said the Ministry of Health often issues statements of warning on traditional medicines and beauty products that cause side effects and queried on whether it will be expanded to “miracle” products that claim to prevent, treat or cure diseases and other health conditions.

She also questioned whether enforcement will be undertaken by the ministry as these products do not necessarily have harmful side effects but are often sold at high prices while the health claims not recognised by the ministry.

Providing examples, Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa said there is a trend of these miracle products claiming water that can ease pain, oil that can cure cancer and socks that can prevent gout and stroke. These claims, according to the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA), can be deceptive.

In response to her queries, Minister of Health Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohammad Isham bin Haji Jaafar stressed on the importance of improving health literacy of the public, while promising to impose more stringent regulations to ensure that all products that claim to provide health benefits must provide medical evidence or face prosecution.

The minister urged the public to exercise caution and employ common sense when it comes to health claims.

He added, “Each individual is different; each individual is his own ecosystem. We take conclusion from it, which is how modern medicine works. If it can cure the individual, it doesn’t mean that it can do the same for another.”

Legislative Council member Yang Berhormat Khairunnisa binti Haji Ash’ari. PHOTO: BAHYIAH BAKIR