Tuesday, May 20, 2008, 03.53 PM
NS to outsource check-upsBy : M. Hamzah Jamaludin and Rina De Silva
BERA: The government will not stop the National Service programme, but will enlist the help of the private sector to conduct compulsory medical check-ups on all trainees.
This move follows the death of 18-year-old NS trainee Too Hui Min on Wednesday. She was the 16th trainee to have died during training since the programme began four years ago.
"We cannot scrap the programme just like that as many parties are involved," Najib said after launching the National Youth Day and Week at Felda Sebertak.
"In many cases, the trainees who died at the camps had the illnesses before they joined the programme."
Najib had said before that it was difficult for government doctors to conduct the check-up as there were more than 30,000 trainees for each batch.
At present, the trainees make a declaration on their health status in a form before they join the three-month programme.
NS Training Department director-general Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil on Friday had said it was the government's policy to continue the programme and rectify the problems.
There have been calls from various parties to scrap the programme following the latest death.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said NS trainees may be asked to declare if they have constipation before entering camp.
Too had died of toxic megacolon resulting from constipation.
The condition, according to Medline Plus Medical Encyclopaedia, is characterised by extreme inflammation and distention of the colon. The common symptoms are pain, distention of the abdomen, fever, rapid heart rate and dehydration.
Liow, who was speaking after launching Sunway Medical Centre's first outpatient clinic at Wisma Perintis in Damansara Heights yesterday, said the NS Training Department would have to have more details when the trainees report to camp.
At present there are 27 health problems listed in the health declaration form, with an additional five for female trainees.
Liow said he had instructed all medical assistants at the NS camps to immediately send any trainee to a hospital if they had doubts about the trainee's condition.
The ministry is investigating Too's treatment before her death. A report is expected to be ready next week.
- In George Town, Melissa Darlyne Chow reports that DAP secretary-general Lim Guan Eng wants the federal government to scrap the NS programme if it cannot ensure the safety of the trainees.
Lim, who is also Penang Chief Minister, said if the government wanted to continue with the programme, the trainees should be allowed to opt out so that someone else who was keen, but not picked, could replace them.
"The government should not make it compulsory for these students to undergo this programme."
Health problems that must be declared
• Dizziness, blackout or fainting
• Fits/epilepsy or paralysis
• Frequent headache/migraine
• Mental/psychiatric illness
• High or low blood pressure
• Cardiovascular diseases
• Chronic rheumatic heart diseases
• Prolonged fever
• Frequent sore throat more than six times a year
• Dry cough/tuberculosis or other lung infections
• Cough more than two weeks for the past six months
• Gastritis/abdominal pain
• Kidney/urinary problems
• Rectal haemorrhoid
• Any medical operation
• Previous serious head or physical injury
• Deformities — physical/senses
• Anaemia and bleeding disorders
• Cigarette smoking
• Alcohol consumption
• Substance used
• Other illness
Additional list for girls:
• Breast lumps
• Menstrual problems
• Gynaecological treatment
• Date of last menstruation
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