Rania’s appointment is not unprecedented or endorsement of LBGT

Rania’s appointment is not unprecedented or endorsement of LBGT

KUALA LUMPUR: Rania Zara Medina is not the first transgender appointed to the Health Ministry’s Country Coordinating Mechanism (CCM) committee, said Malaysia Public Health Experts Association president Datuk Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar today.

In a statement, Zainal said representatives from affected communities have been named to the committee at various points since the Health Ministry first formed the CCM in 2009.

With the Cabinet’s mandate, it also made the country a recipient of the Global Fund allocations disbursed to the Malaysia AIDS Council.

Zainal stressed that such representation was meant to give the affected communities a direct say in health matters concerning them and it should not be construed as an endorsement to their activities.

“The appointment of seven individuals from the categories such as men who have sex with men, transgenders, female sex workers, drug users, and people living with HIV, does not mean the government or the ministry recognises their culture or lifestyle,” he said.

Zainal added that the association upholds the universal principle of complete non-discrimination in the planning and implementation of universal public health programmes on a national or local level.

He also stressed the need to make such health efforts inclusive and accessible to those in need.

“CCM representatives often rotate every term based on set procedures, and they include representatives from agencies such as the Health Ministry, the Islamic Development Department, the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, Home Ministry, the National Anti-Drugs Agency, interfaith organisations, among others.

“Among the functions of the CCM is to approve proposals to apply for Global Funds and to monitor the implementation of HIV/AIDS prevention programmes.

“As the biggest association in the country representing the public health profession, we felt it is necessary to state our view on this issue, which has become controversial due to confusion of facts or intentionally distorted information,” said Zainal.

The appointment, he said, was strictly from a healthcare perspective, adding that prolonged controversy over the appointment would be detrimental in their efforts to contain and treat HIV/AIDS in the country.

“We call upon all who are concerned about the prosperity and wellbeing of the ummah and rakyat to synchronise their thoughts and energy towards more significant contributions with positive impact,” said Zainal.

Rania’s appointment, which was signed by Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye, received criticism from Wanita Umno chief Datuk Noraini Ahmad and her PAS Muslimat chief Nuridah Mohd Salleh.