Tuesday, May 19, 2009

2nd Burmese dies in ' unhygienic' Malaysian Detention Centres - Leptospirosis

Sa La Hin, 26, and Thang Hoih Ping, 21, both human persons from Burma, are dead. They died in the last few days in Malaysia in a Immigration Department Detention Centre in Juru, Penang ...and what is sad is that they may have by reason of the unhygienic conditions in the Detention Centre, by reason of the lack or inadequate healthcare at this Detention Centres.

Sa La Hin, 26, and Thang Hoih Ping, 21, - are they really undocumented migrants.

Or, are they really refugees and asylum seekers who ran to Malaysia for fear of their lives and liberty..for fear of that 'evil' Burmese Military Junta that has already deprived the freedom of Aung San Suu Kyi [ see earlier post:- Now, 23 say: Withdraw Suu Kyi's Absurd Charge, and Release All Political Prisoners in Burma ]

Or, are they persons who their employer is holding their passport, when they were arrested and detained by reason of not being able to show the RELA (or the police or the immigration enforcement officer) their passport? And many an employer or 'some outsourcing company' will not come and do the needful speedily to release their migrant workers - more so during this period of economic crisis.

A second Burmese in the Juru detention camp in Central Seberang Prai here has died of Leptospirosis.

Immigration Department director-general Abdul Rahman Othman said that the immigrant, Sa La Hin, 26, who had been detained in the camp since January, succumbed to the contagious bacterial disease late Sunday at the Bukit Mertajam Hospital.

Last Tuesday, Myanmar detainee Thang Hoih Ping, 21, died of the disease in the same hospital following an outbreak in the camp.

Abdul Rahman said that as at 11am Tuesday, 24 detainees were still warded, including one in the Seberang Jaya Hospitals intensive care unit.

Of the 24 detainees, 22 are Myanmar nationals and two are Bangladeshis. - Star, 19/5/2009, Leptospirosis kills 2nd Myanmar illegal immigrant

Leptospirosis - usually caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals, such as rodents, cattle, pigs, horses, dogs and wild animals. Does that not tell you about the state of hygine in the Juru Detention Centre, that is in the Pakatan Rakyat ruled State of Penang. Maybe, the State Government should be held responsible for the conditions of Detention Centres in their own State. [Of course, the Chief Minister of Penang may come out and say that these centres are under the control of the BN Federal Government - but I say, the State Government also has to bear the responsibility of matters that are within the State boundaries. Remember, Malaysia is a Federation of States...and States are sovereign territories, and always have the option to remain in the Federation or not - and this gives the State great powers..which it should use for betterment of the State, its people...and conditions of Detention places in the State..]

Leptospirosis outbreaks are usually caused by exposure to water contaminated with the urine of infected animals, such as rodents, cattle, pigs, horses, dogs and wild animals.

Well prepared: A Rela member wearing a face mask while guarding one of the illegal immigrant blocks at the Juru detention camp in Bukit Mertajam Sunday.

People become infected through consumption or contact with urine-contaminated water, food or soil.

On May 7, a Myanmar detainee took ill and died five days later of a bacterial infection at the Bukit Mertajam Hospital. Since then 36 others took ill and were hospitalised for treatment.

There are 552 illegal immigrants in the camp comprising 478 males, 72 females and two male children.- Star, 18/5/2009, 13 illegals discharged

The good that has come out of this tragedy and humiliation is that finally there is begining of a serious concern about healthcare...hygine..food, which I hope is not merely temporary but will be made permanent...

Deeply concerned over the situation, Abdul Rahman [Immigration Department director-general] ordered all migrant detention camps in the country to increase hygiene standards and cleanliness levels, including the preparation of food and drinks.

“We have yet to obtain an official report from the Health department on the two deaths as well as the actual cause of the outbreak.

“However, we have taken precautionary measures by stationing a medical team on daily shift duty at the Juru camp to closely monitor the situation,” he said.

Not ruling out the possibility that the disease could have been transmitted from the immigrants, Abdul Rahman said that according to standard operating procedures, a medical officer usually visited the camp once a week.

However, since the outbreak, the department had opened the doors of its detention camps nationwide for health officials to come in and provide necessary medical assistance, he said. - - Star, 19/5/2009, Leptospirosis kills 2nd Myanmar illegal immigrant

Cleanliness and hygiene at immigration depots nationwide are to be stepped-up to ensure safety of staff and inmates there against contracting infectious diseases, Immigration Director-General Abdul Rahman said today.

He said this was in addition to the scheduled checks conducted by the Health Department to ensure the depots met the health and hygiene standards and to prevent the spread of infectious diseases.

"We have the cooperation of the Health Ministry to monitor cleanliness and hygiene at our depots nationwide and there is no need for the public to worry," he told a press conference at the Penang Immigration head office here today. - Bernama, 19/5/2009, Cleanliness, Hygiene At Immigration Depot To Be Stepped Up

I believe that once a week visit of a medical officer is really insufficient for Detention Centres ...Maybe, there should be a permanent presence of a medical office (if not a doctor, at the very least a medical assistant), and the doctor could visit once every day for a few hours daily to deal with the more serious cases, beyond the expertise of the medical assistant..) . It is important to have persons who speak detainee language/s to translate to the medical staff.

Maybe, new detainees should be isolated until they could be tested for TB and other transmitable diseases. Tubercolosis (or Batuk Kering) is an example of a disease that can be easily transmitted to other living within close proximity like in these Immigration Detention Centres.

Once in 2 week visits should also be conducted by the health officer - who will be tasked to review state of hygine of the Detention Centre, and all other related matters, including food. Food and food preparation must also be reviewed.

And, if it was the food caterers, that are to be blamed - we must not just stop with the termination of the contract...but there must be legal action, criminal or otherwise...
He [Immigration Department director-general Abdul Rahman Othman] also said the Juru camp’s catering tender might be reviewed if the cause of the outbreak pointed to contamination of its food and drinks. - Star, 19/5/2009, Leptospirosis kills 2nd Myanmar illegal immigrant
The immigration DG says that overcrowding is not a reason for the spread of the disease...because only slightly overcrowded by 53 (Hello...when we say slightly overcrowded, we are talking about 4 to 9 maybe...)

Look also at the picture above, which shows how these migrants are kept...If they are staying in 'cages' like this, there is a serious need to review conditions of these detention centres.
Abdul Rahman, however, discarded over-crowding as among the reasons for the widespread of the disease, noting that the Juru detention camp merely had an additional 53 detainees compared to its 500 detainee-capacity. - Star, 19/5/2009, Leptospirosis kills 2nd Myanmar illegal immigrant

See also earlier related posts including:-

Now migrants are dying in Detention Centres because of diseases transmitted by 'animal urine contaminated water'...

SUHAKAM: "...denial of medical attention.. a serious violation of that person’s right to life..."

It was already a shocker when SUHAKAM (Malaysia's Human Rights Commission) told us that "ABOUT 1,300 illegal foreigners have died during detention in the past six years, Malaysia Nanban quoted Malaysian Human Rights (Suhakam) commissioner Datuk N. Siva Subramaniam as saying.He said many of them died in immigration detention centres, prisons and police lockups because they were denied medical treatment at the right time.-Star, 18/12/2008 - 1,300 foreign detainees died due to neglect

SUHAKAM views the denial of medical attention to the point of endangering one’s life as a serious violation of that person’s right to life.- - letter of SUHAKAM to the Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) dated 13/1/2009

1 comment:

Keith said...

It's shameful to be Malaysian today.

We allow our children to die in NS camps.

We allow foreigners in government control camps to die.

We allow prisoners to die in police custody.

It's pathetic.