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Health Ministry’s Defensive and Arrogant Hep C Response Dodges Key Questions

So much for the accountability of our public health body to the public.

And so much for its professionalism.

When it comes to shooting things down, the MOH appears quicker to respond than a prized skeet shooter.

(READ: MOH: Delay in Disclosing Hepatitis C Outbreak Was Not Politically-Driven)

How it can continue to remain silent on the key issues surrounding the disclosure of the Hepatitis C outbreak begs an answer.

The questions raised by the Straits Times over the weekend which prompted this callous and shallow reply from the health ministry were essentially the same questions we raised 3 weeks ago.

(READ: Hepatitis C Infection Timeline Reveals SGH’s Shocking Lack of Regard for Patients Lives)

Up until now, the seemingly quick-fire MOH has shown clenched fists and tight lips when it comes to answering what truly matters to the public, while going on the offensive to deny and distract.

If it wasn’t politically-motivated, then give us the reasons why SGH refused to alert the health ministry after 20 cases of infection were detected.

Tell us why Mr Gan, our health minister, was only officially notified about the outbreak on September 18, when the health ministry was informed about it in August.

And tell us why health minister Gan had to wait another week thereafter before he could inform the public about the outbreak.

These are not technical or medical questions that require an intense investigation to discover the root cause.

These were calculated decisions made by top public servants from SGH and the MOH, and I’d give the benefit of the doubt that much thought must have gone into them before they were executed.

The ministry’s responses so far have instead raised more questions and cast greater doubt on the notion that authorities “acted in the interest of patient safety and to minimise risks to patients.”

After 20 patients in the same ward suddenly developed Hepatitis C, the Ministry of Health says the issue wasn’t reported because the cases did not show “acute” or “severe” enough symptoms to warrant that they be reported.

(READ: Replies to Media Queries on Hepatitis C Cluster in Singapore General Hospital)

Yes ma’am, and it is also in the interest of patient safety that that medical professionals at SGH ceased the use of multi-dose vials in the affected wards – suspected to be the cause of the infections – only 2 months after the first case of infection was detected.

For sure, it was to minimise risks to patients that screenings of affected staff took place after 20 people were infected, while testing of other infected patients only took place in recent weeks.

The Singaporean public deserves a proper explanation, especially from an agency tasked with the most noble fiduciary duty of care.

As Ms Press Secretary said:

“If there are gaps, we will close them, if there are weak areas, we will correct them, and if there are shortcomings, we will improve.”

Prove it.

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