By Mei Kuan
A webinar running on the theme “Speaking for the Unspoken – Children of a Lesser God” was held by the Medico-Legal Society of Malaysia (MLSM) yesterday (February 12) via Zoom.
The 4-hour enlightening session highlighted current medico-legal issues concerning children. The free-of-charge webinar was also open to the public.
“There is no doubt that COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on all of us. But we adults have been so consumed in preserving ourselves through this period of financial and emotional insecurity that we have neglected to speak enough about our biggest assets: our children. Today we shall do just that. We are privileged to have with us an incredible array of distinguished speakers,” expressed Dato’ Dr Venugopal Balchand, President of MLSM in his opening address.
One of the featured speakers was Dato’ Dr Amar-Singh HSS, a Consultant Paediatrician who served the Malaysian health service for 36 years.
The active children’s advocate and recipient of the Outstanding Asian Paediatrician Award 2012 gave an overview on children’s access to healthcare and what we can do to make it better.
According to him, the public health system in general is robust and accessible by the majority of communities and families.
“However, there are ‘pockets’ of children or children who fall through the cracks who lack adequate access to health services.
For instance, refugee children in detention, migrant children, stateless children, children who live in poverty, indigenous children, children with disabilities, children in prison and institutional / residential care, as well as the abused.
“To ensure universal access to health for all children in Malaysia, we require a rights-based approach as outlined in the UNCRC (United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child),” he explained.
He stressed on the importance of a healthcare system which focuses on community care, preventative services and marginalised communities.
He concluded with a statement from the UNCRC: “In all actions concerning children, whether undertaken by public or private social welfare institutions, courts of law, administrative authorities or legislative bodies, the best interests of the child shall be a primary consideration.”
The other speakers included Mitch Yusmar Yusof, Executive Director of Pertubuhan Pembangunan Kebajikan Dan Persekitaran Positif Malaysia (SEED); Dr Yap Hsiao Ling, Consultant Paediatrician of Hospital Tunku Azizah; Dr Colin Nicholas, Coordinator of the Centre for Orang Asli Concerns (COAC) and Dr Farah Nini Dusuki, Senior Lecturer of the Faculty of Law, University of Malaya.