Thursday, May 8, 2008

So many DEATHS at National Service. Where is the investigation team?


KUALA LUMPUR: A National Service trainee who complained of an upset stomach after having lunch, died nine hours later at a hospital.
National Service Training Department director-general Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil said Too Hui Min, 18, died on Wednesday at 10.45pm at the Slim River Hospital in Perak.
The teenager and 177 other trainees from the Geo Kosmo Camp in Kuala Kubu Baru, had chicken rice for lunch while training at the shooting range in Jugra Banting, Selangor. They arrived at the range at 1.45pm,
However, at 3pm, Too complained of an upset stomach and was checked on site by a paramedic on standby. Too, he said, was not allowed to continue with the shooting training and was given medication for wind.
She was then taken back to the camp before she was driven to the hospital.
"Too was the only one who suffered an upset stomach. We are quite puzzled as the rest of the trainees are fine.
"We convey our deepest condolences to the deceased's family. However, we are not taking this lightly and will conduct a thorough investigation.
"But we will not pre-empt anything and will be speaking to everyone including the food caterers, health and NS officers," Abdul Hadi said at a press conference here Thursday.
Too, he said, reached the camp at 5.30pm and was checked according to procedure by a Health Ministry medical officer.
"She was conscious all through and not in critical condition. She was then sent to the hospital at 8.30pm and placed in the observation ward," he said, adding that her family was also informed.
Abdul Hadi said the hospital staff told the NS officers that they could leave the hospital as her condition was not critical.
"She became critical at 10pm and died at 10.45pm," he said, adding that Too had suffered constipation on March 19 but did not have any other medical problems as far as they knew.
On why Too was only sent to hospital at 8.30pm, Abdul Hadi said medical procedures were followed and she would have been rushed immediately if the situation warranted it.
Too, who is from Kuala Selangor, celebrated her birthday last month and was just one month short of completing her NS training stint.
There had been 16 deaths since National Service started in 2004, including two this year. The deaths included those who went on holidays or had accidents outside the camp.
Abdul Hadi said he met with the Health Ministry's officials three days ago to discuss all aspects of NS trainees' health and had suggested a required medical check-up for all trainees before they entered the camps, a suggestion that was raised last year.
"Currently, parents have to fill up a declaration form and identify whether their child suffered from any of the 32 ailments listed. If yes, then they have to undergo a check-up," he said.
The Ministry's National Service health technical committee would look into the proposal before it was discussed at the NS Training Council meeting on June 3.

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