Sunday, October 24, 2010
INTERNATIONAL ORGAN DONATION AWARENESS - MALAYSIA
Organ donors rising but still not significant
Published on: Sunday, October 24, 2010
Kota Kinabalu: More Malaysians are beginning to see the nobility of donating their organs after death with the number of pledges steadily rising in recent years.
However, the figures are still nowhere near significant, with only about 147,000 people having pledged their organs from 1976 to September this year, making up only about 0.5 per cent of the nation's 27 million population.
"Every year there is an increase of pledges but (the numbers are still) very small," said Public Awareness for Organ Donation Action Committee Chairman, Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
"(But) we made a good start and promotion on organ donation to raise awareness actually started in 1997, but I think we should do more to involve non-governmental organisations (NGOs), religious bodies, voluntary associations and the community in general."
And that also includes work to convince Sabahans that donating organs is honourable, he said, adding Sabah ranked 11th in the organ pledgers based on State list.
"There have been 2,556 pledges so far from 1976 to this year coming from SabahÉI think we need to work harder to raise awareness in the State," he said.
First on the list is Selangor with 30,114 pledges made so far, followed by Johor (25,865) and Penang (21,142), while Sarawak has 4,371 pledges to date.
People aged between 21 and 30 are the most to pledge their organs since 1972, totalling 3,386 individuals, with those aged between 31 and 40 numbering 2,018.
Speaking to reporters after launching the national-level organ donation awareness promotion programme here, Saturday, Lee said the State Health Department could play an important role towards spreading information about organ pledging and donation.
This campaign would also involve talks at schools and public higher learning institutions, he added. And to draw participation from NGOs, he said the Minister of Health has agreed to consider providing grants to capable bodies to help the Government stir interest in organ donation among the people.
"There are NGOs interested in doing this but the problem is they lack the financial abilityÉI have spoken to the Minister and he has agreed to think about it." The reluctance among people to donate organs is mainly connected with religious issues, Lee said, pointing out effort needs to be focused in this area.
"A lot needs to be done to address the mindsets, misconceptions and religious concerns," he said, adding there have been marked improvements among Malays as organ donors, with this community considering organ donations as taboo. A lot of effort had been put in and we managed to break the barrier. Buddhists are the majority of people in the peninsula pledging and donating their organs, while the Christians and Hindus are also doing their part."
There are 11,000 people on the waiting list for kidneys, liver (25), lungs (4), heart (6) and heart and lungs (3), among others.
Meanwhile, Lee and State Health Director Dr Mohd Yusof Ibrahim earlier flagged off a convoy comprising cyclists from the department, Labuan Health Department, Kota Kinabalu Cyclist Association and Sabah Big Bikers Club to go on an organ donation awareness trip.
After the capital, the cyclists, accompanied by several vehicles from the State Health Department, will go to Tuaran, Kudat, Beluran, Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Lahad Datu, Tawau, Keningau, Beaufort and Penampang.