From the illegal sale of babies to a hospital fire, we take a look at 7 of the most epic stories that made headlines in Malaysia this year.

1) Hospital Sultanah Aminah Hospital fire

October saw a major fire at the intensive care unit of Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) claim the lives of six patients. The fire has recently been attributed to a faulty capacitor in a ceiling light.

“In addition, it is also likely that there were flammable materials placed under the lighting, which caused the fire to spread quickly,” said Health Minister Datuk Seri S. Subramaniam, citing details from the full report on the hospital fire received by the ministry.

2) Budget 2017

The 2017 budget announced by Prime Minister Dato’ Seri Najib Razak in October stated that a total of RM25 billion will be allocated for the Malaysia Ministry of Health (MOH) to boost the health of the people and quality of healthcare in the country.

This comes after MOH expressed concerns of a possible repeat of the previous year’s budget, that had already seen a RM300 million cut.

Also of particular concern was as a circular from Tengku Ampuan Rahmah Hospital in Klang that went viral in the medical community, highlighting that the hospital would be temporarily halting pathology laboratory investigations as the department was unable to purchase necessary chemical reagents due to inadequate funds.

3) Public hospitals will not disregard patients who cannot afford FPP

Another announcement in October by MOH regarding the implementation of full paying patient (FPP) services in 32 public hospitals led to many raised eyebrows.

Concerns were raised that this would affect healthcare quality, and speculations were rife that this FPP was due to the shrinking budget. Later, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya reassured the public that patients who are unable to afford the charges would still be treated in public health facilities under the existing scheme.

“With this scheme, we provide opportunities for specialists at government hospitals to earn additional income to match the salary in private hospitals,” Hilmi had explained.

4) Eight confirmed Zika cases in Malaysia

In early December, a 67-year-old-man from Petaling Jaya was the eighth confirmed Zika case in Malaysia.

Dr. Noor Hisham stated that Zika control activities were enforced at the man’s residence and at places he visited, and Zika screenings were also conducted on his immediate family members.

"Active case detection was also conducted at the patient's residential area to determine whether there were other residents with Zika symptoms," Dr. Noor Hisham added.

5) The disappearance of Eye Mo from stores

GSK, the producer of the famous household eye drop, Eye Mo had stopped distribution of the product in several Asian countries since 2014, but this was only confirmed in March this year, causing uproar. The countries affected were Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Gijs Sanders, GSK Consumer Healthcare Singapore general manager said the decision to discontinue supply in several countries was “due to supply and demand issues [that are] unlikely to be rectified in the foreseeable future.”

Since then, as Eye Mo stocks dwindled, counterfeits as well as bacteria-tainted Eye Mo Regular have surfaced.

6) Clinics and doctors involved in RM2 billion illegal cosmetics industry

Just recently, it was found that millions of Malaysians have been inadvertently fuelling a massive illicit cosmetics industry.

These products contain harmful and banned substances and are being sold in popular shopping malls, night markets, bazaars and businesses on social media platforms. They are believed to be sourced from China, Thailand and the Philippines as well as within Malaysia.

Some of the products require intravenous administration and were advertised with a list of doctors and clinics that offer this service for the profits involved.

7) Babies' sale racket exposed by Al-Jazeera

Government doctors were not involved in the recent baby-for-sale racket as claimed by an Al Jazeera documentary, according to Deputy Minister of Health Datuk Seri Dr. Hilmi Yahaya. He further added that such things happened in private confinement homes for mothers. News of the racket drew furious protest and speculation by Malaysians and other global communities.

He further stated that the ministry is monitoring several clinics and parties that are believed to be involved in the sale of babies in Malaysia. Police have raided multiple clinics in the Klang Valley and Selangor in conjunction with “Ops Baby” and several arrests have been made including the lady dubbed “Bonda” who was caught on camera trying to sell a baby to undercover reporters.

"I have dealt with over 1,000 Indonesians with no problems," said “Bonda” to undercover reporters from Al Jazeera. "They never ask where their children go after giving them up." MIMS

Read more:
MOH: Faulty ceiling light capacitor cause of deadly Sultanah Aminah Hospital fire
MOH: Malaysian public hospitals will not disregard patients who cannot afford FPP
Malaysia confirms eighth Zika virus case, a senior citizen from Petaling Jaya
Malaysia's MOH vows to take action against those involved in babies' sale
MOH to act against clinics and doctors’ involved in RM2 billion illegal cosmetics industry
Where did all the Eye Mo disappear to?
Budget 2017: An overview of its impact on Malaysian healthcare in the coming year
Lack of funds leads to suspension of clinical laboratory tests in Malaysian hospitals
Malaysia’s Deputy Health Minister: We cannot afford budget cuts for 2017
Is Naled cost-effective to fight against the Zika virus?
Ten cosmetic products banned by Malaysia’s Ministry of Health for containing scheduled poisons
Malaysia’s MOH proposes expansion of full paying patient services
Police raid clinics, arrest doctor suspected to be involved in baby trafficking
Malaysia's MOH to investigate medical practitioners involved in baby-selling scheme