Materia Medica Malaysiana

December 6, 2007

Cord blood banks yet to register with ministry, says Chua

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:45 am

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Private cord blood banks, which are supposed to register with the Health Ministry, have yet to do so.
“They have not applied for registration yet. Our officers have visited them,” Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek told reporters on Monday.
He had announced on Nov 21 that the three existing centres would have to apply for a licence from the ministry within three months and would be registered under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998.
They would have to adhere to guidelines drawn up by the National Committee on Stem Cell Services.
The Cabinet had also decided to disallow the future setting-up of private cord blood banks because, while it had huge potential to treat specific diseases, there were still ethical issues to be studied.
In taking them to task again on Monday, Dr Chua said that using cord blood in the treatment of diseases was currently limited.
Cord blood can be used to treat illnesses such as lymphoma, leukaemia and thalassaemia.
“The chances of using it are very low and there is also the question of adequate quantity needed,” he said.
“Besides, the storage facility has to be good because blood has a limited lifespan.”
Dr Chua added that it was also questionable whether cord blood could be used to treat diseases like leukaemia because it was likely to already have the predisposition for the disease.
He also said the stem cell transplant centre at the Ampang Hospital would be able to carry up to 120 such operations once it was upgraded under a recent allocation from the Government.
Currently, the hospital was able to do about 40 stem cell transplants yearly.
“There is still a waiting list of 35 patients,” he said.
The private sector, he said, charged between RM100,000 and RM200,000 per operation while it cost RM40,000 if carried out in the public hospital.
“Singapore charges RM400,000. The time has come to develop the National Cord Blood system to meet the needs of the rakyat,” he added.

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