KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia: A new breed of tourists have emerged and they are willing to travel to faraway places to get organs from vulnerable people affected by the global financial crisis, thus giving rise to the term "transplant tourism."
Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican said it was the duty of government agencies to clamp down on such activities.
"As more vulnerable and poor people become affected by the financial crisis, there are increasing reports of trafficking in human beings used as sources of organs and of patients-cum-tourists travelling abroad to buy organs from poor people.
"It is up to us to impose morals on the market to ensure that the medical world is not a jungle, where only the fittest survive and the unfortunate lose out in the scheme of things," he said when opening the regional meeting on the World Health Organisation's guiding principles on human organ transplantation yesterday.
Dr Ismail said licensed organ entrepreneurs often came up with "creative" solutions to get around the policies and strategies that were put into place by governments to make organ transplantation a safe, ethical and transparent process.
On the influenza A (H1N1) situation, Dr Ismail said the ministry was still tracking down those who had come into contact with five confirmed patients.
He also urged passengers on board the following flights - MH091 and AK702 which touched down at the KL International Airport and the LCCT at 7.15am and 1pm respectively on Wednesday and AirAsia X D7 2723 that arrived in LCCT at 7am on Friday - to contact the ministry.
Dr Ismail said so far, 118 people who came into contact with the patients had been placed under home quarantine.
"All of them are healthy and do not show any sign of the disease," he added. -The Star/ANN