KLANG: Negative stigma amongst members of society towards drug abuse and addiction is one of the factors that prevent those involved from seeking professional treatment and help for their problems, said Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin.

He said if these individuals admit that they are addicts, there will probably be legal consequences where they will be arrested, as that is what they think in their minds.

“Recently, we looked at the case of a teenager who was accused of stealing mosque funds and saw how he was humiliated. I don’t think that is the way our society should treat people. Addiction must be treated as a medical concern,” he said.

He said this to reporters after launching the national level Initiative to Eliminate AIDS through Smart Collaboration of Government-Non-Governmental Organisation (GO-NGO) Health Clinic (KK) Model 2.0 here, today.

Khairy said the matter was raised following the approach used by non-governmental organisations (NGOs), especially the Malaysian AIDS Council, which, to some extent, has succeeded in changing society’s perception of those living with HIV-AIDS.

He added that through the launch of the initiative, his ministry, in collaboration with NGOs, has also gone to the field and provided exposure to the vulnerable in particular so that information on risks and treatment can be disseminated.

This initiative allows NGOs to also operate in health clinics to help strengthen programmes to reduce harm amongst HIV-AIDS patients. The Pandamaran Health Clinic in Klang has been selected to implement the programme in collaboration with the Malaysian AIDS Council.

He explained that with the empowerment of the community and NGOs, the Health Ministry hopes to eliminate AIDS in 2030 through the National Strategic Plan for Ending AIDS 2016-2030. — Bernama