Selangor's state councillor for Health, Women and Family Empowerment Dr Siti Mariah Mahmud has disputed claims that sharing data with Selangor’s contact tracing app Selangkah would compromise confidentiality.
Responding to Health director-general Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, Siti Mariah stressed that Selangkah is owned by the Selangor government, and not privately-owned as claimed by Noor Hisham.
"Selangkah belongs to the state via a state-owned company. We had to acquire Selangkah in order to help contact tracing and do analysis on the spread (of Covid-19) using AI," she told Malaysiakini.
Selangkah Ventures Sdn Bhd (Company No: 1379166-D) is an affiliate and subsidiary of Selgate Healthcare Sdn Bhd, a company under Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS).
According to its privacy declaration, the app is in line with the Personal Data Protection Act 2010.
The issue arose after the Selangor government said it was currently hampered in its Covid-19 response after the Health Ministry allegedly stopped sharing crucial data on positive cases.
It was learned that since the first week of October, the Selangor Task Force for Covid-19 (STFC) no longer received granular data from the ministry, thus hobbling its efforts to help contain the outbreak.
Siti Mariah said the Health Ministry had previously committed to integrating Selangkah with MySejahtera.
"During the MCO (movement control order), the new Health Minister Dr Adham Baba visited Selangor and he agreed that Selangkah can be integrated with MySejahtera but since then, there's been no further action.
"We also offered the sharing of the (data) dashboard with the state health department (JKNS). Whatever findings we had we passed it on to JKNS for further actions," she said.
The Seri Serdang assemblyperson said up to recently, there had been close cooperation between the state government and the state health department.
She said Selangkah predicted the high-risk areas like the wet markets and old folks’ homes, prompting the state to conduct its own targeted testing, with positive cases referred to the state health department.
Earlier, Noor Hisham had told news portal The Vibes that Selangkah falls under a private company, but MySejahtera, which is used by the federal government, is under the ministry.
“For the Health Ministry, all data is confidential, but the data (in Selangkah) can be used by the company.”
"Where is the assurance of confidentiality? Plus, who pays? Lots of fundamental issues,” he was reported as having said.
Noor Hisham also denied any political motives behind the move, saying, “I don’t play politics, but these are the facts.”
Noor Hisham had explained yesterday that the ministry’s federal headquarters could not fulfil the STFC’s request for “raw data” to ensure data interpretation was standardised.
“If we have not analysed the data and then they make a conclusion, I won’t know what conclusion they make. Is it right for you to make a conclusion when I have not even seen the data yet?
“That is where we need to standardise the data.
“That means federal will analyse it, and we give the data to the respective states. And the respective states will look into the data,” he had said.
Dr Noor Hisham also told The Vibes that there is no need to integrate the two apps as MySejahtera has already recorded more than 20 million users.
The app has also been gazetted under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988, he said.
He went on to say that it was not the responsibility of the state government’s responsibility to conduct surveillance and contact tracing and oversee Covid-19 quarantine centres.
“(These are) all done by the state Health Department. Better coordination with the state health office is important.”
Noor Hisham cited the confusion arising from the Utama cluster, where the shopping mall 1 Utama disputed the numbers released by the Petaling district office.
The figures later matched the Health Ministry data, released later that day.