Reports On NS Trainees Death Overblown, Says Health Minister
He said the number of deaths in the programme was comparatively small.
"While we are very sympathetic over the deaths, we feel that the reporting should not be overblown.
"From 2004 to 2007, about 240,000 NS trainees underwent the courses with only eight deaths. In other words, with a population of 240,000, the rate of death is in fact much smaller than that in the general population," he told reporters after attending the MCA Central Committee meeting here today.
Chua said that under normal circumstances, the mortality rate of those aged between 17 and 18 years in this country was 1 in 1,000 persons.
Prema Elenchelian, 18, was the latest trainee reported to have died while undergoing NS training.
She was found dead after falling in the Kisana Beach Resort camp's toilet in Pasir Putih, Kelantan, on Wednesday.
Prema's death brought to 12 the number of trainees who have died since the programme began in 2004. However six of the 12 died outside the camp during their breaks or visits to their homes.
On the call for mandatory health check-ups on trainees, Chua said the ministry had a meeting on the matter with NS Training Council chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye on Monday.
He said illnesses of trainees could only be detected in a medical examination if they were easily identified.
A medical examination could pick up illnesses which could occur during training, he added.