Monday, September 29, 2003

Making children aware of perils of cancer : KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26: With a message that cancer awareness should start with the young, the National Cancer Awareness Day was launched at the Mont Kiara International
School today.

The event, organised by the National Cancer Society Malaysia, was made more poignant by having it dedicated to the memory of Madeline Sjonell, a student from the school who died of a brain tumour three years ago.

With the theme "Wear yellow for cancer day", students, teachers and guests were in their "yellow" best as they thronged the school's amphitheatre for the launch of the campaign by Raja Puan Seri Noora Ashikin Raja Abdullah.

Raja Noora, who is the patron for the campaign, said cancer awareness concerned all including children.

"Most children do not think about cancer. We must remember that last year, more than 1,500 children died of it," she said.

She lauded the participation of the school, especially Niamh Walsh, a student who wrote "Chemophant", a book explaining chemotherapy to children that was also launched today.

"The book will help children understand cancer and arm themselves with knowledge that will help them as they grow older." The event took on a sombre note as student Joanne Richards read a letter from Madeline Sjonell's mother, Eva, to honour the efforts of the society and thanking the school for preserving the memory of her daughter.

"By dedicating this event to her, Madeline's spirit will live on," the letter said.

Later, Raja Noora visited the Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia paediatric oncology ward and distributed copies of "Chemophant" to children under treatment.

Apart from this event, several booths were set up at MidValley Megamall, Metrojaya in Bukit Bintang Plaza, Ikea and Cheras Leisure Mall to answer public queries about cancer. A bazaar was also held at the Bangsar Shopping Centre. The campaign will raise funds for the society's Resource and Wellness Centre to publish books and organise talks to inform the public about cancer.

Sunday, September 28, 2003

UM team wins physiology quiz: "UNIVERSITI Malaya's (UM) Team B has won the university's inaugural Inter-Medical School Physiology Quiz and the Prof A. Raman challenge trophy.
Ng Chee Yong of Team B said he and his teammates � Koay Hean Tang, See Beng Teong, Lim Lee Ling and How Ann Kee � spent more than a week preparing for the quiz. ''Physiology is a subject we studied in first year so we went over all our textbooks and notes, '' he said.
The first runner-up was UM's Team A, while the second runner-up was a team from Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Prof Cheng Hwee Ming, of UM's physiology department, said the quiz was aimed at generating interest in physiology, which is the study of human body functions.
Out of 11 letters of invitation sent out, seven medical schools responded, including Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Putra Malaysia, Perak Medical College, Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology and International Islamic University Malaysia.
Prof Cheng said the challenge trophy was named in honour of the late Prof A. Raman, who was the first Malaysian physiology professor at UM. He headed its physiology department from 1971 until his death in 1998.
Under his leadership, the department conducted undergraduate and postgraduate courses for medical, dental and paramedical students. He also rose to the challenge of teaching physiology in Bahasa Malaysia by spearheading the authorship of a series of physiology texts in the national language. "
Doctor: Few medical errors in hospitals: "PETALING JAYA: The record of medical errors reported in Malaysia is small compared to developed nations but continuous risk management methods must be taken to improve patient safety in hospitals, Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM) president Datuk Dr Ridzwan Bakar said.
He said based on the results of the Incident Reporting exercise conducted last year on all public hospitals, medication errors only made up 0.01% of the total number of cases surveyed.
“This meant that out of more than 10 million prescriptions, 1,637 errors are recorded.
“This is small compared to the 98,000 deaths noted yearly in the United States due to medical errors implied from two studies conducted, one in 1984 and the other in 1992.
“However, this also means 1,637 lives were affected because of these mistakes,” he said in his speech at the official launch of the International Healthcare Show 2003 yesterday.
Dr Ridzwan also said adverse drug reactions were reported in 13,319 patients out of the one million episodes of care surveyed last year.
The Incident Reporting Programme, implemented in all hospitals, presently monitors 31 types of incidents in hospital settings which includes medication errors, adverse outcomes of procedures, falls in the wards and wrong procedures performed.
“We need to consider the tools for mitigating such risks, which include quality assurance programmes, performance indicators, clinical audit and the patient safety council,” he added. "

Saturday, September 27, 2003

‘Time to set up risk management protocols’ : "PETALING JAYA: Healthcare institutions need to establish an action plan in line with health risk management protocols to ensure the safety of patients, staff and visitors, said Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng.
He said the action plan should not only involve the entire organisation, but also be fully backed by the related agencies, such as the police, army, fire and rescue department and voluntary organisations.
“Healthcare institutions should also know how to assess, analyse and contain these risks in order to protect their patients, staff and visitors,” he said in his opening speech at the 11th International Healthcare Show 2003, entitled Risk Management in the Healthcare Industry, here Friday. His speech was read by the Ministry’s Parliamentary Secretary S. Sothinathan.
Chua said risk management meant more than just having a safety programme, it involved a process that identified and controlled all the sources of risks and losses in a facility.
“It deals with all the areas of a facility’s operations, among others compliance with Federal and State requirements, maintenance, personnel and asset protection, fire and injury prevention, emergency preparedness, training and evaluation,” he said.
Chua added: “Healthcare risk management entails putting in place policies, processes and procedures for the prevention of risks and the averting of medical errors and facility failures which may otherwise lead to injuries, deaths and financial losses from insurance claims and lawsuits.”
He said among the risks that needed to be looked into were those related to safety of patients and healthcare staff arising from bad surroundings, poor maintenance or facility failure.
“Cases include patients or staff tripping on slippery floors, equipment failures while in use and power failure. The cases may not be reported unless causing death or severe injury,” he said.

The other aspect of risk was concerning security with the need to provide a safe environment for patients, staff, visitors and equipment, followed by natural disasters which could cause a sudden influx of victims to the facility and would jeopardise the normal operations of the organisation.

While the final risk is the weakness and errors in medical management, such as errors in procedures, mistakes in blood transfusion, diagnosis and treatment.

“Such mistakes could have undesirable or even fatal consequences,” he said.

He hoped that with the setting up of the Patient Safety Council of Malaysia last January, it could advise the Ministry on appropriate measures to be taken to improve the patients’ safety in hospitals.- Bernama

Friday, September 26, 2003

Take action against 24-hour clinics that employ HAs or MAs
: "KUALA LUMPUR Sept 25 - The Health Ministry and the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) should act against 24-hour clinics that employ hospital assistants (HAs) or medical assistants (MAs) during the 'graveyard shift'.
The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca) President, Datuk Hamdan Adnan, said Fomca had received numerous complaints from consumers that some 24-hour clinics were employing HAs or MAs instead of certified doctors for the late night shifts and this was a cause for concern.
'People go around looking for these 24-hour clinics in cases of emergency in the wee hours but when they are treated by a HA or MA they feel cheated.
'They go to these clinics seeking proper medical treatment from doctors but when a HA or MA treats them...who will bear the consequences if something goes wrong in the treatment,' he said Thursday.
He said when a patient or his or her family realised that it was a MA or HA who was at the clinic, it causes more stress and tension to the parties involved.
'Instead of wasting time looking for these 24-hour clinics they could have taken the patient to the nearest general hospital or private medical centre,' he added.
He said the Health Ministry and the MMA should carry out surprise checks on 24-hour clinics to ensure that only certified doctors were employed throughout the day.
'These clinics do not employ fulltime doctors to save costs without taking into account the lives of people. This should stop immediately before anyone dies.
'If a 24-hour clinic is found to have employed HAs or MAs to carry out a doctor's duties then it should be fined and its 24-hour status revoked,' he added. "
Expert: Elderly heal better in familiar surroundings: "PETALING JAYA: Putting the elderly, who are recovering from chronic illnesses, in nursing homes after they are discharged from hospitals may slow down the healing processes, said a university lecturer.
Universiti Putra Malaysia Geriatric Unit head and senior lecturer in medicine Dr Rajbans Singh said it could cause patients to become depressed from staying in unfamiliar surroundings, as they might feel “abandoned” by their family members.
“They are sent to these homes because most families are unable to cope or provide post-hospitalisation care for their aging parents or elderly relatives as they do not know the proper methods.
“Patients will recover better if they are cared for in their own homes, as they are more familiar with the environment,” he said. "

Thursday, September 25, 2003

Chua: AIDS kills more than war or terrorism: "NEW YORK: AIDS kills more people every day than any war or terrorist action, Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said.
Addressing the 26th special session themed “Implementation of the Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS” at the United Nations General Assembly here, Chua said neglecting the epidemic would only cause social and economic deprivations that could fuel the condition from which other issues may arise.
“Investment in HIV/AIDS prevention, treatment, care and support in developing countries now may well be an investment in the future that is equitable and peaceful,” he said.
Chua said that Malaysia and other developing countries would continue to need support.
“We hope that the commitment made by countries of the North to support the Global Fund against AIDS, TB and malaria will be met urgently.
“We regret that while some concerns have attracted large resources, HIV/AIDS still needs to fight for adequate attention,” Chua said.
The Health Minister also spoke on steps taken by the Malaysians Government to fight the scourge.
He said that Malaysia realised that any positive action depended on strong Government commitment and in the last two years had made available US$20.73mill for HIV/AIDS related work, of which US$8.32mil was for HIV prevention and US$9.81mil for clinical care and treatment.
“As about 80% of infections in Malaysia occurred among young people, aged between 20 and 35, the government placed great priority on prevention programmes for the young,” he said.
Among those who attended yesterday’s meeting was the Malaysian AIDS Council president Datuk Seri Marina Mahathir. "

Tuesday, September 23, 2003 > News > Malaysia to sign anti-smoking treaty today: "Malaysia will today sign the World Health Organization's Framework Convention on Tobacco Control at the United Nations in New York. The signature of Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng will mean that Malaysia will commit itself to establish stringent controls on tobacco products, including a ban on tobacco advertising.
The FIA supports the Framework Convention on Tobacco Control but Formula 1 tobacco companies are putting pressure on F1 teams to boycott countries which will not allow tobacco sponsorship.
In theory the Malaysian government has an agreement with F1 for racing until 2010 but as the contract is not a public document it is difficult to say whether it includes clauses related to tobacco sponsorship"
Historic stem cell transplant performed at IJN: "KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s first cardiovascular stem cell transplantation surgery was successfully performed at the National Heart Institute here last Tuesday.
Institute chairman Tan Sri Mohamed Khatib Abdul Hamid said the surgery was a proud achievement for the institute and the country.
“This research is among the first few clinical trials in the world using stem cell in treating a severe heart disease.
“We are proud to be involved in this leading edge research on stem cells as this is the first phase of the clinical trial in the world,” he said at a press conference here yesterday.

RECOVERING: Allagara, with the help of a nurse, showing where doctors operated on his body.
On Sept 16, a collaborative effort between the institute, Kansai Medical University of Osaka and Kuala Lumpur Hospital saw 20 medical experts performing a six-hour operation on 60-year-old Allagara Arumugam, who has been suffering from recurring chest pains since a coronary artery bypass surgery in 1997.
Allagara, who had been admitted 31 times for chest pains, was declared unsuitable for other operations to rectify the problem.
He said at the press conference yesterday that he was “very comfortable now compared to before”.
“It doesn’t hurt to breathe anymore,” said the retired defence ministry storekeeper.
The operation was led by Datuk Dr Mohd Azhari Yakub from the institute. It involved the harvesting of bone marrow from Arumugam's hipbone, which was then processed before being injected into his heart.
Dr Mohd Azhari explained that new blood vessels were expected to form within the next two to three weeks.
“Stem cell therapy offers a great opportunity for these patients to have an effective treatment and better quality of life. "
“It holds enormous potential for heart disease treatment and may one day be an alternative to heart transplants,” he added.
Two more patients have been lined up to undergo the same surgery in the next few months.
Stem cells are embryonic cells that have the potential to cure many human diseases as they are akin to blank cells that can develop into almost any of 216 different cells in the human body.
Found in embryos, foetal tissues, umbilical cords, adults and children, embryonic stem cells can be obtained from unneeded embryos for infertility treatment or those created specifically for research as well as in cloned embryos.
Blood stem cells in adults and children, acquired from the bone marrow during surgery, continuously replenish the body's red and white blood cells, and platelets.
Scientists today are making use of stem cells as a means to substitute dead or diseased cells in a number of organs.
Tissues derived from stem cells are potential treatment, for among others, heart attacks, congestive heart failure, stroke, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease, spinal cord injury, multiple sclerosis, diabetes, and cancer.

Home care connection: "There's a void that exists in caring for patients, especially elderly patients, in the time immediately after their discharge from hospital and before they fully recover from illness. Now there's a home care service that provides care for such patients at home while updating and giving feedback on the patient's recovery to the health care provider."

According to Dr Rajbans Singh, senior lecturer in medicine and head of the Geriatric Unit at University Putra Malaysia, who was speaking at a media conference on home health care, there’s an urgent need for home medical care, especially for patients after their discharge.

Dr Rajbans, who has had extensive involvement in health care of the elderly, was pivotal in setting up the first geriatric unit in the Ministry of Health and subsequently, the Institute of Gerontology in Malaysia.

In the hospital, trained staff care for the patients. Once these patients are discharged, such care falls on the shoulders of the family members, many of whom are busy juggling careers and duties at home.
He observes that the world is ageing, and rapidly. This is inevitably a result of advances in medical science through the years.” The average global lifespan in 1927 was 45 years,” he said. “This increased to 58 in 1950, and to 80 in 1999. Life has been prolonged, but acute disease is not anymore the major cause of death. Today one dies from chronic diseases, metastatic cancer, immune deficiencies and other diseases, with prolonged disability, immobility and dependency,” he notes.

According to Dr Rajbans, the elderly usually have multiple problems and these problems may present differently compared to a younger patient. In addition, the elderly generally are slower to respond to treatment. They also require more extensive social support and early rehabilitation to get them back on their feet.

Hence, the availability of a home health care plan or system can be very useful, not only to the elderly, but also to the family support system. That’s where Home Care Connection (HCC) will make an impact on the lives of many Malaysians.

It’s a service provider that offers comprehensive home care services and medical nutritional products to its members. To achieve this end, it currently has a core group of 12 doctors, 80 nurses and 11 physical therapists for support.

According to Siah Chee Teck, one of the innovators behind HCC, “HCC was developed based on the premise of making home care simple, accessible and reliable. It takes into consideration the comfort and peace of mind of all parties. We believe that good medical care can be available to all in the comfort of their own homes.”

Siah says that at the core of HCC is the referral relationship between the patient, health care provider and HCC itself. As the patient is getting ready to be discharged from the hospital, the health care provider will refer that patient to HCC and subsequently, the patient will receive follow-up care at home through HCC. Through this referral process, HCC serves as an important link for the patient and health care provider as it provides care for the patients at home while updating and giving feedback on the patient’s recovery to the healthcare provider. This is a smart partnership to enhance the recovery process of the patient.

Siah reveals that the services of HCC include specially tailored short or long-term home care by doctors and nurses; delivery of medical nutritional products/medication or medical consumables and home nursing care; 24-hour emergency monitoring systems and ambulance services. Discounts on a range of medical and nutritional products, services and equipment are also available.

Monday, September 22, 2003

Health: HRT and breast cancer

Different scenario here

In her presentation, Dr Yip stressed that the WHI study was done on American women and therefore Malaysian women should not be unduly worried, as we cannot apply the same findings with our own specific epidemiological differences.

According to the WHI study, the breast cancers detected in the HRT group were 2mm larger – the mean tumour size in the HRT group is 1.7cm compared to 1.5cm in the placebo group.

Dr Yip says that most breast cancer patients here come in at a much later stage; 40 per cent of Malaysian women come in with a tumour averaging 4.5cm, or stage four breast cancer.

According to the Malaysian National Cancer Registry (NCR), 4,337 women in Malaysia were diagnosed with breast cancer last year. Of these, 52 per cent were women below 50 years old.

Over one third, or 1,557, of breast cancer cases are in the pre-menopausal age group of 40 to 49, while 1,242 cases were in the 50 to 59 years age group, and the numbers get progressively less in Malaysian women above 60.

In Western societies, the incidence is the exact opposite with the breast cancer rates climbing in tandem with their increasing age after 50.

Dr Yip explained: “We do not get so many patients in the menopausal age group; unlike in the US where 75 per cent of their breast cancer cases are in the above 50 years old group. So I would like to emphasise that a study done in the US cannot be applied to our local population.”

Sunday, September 21, 2003

KL ratifies Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety: "KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19: Malaysia has ratified the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety, and is now legally-bound to the global treaty that regulates the import, export, handling and use of genetically-modified organisms.

Malaysia ratified the treaty on Sept 3, and will become a full-fledged member of the Protocol on Dec 2, fulfilling the 90-day requirement on ratification to become a member.

With this development, Malaysia is now trying to get its Biosafety Bill through Parliament as soon as possible, said a Science, Technology and Environment Ministry source.

Countries that have ratified the treaty are required to make their own laws on the trans-boundary movement of genetically-modified organisms, or living modified or-ganisms (LMOs) and their product derivatives, in accordance with the Protocol."

Saturday, September 20, 2003

Extend benefits to mental patients, says social activist: "PENANG Sept 19 - The government should include mental patients as beneficiaries of incentives for the disabled as announced under the Budget 2004, social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said Friday.
He said it was regrettable that mental patients would not qualify for the various benefits given to the disabled.
Mental patients should be categorised as disabled for them to enjoy such benefits, said Lee, who is National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) chairman.
'In view that the 2004 budget is still being debated in the Dewan Rakyat and not yet passed, I propose that the government consider (improving) mental patients' access to treatment and medicines which are quite expensive,' he told reporters after the opening of the Mental Health Forum by Penang Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon here.
Lee also urged the government to give higher allocations to the Health Ministry so that it could undertake more programmes to promote mental health.
He said the number of mental patients had been increasing because of the pressures of modern-day living.
Lee said a study conducted in 1996 showed that 10.7 percent of the people in the country suffered from mental disorders.
'I believe the problem has become more serious, and it is time for the government to make a new study to update the data,' he said.
Earlier, in his speech, Lee said recent scientific and medical research showed that mental health was a foundation for good health as the two were inseparable.
He said patients with mental illness suffered a great deal from the effects of the illness and the inability to function normally.
On top of that they also faced discrimination and rejection from the community, which had a detrimental effect on their recovery, he said.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), he said, one out of five individuals would develop a common mental disorder such as depression or anxiety every year.
Two out of every 100 people will develop schizophrenia or manic depression (bipolar disorder) in their lifetime and two to three percent of all families have a family member affected by intellectual disability.

Friday, September 19, 2003

Government has not recognised any medical university in China Kuala Lumpur: The government has yet to accord recognition to any medical degree from Chinese universities, the Dewan Rakyat was told Wednesday.

Parliamentary secretary to the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Khamsiah Yeop said, however, that the government had recognised medical degrees from eight universities in Taiwan.

“As such, medical practitioners from these universities can register with the Malaysian medical Council without any additional condition,” she said when replying to Tiong Thai King (BN-Lanang).

To a supplementary question from Datuk Yap Pian Hon (BN-Serdang) who wanted to know whether the government would speed up the evaluation of medical degrees from China to overcome the shortage of doctors in Malaysia, Khamsiah said the matter would continue to be studied.

She said that to overcome the shortage of doctors, medical practitioners from universities not recognised by the government would be allowed to sit for the qualifying examination for the Bachelor of Medicine degree to register in Malaysia.

She also said that 58 Malaysians working as doctors overseas had returned to serve the nation under the Malaysian Citizens Vision Movement Programme. Of this, 29 had registered with the Health Ministry.

Fomema, eight firms sued KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 18: The Foreign Workers’ Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (Fomema), eight other companies and 11 individuals have been sued by a well-known academician and Konsortium Bersatu Perkhidmatan Kesihatan Sdn Bhd for alleged fraud involving more than RM300 million.
Fomema was set up following a proposal by KBPK to bring about a systematic and standardised medical examination of foreign workers and the Government awarded the concession to Fomema on Sept 17, 1997.

In the suit filed at the High Court registry at Wisma Denmark on Aug 22 via Messrs A.J. Ariffin, Yeo and Harpal, Universiti Pendidikan Sultan Idris Pro-Chancellor Professor Tan Sri Awang Had Salleh and KBPK are also suing the 20 defendants for misrepresentation and breach of statutory and fiduciary duties.

They claimed that the offences were committed between October 1997 and April last year by the defendants who allegedly siphoned off or fraudulently retained the money.

KBPK is the body which in 1994 submitted a proposal to the Government to bring about a systematic and standardised medical examination of foreign workers in Malaysia.

The 11 individuals named as defendants were Foreign Workers' Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (Fomema) chief executive officer Datuk Dr Mohamed Haniffa Abdullah and his wife Datin Dr Selvarasi Veerappan @ Mumtaz Begum, Dr Jit Singh, G. Usha Rani, A. Revathy , P. Jeyamany , Tan Kok Beng, Chee Yuet Fang, Abdul Rahim Awang, Noor Wasitah Panot and Yeo Tee Eong.

The companies being sued were Pengkalan Usaha (M) Sdn Bhd (PUSB), Casa Damansara Sdn Bhd (CASA), HealthPac Industries Sdn Bhd (HISB), Taiplus Trading Sdn Bhd, Pujangga Ajaib Sdn Bhd, Masa Perunding Sdn Bhd (MASA), Alaf Kasih Sdn Bhd, Anjur Dinamik Sdn Bhd (ADSB) and Fomema Sdn Bhd.

The wrong-doings alleged by Awang Had and KBPK against the defendants were related to the implementation of the medical scheme for foreign workers which Fomema — comprising ADSB, which holds 75 per cent equity, and Koperasi Doktor Malaysia Berhad (KDM) the remaining 25 per cent — was awarded the concessionaire.

However, Awang Had and KBPK claimed that the implementation of the scheme, especially relating to payments, was not according to the terms of arrangement made between Fomema and ADSB.

Under the terms of the arrangement, ADSB was required to pay all doctors, laboratories and X-ray clinics for the services rendered. Instead, as alleged by Awang Had and KBPK, Haniffa and Jit had made arrangements for the payments to be siphoned out of ADSB into other companies.

In the statement of claim, Awang Had and KBPK claimed that they only discovered the wrong-doings on which their claim was based after they entered into a sale and purchase agreement to dispose of all their interest in ADSB to Pantai Support Services Sdn Bhd and upon obtaining documents, resolutions, bank statements and correspondence, including documents submitted to the Securities Commission, pertaining to the sale.

They alleged that other defendants except Yeo, Fomema and ADSB, aided and abetted Haniffa, Jit and Selvarasi in carrying out the acts and dishonestly assisted in the breach of fiduciary duties and fraud, and had shared the ill-gotten proceeds.

Awang Had and KBPK claimed they also discovered that there had been misappropriation of ADSB's funds, as a result of which they sufferred "phenomenal financial losses".

Awang Had, who is a director and shareholder of KBPK, is also a director and shareholder of ADSB and Fomema.

Besides seeking orders from the court for refunds totalling more than RM300 million which they claimed had been siphoned off or retained fraudulently by the companies and individuals concerned, Awang Had and KBPK also seek declarations from the court, among others, that:

* KBPK was the originator of the scheme for the systematic medical examination of foreign workers in Malaysia.

* Haniffa, Selvarasi, Noor, Usha Rani and Jeyamany are accountable to them (plaintiffs) for the purchase price received by them from the sale of the ADSB shares held by MASA.

* Haniffa, Selvarasi and Jit as directors of ADSB were in breach of their fiduciary duties.

* PUSB, CASA, HISB, Taiplus, Pujangga, Usha Rani, Revathy, Jeyamany, Tan, Chee and Abdul Rahim were participants and had dishonestly assisted in the breach of fiduciary duties owed to the plaintiffs by Haniffa, Selvarasi and Jit; and

* Haniffa had perpetrated a fraud or deception on the Securities Commission and is consequently not entitled to any of the benefits from the sale of ADSB, PUSB and HISB to Pantai Support.

According to Awang Had and KBPK, in January 1994, they submitted a proposal for the systematic and standardised medical examination of foreign workers in Malaysia to the Government.

In April 1994, they entered into a memorandum of understanding with Yayasan Kobena Sdn Bhd and Koperasi Doktor Malaysia Berhad (KDM) to form a consortium to pursue the application for the concession jointly.

Thursday, September 18, 2003

Bitter pill to swallow for health supplement users: PETALING JAYA: Consumers do not stand to gain big discounts with the abolishment of import duty on health supplements as not all prices of products will be reduced, said Malaysian Dietary Supplementary Association (Madsa) pro tem president Jagdev Singh.

“The products include vitamins, minerals and other locally-manufactured health supplements which do not have import tax,” he said.

He said the 10% tax reduction did not mean consumers would enjoy a 10% reduction in prices of products on shop shelves.

“Take cigarette prices, for example. They are not up by 20% since tax on tobacco products was raised by that amount. The same rule applies to health supplements, and there will not be any drastic changes in prices,” he added.

It was announced in Budget 2004 that the 10% import duty on health supplements would be abolished.

Jagdev Singh said that Madsa, which includes major players in the health supplement market, welcomed the Government’s move to “encourage the public to prevent illness rather than go for cures.”

“Madsa members are committed to spending in research and development and develop markets in other countries in line with the Government’s aspiration to become a global trading nation,” he added.

The association, he said, urged health supplement importers to pass on saving to consumers who should benefit from the tax cut.

He said that consumers could expect revised prices in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, September 17, 2003

Sabah plays host to International Nursing Conference: "An International Nursing Conference was held from September 11-14 at Shangrila's Tanjung Aru Resort in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah. This is the first time that Sabah played host to such a conference.
Over 750 delegates from Sabah, Sarawak, Peninsula Malaysia, Brunei, the Philippines, Australia, Iran, Indonesia and South Africa participated in this conference.
The Deputy Director General of Health (Hospital Division), Datuk Haji Ahmad Tajuddin was pleased on the huge turn-out of the nursing conference and congratulated the nurse leaders and health professionals for their efforts and initiatives in organising a successful conference."

Tuesday, September 16, 2003

Daily Express, Sabah, Malaysia -- News Headlines: "The Health Ministry objects to nurses leaving for jobs in Saudi Arabia if they are still in service with the Malaysian Government.
Health Director-General, Datuk Dr Mohamad Taha Arif said normally, the ministry will not allow people to go and work outside the country, not to the Government�s knowledge, and then come back and re-join the service.
We don't allow such practice unless they go on a no pay leave basis for whatever reason, or they take optional retirement if they have two or three more years to go before calling it a day, he told Daily Express Saturday. "
Utusan Malaysia Online - Home News: "BEIJING Sept 15 - Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi Monday stressed the importance of Malaysia forging closer cooperation with China in the area of biotechnology and information and communication technology (ICT).
Abdullah who is now on an official visit to China Monday toured the Peking University Biocity which is managed by China Bioway Biotech Group Co Ltd, a biotechnology firm and the Huawei Telecommunications Corporation.
Speaking to the Malaysian press corps accompanying him, Abdullah said he had invited Bioway to Malaysia and help in the development of the BioValley programme.
Abdullah said that he also proposed that the company locate its operations in Malaysia or Southeast Asia.
The company had expressed its agreement and Science, Technology and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Law Heing Ding would head a delegation here for follow-up discussions on the proposal.
Abdullah said China's approach to research and biotechnology was appropriate for Malaysia and would be very beneficial.
The Bioway company was founded in 1992 and over a period of 10 years had expanded its research centre which now covered 30,000 square metres of floor area in a building here and boasts sophisticated facilities. The centre now produces vaccines for Hepatitis A and also insulin.
On the Huawei company, Abdullah said it already had its regional office in Kuala Lumpur.
He said the company recorded rapid progress through research and development and now produced quality products on par with that of developed countries but at much lower price."
Doctors need a health minister, not a lawyer: "I am disturbed by the recent call from Health Minister Chua Jui Ming for the Malaysian public to take legal action against doctors suspected of abusing antibiotics. Although I agree that the increased resistance of bacteria to antibiotics is a concern, his drastic move is unbefitting of a health minister.
The duty of a health minister is to ensure that the Malaysian public is provided the best standard of medical care. Proper prescription of antibiotics is thus an important issue that ought to be tackled. He must ensure that continuing education of doctors, in particular, general practitioners, be emphasised. He may want to look into ways of monitoring prescription practices or even penalties for violation of certain codes, in particular relating to antibiotic prescription. He should also stress on educating the public on the use of antibiotics for bacterial infections and the importance of its judicial use.
He should not however, confuse law with medicine. As health minister, he should not encourage the public into taking legal action against doctors suspected of abusing antibiotics. This may lead to upward spiralling of medical costs. He should not make statements that will damage the credibility of the medical profession and thus erode the trust of the public in their very own doctors. He should not base his statements on hearsay but on concrete facts.
How bad is the situation? What are the resistance patterns of bacteria in Malaysia? How is the public able to discern when an antibiotic has been appropriately prescribed?
From the viewpoint of a government medical officer, I do agree that antibiotic resistance is a growing problem that needs to be addressed urgently. Although general practitioners are being targeted as the bad apples, they are unfortunately not the sole prescriber of antibiotics.
Medical assistants and pharmacists have the authority to prescribe these drugs without a doctor's prescription. Most medical assistants are employed in government clinics, and antibiotic abuse is rampant. Should legal action be taken against them or the doctor in charge of the clinic? Even pharmacists prescribe these drugs to willing and asking customers. What is the government's opinion on this?

Even the public should the chastised for the problem of antibiotic abuse. I once covered as a locum in a private clinic. A father brought his child complaining of fever and cough. After the necessary assessment, I mentioned that it is a viral fever for which only symptomatic treatment is warranted. The father then demanded that his child be given antibiotics. I stressed again that there is no need for antibiotics and mentioned the rationale behind it. At this point he became annoyed and rudely asked for the antibiotics. I had to comply with a paying customer.

The point is that the medical profession needs a health minister, and not a lawyer, to represent, advise, listen and most importantly to defend them if necessary. We are, after all, imperfect mortals.

(above is a letter to Malaysikini )

Sunday, September 14, 2003

Prescription for well-being: "THE Government will allocate RM20mil to expedite the setting up of the Centre for Disease Control to combat the spread of diseases.
Though the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) outbreak has ended, the Government will continue to be vigilant and put in place measures to prevent such diseases, in case of recurrence. The Government also accorded its appreciation to all medical staff who had sacrificed and took risks during the screening of visitors and treating SARS patients.
To improve healthcare, the import duty of 10% on health supplements would be abolished and pensioners would be able to enjoy discounts on selected medicines.
Under the allocation of RM9bil, which is an increase of 20.5% from last year, the healthcare system would be upgraded to provide essential medical services such as dialysis, intensive care and programmes to reduce morbidity and mortality among children.
Surveillance, with an allocation of RM3mil, would be continued on infectious diseases such as SARS, tuberculosis, leprosy and dengue.
However, to reduce the increasing financial burden of healthcare for the Government, the health insurance industry was encouraged to widen its coverage by providing lower premiums affordable to a majority of Malaysians.
To attract more medical specialists, the Government would set up private commercial wings in government hospitals to enable serving doctors to enjoy better remuneration and provide treatment at reasonable charges.
With the specialists serving in government hospitals, these medical facilities would then be promoted abroad as part of health tourism.
When contacted, Hospital Kuala Lumpur infectious disease unit head and senior consultant physician Dr Christopher Lee said it was “money put in the right place” especially where surveillance of illnesses was concerned.

“Due to the recent SARS outbreak, it is important to strengthen our surveillance networks not only within the country but throughout Asean nations and the rest of the world,” he said.

He said early detection and rapid response was vital to fight new emerging diseases and the extra allocation would boost these networks.

On cheaper medicine for pensioners, National Council of Senior Citizens Organisations Malaysia (Nacscom) president Lum Kin Tuck said although it was a good thing, the Government should consider providing free medication for those aged 60 and above because they might not have enough to pay for the medication.
Fomca president Prof Datuk Hamdan Adnan said the RM9bil allocation was an excellent move as it showed the Government cared and this year’s budget was mature, similar to those presented in advanced countries.

“For health supplements, the Health Ministry and the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry must ensure that the buck is not passed on to the consumers as manufacturers may want to eat up the profit,” he said.
However, CAP president S. M. Mohd Idris said the move to encourage more people to take health supplements would only benefit large corporations.

“There are many local and traditional herbs that can be used,” he added. Business News: "THE Life Insurance of Malaysia (LIAM) has welcomed the government's proposal for employers to provide medical and health insurance to employees.
But LIAM said it hoped the government would seriously consider its proposal to increase the personal tax relief for life insurance premiums to RM5,000 (from the current relief of up to RM3,000 for education and medical policies) as it would encourage more Malaysians to take up their own medical and health insurance.
It noted that only 35% of Malaysians were currently insured.
LIAM also said it was “deeply concerned” that the government had not considered the importance of setting up a private pension fund for Malaysians.
“We strongly believe that this is critical to help Malaysians enjoy a reasonably comfortable lifestyle after they have retired,” it added.
As good corporate citizens, LIAM said, insurers would ensure that insurance premiums were affordable to the public.
It added that premiums for medical insurance products were priced according to claims experience and that medical charges were imposed by doctors and hospitals.
Malaysian National Insurance Bhd (MNI) said the Budget 2004 reflects the government pro-growth commitment, while working towards a balance budget.
The government's priority was to sustain growth with higher involvement from the private sector, it said, adding that the domestic-led growth theme in this budget was timely to reduce dependence on foreign direct investment. "

Saturday, September 13, 2003

Malaysia file - SEPT 13, 2003: "MALAYSIAN nurses will soon have to take English as a compulsory subject, Health Minister Chua Jui Meng said yesterday.

The move will be implemented in stages, beginning with an 'English week'. -- New Straits Times"

Thursday, September 11, 2003

New Straits Times Online :: National: "KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 10: Malaysia is safe from any re-emergence of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome from Singapore as the recent case there has been classified as non-SARS.

Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said, however, that the ministry would continue its surveillance for a possible outbreak here through its clinics and hospitals nationwide.

Routine testing of samples from hospital patients is being conducted to keep watch should the virus re-appear locally.

The ministry is also on the look-out for global outbreak patterns through the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the media, he said at a Press conference after the ministry’s post-Cabinet meeting today.

“Since July 7, there have been no new SARS cases in the world. The chain of transmission in humans has been stopped.

“I briefed the Cabinet today and they have been assured that Malaysia continues to be SARS-free and faces no threat from Singapore,” he said.

Johor and Sarawak, meanwhile, have reactivated precautionary mea-sures at their entry points and in healthcare facilities.

On the 27-year-old Singaporean who tested positive for the coronavi-rus, Chua said he did not meet WHO’s criteria to qualify as a SARS case.

Although the patient had the virus and fever, he did not have respiratory problems and his three chest X-rays were found clear of infection.

WHO’s definition now states that a SARS case must fulfil both laboratory testing (for the virus) and all clinical criteria (fever, shortness of breath, respiratory problems and signs of pneumonia in chest X-rays).

With these criteria, the WHO has dropped the use of the words “sus-pected” and “probable” in classifying SARS cases.

Cases are now either SARS or non-SARS. The new defi-nition was issued after the end of the epidemic earlier this year.

“Malaysia agrees with WHO’s defi-nition of the case in Singapore and as such, we have no cause for alarm.”

He said WHO adopted the new definition because the virus had been isolated and was now identifiable.

He added that he spoke to the republic’s Health Minister Khaw Boon Wan today and cleared up the mis-conception that the Singaporean patient was a “confirmed” SARS case as initially reported.

On why the patient had the coronavirus but was not classified as having SARS, Chua said it was similar to the way certain bacteria resided in people’s bodies but did not infect them.

He said the patient was now recovering at the Tan Tock Seng Hos-pital’s Communicable Disease Centre.

Malaysia was also keen to find out how the patient contracted the virus, since it was not a human-to-human transmission.

The patient, a post-doctoral stu-dent, had been working in a laboratory environment doing research on the West Nile virus and was not known to have had access to any SARS virus samples.

Asked if there was a need for the ministry to revive its SARS operations room, impose travel bans, and use thermal scanners at national entry points, Chua said it was not necessary.

He said the ministry had confidence in Singapore’s stringent measures and that bilateral co-operation on preven-ting the disease’s spread was strong.

Meanwhile, a statement from the Consumers Association of Penang said the ministry should act swiftly and not adopt a wait-and-see approach.

CAP president S.M. Mohamed Idris said the ministry should be prepared to order specific actions such as screen-ing Singaporeans who enter Malaysia.

Wednesday, September 10, 2003

Jail for unhygienic food handlers

SEPANG, Sept 9: The 2.2 million food operators in the country must abide by cleanliness rules or face closure when the amended Food Hygiene Regulation comes into force at the end of the year.

They also face a RM10,000 fine or two years jail if convicted in court.

Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said the amendment would make it compulsory for all food handlers and operators — from five-star hotels, restaurants, stalls to mobile hawkers — to be registered with the ministry.

They must also attend a one-day course on hygiene and cleanliness, he said after presenting an A-grade award to Projek Lebuhraya UtaraSelatan Berhad (PLUS) for overall cleanliness in food preparation and handling practised by food operators at all PLUS rest and service areas here today.

"When the amended regulation is implemented, food handlers will have to follow specific guidelines on per-sonal and environmental hygiene to ensure the food is safe for consumption." All State and district health departments will conduct regular inspections to ensure compliance.

Chua said the ministry was concerned about food safety and cleanliness as it did not want people to come down with food poisoning or die of it.

In 1999, there were 8,640 cases of food poisoning with three deaths. There were 4,733 cases with no deaths last year due to strict enforcement by the authorities.

Chua said the number of people suffering from typhoid and cholera also fell from 1,304 cases with 19 deaths in 1998 to 365 cases and seven deaths last year.

In 2001, 54,042 premises were issued with temporary closure orders and last year, 63,354.

Only 150,000 food handlers attended the one-day hygiene course, although the ministry had emphasised the importance of attending it before handing issuing business licences.

"Now we will make it compulsory. If they do not fulfil our criteria, the licence will not be issued." The ministry was also taking into account the Code of Practice for Food Hygiene under the "Codex Alimentarius" when amending the regulation which will be submitted to the Cabinet soon and gazetted by yearend.

Chua commended PLUS for taking proactive measures in ensuring that all its 128 food stalls, 103 drink stalls and 22 restaurants along the NorthSouth Expressway adhered to high standard of food safety and cleanliness.

PLUS executive vice-chairman Abdul Wahid Omar said the award would enhance PLUS's reputation as one of the leading highway operators not only in Malaysia but also the world.

"Highway users can be rest assured of the high level of hygiene and cleanliness practised by the food and beverage operators at our rest and service areas." Wahid said 1,699 stall operators from the North-South Expressway attended the Food Preparation and Safety Courses at approved institutions under the Health Ministry between September last year and July this year.

SARS mechanism will not be up just yet, says Pak Lah

BANGKOK: Malaysia will only activate its mechanism to prevent the spread of the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) if the situation in Singapore warrants such action, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said yesterday.

He said one SARS case had been confirmed on the island but Malaysia would not reinstate screenings and thermal scanners at entry and immigration points yet.

“We do not want to take actions that will imply that the situation is so serious as it will affect tourism and economic activities,” he told Malaysian journalists here.

Abdullah, who concluded his two-day working visit to Thailand with a dinner hosted by Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra, said, however, Malaysia was closely monitoring the case in Singapore with Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng in close contact with his counterpart in the republic.

“Our anti-SARS mechanism can be activated at very short notice,” he said, adding that he expected to get a detailed report from Chua soon.

In Putrajaya, SA’ODAH ELIAS reports that Chua had directed all state health departments, especially Johor, to be on the alert.

He said the ministry was told by its Singapore counterpart that the patient, a 27-year-old Singaporean medical student, did not show any lower respiratory problem and his chest X-ray was also clear.

”The ministry will wait for confirmation from the World Health Organisation on the status of the man before deciding on its next course of action,'' he told reporters, after presenting the A-grade certification for overall cleanliness to food operators at all Projek Lebuhraya Utara-Selatan rest areas along the North-South Expressway.

“We have already verified with Singapore that all the people that the patient had come into contact with after Aug 26 have been identified and none of them is showing any SARS symptom,” he said, adding that the patient had since been isolated at the island's Tan Tock Seng Hospital.

In Singapore, NELSON BENJAMIN reports that the island's Health Ministry had confirmed that the patient who worked in a hospital laboratory had been tested positive for the SARS virus; making him the first case in the republic after the SARS outbreak which killed 32 people several months ago.

Its acting health minister Khaw Boon Wan said the situation had been contained and did not pose a serious public health risk, as the patient was isolated early.

”We have also sent another sample to the Centre for Disease Control in the United States for further verification,” he said, adding that the test results were expected to be known next week.

Khaw said the ministry had formed a team to track down the source of the virus and it was still too early to say whether the student contracted it from the laboratory.

He said the student, who was researching West Nile virus at a microbiology laboratory in National University of Singapore (NUS), developed fever on Aug 26 and was treated with antibiotics but when his fever persisted, sought treatment at the Singapore General Hospital (SGH) on Aug 29.

“As his chest X-ray was normal, he was diagnosed as having viral fever and allowed to go home,” Khaw said, adding that on Sept 3 the man was hospitalised when he returned to SGH.

Khaw said his ministry had already informed the WHO of the latest case but, according to them, it did not fulfil the case definition for SARS under the new WHO post-SARS guidelines.

He said the patient, who was “clinically” doing well and had no fever since Sept 5, had not visited any SARS-affected country or travelled outside Singapore in recent weeks.

Director-general of public health Daniel Wang said all 23 laboratory staff had been tested negative for the virus.

Tuesday, September 09, 2003

KL to recognise China medical degrees - SEPT 8, 2003: "Aim to address shortage of doctors and improve relations with China in bid to boost share of Malaysian Chinese vote
By Leslie Lau

MALAYSIA plans to recognise medical and dental degrees from universities in China, in a move designed to enhance bilateral ties and help remedy a shortage of doctors.
Deputy Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi will also discuss student exchange programmes with Chinese officials when he visits Beijing this week.
The move will strengthen the position of the ruling Barisan Nasional (BN) coalition, which is courting the Chinese community for crucial votes as it prepares to face the opposition Parti Islam SeMalaysia in a general election likely to be called by next year.
With Malay votes split between the government and the opposition, the Chinese community's support is important for BN's electoral strategy.
Any move to strengthen relations with China is usually greeted with approval.
Datuk Seri Abdullah is heading to Beijing on Saturday with eight Cabinet members, for talks on the recognition of Chinese universities, the entry of foreign workers from China into Malaysia and other issues.
The Malaysian delegation will also take part in talks on enhancing student exchange programmes, to encourage more Malaysian students to study in China's universities.
About 1,500 Malaysian university students are studying in China but more than 10,000 China students are enrolled in Malaysian universities and colleges, representing the country's biggest group of foreign students.
Education Minister Musa Mohamad, who will accompany the Deputy Prime Minister for the Beijing talks, said the government wanted Malaysian students to have more choice, especially if they wanted to take up medicine or dentistry. "

Monday, September 08, 2003

Doctors: Be more aware of child health: "PUTRAJAYA: New parents will be less confused about their children�s health problems if they are equipped with the right knowledge, according to the Malaysian Paediatric Association (MPA).
MPA president Dr Nazeli Hamzah said many health problems among children could have been avoided if parents were more aware of the importance of preventive healthcare.
Towards this end, MPA has published The Total Child, a parenting guidebook, which will be available from Oct 1.
The book was launched by the Prime Minister�s wife, Datin Seri Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamed Ali, at MPA�s 25th anniversary celebrations and annual scientific congress at the JW Marriott here last week.
Dr Nazeli said the book, made possible with support from Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia, Selangor Medical Centre and the Nutrition Society of Malaysia, would clear up the many myths and misleading information that have confused parents.
Dr Siti Hasmah congratulated MPA for its efforts in looking into the welfare of adolescents as a special group with special needs, adding that adolescent health might soon be a subspecialty by itself.
She said MPA had taken a strong stand on health and social issues related to children and adolescents, such as drug and substance abuse, tobacco-related advertisements targeted at youths, child abuse and neglect, breastfeeding issues and children�s rights.
Dr Siti Hasmah noted that the association had fought to be heard, especially in shaping national policies.
She also commended MPA for making a difference by reaching out to all levels of the community, particularly underprivileged families. The 146-page parenting guidebook will be sold at RM15 through paediatric and dietetic departments of major hospitals and select clinics. For details, call 03-5637 8588.

Prescribe high-end medication rationally, advises ministry: "KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has cautioned medical practitioners in the country against randomly prescribing high-end antibiotics to patients and reminded them to adhere to guidelines on their use.
Health deputy director-general Datuk Dr Ismail Merican urged doctors and specialists to use such antibiotics “rationally” to prevent anti-microbial resistance occurring in patients – a situation where microbes become resistant to specific medicines and develop ways of surviving the use of medications meant to kill or weaken them.
Speaking to reporters yesterday after opening the Infection Control Seminar at Pantai Medical Centre, he said an antibiotic audit carried out by him on local hospitals showed that “quite a lot” of doctors, especially those in the “higher structure,” did not adhere to guidelines on the use of antibiotics provided by the ministry and Malaysian Medical Academy.
Hospital Kuala Lumpur infectious disease unit head and senior consultant physician Dr Christopher Lee said that as opposed to first generation antibiotics such as penicillin, bactrim and tetracycline, high-end antibiotics were those which worked against a broad spectrum of organisms such as carbatenems, third and fourth generation cethalostorin and quinolones.
“When you have such a wide spectrum, there is collateral damage when fairly friendly organisms are also killed. "

Sunday, September 07, 2003

New Straits Times Online :: National: "PUTRAJAYA, Sept 5: The Government may soon establish adolescent wards at government hospitals
for those aged between 13 and 19.

Malaysian Paediatric Association president Dr Nazeli Hamzah said the Health Ministry had agreed in principle to look into establishing such wards. 'In Malaysia, those aged 13 and above are admitted to adult wards, where they are not able to receive specific care. They are adolescents and do not belong there and neither are they children,' she said, adding that teenagers were emotionally and mentally different from children and adults.

She said this at a Press conference after the opening of MPA's 25th Annual Congress and launch of a parental guide to child health and nutrition, called The Total Child.

Datuk Seri Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali opened both events.

'We are very pleased that the Health Ministry has agreed in principle, but the execution is still in its infancy and we hope the process will be speedier,' Dr Nazeli said.

The idea for separate wards for adolescent boys and girls was mooted by the association at a dialogue with the Health Minister in July.

Australia and the United States are among the countries that have adolescent wards.

Dr Nazeli said it was difficult for sick teenagers to move to adult wards and be counselled by different doctors after growing up with their paediatricians.

'We are suggesting that the same paediatrician look after the adolescent. When the patient is an adult, he or she can move on to the adult ward,' she said.

She said paediatricians would need to be trained to sub-specialise in adolescent health, which is a threeyear course.

At present, there is only one Malaysian who is studying adolescent h"

Saturday, September 06, 2003

Lahad Datu folk can expect better healthcare soon

Lahad Datu: Healthcare and medical services in the district will be upgraded with more doctors, specialists and nurses expected to arrive by next month.

Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Ming said with the filling of these vacancies, the RM2 billion district hospital would be able to conduct nesprocopic and cancer surgeries and ear-nose-throat (ENT) treatment as well as breast cancer treatment.

Described as among the largest and sophisticated hospitals in the State, he said about 102 nurses would also be posted there by October.

“With this number of workforce, the hospital will be able to open another two outpatient treatment units,” he said when officiating at the 13th Anniversary of the Moral Uplifting Society here on Thursday night.

According to Chua, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi is expected to officiate at the opening of the district hospital once the workforce is in place.

Meanwhile, the Health Ministry has allocated RM10,000 to the society for the implementation of its welfare activities, that is to provide Western and Chinese medical services to residents here.

At the same time, Chua called on the society to continue with its work to promote moral virtues among the people.

“Rape, murder, corruption, robbery and other serious crimes are happening every day in our nation and the good deed of the establishment in instilling good values will help reduce social problems,” he said.

More than 1,000 people attended the dinner despite bad weather.

Chua, who is a MCA Vice President, also assured that he would convey the Chinese community’s request here for a candidate from the community to stand in the forthcoming election in the constituency.

Friday, September 05, 2003

Check on foreign workers' medical status: "KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet has decided to set up private companies to monitor the medical examinations of foreign workers in their home countries following complaints of falsification of health certificates, said Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng.
He said the companies were required to ensure that the workers underwent the mandatory medical checks, including X-rays and laboratory tests, required by the Malaysian Government.
�The companies will be set up before the year end in consultations with the Home Ministry,� he told reporters yesterday after receiving a RM100,000 contribution from Pharmaniaga Bhd for sponsorship of the SMI Phoenix Award.
Pharmaniaga managing director Azhar Hussain handed over the mock cheque to Chua for the award, to be bestowed on companies that had staged dramatic recoveries following the 1997 financial crisis at the SMI Recognition Award ceremony on Oct 3.
Chua said the ministry was implementing the new system to prevent unhealthy workers from coming into the country.
He was commenting on a private television report on Tuesday that 90% of the foreigners in Malaysia identified with diseases were legal workers who were in the country for the first time.
The network quoted Fomema�s chief executive officer Dr Mohamed Haniffa Abdullah as saying that the workers� health problems were only discovered when they were sent for health examinations after one year.
Chua said the ministry had received reports that some of the foreign workers had obtained health certificates from clinics in their home countries without undergoing the mandatory checks while some had obtained false certificates.
Chua said 235,362 foreign workers came into the country last year, of whom 13,000 were chosen for random medical screening on arrival.
Another health check for EPF staff: "PETALING JAYA: Staff at the Employees Provident Fund�s (EPF) microfilm unit will undergo another round of medical check-ups following reports that two of its employees at the unit have developed cancer.
EPF deputy chief executive officer (management and organisation development) Rusma Ibrahim said the staff would be sent to the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) panel of doctors as additional precaution.
�The safety and health of our employees at the workplace is our first priority,� she said in a statement yesterday.
Rusma said the management received reports in October last year that a few employees of the unit were suspected to be ill and sent all staff in the unit to its panel of doctors.
�Two were diagnosed to be suffering from cancer. However, it could not be ascertained whether the ailment was work-related,� she said.
Rusma said Niosh conducted a health risk assessment of the unit on April 1 and June 13.
�The preliminary findings have been presented to the management and we are now waiting for the detailed report,� she added.
EPF discontinued all microfilming related activities in July as part of its plans to switch to newer technologies to manage and store records, she said.
A recent MTUC newsletter said most of the chemicals used in the unit were hazardous and employees were not provided proper protective equipment.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn said on Tuesday that Niosh had been told to investigate and would submit a report within a week. " Business News

Medical Defence Malaysia Bhd has appointed Tan Sri Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman as chairman effective June26. .

He succeeds Dr Eddie Soo Fook Mun who has been appointed executive director with effect from the same date while Dr Richard Veerapen continues as deputy chairman.

Abu Bakar obtained his Bachelor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery from Monash University, Australia in 1968 and a Master of Medicine from University of Singapore in 1974.

A member of The Royal Australian College of Physicians, and an honorary fellow of the American College of Physicians, he began his career as a medical officer with the Health Ministry in 1969 and subsequently completed his training in Internal Medicine before becoming a consultant physician with the Department of Nephrology of Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

In 1975, he was visiting fellow to the Division of Nephrology of Georgetown University Hospital, Washington DC as well as Prince Henry's Hospital of Melbourne, Australia.

The following year, he returned to be the head of the Department of Nephrology of Hospital Kuala Lumpur.

Abu Bakar was the director general of health from 1991 to 2001.

Monday, September 01, 2003

Source of suspected meningitis being traced: "MALACCA: The state health authorities are monitoring the condition of 14 illegal immigrants admitted to the Malacca Hospital on Thursday night for suspected meningitis.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Ali Rustam said health department officials were trying to trace the origin of the suspected meningitis outbreak, which affected the inmates who were from the Machap Umboo immigration camp in Alor Gajah.
“The health authorities are carrying out checks to determine the source of infection. Round-the-clock monitoring is being held and the patients are in an isolation ward,” he said after launching the National Day celebration at the Malacca Nursing College here today.
He said the 14 immigrants were admitted to the hospital as they were in contact with an Indonesian, Mohrani Mislan, 29, who was hospitalised on Aug 23 for meningitis.
Those warded are eight Indonesians, one Indian, one Pakistani, one Cambodian, two Bangladeshis and an unidentified national. – Bernama "