Friday, September 30, 2005

72 Died From Dengue This Year

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 30 (Bernama) -- Dengue has claimed 72 lives from January to yesterday, Health Ministry's Disease Control Division director Dr Ramlee Rahmat said.
He also said the number of suspected cases over the past week rose to 752 from 682 a week earlier.
From Sunday to yesterday, Penang registered 154 cases, Kuala Lumpur 71, Johor 38, Perak and Negeri Sembilan 28 each, Sarawak 22, Sabah 17, Pahang 13, Perlis six and Terengganu two.
There were no cases in Putrajaya and Labuan while the reports from Kedah, Melaka and Kelantan had not been received yet.
"Even though 25 cases were reported in Selangor within the period, I believe the number there is higher," he told reporters here Friday.
Dr Ramlee said of 27,569 cases reported up to Sept 24, a total of 7,992 were found to be dengue positive.
He said the areas considered dengue hot spots were still the southwest and northeast districts of Penang, Johor Baharu, Subang Jaya, Setapak, Gombak, Shah Alam, Kajang, Cheras and Ampang Jaya.
The ministry had re-deployed 225 health officers and staff from the less-affected states of Kedah, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan to Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor to help contain the outbreak, he said.
He said that besides fumigation, the ministry was trying out a biological method that used a "larvicidal Bti" insecticide in several dengue-affected areas to stop the breeding of aedes mosquitoes.
If the method was found to be successful, it would be expanded to other areas, Dr Ramlee said.

Hospitals sign MoU for smart partnership

Star: Two long-established hospitals here have signed a pact to form a smart partnership and avoid duplication of their specialised services.
Tung Shin Hospital (TSH) will provide traditional Chinese medicine and Western prescriptions while Chinese Maternity Hospital (CMH) will focus on women and children.
Both hospitals inked a memorandum of understanding yesterday aimed at optimising resources, costs and enhancing competitiveness.
The MoU was signed by TSH president Tan Sri Teo Soo Cheng and CMH chairman Tan Sri Tee Hock Seng. It was witnessed by Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek.
Both TSH, founded in 1881, and CMH (1913) are charity hospitals, supported by community leaders and philanthropists, with the aim of providing free or affordable treatment to poor patients regardless of race, creed or religion.
“We believe this cooperation will bring tremendous benefit to the community. We are committed to providing affordable services and care,” said Teo.
He also said that the completion of a Chinese Medical Department would allow further research on integrated western and traditional Chinese treatment.
Dr Chua said the cooperation would benefit both hospitals as they could reduce administrative costs, and ensure quality service.
“The Health Ministry supports this effort and hopes the public will continue to help them raise funds as they're both non-profit centres,” he said.

Rise in dengue cases in Subang Jaya worrisome

Star: The incidence of dengue cases in the Subang Jaya municipality has risen by 34% in just the first nine months of this year compared with figures for the whole of last year.
Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) president Mohd Arif Abdul Rahman said there were 385 confirmed dengue cases in the municipality from January to December last year but the council had already recorded 517 confirmed cases this year.
“Based on the statistics the council has identified five dengue-prone areas – Taman Universiti Indah, Taman Pinggiran Putra, Taman Puchong Perdana, Taman Subang Mewah and Putra Heights.
“The rise in the number of confirmed dengue cases is worrying and the council is going all out to combat the problem.
“We have already started conducting door-to-door checks to issue fines to owners of premises where mosquito larvae are found,” he said adding that recipients had to pay the maximum RM500 penalty.
He said the council was also getting tough with the offenders and those who chose to ignore the fines had been taken to court.
He said 69 cases had already been referred to court this year.
Mohd Arif said paying the fines also did not get the offenders off the hook as he had now instructed the council’s enforcement unit to revisit the premises after a short period to ensure that the areas had been cleaned up.
“We have also been conducting monthly checks at construction sites, especially abandoned projects, to ensure there are no mosquito breeding grounds there,” he said.
He said there were seven stalled or bandoned projects in the municipality but all except for two were being revived either by the original developer or after being taken over by another company.
Mohd Arif said he would be meeting with members of the MPSJ residents representative committees this Sunday to call for their help in increasing awareness programmes among residents on ways to eliminate mosquito- breeding areas.
“Committees throughout the municipality will have to carry out these dengue awareness programmes and those that fail will see their annual budgets slashed,” he said.

Scientists: Bring in insect-eating bats

Star: The long-term fight against the dengue outbreak can be improved with the introduction of more insectivorous bats into urban areas, according to scientists.
Each bat, which can consume as many as 600 insects an hour, would have the capacity to eat at least 3,000 insects a night.
“We should explore natural and biological means to contain the dengue epidemic,” said Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Professor Dr Zubaid Akbar Mukhtar Ahmad.
There are some 105 species of insectivorous bats in the country.
He said there had been reports in Europe of bats seen heading for mosquito-infested swamps to feed.
“We have done research on crop pests in Perlis and found that bats played an important role in keeping the number of pests down.
“Our team found remnants of insect parts on the cave floors,” he added.
Dr Zubaid Akbar said specially designed bat boxes commonly used in Europe could be used to attract bats into urban areas.
“These boxes, which are almost similar to bird boxes, can be placed in recreational areas and at the edge of cities,” he said.
Malaysian Bat Conservation Research Unit researcher Christine Fletcher said a single bat consumed between 50% and 100% of its total body weight in bugs each night.
“It eats almost 5gm of insects a night and that accounts for a lot of mosquitoes and agricultural pests,” she added.

Panel set up to fight bird flu

Star: A national avian flu committee has been set up to take measures such as stocking up on anti-viral medication, vaccination and protective gear to tackle a possible outbreak of the disease.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said some RM500mil would be needed for the necessary medicines and gear.
Among the medicines needed are Tamiflu tablets for the patients and Fluarix vaccine for medical staff coming into contact with patients.
“In the event of an outbreak, we will normally need a stockpile of medicines to cover 20% to 30% of the population but the cost involved is very high and this will need the Cabinet approval,” Dr Chua said after opening the Seventh Asian Congress of Dermatology.
He said while the ministry has enough protective gear for its staff, it had to train more personnel to handle patients with symptoms of the virus.
He said hospitals and clinics should alert the committee of any suspected cases of avian flu and treat the patients in isolation.
Dr Chua said the Cabinet has directed his ministry to work with the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry to prevent the avian flu from spreading here.
The Agriculture and Agro-based Ministry would monitor birds that are reared for consumption or as pets while the Health Ministry would focus on poultry farmers and chicken sellers, who come into contact with the birds daily.
He said the Institute for Medical Research, Public Health Laboratory at Sungai Buloh and Universiti Malaya would be involved in carrying out research work on the disease.
“I will meet Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin next Thursday to finalise the scope and duties of the committee,” said Dr Chua, adding that surveillance would be carried out at all levels.

Nafas Baru Ramadan Campaign Gets Smokers To Quit Habit, Slowly But Surely

ALOR STAR, Sept 29 (Bernama) -- The "Nafas Baru Ramadan" campaign which persuades smokers to quit the habit during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan has been successful, slowly but surely.
Deputy Director General of Health (Public Health) Datuk Dr Shafie Ooyub said the number of smokers nationwide who had given up smoking had increased by 20 to 30 per cent after the launch of the campaign, which is into its third year.
"We have no information on the number who quit smoking but from the feedback received by the Health Department, the campaign proved effective in promoting awareness," he told reporters after launching the national-level World Heart Day 2005, here Thursday.
Hence, he said, in the coming fasting month, the campaign would proceed on a medium-scale and he called on the smokers to take the opportunity to quit the habit during that month.
Dr Shafie said the campaign would only be publicised over the media and through Friday sermons nationwide.
"Those who have problems in quitting smoking could obtain advice from the Stop Smoking Clinic found in every district nationwide," he said, adding that smoking could increase the risk of a smoker suffering from heart disease.
Dr Shafie said it was easier to quit smoking with the availability of the clinic and with the help of medication as opposed to the previous "cold turkey" approach.

All Healthcare Equipment Must Be Registered, Says Dr Chua

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 (Bernama) -- All healthcare equipment must be registered with the Health Ministry when the Medical Device Bill is enforced in 2007, said Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek, Thursday.
He said the cabinet had agreed with the completed draft of the Bill which was now under the scrutiny of the Attorney-General's Chamber.
"Even though this Bill will only be enforced in 2007, voluntary registration will begin by year end," he told reporters after opening the Seventh Asian Dermatology Congress here.
Dr Chua said under the Bill which was aimed at protecting patients, a monitoring body under his ministry would be set up, mainly to ensure that all healthcare equipment were safe to use.
"The body will be responsible for the registration, enforcement and monitoring of all laser equipment and healthcare equipment including haemodialysis machines," he said, adding that the ruling was in line with those in other Asian countries.
Dr Chua said the adjustments were made in view of the fact that most Malaysian healthcare equipment were exported to countries in the Asian region, with an estimated export value of RM4.6 billion.
"The Bill will also monitor the lifespan of the equipments, starting from the factory, the consumers and its period of usability," he said.
Besides that, Dr Chua said the Cosmetic Bill, which monitors over 10,000 health care centres including beauty salons, spas and skin care centres, would also be passed to provide a more comprehensive protection to consumers.
"The Bill is being legislated and is expected to be enforced in 2007 after several issues are solved such as those concerning the definition of "health care services".
"For now, there is no control over these centres. Anyone can offer services, and claim that they have the required qualifications to provide their services," he said, adding that one would only need to obtain a licence for business premises from local authorities to start their business.

Thursday, September 29, 2005

Laws afoot to regulate beauty and health care industries

Star: Some 10,000 beauty and health care centers in Malaysia will be come under new laws to weed out illegal practitioners and protect consumers, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
The government is preparing two legislative bills, which are expected to get parliament's approval by 2007, Chua said.
Skin diseases are seldom life-threatening but can be stigmatizing, causing a growing number of patients to turn to centers offering aesthetic medical procedures such as dermatologic and laser surgery and drugs to treat their conditions, he said.
But there are concerns that unregulated use of such devices and treatments could threaten patients' health, he said.
"We are now doing a detailed study and are in the process of drafting two bills to address this issue," Chua said when opening a regional dermatology conference here.
"The Medical Devices Bill will regulate all aspects of medical devices in the country while the Cosmetic Bill will regulate the practitioners, facilities, services, equipment, products, advertisements and training in cosmetic practice."
Chua later told reporters that beauty and health care industries are booming with some 10,000 centers nationwide now offering services ranging from health spas to skin care and slimming salons to breast enhancement.
They are not governed by any laws.

Only 80 skin specialists for whole country

NST: The figures on skin diseases nationwide are staggering, and getting worse.
More than a million Malaysians seek treatment for skin diseases from only 80 dermatologists at both public and private hospitals nationwide. This translates to a dermatologist-to-population ratio of 1:300,000.
Health authorities are worried about the future, as the number of people seeking treatment is expected to increase annually without a concurrent increase in dermatologists.
The top skin diseases treated in both the public and private sectors were psoriasis, eczema, allergies, occupational dermatitis and acne.
League of Asean Dermatological Societies secretary-general Dr Steven Chow said at least 30 per cent of Malaysians seeking treatment at clinics suffered from skin diseases.
This is supported by a World Health Organisation Human Resource report, which states that work-related skin diseases account for about 50 per cent of occupational illnesses.
Dr Chow said those suffering from psoriasis and eczema reported a greater detrimental impact on their quality of life than patients with other health problems like high cholesterol, hypertension, angina or asthma.
He said most skin patients, especially those with physical abnormalities, became outcasts due to personal shame or fear of being rejected by society, which usually judged people by their appearance.
The challenges faced by skin specialists will be discussed at a regional conference on dermatology to be opened by Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek tomorrow.
The 7th Asian Congress of Dermatology will see skin specialists and researchers from 32 nations meeting to share the latest medical advances.
Dr Chow, the organising chairman, said dermatologists in the region were looking for ways to incorporate significant medical advances into clinical practice.
"Providing better dermatological services will help reduce the burden on the local health care system and the economy due to doctors’ visits, over-the-counter and prescription medical costs and lost productivity."

Health Ministry To Stockpile Anti-Viral Medicine

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 (Bernama) -- The Health Ministry is stockpiling anti-viral medicine in preparation for the possibility of an avian flu outbreak.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said Thursday that the anti-viral medicine, which is expected to cover 20 to 30 per cent of the population, included Tamiflu which costs RM7.70 per tablet.
The ministry would also stockpile vaccine such as Fuarax, which costs RM22 per dose, for the usage of the medical personnel in the event of an outbreak, he told reporters after opening the 7th Asian Dermatology Congress here.
Dr Chua said the ministry had already stockpiled some of the anti-viral medicine but it would cost more to have enough for at least 20 to 30 per cent of the population.
"We are still discussing (the total allocation with the government) as it costs between RM400 and RM500 million," he said.
Dr Chua said the cabinet, at its weekly meeting yesterday, directed the ministry and the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry to work together in preparing for the possibility of an avian flu outbreak and to take measures to prevent it.
He and Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would be meeting next Thursday to discuss the preparation and joint prevention efforts.
However, the Health Ministry had set up a national committee on Avian Flu to come up with measures and guidelines to fight the avian flu outbreak.
"These include surveillance for the 'influenza-like illness' at all government and private clinics and any cases detected will be reported directly to the ministry," he said.
Laboratories at the Institute for Medical Research (IMR), Institute of Public Health (Sg Buloh) and Medical Faculty at Universiti Malaya had been designated to conduct the testing of the samples identified, he said.
Dr Chua said: "After we have been informed of any influenza-like illness cases, the Health Department will increase their surveillance, conduct house-to-house checks, conduct patient tracing and identify the hospital that will provide a designated ward for the patients."
He also said that the health authorities in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Brunei had close cooperation to inform each other on any Asian Flu cases detected in their respective countries.

Foreign Workers Most Vulnerable To Dengue, Says Dr Fong

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 (Bernama) -- Companies employing foreign workers need to be alert on the health of their workers, especially those from non-tropical countries, because they are most vulnerable to dengue fever, Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn said Thursday.
He said workers from countries where dengue had not occurred, such as Nepal, might not have the immunity to fight the disease.
"They are not exposed (to dengue) and most likely they are the vulnerable group. The management of the companies must take full responsibility for workers who are infected," he told reporters after opening a Human Resources Seminar here.
Dr Fong said he had asked the Department of Safety and Health to be more vigilant and to work with the Health Ministry and the local authorities in controlling dengue fever.
All the relevant safety regulations and laws would be enforced at all construction sites to ensure that they would not be breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquito, the carrier of the disease, he said.
Dr Fong said occupational safety and health officers of factories had been advised to inspect their work areas to ensure that there are no mosquito breeding grounds.
On another development, he said the government's programme to attract more Malaysian professionals working abroad to return home had not been very successful because of the not so attractive salaries offered in Malaysia.
He said that of the 300 applications approved, 200 people had returned to work in the country mostly in the medical, financial services and ICT sector.
The government was now focusing on those who wished to return to start up their own enterprises using their own ideas and technology to make Malaysia a base to market products or services to other countries, he said.

Dengue Claims Fifth Victim In Penang

PENANG, Sept 29 (Bernama) -- The dengue outbreak in the state has now claimed its fifth victim, a 46-year-old policeman.
Abdul Rahim Mohamad Nor from the Kulim District Police Headquarters in Kedah, died at 1am Thursday after contracting the dengue haemorrhagic fever since Tuesday.
According to one of his family members who refused to be named, Abdul Rahim was on holiday at his home in Teluk Kumbar here last Saturday and began to complain of fever on Monday morning.
"After we brought him to the Balik Pulau Hospital, he was immediately admitted into the hospital. On Tuesday, he was transferred to the Penang Hospital after he was confirmed to have contracted the dengue haemorrhagic fever," he said.
He said Abdul Rahim's condition worsened yesterday and he was confirmed to have died at 1am today.
Abdul Rahim left behind a wife, Aminah Jaafar, in her 30s and five children.
Prior to this, four deaths due to dengue haemorrhagic fever had been reported including a woman, seven-months pregnant with twins, who died last Saturday.
Several others who had been admitted into the Penang hospital was reportedly in a critical condition but the hospital refused to confirm the information.

Rude drivers lack emotional control

Star: Rude and inconsiderate drivers only show their low levels of emotional intelligence, according to a psychologist.
And drivers who cause fatal accidents due to their confrontational attitude are using the “primitive” side of their brain, which disallows them to use reason and logic, said Malaysian Psychology Centre principal consultant psychologist Dr Edward Chan.
“Those who exhibit rude behaviour when driving demonstrate poor emotional management and impulse control.
“Probably they suffer from stress at home or work and take it out on the road,” he said when commenting on The Star's report on the ugly side of the Malaysian driver.
The behaviour could also be the result of watching the bad behaviour of parents behind the wheel and using the behaviour as a model.
“A good model, whether at home or at school, can expose a person to control their emotions and be aware of other people's feelings.
“That is why we have a lot of impatient drivers and those who do not practice courtesy on the road,” he said.
Low emotional intelligence also leads to drivers respecting only their own needs and obeying traffic rules only when they see enforcement officers, cameras and speed traps.
“So when there is no enforcement (officer) around they are quite happy to be rude, break the law and cause inconvenience to others rather then think of society,” Dr Chan said.
On the use of the primitive brain, he said: “In the old days, cavemen have to respond quickly when they were in apparent danger and the primitive part of the brain helped them react quickly.
“They (drivers) have very poor impulse control because the primitive part of the brain regulates the behaviour. For example, when you feel angry this part of the brain triggers an immediate response.”
Dr Chan said good road behaviour could be taught through attending classes on anger management, impulse control and stress tolerance.
It would be ideal to incorporate these in schools and in driving schools, he added.
The centre will hold a forum on emotional intelligence on Saturday and Sunday. For details call 03- 79824424 or email at or visit

Road safety studies may be extended to all schools

Star: Road safety may be incorporated into the lessons for schoolchildren if a just-completed pilot project involving 25 schools proves to be effective.
Project head Prof Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi said initial observations of the project were very encouraging and hoped such a programme would be introduced nationwide.
“Looking at how the teachers were handling the project, I believe it is a success,” said Prof Radin Umar, a road safety expert who is also a Universiti Putra Malaysia deputy vice-chancellor.
He said the project, part of a UPM study in 25 schools in Pasir Mas, Kelantan, in March, was completed and was now being evaluated.
The project – which he described as a “milestone” in the country's efforts to promote road safety – required over 300 teachers to teach road safety to students during Bahasa Malaysia and English lessons.
Called the “embedded approach,” students would learn road safety behaviour such as crossing the road with adults or wearing clothes with visible colours when walking at night via classroom activities such as story telling or composition.
He said the programme, which addressed the educational aspect of road safety, would have to be carried out for between seven and 10 years before a whole generation could be imbued with the “road safety ideology.”
“Not only will these people be better drivers, they will also be more receptive to road safety campaigns and police enforcement,” he said.
“They will feel embarrassed when caught for a traffic offence, and will not conspire to break the law like signalling to on-coming vehicles to indicate a police road-block ahead.”
He said with the help of the Education Ministry's Curriculum Development and Teacher Training Divisions, teachers were able to carry out the task very effectively.
The Transport Ministry's Road Safety Department is another partner in the project.
“Some teachers were really good at getting the message across to the children,” he said, adding that he was very encouraged to see the teachers willingly taking on the programme despite their heavy workload.
Prof Radin Umar said the programme had to begin with training the teachers on various aspects of road safety.

Selangor MB Disturbed By Bungalow Owners' Cool Response To Fogging

SHAH ALAM, Sept 28 (Bernama) -- As the fight against the dengue outbreak in the country intensifies, Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo, Wednesday expressed disappointment with owners of bungalows who refuse to allow fogging inside their dwellings.
He described their attitude as a serious problem that thwarted the measures taken to prevent a dengue epidemic.
Dr Mohamad Khir said almost half the number of residents in a housing estate visited by local government and health officers had refused to allow fogging in their premises.
"This is our major problem when it comes to dengue. People do not allow us to make inspections and fog. More than half the number of residents deny us entry," he told reporters after chairing a meeting of the state executive council, here.
On the people's apprehension over imposters, Dr Mohamad Khir said the inspection and fogging teams usually came in large numbers and they carried authority cards.
The menteri besar said he himself had allowed fogging at his official residence.
He warned that the state government could take action against these adamant house owners under the local council regulations.

In JOHOR, the state government has set up a special committee to monitor and check dengue following two deaths this month, and Johor Baharu has been placed on a dengue alert.
Johor Local Government and Health Chairman Datuk Halimah Mohamad Sadique said the committee had been set up at state, district and local authority levels.
Six teams of health authorities comprising 24 personnel from Terengganu had been stationed in Johor Baharu to monitor the dengue situation.
All state education departments have instructed schools to monitor the dengue situation. So far, no school has closed due to dengue.
The Education Ministry has given state education departments the authority to close schools where a dengue outbreak could occur so as to contain the spread of the disease.

In SELANGOR, State Education Director Adzis Abas said schools considered to be at high risk of an outbreak could be closed immediately.
In SABAH, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said the number of dengue cases in the state since January was 1,317, and that fogging was being intensified in residential areas.
Sabah recorded four deaths from dengue so far this year.

In KUALA LUMPUR, Kuala Lumpur City Hall has stepped up measures to monitor and control dengue cases following 14 cases reported in the city last week.
Its Public Relations Officer, Hanim Hashim, said two cases each were reported in the city centre, Damansara and Kepong; four in Setapak, three in Cheras and one in Jalan Klang Lama between Sept 18 and 24.
City Hall has also opened a dengue operations room which can be contacted at 03 - 9284 5166.

One in 19 women likely to get breast cancer

Malay Mail:National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM) executive director Dr Saunthari Somasundaram said most of the 6,000 breast cancer cases reported here annually were from those aged 35 to 50.
"However, statistics from Western countries indicate that 80 per cent of those afflicted are above 50 years old," she said.
Dr Somasundaram was speaking at the launching of a breast cancer awareness campaign organised by final year students of the Bachelor of Communications degree programme at Taylor’s College yesterday.
Present at the launch were the campaign’s official spokesman, model Amber Chia, and Breast Cancer Welfare Association (BCWA) committee member Margaret Ooi. The latter is also a breast cancer survivor.
Dr Somasundaram said the difference in age groups of breast cancer sufferers between Asian and Malaysian women is not known.
"However, this could be linked to the fact that Asian women experience puberty at a younger age than Caucasians. Research has shown that women who experience puberty younger have higher chances of developing breast cancer," she said.
She said that statistics show that one in 19 Malaysian women is likely to develop breast cancer in their lifetime.
"One of the ways to combat the disease is by raising awareness among the female population, such as the ‘Sense With Your Hands. Start Young" campaign launched by Taylor’s College students," said Dr Somasundaram.
Early detection, she said, can cure 90 per cent of all cases.
"But the lack of awareness about breast self-examination techniques means that most cases are detected only in their advanced stages," said Dr Somasundaram.
Campaign project director Priscilla Choy said the four-day programme is to eradicate the belief among the younger generation, particularly college students, that breast cancer will not affect them.
"We also want to encourage young women to learn about the process of breast cancer self-examination for early detection," said Choy.

Wednesday, September 28, 2005

New Medication For Eczema Patients In Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 (Bernama) -- Protopic, the world's first non-steroidal medication for eczema sufferers, is available in Malaysia from Wednesday.
Announcing this, Dr Steven Chow, organising chairman of the Seventh Asian Congress of Dermatology, said that patients suffering from moderate to severe atopic dermatitis or eczema would find relief with this latest advancement in the management of eczema.
"Protopic is effective and well tolerated for long-term management of eczema in children above two years old and adults," Dr Chow, a consultant dermatologist, told a news conference here.
He said an estimated 10 to 14 per cent of Malaysians under the age of 14 suffer from eczema.
Protopic is an ointment-based topical immunomodulator first launched in Japan in 1999 with the discovery of a breakthrough drug Tacrolimus.
Eczema is commonly known to be caused by underlying abnormalities of the immune system which leads to intense itching, inflammation and skin damage and it is also a condition with extreme and life-altering effects on the quality of live of sufferers.
Speaking at the news conference, Professor Sakari Reitamo, a dermatology specialist with the Department of Dermatology and Venereology, Helsinki University Central Hospital, Finland, said that Protopic provided improvement in the signs and symptoms of moderate to severe eczema, generally seen within one week of starting treatment and it could be used on any part of the body, including sensitive areas such as the face and neck.
Protopic, manufactured by Janssen-Cilag, a division of Johnson & Johnson, is available in Malaysia in two concentrations and can be prescribed by a doctor or purchased from pharmacies with doctor's recommendation.

Public To Know Of Latest Info On Dengue, Says Kadir

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 28 (Bernama) -- Information Minister Datuk Seri Abdul Kadir Sheikh Fadzir assured the public that they would be informed of the latest development on the dengue outbreak in the country.
He said the ministry, through Radio Television Malaysia (RTM), would utilise its 32 radio channels and two television channels to disseminate information on the dengue situation which was now at a critical stage.
"The government will not hide any news on the dengue outbreak," he told reporters after launching the South-South Information Gateway, here Wednesday.
Abdul Kadir said it was important to provide the information to the public in efforts to overcome the problem as well as make them more aware of the dengue dangers.
He said all information on the disease would be based on reports from the Health Ministry.
Abdul Kadir said he was made to understand that the Health Ministry would hold a press conference on dengue twice a week and hoped that the media would also play their role by having more reports on dengue.
"The electronic and print media should help to disseminate information on this (dengue) because it is the country's problem. So, all should play their role," he added.

Where they bite all day long

NST: It’s usually at dusk and dawn that the Aedes aegypti mosquitoes bite. But in Singapore, they bite throughout the day.
Furthermore, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said he was also told by the Singapore Health Minister that aedes mosquito breeding grounds had been found even on the 20th floor of buildings.
"Singapore is concerned over its increasing number of dengue cases and deaths. I was told many of the victims are foreigners. It is unlike Malaysia, where almost all the victims are Malaysians," Dr Chua said at a Press conference in his office today.
According to ministry officials, mosquitoes in Singapore bite throughout the day because street lights are on all day.
In Malaysia, they said, the mosquitoes do bite during the day but are more active at dusk and dawn.
Aedes mosquitoes found on the high floors of tall buildings, they suggested, could have been carried up in lifts.
"We have also found aedes mosquitoes breeding in some of our high-rise buildings but it’s usually on the fourth or fifth floors."
Dr Chua said public co-operation was vital in averting an outbreak.
Between Jan 1 and Sept 24, the ministry had checked 2.3 million premises, of which 23,173 were found to be breeding aedes. A total of 39.6 million houses were fogged and 1,562 gotong- royong clean-ups carried out.
Dr Chua said 6,635 people were slapped with notices for breeding aedes mosquitoes and owners of 12,295 premises ordered to pay compound fines.
He said 54 people had been taken to court in Selangor, Terengganu and Malacca. Seven premises were issued with stop-work orders — five in Selangor and two in Kuala Lumpur.

Chua explains hospital foul-ups

Star: Staff communication breakdown and failure to work as a team were the reasons behind the recent administrative foul-ups at the beleaguered Sungai Petani Hospital.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said investigations found that some nurses and assistant nurses had failed to follow procedures.
“For example, only nurses directly involved in the delivery of babies are allowed to record the gender, but this (rule) was not followed.
“If the nurse wasn’t sure of the baby’s gender, she should have immediately called the doctor in charge,” he told reporters here yesterday.
Since June, the hospital has been in the news for all the wrong reasons after a nurse slipped an infant out of a ward, while another baby was allegedly “swapped” when a nurse wrongly stated in a form that the newborn was a boy.
On Sept 7, the gender of a baby born there was listed as “ambiguous”.
“In the case of the housewife who claimed she went into labour in full view of others, including men, the (medical) lecturer failed to inform the nurses the training was only meant for female students and nurses, not medical assistants,” pointed out Dr Chua.
Zaini Zainol, 33, who went into labour, had claimed a staff nurse at the hospital lifted her sarong up to the waist and raised her legs in full view of 10 other patients and five trainees in an open ward.
Dr Chua said Zaini was placed in an open ward since the baby had died in the womb and ceased to become a maternity case.
Asked if any action would be taken against the staff concerned in the foul-ups, Dr Chua said that was for the hospital director to decide.

Nurses Can Expect Better Career Devt Opportunities Soon

SIBU, Sept 27 (Bernama) -- Nurses in the country can expect better career development opportunities soon.
According to the Health Ministry Secretary-General Dr Mohd Nasir Mohd Ashraf, the ministry was looking into introducing more tertiary level nursing related courses.
He was speaking at the convocation ceremony for 569 staff nurses, medical assistants, health inspectors, medical laboratory technicians and community nurses from seven medical and nursing training schools and colleges in the state at a hotel, here Tuesday.
His text of speech was read out by his representative, Mohammad bin Harun, the Secretary of the Training Management Division of the ministry at the function.
Dr Mohd Nasir urged all the graduates to regard their diplomas and certificates as the foundation for them to pursue further studies or to gain new knowledge.
By doing so, he said they could reach greater heights in their chosen professions.
He advised practising nurses to undergo retraining so that they could gain modern knowledge and skills brought about by the many new advancements made in the medical field.

Penang Set To Close Schools In Dengue Outbreak Areas

PENANG, Sept 27 (Bernama) -- Penang is set to close all schools in areas where there is an outbreak of dengue fever once the Health Ministry reports on the status of the disease there, Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said Tuesday.
The report on the status of the outbreak was expected to be announced by the ministry in a day or two, he said.
While awaiting the report, the state government has begun various clean-up measures in high-risk dengue outbreak areas, he told reporters here.
Dengue haemorrhagic fever has claimed four lives in the state in the latest outbreak, the most recent being a seven-month pregnant woman from Teluk Kumbar.
Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein had said Monday that schools in high-risk dengue outbreak areas could close temporarily to check the spread of the disease.
Meanwhile, State Health, Welfare and Caring Society Committee Chairman P. Subbaiyah said clean up and fogging were being undertaken in high-risk dengue outbreak areas.
He identified these areas as Kampung Paya, Kampung Nelayan and Sungai Batu in Teluk Kumbar; Kampung Binjal in Bayan Lepas and Jalan Pantai Jerejak, Sungai Nibong and Persiaran Mayang Pasir in Bayan Baru.
"We have asked the people not to allow water to stagnate in their house compounds," he told reporters after the presentation of a cheque for RM20,000 by Agilent Technologies to Sekoleh Tunas Bakti, Teluk Air Tawar, here today.
He said officers from the State Health Department would make door-to-door inspections and would not hesitate to act against occupants whose houses are found to be breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquito, carrier of the dengue fever virus.
So far, inspections have been carried out at more than 240,000 premises in the state, and 612 premises had been issued compound fines and 372 had been given warnings.

In PUTRAJAYA, Health Minister Datuk Chua Soi Lek said he had ordered an increase in the number of special team personnel despatched to the Barat Daya District in Penang where the highest number of 121 cases among districts was registered in the current week.
He also said that the ministry would launch a large-scale anti-dengue campaign in Penang, Selangor, Johor and Kuala Lumpur where a high number of dengue fever cases had been recorded.
Chua said it was worrying that the number of deaths had gone up, from 68 for the whole of last year to 70 so far this year.
The minister said the government would not hesitate to use the Destruction of Disease-Bearing Insects Act 1975 to check the breeding of the Aedes mosquito at construction sites.
Any site found to be the breeding ground for the mosquitoes would be ordered to stop construction until the place had been rid of the insects and larvae, he told a news conference.

In KUALA LUMPUR, Director of the Schools Division in the Education Ministry, Salleh Mohd Husein, said all senior officers of state and district education departments had been instructed to visit schools to ensure that they were not breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquito.
He said in a statement that he had ordered all schools to ensure that their premises were free of mosquito-breeding places and to use "Abate" in any pool of water.
Principals and headmasters had been instructed to take immediate action if any student, staff or teacher had fever, he said.
He also said that schools could also undertake "gotong-royong" (self-help) activities to clean up their premises.

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

Government warns of dengue outbreak

Star: The Government has issued a warning that a dengue outbreak is imminent.
Stating this, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said there was a fear that the number of cases and death toll could be higher than that of last year.
He said the Government had started to use larvicidal biological control in their fogging of dengue-prone areas.
“The biological control agent will kill off mosquito larva in any breeding area.
"Unlike insecticide, this agent will not have the side-effect of causing mosquitoes to be more resistant or even kill off any other insect or animal that feeds on mosquitoes,” he said.
He added that larvicidal control was also being used by Singaporean health authorities to control the outbreak in the island.
Previously, the Government had been using insecticide in their fogging at dengue prone areas.
The AP meanwhile reported in the past week, 752 suspected cases were recorded nationwide compared to the typical weekly average of 400 cases, Chua told reporters.
Most of the cases were in Malaysia's biggest city, Kuala Lumpur, and the states of Selangor and Penang, he said.
"With the number of cases rising we want to warn the people to beware. We want to tell the people that the outbreak is coming," he said.
Health officials have recorded 70 deaths so far this year due to the mosquito-borne disease, compared to 68 in the first nine months of last year.
A total of 102 people died of dengue last year.
"Based on the present trend, the number of deaths this year will definitely be higher than last year's," Chua said.
More than 27,500 people were suspected to have fallen ill this year compared to 21,786 in the first nine months of last year.
Overall, 33,000 suspected cases were recorded last year.
"If the cases continue going up we have to go on a higher gear of alert," Chua said.
Dengue causes high fever and can lead to vomiting, nausea and a body rash.
Dengue fever can also result in severe pain in the joints, and some strains of the virus cause internal bleeding, leading to death.
In neighbouring Singapore, about 11,000 people have been infected with the illness this year, and 11 have died.
Chua said more health inspectors have been deployed in Selangor and Penang states to monitor cleanliness at premises and construction - where an estimated 20 percent of dengue carrying mosquitos breed.
Sites known to have such insects would be ordered to stop work for two weeks until all mosquitos there are exterminated.
A public campaign is being launched to advise people to keep their homes and surroundings clean and free of stagnant water to prevent the breeding of mosquitos.
A total of 2.3 million premises have been inspected nationwide, of which 23,000 were found to have mosquitos, Chua said.
Of them, 12,295 premises - mostly business and construction locations - were fined.
Authorities are also stepping up surveillance in tourist destinations and resorts.
However, Malaysia remains safe for tourists and the government also has no plans to warn Malaysians not to visit Singapore, which is on high alert because of the recent deaths due to dengue.
The U.S. Centers for Diseases Control and Prevention has called dengue this year's "most important mosquito-borne viral disease affecting humans" - ahead of malaria and encephalitis - with an estimated 2.5 billion people at risk worldwide.

International Bodies Urged To Help Developing Countries Fight Avian Flu

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 27 (Bernama) -- Malaysia wants international bodies to help developing nations in funding the fight against the ongoing avian flu which is threatening the poultry industry in the region.
"It is worrying, it is serious. Millions of chickens are killed in Indonesia and the FAO (Food and Agriculture Organisation), WHO (World Health Organisation) have issued stern warning," Agriculture and Agro Based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin told reporters after opening the Livestock Asia 2005 Expo and Forum at the Mines Resort City near here Tuesday.
"International organisations and EU (European Union) should mobilise funds to be provided to lesser developed countries to handle the situation at home.
"Money is important. If there is an outbreak, millions of ringgit worth of chickens will be culled which is a loss to the industry and more importantly, the loss of human lives," he added.
Muhyiddin also said Malaysia was extremely concerned about the avian flu threat because it could undermine the recovering poultry industry which is expected to exceed RM7 billion this year.
At the national level, he said a joint committee established between his ministry and Ministry of Health would outline the strategy to contain the problem if there is an outbreak.
"The joint committee will look into various measures and a contingency plan will be put into action as soon as possible if there is an outbreak," he said.
At the regional level, he said a regional plan would be drawn up at the Asean Ministers of Agriculture and Forestry Meeting in Manila on Wednesday. This is to enable Asean members address the problem.
Meanwhile Thierry Rommel, Head of the Delegation of the European Commission (EU) based in Kuala Lumpur told reporters that the EC, FAO, World Bank and World Organisation for Animal Protection (OIE) would organise an international conference on avian flu and human transmission to be held later this year in Asia.
"The idea of the international conference is to mobilise more political commitment for this new challenge.
"Look at the number of small farmers in Vietnam and Indonesia, and even China, there is a need for compensation if you want them not to obstruct massive culling whenever culling is necessary," he said.
Rommel said some governments did not have adequate funds to compensate the affected farmers.
The conference is to assist developing countries to draft a strong international plan to combat avian flu and its transmission and also to support their plan financially and technical assistant.
He also said some of the international agencies do not have enough fund to face the new challenge.
"They don't have fund for that (to combat avian flu), so you are talking about a large amount of money. FAO and OIE do not have this amount of fund," said Rommel.

Army scholarships to get more doctors among ranks

Star: The armed forces is introducing a medical scholarship scheme to overcome the shortage of doctors among its ranks.
Chief of Defence Forces Admiral Tan Sri Mohamed Anwar Mohamed Nor said that the shortage was so acute that the armed forces now had to get army doctors from Pakistan.
“The armed forces medical team is still short of 40 doctors. To overcome the shortage, we have received 15 army doctors from Pakistan and eight more will be arriving soon,” he told reporters after inspecting a passing-out parade of 40 officers at the Armed Forces Health Training Institute at Terendak Camp in Sungai Udang here.
The officers comprised 24 medical officers, eight dental officers, five general duty officers and three special tasks officers.
Admiral Mohamed Anwar said armed forces doctors would have the opportunity to go abroad for specialist training and would be promoted accordingly.
They would receive incentives like military and critical call allowances, besides serving in battlefields.
He attributed the shortage of doctors in the armed forces to lack of interest among medical graduates to join the forces and ineffective marketing.
He also said there were 40 women doctors serving with the armed forces.

Cases continue to increase despite efforts by Selangor

Star: From fogging to making surprise checks and charging offenders, the Selangor government has done all it can to fight the dengue scourge - but the number of cases continue to rise.
One of the problems, according to state Consumer Affairs, Health and Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Dr Lim Thuang Seng, could be the “indiscriminate fogging” that has allowed the aedes mosquitoes to escape.
“We are now looking at using larvae traps to identify the potential breeding areas and using more effective methods.”
The weather has also “encouraged” the breeding, and irresponsible property owners who have “housed” the mosquitoes in their premises have not helped the situation.
From 9,600 reported dengue cases with 10 deaths last year, the figure has reached 9,300 with 17 deaths so far this year.

In Penang, there are now four dengue related deaths but the situation has oddly become a taboo subject with the authorities.
The latest state leader to decline comment is Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.
There was no “gag order”, he said but “we have been advised that all statements on dengue will be made by the Health Ministry. It is the most appropriate authority to do so.
“This does not mean that the state is shirking its responsibility. This is to ensure that information is properly co-ordinated by a single authority,” he told reporters yesterday.

In Seremban, state Science, Technology and Innovation committee chairman Datuk Yu Chok Tow said five dengue related deaths had been reported since the beginning of the year, prompting the state government to intensify its preventive measures.
She said 964 cases were recorded since January and that this was a 22% drop compared with the same period last year.

In Ipoh, it was reported that five people in Perak have died of dengue haemorrhagic fever over the past nine months.
State Health and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Tan Chin Meng said: “A total of 349,633 premises were checked by the state health department and 2,291 were found to be breeding grounds for aedes mosquitoes.”

In Kuantan, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Adnan Yaakob said that although he had not received any report of dengue cases, he had instructed the health department to intensify its checks and fogging activities.

Dengue deaths worrying Government

Star: Dengue fever is on the rise in the country. And the number of deaths related to the disease has got the authorities uneasy.
Although state health officials have been generally reluctant to give the actual number of deaths, the national toll for the first nine months of the year is said to be nearing the 67 recorded last year.
But only four states have released their death toll so far. They are Selangor (17), Perak (5), Negri Sembilan (5) and Penang (4). Others declined saying they were leaving it to the Health Ministry to announce them.
Besides the lackadaisical attitude of the people in keeping their surroundings free of breeding grounds, the fogging carried out by local authorities and health officials has also not been effective.
These have resulted in the number of dengue cases shooting up by 50% – from an average of 400 a week last year to 600 a week this year.
These developments have upset the authorities.
As an immediate measure, the Health Ministry announced yesterday a large-scale anti-dengue operation beginning Oct 1 with the focus on Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang and Johor, which have registered a big number of dengue fever cases in recent weeks.
“Health teams will also be brought in from the less-affected states of Kedah, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Malacca and Negri Sembilan to join the operation in the four states,” said Dr Marzukhi Md Isa, Deputy Director of Disease Control, Division of Disease Control in the Health Ministry.
Meanwhile, Parliamentary Secretary to the Health Ministry Datuk Lee Kah Choon said local authorities had been asked to step up cleanliness campaigns, which include clearing clogged drains, removing rubbish and emptying containers of water.
“The people too must take a more proactive stand in safeguarding their housing areas,” he said yesterday.
“When a case is reported, we send a team to that area immediately. Even if it’s just a single case, we fog the affected area, killing mosquitoes that are alive at that point.
“After a week the team will return to the area to exterminate any mosquitoes that might have hatched from the larvae present in the water,” said Lee in an interview.
Besides that, he said, officers also go from house to house in the affected neighbourhood distributing leaflets to educate and raise awareness of this deadly menace.
The public too can assist in the fight against dengue, he added.
“Help yourselves by seeking and destroying breeding areas. Change the water regularly in your plants or add Abate to prevent mosquitoes from breeding.
“Don’t always just wait for others to come and clean up. If you step outside your house and see that your drains are clogged, please help unclog it. If everyone takes a small step to help, it will make a big difference,” stressed Lee.
“We have never considered the dengue epidemic over and we have been fighting it all the while.
“As mosquitoes can even travel through vehicles, there are no boundaries,” said Lee.

Nichinan to build KPJ medical centre

BT:MALAYSIA’S biggest private healthcare group, KPJ Healthcare Bhd, has signed a pact to manage a RM40 million medical centre in Johor, a project that will also incorporate some residential properties.
The first of its kind medical centre will be known as The Perling Specialist Hospital.
It will be built by property developer, Nichinan Corp (M) Sdn Bhd, within the Perling Healthcare Resort in Johor Baru. It would provide a range of medical and healthcare services within a residential resort setting.
The resort-style living cum healthcare facilities is targeted at the geriatric market, both locally and abroad.
Foreigners, especially those from Japan, will be encouraged to invest in the residential properties within the resort as their summer and weekend homes, availing themselves to the various medical facilities provided.
KPJ Johor Sdn Bhd, a unit of KPJ Healthcare, has signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) with Nichinan to provide technical and hospital management expertise.
Under the MOU, Nichinan will design, plan and build the 150,000 sq ft specialist hospital, while KPJ Healthcare will manage the centre’s operations.
These would include consultation clinics and other basic private specialist hospital services such as anaesthesiology, gynaecology, dermatology, cardiology, neurology, urology and ophthalmic expertise.
General manager, Hospital Commissioning of KPJ Healthcare, Aminuddin Dawam, said The Perling Specialist Hospital will be a one-stop medical facility catering to the surrounding local and foreign communities.
The 120-bed Specialist Hospital will also have a 1.22ha site within the resort.
In addition to an international-standard medical centre, the resort development includes 400 units of resort-style apartments complete with club house, swimming pool and lawn bowling.
KPJ Healthcare believes this collaboration is a strategic move for the group as it enables it to better tap the healthcare tourism sector, and new growth areas such as healthcare resort living.
In addition, the Perling Specialist Hospital will complement KPJ Healthcare’s existing facilities, namely the Johor Specialist Hospital, Puteri Specialist Hospital and Penawar Hospital.
Other facilities that will be provided by the medical centre include a 24-hour accident and emergency ward, complete with ambulance services, diagnostic imaging, rehabilitation and physiotherapy centres.
Aminuddin added that this partnership will help strengthen its position and grow the healthcare tourism sector in Malaysia.

Monday, September 26, 2005

Large-Scale Anti-Dengue Ops Begins Saturday

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 (Bernama) -- A large-scale anti-dengue operation will begin on Oct 1 with the focus on Kuala Lumpur, Selangor, Penang and Johor which have registered a big number of dengue fever cases in recent weeks.
Health teams will also be brought in from the less-affected states of Kedah, Perak, Kelantan, Terengganu, Pahang, Melaka and Negeri Sembilan to join the operation in the four states, said Dr Marzukhi Md Isa, Deputy Director of Disease Control, Division of Disease Control in the Health Ministry.
"Selangor and Kuala Lumpur always record the highest number of cases per week, exceeding 100 cases," he said. For the week ending Sept 17, Selangor registered 184 cases and Kuala Lumpur 116. For the week ending Sept 24, Penang had 154 cases and Johor 97.
"In the operation, larvicidal Bti (bacillus thuringiensis israeliensis) will be used to destroy larvae (of the Aedes mosquito, carrier of the dengue virus) in breeding grounds inaccessible to the teams," he said.
Dr Marzukhi said Selangor registered the highest number of 9,497 cases or 35.4 per cent of the accumulated number of cases with Kuala Lumpur next (4,188 or 15.6 per cent) and Penang third (1,749 or 6.5 per cent).
For the week ending Sept 17, the highest number of cases among districts was registered in Penang's Barat Daya District (77).
Dr Marzukhi said that a team of 24 health personnel from Terengganu and two teams from Pahang had begun an anti-dengue operation in the Johor Baharu District, Monday.
He said the ministry appealed to the people to extend their co-operation to health personnel or local authority personnel carrying out anti-dengue activities in their areas.
He also said that more frequent checks would be undertaken in places where a big number of cases had been registered, and enforcement would be intensified in housing estates, abandoned projects, shophouses, factories and idle land.
In TAIPING, Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Tun Hussein said Monday schools considered to be at high risk of a dengue epidemic should be closed down immediately.
He said the state education department and the schools concerned could direct the schools to close to prevent the disease from spreading to more students.
"We know of schools in the high-risk category and are monitoring them with the local authorities and the Health Ministry," he told reporters after a meeting with the Perak Umno Youth.
Hishammuddin, who is Umno Youth Chief, said he had also instructed Umno Youth in the states to carry out anti-dengue campaigns and programmes in high-risk areas.

Many seeking foreign donors, dilemma faced by kidney patients

NST: Four out of five Malaysians needing kidney transplants are forced to seek donors abroad due to a shortage of organs in the country.
Besides the complications, medical and otherwise, arising out of surgery in a foreign land, they also return RM60,000 to RM100,000 poorer.
Health Ministry consultant nephrologist Datuk Dr Zaki Morad Mohd Zaher said those seeking surgery abroad had to pay far more than locally, besides risking infection.
Dr Zaki said some had to be re-operated upon here due to complications.
The situation has, however, improved over the past five years with fewer cases of complications and infection.
"Five years ago, at least 30 to 40 per cent returned with complications, mainly surgical problems, where doctors here had to re-operate.
"Although the number of complications, including infections and diabetes, has fallen over the past five years, patients must be careful where they do the transplant," he said.
He was speaking to reporters at a patient forum on "Coping with chronic kidney disease" organised by the National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia (NKF) at Crystal Crown Hotel.
Dr Zaki said some Malaysians going to China for transplants were given organs from criminals who were executed.
On kidney transplant patients, he said they had to be on life-long medication.
On efforts to boost the number of organ donors here, he said the National Transplant Co-ordinating Centre was doing its best to create awareness about organ donations.
He said the response was still not encouraging despite the repeated calls to Malaysians.
Dr Zaki said the survival rate for patients who underwent operations was 90 per cent for the the first year, 80 per cent (five years) and 70 per cent (10 years).
He said the majority of kidney transplants were done with organs from patient’s family members.
"Doing a transplant gives the patient a better qualify of life and in the long run it is cheaper than dialysis," Dr Zaki said.
He said cadaveric organs were preferred but were still difficult to get.
In the West, organs were normally taken from victims of road accidents, he added.
"Even Saudi Arabia, a conservative Muslim country, uses cadaveric organs for transplants but this is not so in Malaysia," he added.
There are some 12,000 kidney patients on dialysis with the Government spending almost RM300 million annually on them.

Lending a sympathetic ear may avert suicide

NST: Don’t be judgmental of family members, friends and colleagues especially when they are suffering from stress, depression or facing what may seem at first to be only a minor problem to a third party.
Instead, lending a sympathetic ear may avert suicide incidents, said Saras Pillay, the national president of Befrienders Malaysia.
She said Malaysian society was quite judgmental and quick to criticise others.
"This has inadvertently contributed to the rising number of suicides and self-inflicted injuries among people who are facing personal problems," she said in an interview with the New Straits Times here today.
Saras, who volunteers for the Penang Befrienders, said anyone could help their close ones overcome problems provided they were sincere in offering their help.
To provide effective help it was important to not be judgmental, in mind and heart, she said.
"Most of the time, the affected person just needs someone to confide in."
But Saras reminded that listeners should be mindful of what they say when responding as "negative" statements could aggravate the mental condition of the confiding party.
Some people attempt suicide because they cannot see an alternative.
Thus caregivers or listeners need to tread the path of providing advice carefully, she said.
Saras said when advice was misconstrued, the troubled person’s mental condition could worsen.
This was worrisome as the confiding party may interpret the statement as mirroring the uselessness of his or her situation.
This may then drive the affected party into thinking that the only way out was by committing suicide, she added.
Saras said the best that could be done in such a situation was for the listening party to persuade the confiding party to seek help from psychiatric professionals or to call the Befrienders.
She was concerned with the high number of suicides among Malaysians.
The NST recently reported that an average of seven people committed suicide daily with the total number of such deaths exceeding 2,500 a year.
The suicides were linked, among others, to poverty, loss of loved ones, breakdown in relationships, drug abuse and family history.
The Health Ministry has provided 27 hospitals nationwide with psychiatric service to deal with suicidal patients and those facing depression.
There are 85 psychiatrists, two clinical psychologists and 56 counsellors in these hospitals.
Saras said callers can contact the Befrienders at any of its four centres located in Kuala Lumpur (03-7956-8144/5), Ipoh (05-547-7955/33), Penang (04-281-1108/5161) and Malacca (06-284-2500).

Woman pregnant with twins dies of dengue

NST: Dengue has claimed another victim in the State: a woman pregnant with twins.
Fairuz Aziz, 26, died yesterday after she was admitted to the Penang Hospital on Thursday with dengue haemorrhagic fever.
Her seven-month-old foetuses also did not survive.
Fairuz, a housewife from Taman Sahabat in Teluk Kumbar, was in a critical condition when she was admitted. She died about 6am yesterday.
State Health, Welfare and Caring Society Committee chairman P.K. Subbaiyah said this was the third death caused by the virus this year.
"The situation is not very good," he said when asked on the seriousness of the dengue outbreak in the State.
There was one death early this year and another last week. The two who succumbed to the virus earlier were a 46-year-old woman in Bukit Gelugor and a 21-year-old man in Kampung Binjal in Bayan Lepas.
He said notices would be issued to land-owners whose properties had become breeding grounds for aedes mosquitoes.
"If they do not take action, then we, through the Penang Island Municipal Council (MPPP), will clean up their premises and charge them for doing so," Subbaiyah said.
He would be informing all state assemblymen in dengue-prone areas to organise more gotong-royong projects to rid the island of aedes mosquitoes.
"Bayan Lepas, Teluk Kumbar and Sungai Nibong are among the dengue-prone areas," he added.
Bayan Lepas state assemblyman Syed Amerrudin Syed Ahmad urged residents to notify the authorities if there were dengue-related deaths in the area.

Sungai Petani Hospital Advised To Be More Friendly With Patients

SUNGAI PETANI, Sept 25 (Bernama) -- Administrators of Sungai Petani Hospital have been advised to treat their patients with greater warmth to avoid misunderstanding that can blow up into public controversies like what happened recently.
Deputy Information Minister Datuk Zainuddin Maidin said he concluded from a meeting with the administrators today that recent media reports of cases in the hospital arose from misunderstanding by patients who then complained to the press.
"This problem can be avoided if the hospital staff adopt a more friendly attitude to the patients and their families by giving them accurate information.
"To the journalists, I urge them to confirm the facts with the hospital authorities so that their reports will be truthful, fair and balanced," he told reporters after a one-hour meeting with the hospital's director, Dr Harif Fadzilah Che Hashim, and several other administrators.
Zainuddin said recent reports carried by the media had damaged the reputation of the hospital.
He said the public was easily influenced by media reports and negative reports about the hospital could cause people to lose confidence in it although it had been providing good services before this.
Dr Harif Fadzilah said he hoped the recent problems between the hospital and the media would be resolved.
He said the hospital was taking measures to correct its weaknesses, and called for the media's co-operation to restore public confidence in the hospital's services.

Sunday, September 25, 2005

Two Would-be Grooms Test Positive For HIV

SHAH ALAM, Sept 25 (Bernama) -- Two would-be grooms tested positive for HIV -- the virus that causes AIDS -- in compulsory screening introduced last month by the Selangor government for Muslim couples planning to marry in the state.
The two men were drug addicts, said Selangor Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo Sunday.
He said the families of their respective intended partners had been informed of the test results.
"At the moment, it is not known whether they wish to proceed with the marriage plans. They are still discussing the matter," he told reporters after taking part in the Selangor Anti-Drug Run here.
He said the requirement for couples to undergo HIV screening before they could be married would be continued despite some quarters being unhappy with it.
Dr Mohamad Khir, who is also Malaysian Youth Council president, said he was concerned by the spread of drug addiction to very young victims.
This was shown by the 1,344 addicts detected in Selangor between January and June this year among whom was one in the 13-15 age group and six in the 16-18 age group.
He said the state government was setting up a special centre in Hulu Selangor to treat addicts by emphasising religious aspects and training them to fend for themselves.
"The inmates will only leave the centre when they are ready to face society," he added.

Little ones are watching

Star: If you think the police are the only ones watching you on the road, think again.
Besides the law, it is your little ones from the back seat who are watching and learning all your good and bad manners and behaviour behind the wheel.
“So don’t blurt out bodoh (stupid) no matter how angry you are as they will do the same or something worse when they grow up,” said Kuala Lumpur Hospital psychiatrist Dr Nor Hayati Ali.
She said aggressive driving behaviours could be habits acquired during childhood and children tend to learn from their parents and other adults, apart from picking up the wrong tips from other sources such as computer games.
“Sometimes it is okay to be angry but how you react is something you have to be careful of,” Dr Nor Hayati said at the National Conference on Crime Prevention 2005 yesterday.
She said it was usually out of frustration due to various reasons that people became aggressive.
Although many motorists admitted to being aggressive while driving, they do so with little or no menacing intent, she said.
“Instead, it is rather out of frustration as a result of unclear road priorities in which drivers disagree as to the right of way or it could be due to being late or environmental factors in which drivers tend to follow what others do,” she said.
Dr Nor Hayati said motorists with a history of disorderly behaviour, drink-driving, those disqualified from driving, fighting, theft, burglary, assault, drug use and firearms offences were prone to being easily angry on the road.
According to research, she said, males under 30 are likely to be offenders and victims of aggressive driving as they are relatively inexperienced drivers.
Dr Nor Hayati also drew comparisons to incidents of “road rage” which were usually given better coverage by the media than those of “aggressive driving.”
She also suggested that a hand signal be developed to recognise when someone wants to say “it’s my fault and I’m sorry.”

High Blood Pressure

NST: First the bad news: One in three Malaysians suffers from high blood pressure and less than a third are aware of their illness.
What is also alarming is that only a small fraction of the eight million Malaysians are keeping their hypertension under control.
Now the good news: A recent study showed that lives can be saved and heart attacks and strokes prevented by using a combination of new drugs.
National Heart Institute senior consultant cardiologist and department of cardiology head Datuk Seri Dr Robaayah Zambahari said hypertension was called the "silent killer" as there were usually no symptoms.
For adults aged 18 years and above, normal blood pressure should be 130/85 mmHg. A person is confirmed to be suffering from high blood pressure if his blood pressure reading on two or more occasions is 140/90 mmHg.
High blood pressure occurs when the force of blood against the artery walls is too strong.
Low blood pressure is an abnormal condition where a person’s blood pressure is much lower than usual, causing symptoms such as dizziness or lightheadedness.
Dr Robaayah said blood pressure was closely associated with the risk of cardiovascular disease. The higher the blood pressure, the greater the chance of heart attack, heart failure, stroke and kidney disease.
But clinical trials have shown that the risk of a stroke can be reduced by 35 to 40 per cent, heart attacks by 20 to 25 per cent and heart failure by more than 50 per cent if those suffering from hypertension are treated early.
While mild high blood pressure could be reduced by dietary changes and regular exercise, she said the majority of people suffering high blood pressure needed medication.
A recent Anglo-Scandinavian Cardiac Outcomes Trial or Ascot study revealed that many lives could be saved every year if a combination of newer drugs for high blood pressure were used.
Traditional drugs for treating high blood pressure are diuretics to remove excess fluid from the body and a beta blocker which reduces the strength of the heart beat.
The newer drugs, ACE inhibitors and calcium channel blockers, work in different ways but help blood vessels to relax so that less pressure is needed to pump blood.
Dr Robaayah, who attended the European Society of Cardiology’s annual conference in Stockholm two weeks ago, said the results of the study showed that heart attacks and strokes could be cut by half with treatment.
She, however, said the newer drugs were slightly more expensive than standard treatments.
"The practice of medicine today should be guided by evidence — evidence of risk of the disease and the safety and benefit of the different options of treatment."
She also stressed the importance of clinical trials, the results of which could be applied to clinical practice.
Kuala Lumpur Hospital consultant pulmonary and critical care physician Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai said some Malaysian doctors familiar with the Ascot study were already prescribing a calcium channel blocker-based regimen to patients.
"Government hospitals will not have problems dispensing the newer drugs as they are available in pharmacies."
It is learnt that the Malaysian Clinical Practice Guidelines of Management of Hypertension published in 2002 would be updated with the new findings.

Saturday, September 24, 2005

Virtual Post-mortem May Be Used As Alternative

SAN FRANCISCO, Sept 24 (Bernama) -- Physical post-mortems of people who die from illness or accident may be replaced by the virtual method using three dimensional technology (3D).
Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Seri Dr Jamaludin Jarjis said he would propose the method to the Malaysian government for consideration because it would resolve the issue of post-mortem in the death of a Muslim.
He said the 3D technology, which could be used as an alternative to the physical post-mortem, was developed by Silicon Graphics owner and president Bob Bishop, who is a member of the International Advisory Panel of the Multimedia Super Corridor.
Dr Jamaludin, who was here to attend the Biotechnology Round Table Meeting 2005 chaired by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Monday, said Bishop had agreed to hold a demonstration of his method in Kuala Lumpur soon.
However, he said, the matter needed to be discussed at length with the authorities concerned such as the police, Attorney-General's Chambers, Health Ministry and Islamic religious departments to seek a consensus.
"It is up to the government agencies concerned to allow it to be considered as an alternative to the physical post-mortem," he said.
Normally Muslims did not want a post-mortem conducted on their kin, especially if they had died of illness, he said.
He added many developed countries were already using the technology and it had been proven effective.

RM100 Mln For Modern X-Ray Equipment In Govt Hospitals - Dr Noorimi

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 24 (Bernama) -- More than RM100 million is needed to modernise the obsolete and outdated X-ray equipment being used in most government hospitals, Health Ministry Medical Development Director Datuk Dr Noorimi Morad said Saturday.
He said most of the X-ray equipment being used no longer complied with the upgraded safety features in line with the rapid advancement in the medical imaging technology.
"I cannot deny X-ray exposure in excess of its threshold can bring adverse effects like inflammation of the tissues and can also cause cancer.
"So, patients have to avoid getting exposed to X-rays unnecessarily," he told reporters after opening the Seventh Scientific Meeting on Medical Imaging hosted by the Malaysian Institute for Nuclear Technology Research.
Dr Noorimi said only a small number of the 131 government hospitals have the latest imaging technology.
He said a more sophisticated imaging technology like computed tomography or CT-Scan was available in most regional or government specialist hospitals.
Recently, government hospitals started using the positron emission tomography technology or PET-CT Scan which could detect ailments like early stage of cancer, he said.
Kuala Lumpur Hospital Imaging Specialist Dr P. Sathyamoorthy said most of the X-ray equipment in government hospitals were more than 15 years old and did not comply with the latest safety features.
He said the latest imaging technology could produce good images and reduce X-ray exposures.
More than 50 medical specialists are attending the one-day seminar to discuss the latest imaging technology.

Do not rely on bomohs or sinsehs

Star: Malaysian women should stop depending on a bomoh or sinseh to find out why they are sick.
Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar said more women could guard against diseases like diabetes, high-blood pressure, stroke and cancer if they consulted doctors.
“Due to the diversity of cultures here, many Malays, Chinese and Indians often seek advice from bomohs, sinsehs and homeopaths.
“Often, they are not given a good explanation about their illness," she said.
“With the advances in medical technology, many diseases can be cured by a proper diet, exercise, sufficient rest and self care, plus the right medication,” she added.
Dr Nor Ashikin was speaking at the launch of the three-day Wanita, Health and Lifestyle 2005 event, themed “Love Your Family, Celebrate Health", by Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre yesterday.
Dr Nor Ashikin is the organising chairman of the event, which is part of the Nur Sejahtera Women’s Healthcare Programme. Shahrizat said the programme was aimed at raising awareness on key health issues, adding that some 200,000 women and their families had benefited so far.
There are 50 Nur Sejahtera Clinics nationwide providing healthcare screening services at lower rates.
“We are also in the process of setting up eight Kasih Keluarga Complexes in Seremban 2 and Jempul (Negri Sembilan), Banchang and Jasin (Malacca), Bertam (Penang), Gombak (Selangor), Kota Baru (Kelantan) and Anak Bukit (Kedah)," said Shahrizat.

Community Support Key to Kicking Drugs

PENANG, Sep 23 (IPS) - Looking at Abdullah Mohd Isa today, it's hard to imagine that he was hooked on drugs for 10 years, injecting himself with diluted opium in desperation. Smiling and shirtless inside his home, he now looks the picture of health.
These days, he runs a drop-in centre that is helping a small therapeutic community of recovering drug addicts around the fishing village of Teluk Bahang in northwest Penang to kick the habit the holistic way.
But it is an uphill struggle. Even after 25 years of staying clean from drugs, Abdullah himself admits that he is still a ''recovering addict''. ''There is no cure for addiction--recovery takes a life-time,'' he says.
In a community of 70 heroin addicts, Abdullah has worked with 57 of them. After a few years, 25 of them made a clean recovery while 32 were put on the drug buprenorphine, used in drug substitution therapy to treat addicts. Out of these 32, 12 are leading fairly normal lives.
Abdullah seems pleased with the success rate of the holistic method, which involves the larger community, religious institutions, and the local police in the recovery process. ''Our treatment is oriented towards taking them away from artificial highs,'' he says.
As Abdullah speaks, a gaunt-looking man walks into his house along with a couple of Abdullah's assistants. His name is Ibrahim and he is a long-time addict. After three stints at government rehabilitation centres, relapsing each time soon after, Ibrahim has just decided to put himself under the supervision of Abdullah's team.
''This time, I want to turn over a new leaf. My two children, aged 22 and 24, are getting married soon and I fear I will bring shame to the family if I am still addicted,'' says the 57-year-old.
Although each stint at a rehab centre typically lasts just over a year, Ibrahim, now a divorcee, says ''it felt like 10 years''.
''I just couldn't stand it (the craving) and thought I would just take a little bit after coming out. By the third day (after coming out of the centre), I was hooked again,'' he says.
''They may be physically healed when they come out of the (government-run) centres, but mentally they are not,'' observes Abdullah.
Once they are released from these centres, recovering addicts are vulnerable to the temptation or cravings.
Addicts obtain illegal drugs from pushers on the streets. For Johari Mohamad, 41, the treasurer of the Teluk Bahang fishermen's association, and now Abdullah's right-hand man, the reason for this availability is obvious: ''If there is no corruption, there will be no drugs''. Other addicts resort to abusing legitimate drugs with , which to satisfy their craving.
Abdullah's methods are different from the usual way of treating addicts in Malaysia. Those nabbed by police are charged in court within 14 days if they test positive for drugs. Many are sent to one of 28 government-run rehabilitation centres.
Over 9,000 addicts, 98 percent of them male and 70 percent of them ethnic Malay, are confined at these government-run centres that dot the country.
Addicts typically spend just over a year at these rehab centres, first going 'cold-turkey' in a two-week detoxification programme and then receiving counselling and religious instruction. Civics courses to instil patriotism and training in skills like haircutting, woodwork, tailoring, and landscaping are part of the plan.
Each inmate receives individual counselling twice a month, according to a source familiar with one of these centres. Group counselling is carried out once a month in batches of about 10 inmates at a time.
For all the effort, only a small minority actually kick the habit.
Last year, Health Minister Chua Soi Lek conceded that despite the government spending 50 million ringgit (13 million US dollars) annually on its drug rehabilitation programmes at these centres, the number of drug addicts detected each year has not shown any sign of abating.
''In fact, anecdotal reports say that up to 70 percent of drug users who left the centres went back to drugs again,'' the minister said.
Even within the camps, some addicts crave tobacco and manage to smuggle in supplies. Occasionally, their stockpile is discovered and confiscated and this leads to unhappiness that sometimes triggers disturbances inside the camps, says Abdullah.
Critics question the government centres' methods. ''It's very regimented,'' recalls a source who researched rehabilitation centres some years ago. He remembers being startled by a smart salute from one of the inmates and believes strong regimentation and ineffective counselling contributes to high relapse rates.
Some say the centres should not be judged too harshly as the rehab success rates in more developed countries are not that high either.
One counsellor defended the counselling methods used: ''Counselling is just a tool, one aspect of helping them. It gives them an idea how to solve their problems. But it is up to the addicts to solve them''.
The relapse rates used to be a lot worse-- some say as high as 99 relapses for every 100 cases.
Abdullah's holistic method has caught the attention of the National Drug Agency, which has enlisted help from recovering addicts to provide fresh ideas on how the camps should be run.
Now the relapse rate has fallen to around 70-80 percent, says Abdullah, largely due to aftercare support such as drop-in centres, the 12-step therapy, and religious counselling.
Despite the best efforts, more than half of the more than 30,000 drug addicts detected nationwide every year are repeat or relapse cases. Officially, the reasons that addicts give for falling into the habit are peer pressure, curiosity and gratification or pleasure.
But there could be larger forces at work. The areas with the highest number of cases detected - Penang (20 percent), Kuala Lumpur (16 percent), Johor (13 percent), Perak (10 percent) and Selangor (8 percent)--are the most industrialised in Malaysia.
Not only are these areas with money, they are also within easy reach of the 'Golden Triangle' countries of Thailand, Burma and Laos which play a key role in global trafficking.
The break-up of the family unit as a result of industrialisation and rural-urban migration may have fuelled alienation, says physician Jeyakumar Devaraj, who has treated addicts in the past. The lack of recreational spaces and cramped low-income housing in urban areas may also be contributory factors, he said.
''Addiction is symptomatic of a larger problem. Our society is already dysfunctional and it is not in a position to help these addicts,'' he said.
A surgeon in a private hospital in Penang, for his part, argues that ''addiction should be decriminalised and addicts should be treated as patients not criminals''.
Frustrated by the low success rates, the government is now introducing methadone treatment for addicts, though critics say this is not without problems.
''I heard from a friend who is a doctor that he wanted to stop methadone treatment because some of the addicts were mixing it into cocktails and will do anything to get the next fix,'' a doctor in Kuala Lumpur told IPS. ''They are so dependent and overwhelmed''.
Devaraj believes that for drug addiction to be controlled, addicts need therapeutic communities where people accept them, where they are given jobs while they readjust to society

Ministry Unhappy Media Reports Tarnish Hospital's Image

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 23 (Bernama) -- The Health Ministry has asked the media not to "play up" controversial reports in the Sungai Petani Hospital (HSP) as this could affect public confidence and the morale of the staff.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abd Latiff Ahmad said it was important that the morale and service of the hospital staff who were doing their utmost to ensure an efficient "delivery system" were not affected, especially as the hospital was striving to regain the public confidence.
"We admit there were mistakes but the report on the latest case, that is the still-born baby was portrayed as 'something wrong' although the patient had said that she had received proper treatment the hospital," he told reporters after opening the Neurotrauma 2005 Brain Damage Wrecks the Country's Future, here, Friday.
Last Sunday, a man, Mohd Fauzi Omar, 23, had alleged that the hospital had postponed for two days his wife's delivery of a still-born baby on grounds that there was no specialist doctor available.
Mohd Fauzi was later called by the hospital management and board of directors to deny the story which was published on the front page of a mainstream newspaper last Wednesday.
Dr Abd Latiff also said the report on the results of the investigation on five "controversial" cases at the hospital involving the delivery of babies was completed and action on the matter would be known when the Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek returned from San Francisco next week.
The Deputy Minister also said his ministry planned to corporatise the ambulance service at Government hospitals to enable the hospitals to give greater focus to patients, adding that every year about 400 units of ambulance had to be replaced involving a cost of RM200 million.
Meanwhile, in SUNGAI PETANI, Health Ministry Director-General Datuk Dr Ismail Merican said the Sungai Petani Hospital administration would not be changed following the controversial reports.
He said he was satisfied with the service of the hospital's Director, Dr Harif Fadzilah Che Hashim and all other staff.
He asked the media not to publish complaints from patients without referring to the hospital first.
Dr Ismail was speaking at a press conference after meeting senior staff of the hospital.
He said however, that there was a little confusion in the tasks of some of the hospital staff which caused unhappiness among some patients.
He gave an assurance that the situation would be remedied and the doctors had carried out their duties well and according to the proper procedures.

Thursday, September 22, 2005

Don't Go Breaking Your Heart

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 (Bernama) -- More Malaysians die of heart and blood vessel disease than any other single cause and many of those premature deaths are preventable.
Yet many people still ignore the warnings. Perhaps they think, "It won't happen to me" or believe they can afford to wait and see if they have a heart attack, then they would just have to go for a bypass and forget all the tedious diet.
Heart disease is more than a sudden heart attack. For many Malaysians, it means chest pain, breathlessness, fatigue and an effort to get through the day or night.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Tun Razak revealed on Aug 26 that over the 15-year period from 1985 to 2000, admissions into government hospitals for cardiovascular diseases had doubled from 59,000 to 110,000 cases.
Meanwhile, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek disclosed on Aug 29 that ten years ago, the National Heart Institute (IJN) only received 50,000 outpatients a year and 8,000 warded patients. Now it has 122,000 outpatients a year and 12,000 patients in the wards.
According to Heart Foundation director and consultant cardiologist Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin, of the multiple contributors to heart disease, genetic and dietary factors appear to be the most important.
He noted that the risk of having an attack depends on factors that influence fatty plaque buildups in the coronary artery walls, formation of artery-clogging blood clots and the strength of the heart muscle itself.
Dr Khoo believes lifestyle plays a vital role in determining who is at higher risk of a heart disease.
People more prone to the disease are those who have high cholesterol, high blood pressure, a family history of heart disease, a very stressful life and diabetes.
Smokers are also in this high-risk group, he said.

In view of that, the World Heart Federation organises World Heart Day to make people all over the world aware of just how extraordinary their heart really is, how to look after it and how to reduce the risk of damaging it.
More so, to enjoy life to the full, all we need is to maintain a healthy heart, healthy weight and body shape as this will dramatically reduces the risk factor for heart disease and stroke.
For that reason, World Heart Day 2005, taking place this Sunday, chose "a Healthy Weight, Healthy Shape" as its theme under the slogan "A Heart for Life."
World Heart Day aims to encourage the world's population to lead a healthier lifestyle by taking more physical exercise and reducing the risk of heart disease through smoke-free living, healthy nutrition and weight control.
This year, various activities have been planned to translate the objectives of World Heart Day especially to all Malaysians.
Those keen to find out about events taking place in their area could click on They can also access the Nutrition Society of Malaysia's website at to know more about nutrition and the Heart Foundation of Malaysia's website at to know take care of your sweet heart.

"A little change goes a long way and you can make a big difference just by making a little change," said Dr Khoo who offered some tips for a healthy heart and how to improve one's odds against the number one killer disease.

Smoking can thicken the blood and increase its propensity to clot. Blood clots in the arteries leading to the heart can cause a heart attack, while blood clots in the arteries leading to the brain may cause a stroke.
Even chronic exposure to second-hand smoke increases heart-attack risk by about 30 percent. Encourage smoke-free homes and workplaces.

It's one of life's joys. But think before you eat. Add more servings of fish into the diet. Eat a diet high in fresh fruits and vegetables but low in red meat and animal fats. This can help prevent hardening of the arteries, one of the main causes of high blood pressure, strokes and heart disease.
Restrict salt and sugar intake, drink at least 6-8 glasses of water per day and avoid junk food. Also use healthier cooking methods such as steaming, boiling, grilling and baking instead of deep fat-frying extra fat and develop healthy cooking skills within your family.
Be a good example to your children so that they don't develop bad health habits. Also say no to a second round of alcohol as heavy drinking has been known to cause heart failure, high blood pressure and irregular heart beats.

Maintain the correct weight for height. Being overweight reduces your fitness and increase the load on your heart.

Walking is the most popular form of physical activity. All it takes is a comfortable pair of shoes and some willpower. Try to accumulate 30 minutes of walking into every day -- walk to the shops instead of driving, take the stairs instead of the lift. Also find an activity you love doing such as swimming or gardening and incorporate it into your week.

Stop the rat race. Learn to relax. Smile on life when you can and try to be as relaxed as possible, you won't just be happier, you'll be healthier too. Take up a hobby and make time for yourself. Aggressive and impatient people who live in the fast lane have a much higher incidence of heart disease.

Also find out if you have a family history of heart or blood vessel disease.

Go easy on egg yolks as it contains high amounts of cholesterol. You can have all the eggs you like, as long as you leave the yolks aside. Also give up organ meats. Though rich in iron and protein, these meats are also tremendously high in fat and cholesterol.

If you are diabetic, you have a greater risk of heart disease if it is not adequately controlled.

Go to your doctor once a year for a check up - even if you are feeling fine as you may not have any noticeable symptoms. Your doctor will check you're really healthy.

Look after your heart so you can live better longer. The younger you start the better, but it is never too late to begin. Why not also show you have a heart by telling your family and friends.

Actually, life is not as depressing as it sounds. And a heart attack doesn't have to be the end of the world. You can't change your age, your gender, or your genes but you can adopt positive lifestyle changes and improve your heart health. All it takes is a change of mind-set.
The simple but powerful message about heart health is that much of the death, disability and illness caused by heart disease is preventable.
In fact, it's in your hands.

Pusrawi Spearheads "Hospitel" Concept In M'sia

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 22 (Bernama) -- If you pass by Jalan Tun Razak here, you will see a new building, "Hotel Putra KL", beside the National Library.
The three-star hotel, developed together with the Pusat Rawatan Islam (Pusrawi) Hospital building, not only will be the new landmark in the city, but would be pioneering a new service concept in the health tourism industry currently being promoted in this country.
The "hospitel" concept, a combination of hospital and hotel, might be new to the Malaysian society but it would be spearheading the change in the country's health services in the future.
Hospitel could provide accommodation for the patients' family members, its outpatients, as well as for local and foreign tourists to stay at the hotel while receiving treatment.
Pusrawi Hospital Corporate Development Manager Mohd Azlan Md Arshad said Hospitel, among others, targetted tourists from Indonesia and West Asia.
He said Pusrawi Hospital, which was now operational at Jalan Ipoh here, was scheduled to expand its services when the new hospital and hotel buildings at Jalan Tun Razak began their operation by year end.
The new hospital is quite special because it offers medical services based on Islamic teachings and at the same time provides hotel facilities, he said.
Mohd Azlan said the hotel rooms would undoubtedly be a great convenience to the family and friends of patients from out of Kuala Lumpur, and it would also be open to other visitors who needed comfortable and affordable accommodation.
He said the hospital would have 250 beds as compared to 90 beds at the present hospital at Jalan Ipoh, while the hotel would provide 102 rooms.
The Hospitel construction project began with the first phase in 2000 and the second phase began in 2003, comprising the construction of a nine-storey hospital building and an 11-storey Hotel Putra KL which were linked to each other.
Owned by the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council (MAIWP), the RM100 million project was leased to Pusrawi Hospital and Hotel Putra KL, who would be cooperating to promote health tourism, he said, adding that the cost was covered by a subsidiary of Tabung Haji Board, TH Properties Sdn Bhd.
Mohd Azlan said the hospital and hotel's location was very strategic as it was in the heart of the city and situated just in front of the National Heart Institute (IJN).
Indirectly, Hotel Putra KL would also be offering hotel accommodation to IJN visitors, he said.
"Hospitel, which adopts the Islamic concept, would be equipped with the latest facilities such as laboratories and blood bank, operation theatre, X-ray, pharmacy, circumcision services, creches and a 24-hour emergency service.
"The hotel would be offering facilities including seminar and meeting rooms, cafeteria and over 200 parking spaces," he said.
Mohd Azlan said the Islamic concept applied in the Hospitel services, would not be restricted to Muslim patients but to all patients regardless of religious or racial background.He said Muslim patients would be treated based on Islamic teachings such as the staff would say a prayer prior to a surgery and the hospital and hotel staff would always be dressed according to the Muslim way by covering their "aurat".
Non-Muslim patients would be treated like any normal hospital patients while discounts would be given to the needy but for Muslim patients from the low income group, they are entitled to apply for the wakaf fund aid, he said.
Meanwhile, Hotel Putra KL Senior Marketing Manager Normawati Zainal Abidin said the hotel would be offering a service which would suit the middle and low income groups.
She said the hotel had not decided on the room rates or whether it would be offering special rates for clients who were dealing with Pusrawi Hospital, but added that the room rates would be affordable and reflected the hotel's standard.