Tuesday, April 27, 2010

No more nursing schools from July

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The mushrooming of private nursing colleges will soon be a thing of the past. Applications to set up new institutions will not be accepted from July.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said a moratorium was necessary to prevent an oversupply of nurses and other problems arising from graduate unemployment.
“The move will also prohibit the launch of new diploma programmes in nursing as the ministry wants existing providers to concentrate more on degree courses.
“There will be no more private institutions providing nursing courses as we are already on the right track to achieve the recommended World Health Organi­sation nurse to population ratio of 1:200,” he said in a press conference at Hotel Istana yesterday.
“The moratorium will be in place as long as the supply of nurses meets market demand.”
Malaysia’s current nurse to population ratio is 1:490.
Speaking after launching Masterskill Education Group Sdn Bhd’s prospectus in conjunction with its proposed listing on the main market of Bursa Malaysia, Mohamed Khaled said Malaysia had enough institutions to achieve the ideal ratio.
“There are 106 higher education institutions that train nurses in the country and we (the ministry) want them to concentrate on improving quality,” he said.
“Currently, most programmes in nursing and the allied health sciences are at diploma level and Malaysia requires more trainers and students at degree levels in these fields,” he added.
Of the 106 institutions, 66 are private providers, 11 are public institutions and the rest are run by the Health Ministry.
He added that established private higher education providers like Master­skill could contribute to Malay­sia’s aspiration of becoming the region’s education hub by recruiting more international students.

Saturday, April 24, 2010

Docs not keen to return home

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Efforts to lure home several hundred Malaysian doctors working overseas have met with lukewarm success, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abd Rashid Shirlin.
The ministry had contacted the doctors but only a small number had responded to the call to return home.
“We will not lose heart. We have come up with several policies aimed at making the return offers more attractive.
“At the same time, we are working on ways to keep future doctors here,” Rosnah said at a press conference here yesterday.
She had earlier witnessed the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the ministry and Newcastle University of Medicine here for the utilisation of the Health Ministry’s facilities.
Rosnah said one way to keep future doctors here was to provide more places at local institutions of higher learning.
On the doctor-patient ratio, she said the figure last year stood at 1:905 compared to the 1:600 yardstick set by the United Nations.
She added that the ratio now was a vast improvement from the 1:1,400 in 2000.
However, Rosnah said it was not balanced as a majority of the doctors worked in big cities like Kuala Lumpur, where the ratio was 1:513; while other states such as Kelantan has a ratio of 1:2,003.
“It is even worse in Sabah where the ratio is 1:2,248, but we are working to balance it by posting new doctors to these areas.
“We have decided to implement a rotation system that requires doctors to serve there for a year,” she said.
“Unless there is a need to extend the posting, they can return after their term is up,” Rosnah added.

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Compulsory service for doctors reduced to two years

Star: KUALA KUBU BARU: The compulsory government service period for doctors has been reduced from three to two years with immediate effect, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
He said this was in accordance with the increased internship training period from one year to two years.
"The move to shorten the compulsory service will encourage them to remain in the country and provide their expertise in Malaysia," he said, adding that it will indirectly discourage brain drain.
Liow was speaking at the launch of a healthy lifestyle campaign here Thursday.
He had announced earlier that Malaysian doctors working overseas for more than 10 years and who had funded their own medical studies would be exempted from compulsory service if they returned to the country.
Previously, he had also announced that doctors above 45 years, whether they had postgraduate degrees or otherwise, would be given total exemption.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Universiti Malaya launches RM10mil tropical diseases facility

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Universiti Malaya’s new RM10mil Modular Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) Research Facility has been launched, enhancing Malaysia’s ability to combat tropical diseases like the Nipah virus and dengue.
Recognised as the most advanced facility in its class by the French government, the facility was installed by the university’s Tropical Infectious Diseases Research and Education Centre (TIDREC) at the Faculty of Medicine.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Seri Mohamed Khaled Nordin said that with the appropriate biosafety facilities to conduct research on disease samples, the centre is expected to cut local dependence on foreign research labs.
At the same time, collaborative links with local and foreign research institutions could be forged.
Previously, disease samples had to be sent to the Centres for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta, United States, for further study.
Mohamed Khaled said that the facility would enhance TIDREC’s role in the study and prevention of infectious tropical diseases.
“We hope that this lab will produce results through the development of vaccines and the commercialisation of research findings,” he said in a press conference.
“I also expect that this facility will also strengthen the country’s national bio-security defences, and help in our measures against biological weapons threats.”
It is learnt that TIDREC is collaborating with researchers from the Defence Ministry. The centre will also develop vaccines and diagnostics to minimise the impact of biological warfare.
The cost of setting up the facility was borne entirely by the ministry.
Also present at the event was French ambassador to Malaysia, Marc Bar├ęty.
Under biocontainment classification, BSL1 labs focus on well-characterised agents not known to consistently cause disease in healthy adult humans while BSL2 facilities cater to pathogens that pose moderate potential hazard to personnel and the environment like hepatitis, dengue fever and influenza A, among others.
BSL3 labs are applicable for indigenous or exotic agents that may cause serious or potentially lethal disease after inhalation like yellow fever and the SARS coronavirus.
Meanwhile, BSL4 facilities are required for work with agents which cause severe to fatal diseases in humans for which vaccines or other treatments are unavailable such as Lassa fever and the Ebola virus.
Mohamed Khaled added that the university’s search for the right person to head its Indian Studies Department was ongoing and a suitable candidate should be identified by June or July.

Sunday, April 11, 2010

Malaysians getting obese - by eating too heavily at night

Star: PETALING JAYA: More Malaysians are keeping awake till late to indulge in what is becoming a top national pastime – tucking it in at 24-hour eating joints.
Yes, we are practically eating round-the-clock. If you are still not convinced, take a look at the goings-on at mamak shops close to and way past midnight.
These shops have sprouted up all over the country to satisfy the cravings of Malaysians who are gorging on calorie-packed late night meals with hardly a care – and getting obese in the process.
Statistics show that the prevalence of obesity among Malaysian adults increased by a staggering 250% over a 10-year period from 1996 while the number of overweight has increased by 70%.
The National Health and Morbidity Survey in 2006 showed that two out of every five adults or 43%, were either overweight or obese and an alarming situation where the number of obese adults had more than tripled over a decade, from 4% in 1996 to 14% in 2006.
Besides that, about 38% of youngsters aged between 12 and 18 were classified as overweight.
A recent survey involving 10,000 students showed that 24% of those aged between six and 12 were either overweight or obese.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai is obviously a very worried man, with more Malaysians at risk of being seriously ill due to uncontrollable eating.
“It has to change ... an unbalanced diet and eating late at night,’’ he cautioned. “In the past, we used to have two meals. These days, we are eating five to six times daily with late-night suppers at mamak stalls,’’ he said after launching the Malaysian Council for Obesity Prevention (MCOM) here yesterday.
MCOM, which comprises 13 professional bodies and NGOs, was set up to help the government counter the problem of obesity in the country.
The minister, an avowed vegetarian, spoke of another worrying trend – meat is fast becoming a staple-diet here. A diet rich in red meat causes high cholesterol which leads to cardio-vascular disease.
“Available data on the prevalence of overweight and obesity indicates that the problem we face may be more serious than those in other countries of the region,” he added.
Being overweight and obese, he said, would lead to chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure, heart disease and even cancer.
According to statistics, 14.9% and 43% of Malaysians aged above 30 suffer from diabetes and hypertension respectively, with 20.7% of adults over 18 suffering from high cholesterol.
Liow said 300 nutritionists would be employed to serve at government clinics nationwide to help tackle obesity problems by creating awareness on the dangers of unhealthy eating.
Malaysian Council for Obesity Prevention (MCOM) president Jong Koi Chong echoed the minister’s concerns, saying the unhealthy eating trend was becoming a major problem.
“Our metabolic rate is very low at night making it easy for fat to accumulate in the body.
"Most 24-hour restaurants serve food that is high in fat, calories and cholesterol. Sadly, more of our young are picking up bad eating habits from adults,’’ he added.

Friday, April 09, 2010

60 H1N1 cases in hospitals now

Star: PETALING JAYA: A total of 60 confirmed Influenza A(H1N1) cases are in hospitals, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said.
He said that as of 8am yesterday, there were 554 cases of influenza-like illness (ILI) in the country and the patients were currently being warded in hospitals.
“From that total, 55 cases have been confirmed as influenza A(H1N1) cases while five more cases are being treated in the Intensive Care Unit,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Dr Ismail said that going by reports on cluster cases, influenza A(H1N1) was still active.
“The public must be vigilant and take preventive steps to control it,” he said.
He said six clusters had been reported in Malacca, Perlis, Terengganu and Kedah.
He said 16 students from Kolej Yayasan Saad in Ayer Keroh, Malacca and its college staff; 11 trainees from Lagenda National Service Camp in Asahan, Jasin, Malacca; and six trainees from the Tassoh NS camp in Perlis have received outpatient treatment.
“Laboratory test results for the clusters had not been received,” he said.
He added that 15 students from Sekolah Pondok Darul Iman in Kuala Berang, Terengganu; 35 students from SMK Kelibang in Langkawi and 84 students SMK Kedawang in Langkawi received outpatient treatment.
Laboratory test results showed that they do not have ILI symptoms, he said.
Dr Ismail said the public could obtain further information by visiting the Health ministry’s website h1n1.moh.gov.my or call the hotline at 03-888 10200/300 from 8am to 8pm.