Friday, June 29, 2012
KUALA LUMPUR: POLICE believe that the recent thefts of medical equipment are linked to the spate of automated teller machine (ATM) break-ins.
Sources told the New Straits Times that endoscopes were being used to examine the contents of ATMs.
An endoscope is an instrument used to examine the interior of a hollow organ or cavity of the body.
"However, it can also be used to examine the interior of an ATM," the source revealed.
The two South American gangs, responsible for the thefts of the medical equipment and ATMs, are believed to be working together.
Police initially believed that the two gangs were operating separately, but investigations revealed otherwise.
It was learnt that city police had arrested 13 South American suspects this year.
They are from Guatemala, Peru and Colombia.
One was charged in court with robbery, while the rest were deported to their countries.
The recent thefts of medical equipment, worth millions of ringgit, from three hospitals in the Klang Valley have raised eyebrows.
Many speculated about what the thieves were going to do with the equipment as it was not something to dispose of easily.
Police are examining this angle as five South Americans were believed to have been responsible for last Friday's ATM robbery in Taman Melawati, Ampang.
The gang managed to prise the machine open and escaped with RM80,000.
"An ATM machine can have between RM100,000 and RM500,000, depending on its location and the volume of transactions.
"Police have not ruled out the possibility that the endoscopes had been used to check the interior of the ATM."
On June 11, endoscopy equipment, worth RM120,000, was stolen from Columbia Asia, a private hospital in Kajang.
The next day, two processors and 15 endoscopes, worth RM600,000, were stolen from Tung Shin Hospital in Jalan Pudu here.
On June 21, RM4 million worth of endoscopy equipment went missing from Universiti Malaya Medical Centre.
"These South Americans are difficult to track because of their short stays and the fact that they hold numerous passports."
The first case involving South Americans was reported in 1998 when a Peruvian syndicate, which stole luggage at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, was smashed by the authorities.
The second case involved a South American group breaking into residences, located in posh and upmarket neighbourhoods in the Klang Valley.
This group was eventually crippled by the police.
In 2010, four South Americans stole RM500,000 worth of jewellery from a goldsmith shop in Ampang after distracting a saleswoman.
Closed-circuit television camera footages helped the police to identify the suspects' nationality.
The Traditional and Complementary Medicine Bill 2012, which was tabled yesterday, aims to regulate the country’s growing alternative medicine industry.
TCM practitioners must apply to the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Council to be provisionally registered and must undergo a residency of not less than one year with any hospital or institution identified by the council.
Anyone who fails to register with the council or a practitioner who practises in a non-recognised area will be subject to a RM30,000 fine, two years’ jail or both upon conviction. A maximum fine of RM50,000, three years’ jail or both will be imposed on repeat offenders.
The council will be responsible for establishing the eligibility of TCM practices, registering individuals providing such services and issuing practising certificates.
The 22-member council will also be responsible for developing a code of professional conduct and rules relating to the profession and to hear complaints on their services.
Its members will comprise officers from the Health Ministry, local universities, registered public practitioners and experts.
The council will also be empowered to appoint a medical officer from the ministry, with powers to investigate and issue a stop order against an errant practitioner.
The new law will also make it compulsory for practitioners to refer a patient to a medical or dental practitioner if an emergency occurs which is beyond his skills to treat.
A recognised practitioner is also prohibited from making spurious or misleading claims with regard to curative treatment or properties of medication.
Thursday, June 28, 2012
Monday, June 25, 2012
CHHB founder Tan Sri Lee Kim Yew said Malaysia needs a good 300-bed hospital so the public can seek treatment using Chinese medicines and methods from acupuncture to cupping.
“I believe this concept will work here. As it is, a lot of people are going to China for this purpose. If we can do that here, it will promote health tourism,” Lee said in an interview with Business Times recently.
“This is a knowledge-based business which is why it’s going a bit slow. I plan to build the hardware first. Once I have all the infrastructure and resources in place, I will proceed with the next step to seek approval to build the hub,” he said.
In its efforts to expand and diversify its health business, CHHB has set up a traditional Chinese and healthcare centre at Golden Horses Health Sanctuary, located at the Mines Wellness City (MWC).
MWC, formerly, Mines Resort City, is an integrated health and wellness resort city in Sri Kembangan, here.
“In the last few years, people have been more willing to spend money on their health. They are paying more attention to food, exercise and wellness. This is why from property development, I
diversified into health.
“I have told my successor, which is my daughter, to expand in all these areas. I am not an industrialist. I just believe everything can create an economy, including organic planting,” Lee said.
Lee also wants CHHB to set up 10 wellness centres in Southeast Asia and Malaysia to promote health.
“Our philosophy is more on partnerships. We will look for partners with strong financing, and who can understand and accept our business model,” he said.
Sunday, June 24, 2012
Health Director-General Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said five states reported an increase in the number of dengue cases, namely Perlis, with an increase of five cases or 250 per cent increase from the previous week, Negeri Sembilan (five cases - 125 per cent), Perak (13 cases - 56 per cent), Kelantan (five cases - 38 per cent) and Kedah (four cases - 23 per cent).
He said this brought to 11,063 the number of accumulated dengue cases reported since January until June 16 this year, an increase of 17 per cent or 1,610 cases, from 9,453 cases reported during the corresponding period last year.
"During the same period, 22 deaths due to dengue were reported, comprising in Selangor, with 11 fatalities, the Federal Territories of Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (three), Perak (two) and one each in Kedah, Penang, Negeri Sembilan, Johor, Pahang and Sabah," he said in a statement here today.
He said the one of the fatalities in Selangor was a 31-year-old security guard. During the period, 66 localities in 17 districts were identified with dengue epidemic and one of them, Kg. Baru Seberang Takir in Kuala Terengganu, was a dengue hotspot, he added. – Bernama
Saturday, June 23, 2012
Twenty-two trainees at the camp developed symptoms of flu early last week, and fifteen were hospitalized and treated with anti-viral medications. Other camp trainees were quarantined and asked to wear facemasks. Nearly all the trainees have recovered. Those who remain in the hospital are in stable condition.
The minister of health, Liow Tiong Lai, said there is no reason for concern among the trainees’ parents or the general population.
In 2009, Malaysia experienced a large outbreak of H1N1. Since then, over 2000 cases have been reported in the country. This outbreak was part of the world-wide H1N1 pandemic that occurred from 2009 to 2010.
Influenza A (H1N1) is a type of influenza originally called swine flu because of its close relation to the virus that infects pigs. Symptoms of H1N1 are similar to those of seasonal flu. Transmission occurs when an infected individual emits tiny virus-containing droplets through sneezes or coughs.
The CDC recommends seasonal flu vaccination, which includes protection against H1N1, as the best way to prevent disease outbreaks. There is currently no cure for H1N1 available.
Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman described the findings as alarming and worrying, despite concerted efforts by the health ministry over the years.
"The NHMS figures showed that (the number of) diabetic patients in Malaysia had increased to 31.0 per cent in just five years, as compared to a 11.6 per cent increase in 2006, for every adult Malaysian aged 18 and above," he said.
He was speaking to reporters after opening the 3rd National Diabetes Conference 2012 themed, 'Towards Better Diabetes Prevention and Control' here today.
Dr Hasan noted that among factors contributing to the rise of diabetics among Malaysians were overweight, genetic, unhealthy lifestyle and diet, consuming alchohol, smoking and no regular medical check-up.
"The best way to prevent diabetes is to take healthy food, exercise at least twice a week, have health screening on a regular and periodic basis.
"Those who have diabetes must get proper treatment and care, such as strict control of blood sugar levels, get treatment for raised blood pressure, foot care and eye care," he said.
Dr Hasan said the preventive measures were cost-saving interventions which could substantially reduce the progression of the disease and its complications.
He urged non-governmental organisations, civil society and the private sector to help the ministry in its National Strategic Plan for Non-Communicable Diseases by promoting a healthy lifestyle campaign.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Diabetes Association president Prof Datuk Ikram Shah Ismail said diabetes should be considered a social and economic issue, and not health issue.
He hoped medical practitioners and relevant parties would continue to promote awareness on diabetes to decrease occurences of the disease among Malaysians. – Bernama
Monday, June 18, 2012
Its vice-chairman, Datuk Dr Bahari Abu Mansor, said it would be an honour for Malaysia to host such a healthy and global event.
However, there is one hurdle MRC must first overcome in order to play host to the annual event, which is celebrated on June 14.
"As a developing country, we must have at least 10 per cent of the population donating blood regularly, as stated by WHO."
He was speaking at a blood donation drive organised by Media Prima Bhd at Sri Pentas in Bandar Utama, here.
MRC plans to host the event, if given approval by WHO, together with Media Prima and New Straits Times Press.
"If we can pull this off (the blood donation drive by Media Prima) on a bigger scale, more people will sign up to be donors," said Dr Bahari, referring to the 10 per cent requirement by WHO to host the World Blood Donor Day.
Media Prima executive director (news and editorial operations) Datuk Ahmad A. Talib said he was optimistic that hosting such an event could be done.
"We have transformed the foyer of Sri Pentas into a blood bank (for the blood donation drive) and there are so many people today (yesterday) who have pledged to be donors."
Themed "Every Blood Donor is a Hero", the event is jointly organised by the NSTP Volunteer Brigade, Media Prima and MRC, and supported by the National Blood Bank and Tampin Hospital, Negri Sembilan.
MRC chairman Tunku Tan Sri Shahriman Tunku Sulaiman said he was happy with the turnout for the drive.
"I see many youngsters here as first-time blood donors. This means that the awareness of blood donation has increased. I'm so proud of them."
Tunku Shahriman said MRC would continue to organise more blood donation drives, especially in rural areas, to educate the people on the importance of donating blood.
National Blood Bank deputy director Datuk Dr Faraizah Abdul Karim said the most difficult problem in blood donation was handling first-time blood donors.
"We have to explain to the first timers about the procedure and assure them it will be all right. They have to tell us their fears of blood or needles so that we know how to handle them.
"We would make sure that they are comfortable at all times during the procedures."
With Ramadan and Hari Raya Aidilfitri coming soon, said Dr Faraizah, the blood bank was desperate to collect as much blood as possible.
"We are worried about the first two weeks of Hari Raya. Everyone will go back to their kampung, so we need adequate supply in case of emergencies," she said.
Tampin Hospital mobile blood donation drive coordinator Ganga Devi B. Sinniah said it was a commendable effort in roping youngsters and staff of Media Prima to donate blood.
"Most of them are first timers, which is good. Some of them didn't have enough haemoglobin or didn't weigh enough, so we had to turn them away as it is not healthy for them to donate."
She said the hospital managed to collect about 175 pints of blood in the drive that was extended until 2pm because of the overwhelming response.
Companies which took part in the event include Adabi Consumer Industries Sdn Bhd, Unilever (M) Holdings Sdn Bhd, Nestle (M) Bhd, Mamee Double Decker (M) Bhd, Dutch Lady Milk Industries Bhd, Restoran Kelantan Delights and Dallis'cious Catering.
As in previous years, several hotspots in central Sumatra in Indonesia are causing the haze.
Both the Department of Environment and Indonesian authorities expect the situation to worsen with the hot and dry spell in the Riau district of Sumatra set to peak over the next two weeks.
Air quality in Klang Valley deteriorated progressively on Friday with four locales noting unhealthy API readings as of 5 p.m. local time (4 p.m. Jakarta time).
They were Port Klang (147), Kuala Selangor (129), Shah Alam (120) and Cheras (105).
Most of the 51 areas monitored by DOE also showed increases, with several places in the Klang and Kinta valleys hovering at the edge of unhealthy API readings of more than 100.
The DOE classifies API readings of between 0 and 50 as Good, 51-100 (Moderate), 101-200 (Unhealthy), 201-300 (Very Unhealthy) and more than 301 as Hazardous.
“With the relatively dry weather in several northern and east coast states in the peninsula, the haze is expected to continue over the next few days,” said the DOE in a statement.
Indonesian daily The Jakarta Post, reported recently that peat and forest fires in the district were causing the haze and more fires were expected.
Satellite image reports issued by the ASEAN Specialised Meteorological Centre (ASMC) showed an increase in hotspots in Sumatra from 67 on Tuesday to 122 on Wednesday.
The centre reported a decline in the number of hotspots in the Riau district because of cloud cover over the satellite but noted that the south-westerly wind had blown the haze towards peninsular Malaysia.
Meantime, the DOE has activated its action plan to curb open burning and peat fires as well as step up enforcement on exhaust fumes from motor vehicles and factories.
The Meteorological Department's Fire Danger Rating System also reported that almost the entire country was at high risk of fires from the hot and dry weather.
The Fine Fuel Moisture Code (FFMC) chart on the department's website rated the ignition potential of many parts of the country as “extreme”.
The code, which is a numerical rating for moisture content of litter and other cured fine fuels (grass, bushes, dried leaves), is used as an indicator of potential for fires to start and spread in an area.
It is affected by temperature, relative humidity, rainfall and wind speed.
In Selangor, one case of peat fire was recorded on Friday in Pulau Kempas, Kuala Langat, where firemen fought to keep it under control.
Health Department director general Hasan Abdul Rahman said people should drink more water while high-risk patients with respiratory problems should seek early treatment if symptoms developed.
He also urged the public to visit the Health Ministry's website at www.moh.gov.my for health advice on coping with haze.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the haze would affect those with breathing and eye problems.
"As such, the outpatient departments need to be more prepared and provide prompt services," he said after a ceremony to hand over eight ambulances to the Pahang Health Department at the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital here yesterday.
He advised those with breathing problems to reduce outdoor activities, to drink more water and wear a mask if they were in the open.He said the haze was a good reason for smokers to kick their habit.
"Smokers should realise that the haze is also not good for them," he said after launching the Kuantan Health Carnival at Kampung Jawa.
On emergency medical services, Liow said the ministry had lowered the response time for every emergency case to 15 minutes from 30 minutes this year.
As such, he said the ministry would increase the number of ambulances from 1,861 now to 2,500 by next year.
In PETALING JAYA, pharmacists said they are expecting a spike in the sale of respiratory drugs and facial masks.
Several pharmacists said sales had already increased slightly yesterday.
A pharmacist based in Subang Jaya also said several asthma sufferers came to his store to buy respiratory drugs and inhalers.
Tuesday, June 12, 2012
Bukit Aman CID director Datuk Seri Mohd Bakri Zinin said their investigations had found no evidence that could prove such activities were being carried out at any of the local hospitals.
“The police, along with the Health Ministry and Interpol, found that no hospitals in Malaysia were involved in illegal organ harvesting and trade, and we urge anyone with information on such activities to make a report, so the police can investigate.
“Organ trade is not an easy activity to carry out as it involves many processes, and we continuously monitor and investigate to prevent this crime,” he told a news conference with Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman also present.
It was reported on September 21, last year that Bangladeshi police launched an operation to crack down on illegal kidney trade in Southeast Asia, following the arrest of eight suspects involved in persuading illiterate victims.
Investigations revealed the eight suspects were detained at a hospital in Bangladesh, with links to India, Malaysia and Indonesia.
Joypurhat Police Superintendent Mozammel Haque was quoted as saying that each victim was paid between US$2,000 (RM6,000) and US$3,000 (RM9,000) per kidney, but he was unsure of the organ’s price in the black market.
Bakri said media report on March 2012 that two Bangladeshi men had been victims of kidney trade in Malaysia to pay off their debt were untrue.
“Our investigations found the reports were not true, and the victims have yet to lodge a report on their supposed exploitation by an organ trade syndicate,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Hasan said the ministry viewed organ trade seriously and would not compromise should the activities take place in any hospital in Malaysia.
“We will immediately report any such activity as it can tarnish the medical profession as well as the country’s image,” he added. — Bernama
Monday, June 11, 2012
The current ratio of about one dermatologist per 200,000 population is far too low and a far cry from the ministry’s projected target of 285 dermatologists by 2020.
Health Ministry Dermatology Services head Datuk Dr Roshidah Baba told theSun that the declining study of dermatology in medical universities is of great concern.
Dermatology is a specialist field dealing with afflictions of the skin – from common skin diseases such as eczema to serious and disfiguring ones like leprosy.
“The study of dermatology has dwindled to being taught in just seven or eight out of 33 medical universities,” she said, adding that the decline is largely due to the fact that there is little interest in the teaching of this particular field.
“There are only 32 dermatologists in the public sector (hospitals as well as universities), while the rest are in the private sector,” she said.
Roshidah said the ministry has met with the deans of medical universities and are in talks to reintroduce dermatology training (or posting) in order to pique interest in the field.
“We are working towards having universities include a two-week posting within their training modules,” she said.
“Firstly, this is so that medical students who undergo housemanship will be sufficiently competent to handle or diagnose the treatment of acne, or other common skin diseases.
“Secondly, we hope that having been exposed to the field of dermatology, young doctors may want to continue to specialise in it,” she said.
Roshidah said the ministry also conducts its own dermatology training programmes and has trained 21 dermatologists so far.
The shortage of dermatologists is in fact a global concern, and countries such as the United States, Canada and Australia have reported that a lack of skin specialists have compounded the slow diagnosis of skin cancer.
In the US, reports highlight the long waiting period for patients to meet with a skin specialist – some up to three months – due to the shortage.
Dermatology Society of Malaysia president Dr Koh Chuan Keng told theSun the shortage will ultimately be to the detriment of patients.
“With so few universities teaching dermatology, most young doctors cannot even diagnose simple skin ailments, or tell the difference between a fungal infection and eczema.”
“This would lead to patients resorting to over-the-counter treatments such as creams which may contain steroids, and this can be risky,” he said.
Koh said the main reason for the lack of interest in this specialised field is that it takes up to 20 years to be a fully-qualified dermatologist.
“After completing his housemanship of two years, a medical graduate would have to practise in general medicine for up to five years before he would be allowed to take up the Health Ministry’s dermatology training programme, which will take another five years,” he said.
Koh said the society has urged the ministry to cut down on the lengthy process in order to address the acute shortage of dermatologists, and restore interest in the field.
Thursday, June 07, 2012
Consultant Obstetrician and Gynaecologist Dr Gunasegaran P.T Rajan said this was necessary to help lower health risks thus reducing deaths caused by complications during childbirth.
“We hope to be the one to provide the data and information on women’s healthcare, playing a supporting role to the Health Ministry. So in a way, we are trying to brand ourselves towards this,” he said at the 10th Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists International Scientific Congress here yesterday.
He said the Government had taken a new role whereby everyone had a right to information and healthcare and so standard guidelines were being placed to inform patients and get them involved in the decision-making process.
“For example, on caesarean section. Ten years ago we will tell mothers that they need a c-section and that’s that. But now, as early as possible we will let them know what to expect and the complications that comes from it. So with this, women are taking charge of their own health and they become part of the decision-making process along with the doctors,” he said.
Dr Gunasegaran, who is the organising chairman for the congress, listed three most common emergency – bleeding during childbirth, embolism and pre-eclampsia or hypertension during pregnancy.
He said in Malaysia, 200 mothers died every year during childbirth and this translated to 27 deaths per 100,000 births.
He said the best figure worldwide was 10 deaths per 100,000 birth and although the country’s figure was considered quite good, it still needed to be lowered.
“We are hoping that all this teachings and imparting skills will improve the figures and reduce deaths due to complications in childbirth,” he said.
Dr Gunasegaran said he did not have the exact figures for Sarawak but it could be around 30 deaths.
This, he said, was probably due to the geographical challenges of the state.
As such, he said, one of the steps that needed to be taken to avoid this was to identify high-risk pregnancies as early as possible and let these mothers knew that they needed to be at the hospital during delivery.
“Of course, this is still not easy because nobody would want to leave their home and it is also not easy to bring a specialist and a team over to the interior.
“Another way is tele-medicine, whereby with modern technology and the Internet, information about childbirth, treatments and management advice gets passed on to the nurses over in the interior so they’ll know what to look out for,” he said.
Dr Gunasegaran still believed more needed to be put in place to get the necessary information across to the rural communities, especially in Sarawak.
He said educating women on their health and making them aware of the risk their health conditions had on childbirth was very crucial in lowering maternal mortality.
The society, he said, had organised life-saving skills courses on how to deal with emergencies – which when happened – could be fast and disastrous.
“We are also helping out our neighbours by holding such courses in Cambodia,” he added.
OGSM is an independent, non-profit and non-governmental organisation with affiliation to the International Federation of Gynaecology and Obstetrics and the Asia-Oceania Federation of Obstetrics and Gynaecology.
It was established in 1963 and today has some 800 members.
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
The yet-to-be-named body will be empowered to issue directives and guidelines on generic drugs, as well as drugs pricing structures and mechanisms.
Health Ministry Pharmaceutical Services Division senior director Datuk Eisah A. Rahman told theSun that the new body will consolidate the functions of the Pharmacy Board, the Drug Control Authority and the Medicines Advertisement Board.
“These boards have overlapping functions and in order to cut down bureaucracy, a competent authority will be formed to take over these functions,” she said.
However, she did not reveal further details as she said the bill is still in the drafting stage, and is expected to be tabled in Parliament by the end of the year.
The body is also one of the efforts by the ministry to promote the use and awareness of cheaper generic prescription medication in the light of rising costs of drugs and healthcare.
“Initiatives have also been taken to create awareness among prescribers (doctors), and to promote and encourage the use of generic names in the private sector in dispensing medication to patients,” said Eisah.
Among them was the “Know Your Medicine” campaign in 2007, which was aimed at educating the public on the difference between trade names and generic names of their medication.
“There is a plan to include a module on generics in this campaign in the future,” she added.
theSun had on May 28 front-paged a report that the ministry is moving towards encouraging the use of generic drugs, which are cheaper than brand-name, or innovator drugs, through nationwide roadshows which will begin in August.
Generic medication are bio-equivalent versions of innovator drugs, and are the same in terms of dosage, quality, efficacy and performance, at up to 70% cheaper than the brand name drugs.
Generics are produced when patents on the innovator drugs has expired, and as such, will cost much less as they do not include the cost of research.
However, Eisah said there are no immediate plans to introduce a specific law mandating the use of generics, like the Generics Act in the Philippines.
This Act, which the Philippines has implemented since 1998, promotes the production, dissemination, prescription and use of generic drugs, as competition from generic drugs was seen as a crucial way to making quality drugs affordable in the country.
Eisah said there are already policies in place to promote the use of generics by the government.
“Generic substitution is addressed in the National Medicines Policy and is practised in ministry facilities. The ministry procurement procedure also encourages the use of generics when the products are off patent. In addition, all ministry facilities prescribe medication based on its generic name,” she added.
Meanwhile, Malaysian Organisation of Pharmaceutical Industries (MOPI) president Leonard Ariff Shatar told theSun that legislation that enforce the use of generics will work against it.
“It gives the impression that doctors are forced to prescribe generics and patients are forced to use it. In the end, the doctors should have the discretion on what medicines they want to give,” he said.
Leonard added that market dynamics in the pharmaceuticals industry is changing rapidly.
“In the past five years or so, you find innovator drug makers – large multi-nationals like Pfizer, Sanofi or GlaxoSmithKline – going into generics as well. In the coming years, you would find reasonably strong crossovers where Pfizer might make generics of GSK products and vice-versa,” he said, adding that this would further boost the use of generics.
It is a fight that is intensifying: more than 2.5 billion people -- around 40 percent of Earth's population -- live in areas susceptible to the mosquito-borne virus, with up to 100 million infected annually, according to the World Health Organisation.
Dengue kills 20,000 people worldwide every year, and its complexity -- and what health advocates say is a lack of priority given the race to find cures for higher profile viruses such as AIDS -- means a vaccine has proved elusive.
It is mainly transmitted to humans by the aedes aegypti mosquito, and causes symptoms including high fever, body aches, rashes and heavy fatigue. In severe cases, white blood cells drop to potentially fatal levels.
Enter Prince Naquiyuddin Jaafar, one of the most popular members of Malaysia's nobility, whose anti-dengue technology targets the offspring of mosquitoes in a bid to win the battle against the virus-spreading pest.
A former diplomat and son of Malaysia's past king, Naquiyuddin, 65, has been involved in a wide range of philanthropic and charitable pursuits, but dengue has been a particular passion.
It is a growing problem in Malaysia, where cases surged 22 percent to 6,141 from January to March this year, with 17 deaths. Just eight dengue deaths were reported for all of 2011.
Among Naquiyuddin's diverse business activities is the biotech company he founded in 2007, EntoGenex, which has taken a pre-existing protein called the Trypsin Modulating Oostatic Factor, or TMOF, and developed it into what he calls a fatal "diet pill" for mosquitoes.
TMOF is mixed into yeast cells which are then inserted in rice husks, allowing them to float on water where they will be eaten by mosquito larvae, said Alan Brandt, EntoGenex's research head. "Larvae love yeast," he added.
Once consumed, it shuts down mosquito larvae digestive systems, starving them to death before they can grow and spread dengue, Naquiyuddin said as he showed slides and photographs of dead mosquitos at the firm's high-tech research facility in downtown Kuala Lumpur.
"The 'pill' has a 100 percent success rate against all larvae species within 24 hours, and there is no way for resistance to build as it is not a toxic chemical but a protein which only affects mosquitos," Naquiyuddin said.
The protein stops production of trypsin, a critical enzyme without which digestion cannot occur.
TMOF is harmless to animals and humans, Brandt said, washing a handful of the rice husks down with a glass of water in his laboratory as proof.
The firm has combined the TMOF with the equally tongue-twisting bacillus thuringiensis israelensis (Bti) bacteria, which eats holes in the guts of larvae but is non-toxic to people.
Most larvae die within an hour, and nearly all within 24 hours, according to EntoGenex, which has held several successful Malaysian field trials with universities and health authorities.
"What they have come up with is quite remarkable in combining Bti and TMOF, and the field trials have shown that there is success in using it," said the Malaysian Health Ministry's Disease Control Division director Chong Chee Kheong.
Although known for hundreds of years, dengue has emerged as a global health problem in recent decades as cases have rapidly mounted.
This spread has been blamed on factors including population growth, urbanisation, and increased human mobility taking the disease to new areas.
Authorities in Malaysia are unsure of the reasons driving the recent spike in cases there, but have speculated that wetter weather as a result of changing climate patterns could be a factor.
Current methods of mosquito control include fogging with chemicals such as the insecticide DDT which can be harmful to both humans and animals, and to which insects can develop a resistance.
Malaysia in 2010 released 6,000 genetically modified mosquitoes designed to have offspring with shorter lifespans but no more releases were made amid concerns as to how the insects would interact with their cousins in the wild.
Naquiyuddin's "pill" is now registered for use in Malaysia, Pakistan and the Philippines, while Ghana, South Africa, Cameroon and Sri Lanka are either conducting field trials or seeking approvals to use it.
He hopes it could potentially become a weapon in the even larger fight against malaria, which kills an estimated 650,000 people per year.
More than $5 billion is needed annually to control malaria but only $1.8 billion is being put into the fight, according to Roll Back Malaria, a group that carries out global anti-malaria campaigns.
The "pill", which costs about one-eighth the price of manufacturing conventional neurotoxins like DDT, will lower costs dramatically, said Naquiyuddin.
"We are offering a cheaper and much healthier alternative to fighting dengue and malaria, and this is why we are in the business: to improve the quality of life of people, while helping to solve a major health threat," he said.
"If it means my wife and family will never again have to worry about dengue, then I urge the government and businesses to help make it available to everyone," said Ahmad Ismail, 47.
A recent field trial in the suburb where he lives north of the capital Kuala Lumpur caused dengue cases to disappear, said Ahmad, an engineer whose wife was struck down with the virus just months before the trial. She later recovered.
Monday, June 04, 2012
Health Deputy Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said organisations like the Codex Alimentarius Commission (CAC) had approved its use in wheat flour in a portion of not more than 60mg per kilogramme while safety studies carried out by the Joint FAO/WHO Expert Committee on Food Additives (JECFA) confirmed that it does not cause any ill effects in food and is not carcinogenic.
In a statement yesterday, she said Malaysia's Regulation 42(2) of the Food Regulations 1985 allowed the use of benzoyl peroxide in wheat flour in a portion of not more than 50mg per kilogramme as food conditioner.
Rosnah was responding to a memorandum issued by the Malaysian Muslim Consumers Association (PPIM) cautioning the use of the benzoyl peroxide as a bleaching agent in wheat flour.
She said other countries such as Singapore, Japan, the US, Canada, Australia and New Zealand were also using it.
She urged consumers doubtful about the safety status of products in the market to make a report to the Health Ministry through the nearest district health office or State health department, or through its food quality and safety division website at http://fsq.moh.gov.my/v3. – Bernama
Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the current ratio of suicides for the years 2007 to 2010 was 1.3 to every 100,000 people, but believed it could be higher.
"These are just figures we collected from post-mortems. We think the suicide rates are under-reported," he said at a press conference here Monday.
Friday, June 01, 2012
MI KUALA LUMPUR, June 1 — Malaysia’s state investor Khazanah Nasional Bhd plans to offer up to 1.8 billion new shares in the listing of its healthcare unit, according to a source with direct knowledge of the matter, in a move that could raise close to US$2 billion (RM6 billion). The dual listing, slated to debut in Malaysian and Singapore bourses by the end of July, comes at a time when many initial public offerings (IPOs) are being postponed due to worries about a deteriorating global economy. “The other shareholders are planning to offer their shares for sale,” the source added, declining to elaborate further as the matter is private. Khazanah officials were not immediately available for comment. Japan’s Mitsui & Co Ltd owns a 26.6 per cent stake in IHH, Dubai-based Abraaj Capital holds 7.1 per cent and Acibadem chief Mehmet Ali Aydinlar 4.2 per cent. Khazanah owns the remaining 62.1 per cent. IHH Healthcare Bhd, the healthcare unit of Khazanah, owns stakes in Turkish hospital group Acibadem AS, Singapore’s Parkway Holdings, India’s Apollo Hospitals Enterprise Ltd and Malaysia-based Pantai Hospitals and International Medical University. IHH started offering its IPO shares to indigenous “Bumiputra” investors at an indicative price of RM2.85 a share, according to the source. An official at joint lead-coordinator CIMB declined to comment. Bumiputra, meaning “sons of the soil” in the Malay language, refers to majority ethnic Malays and other indigenous people in the country who benefit from a decades-old affirmative action policy that favours them in housing, education and business. Some 360 million “Bumiputra” shares are being offered to wealthy investors, according to Malaysia’s Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s website, adding that the closing date to apply for the tranche is June 5. Bank of America Merrill Lynch and Deutsche Bank are also joint lead co-ordinators, while Credit Suisse, DBS, Goldman Sachs and Maybank are joint bookrunners. Nomura, OCBC and UBS are co-lead managers. The dual listing would be the fourth-biggest IPO in Singapore’s history and Malaysia’s second-largest this year after the planned listing of Malaysian plantation group Felda Global Venture Holdings. International Financial Corp (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, has said it plans to take part in the IHH’s listing in a move to help validate IHH’s emerging markets strategy. —Reuters