Monday, October 29, 2012

Liow says law on stem cells not yet needed

MI

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 — The Health Ministry did not have plans to introduce a law on stem cells at the moment, said Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
He said the ministry’s four guidelines on stem cell research sufficiently served as standards to which practitioners and scientists involved in stem cell research and therapy should adhere and to ensure patients were out of harm’s way.
The guidelines would provide a framework for researchers, clinicians and companies involved in research, clinical trials and manufacture of stem cells, he noted.
“There is no Stem Cell Act in this country. But the guidelines alone are sufficient to provide the grounds and ethical environment to carry out their work,” Liow (picture) told reporters after launching the 1st National Stem Cell Congress here today.
The four guidelines are National Standards For Haemopoietic Stem Cell Therapy, National Standards For Cord Blood Banking and Transplantation, National Standards For Stem Cell Transplantation and Guidelines On Stem Cell Research and Therapy.
Liow said: “Before we came up with the guidelines, we formed a committee to discuss the details of the research. The committee also included Jakim and religious officials for their views.”
He said the use of cell-based therapies should be done strictly under clinical trials.
Prior to the clinical trials, there must be sufficient evidence to show safety, quality and efficacy.
Meanwhile, Liow said stem cell therapy in Malaysia was developing well in government, as well as university hospitals, noting that the number of patients receiving bone marrow and stem cell transplantation for leukaemia and solid tumours was on the rise.
He said a total of 213 haemopoietic stem cell transplants were performed and registered in the country, the majority of which centred on malignant disorders, namely leukaemia and lymphoma.
Currently, the minister disclosed, there were 11 haemopoietic transplant centres performing haemopoietic stem cell transplants in the country, including Ampang Puteri Specialist Hospital, Haematology Department (Ampang Hospital), Haemopoietic Stem Cell Transplant Unit (Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital) and Paediatric BMT Unit, Institute of Paediatrics Kuala Lumpur Hospital.
In another development, Liow announced that the Royal College of Physicians of Ireland (RCPI) has agreed to accept 80 students annually, to undergo the Medical Subspeciality Training Programme.
He said RCPI would provide an average of two to five years training places for most of the sub-specialities being offered, commencing from the 2013 intake.
The areas offered include cardiology, palliative medicine, endocrinology, gastroenterology, neurology, infectious diseases and geriatric medicine. — Bernama

Pengasih wants abuse of kratom leaves penalised under Dangerous Drugs Act @ Sun Oct 28 2012

MI


KUALA LUMPUR,  Oct 28 — Drug rehabilitation organisation Pengasih Malaysia today urged the attorney-general to penalise the abuse of kratom (ketum) leaves under the Dangerous Drugs Act instead of the Poisons Act, and also to regard glue-sniffing under the former law as well.
Pengasih president Datuk Mohd Yunus Pathi said this was necessary to check the abuse of kratom leaves, which were addictive, especially if mixed with certain items.
He said a study by Pengasih found that some adults in their 40s consumed a kratom extract mixed with coffee or other drinks to boost their energy.
“Taking a kratom drink on a regular basis will have an adverse effect on the health of the consumer,” he told reporters at Rumah Pengasih, here.
Mohd Yunus also regarded the sniffing of glue as a serious problem.
“There is no specific law on sniffing glue, although the practice can cause brain damage and lead to crime and social ills,” he said.
He proposed that the aftercare programme for former drug addicts be reviewed as certain aspects were seen as obstacles for them to lead a normal life. —  Bernama

Pengasih wants abuse of kratom leaves penalised under Dangerous Drugs Act @ Sun Oct 28 2012

MI


KUALA LUMPUR,  Oct 28 — Drug rehabilitation organisation Pengasih Malaysia today urged the attorney-general to penalise the abuse of kratom (ketum) leaves under the Dangerous Drugs Act instead of the Poisons Act, and also to regard glue-sniffing under the former law as well.
Pengasih president Datuk Mohd Yunus Pathi said this was necessary to check the abuse of kratom leaves, which were addictive, especially if mixed with certain items.
He said a study by Pengasih found that some adults in their 40s consumed a kratom extract mixed with coffee or other drinks to boost their energy.
“Taking a kratom drink on a regular basis will have an adverse effect on the health of the consumer,” he told reporters at Rumah Pengasih, here.
Mohd Yunus also regarded the sniffing of glue as a serious problem.
“There is no specific law on sniffing glue, although the practice can cause brain damage and lead to crime and social ills,” he said.
He proposed that the aftercare programme for former drug addicts be reviewed as certain aspects were seen as obstacles for them to lead a normal life. —  Bernama

Saturday, October 27, 2012

Liow: Incentives for private hospitals that hire newly graduated nurses

The Star Online


CAMERON HIGHLANDS: The Government is planning to give incentives to private hospitals that employ fresh graduates from nursing colleges, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
He said the move is aimed at encouraging private hospital to absorb nurses who had passed the Malaysia Nursing Board examination.
"By offering incentives to private hospitals, we hope they would be more willing to employ new nurses," he told reporters after meeting Tringkap residents here on Saturday.
Private hospitals also play an important role to train new nurses, he added.
"This would be a solution to reduce private hospitals from pinching experienced nurses from the Health Ministry," he said.
He said he would soon be announcing more details about the scheme the Ministry has come up with.
Touching on the quality of nurses in Malaysia, Liow said nurses had lived up to the expectation of the healthcare sector.
"It is unfair to say Malaysian nurses are lack of quality.
"If they have passed the examination, that means they have acquired sufficient healthcare knowledge," he said.
He was commenting on a special news reporting by a television channel that claimed nurses in the country were not up to standard.
He said nurses, especially fresh graduates from nursing colleges, require clinical exposure to enhance their clinical expertise.
The Government is also studying at recruiting nurses to undergo 1Malaysia Training Scheme to improve their skills, he added.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Cosmeceutical straddles the grey area

The Star

THE term “cosmeceutical” is not recognised by the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH), according to Datuk Eisah A. Rahman (pic), senior director of Pharmaceutical Services of the MOH.
It is not regulated as a product under the Sale of Drugs Act 1952, and the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984.
“A product can be a drug or a cosmetic, but it cannot be a combination of both. A cosmetic product cannot have either medicinal or drug-like benefits,” Datuk Eisah says in a recent e-mail interview.
According to the above act and regulations, there is a clear definition whereby a “drug” includes any substance, product or article intended to be used or capable, or purported or claimed to be capable, of being used on humans or any animal, whether internally or externally, for medicinal purposes.
On the other hand, “cosmetic” means any substance or preparation intended to be placed in contact with the various external parts of the human body (including epidermis, hair system, nails, lips and external genital organs), or with the teeth and the mucous membranes of the oral cavity, with a view exclusively or mainly to clean them, perfume them, change their appearance or correct body odours, protect them or keep them in good condition.
“Skincare products with functional claims such as anti-ageing can be considered as cosmetics in Malaysia as it is not categorised to have medicinal or drug-like benefit,” she clarifies.
She explains that the scope of anti-ageing claims, which is acceptable as cosmetics in Malaysia, generally covers products for improvement of the skin appearance such as reducing the appearance of wrinkle, skin hydration or even skin tone.
“Such products cannot be claimed to treat or prevent disease in humans; permanently restore, correct or modify physiological function by exerting a pharmacological, immunological or metabolic action,” she stressed.
Under the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984, the beauty company responsible for placing a cosmetic product in the local market must notify MOH prior to manufacture, import, supply or sale of the products and must ensure the safety, quality and claimed benefit of the cosmetic product placed in the local market. Malaysia implemented the notification procedure for cosmetic products since Jan 1, 2008.
All notified cosmetics are subjected to the MOH Post Market Surveillance programme to ensure that only safe products are marketed in Malaysia, and failure to comply with the relevant authorities will result in punitive action such as notification cancellation and product recall.
“Even though the notification procedure is less stringent compared to registration of drugs, nevertheless, for a product to be classified as cosmetics it must comply with the definition of cosmetics, and it is prohibited to make any medicinal claims,” Eisah points out.
When beauty companies call their products “cosmeceuticals”, it may be misleading to the consumer if the consumer interprets the product to be similar to a pharmaceutical product.
In accordance to the Cosmetic Advertising Code as specified under the Guidelines for Control of Cosmetic Products in Malaysia, the cosmetics industry is required to ensure that the marketing and advertising of cosmetics to the public is conducted in a manner that promotes the quality and safe use of cosmetics.
“That manner must be socially responsible, and not deceive the consumer. Advertisements should not be framed so as to abuse the trust of the consumer, or exploit his or her lack of experience or knowledge,” Eisah explains.
Before purchasing a cosmetic product, she advises consumers to read the product labels thoroughly and make an informed decision.
“They should not be easily influenced by advertisements that promise spectacular results in a short time.”
Cosmetic products are only approved for external application, and should never be injected into the body or under the skin by any method.
“Consumers are encouraged to report any adverse reactions from the use of cosmetic products or any knowledge of improper cosmetic product promotion beyond its scope of use, to the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau (NPCB) at MOH,” she concludes. – Sandra Low

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Health Ministry hails cigarette price hike

theSundaily

PETALING JAYA (Oct 23, 2012): The Health Ministry has welcomed the decision by British American Tobacco (BAT) Malaysia to increase the prices of all its cigarette packs by 20 sen.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai reasoned that price increases are an effective deterrent to smoking and there has been a significant reduction in the number of smokers with each increase.
"This has been proven by our minimum pricing of RM 7. We are able to contain cigarettes as a luxury item. We don't want youths to pick up smoking," he said at a press conference at the ASLI Healthcare Forum 2012 at Sunway Medical Centre here yesterday.
Liow said the ministry is working with the customs and the Finance Ministry to prevent illegal cigarette sales and ensure the implementation of the minimum price.
He said measures such as graphic images on legally-sold cigarettes will make enforcement of cigarette sales easier because smuggled cigarette packs lack such features.
"The smoker can be charged with possessing or buying illegal or smuggled cigarettes," he warned.
BAT Malaysia announced the price hike on Sunday, pointing to the customs' mandated increase in the ex-factory pricing of cigarettes of between 26% and 58% effective last Friday.
Liow also said his ministry and the government's Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu) have converted a Business Opportunities Lab into a Healthcare Entry Point Project (EPP) for senior citizens under the health National Key Economic Area (NKEA).
"We have converted the Senior Living business opportunities sector into an EPP under Senior Living. We will assist businesses in three specific areas – retirement villages, home or mobile care and nursing homes," he explained.
He added that a special dialogue session on this new EPP will be held for investors and key players.
"We have to capture this opportunity to further improve the health sector and welcome more foreign investment in Malaysia," said Liow.
Pemandu healthcare director Dr Chua Hong Teck said the new Senior Living EPP can generate RM1.3 billion in revenue by 2020.
"By 2020, 10% of our population would be 60 and above. By 2050, about 20% of Malaysians will be in this bracket," said Chua.

Monday, October 22, 2012

Using stem cells to regenerate cartilage

The Star


A team of Malaysian doctors achieved success and gained international attention by being innovative, passionate – and a little bit crazy.
ON a quiet weekend in 2011, hand surgeon Dr Ranjit Singh Gill flexed his fingers as he watched a limousine and police outriders pull up to the front entrance of the Kuala Lumpur Sports Medicine Centre (KLSMC).
A middle-aged man emerged from the car flanked by bodyguards. Dr Ranjit Singh greeted his patient. The whole group crowded into an elevator which took them to the fifth floor where a magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) machine awaited. The bodyguards stood sentry outside.
“My arm has been bothering me,” the patient told Dr Ranjit Singh. After he gently flexed his patient’s arm and studied the MRI scans, he suggested that the patient undergo keyhole surgery and five rounds of stem cell injections.
These stem cells would repair the injured area and regenerate the cartilage tissue. The treatment was so simple, it was almost too good to be true.
In fact, global experts in the field of orthopaedics are divided over the use of adult stem cells to repair cartilage.
“Cartilage basically does not heal,” Dr Hubert Kim, director of the Cartilage Repair and Regeneration Center at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF) Medical Center, is quoted as saying in an interview on the centre’s website.
Dr Ranjit Singh’s treatment, developed in Malaysia, flew in the face of medical textbooks. It took guts to suggest the road less travelled.
“Doctors should always take the route that’s safest for the patient. But sometimes, the textbook solution is not necessarily the safest way of doing things,” Dr Ranjit Singh told me in a series of interviews, as he recounted treating this unique patient, who shall go unnamed because of doctor-patient confidentiality.
“You need to continuously challenge yourself with difficult decisions. It’s a big responsibility.”
That is leadership on the cutting-edge, metaphorically and medically speaking. Thanks to its doctors’ research on stem cell therapy, the KLSMC has emerged as a clinical and research powerhouse for orthopaedic work globally, achieving a pace of innovation unmatched by most private practices in the country.
Stem cells being injected into a patient’s knee.Stem cells being injected into a patient’s knee.
The doctors here have temerity, talent and a good track record to provide cutting-edge – sometimes experimental – treatments to rival the best in advanced nations.
The KLSMC journey toward the cutting-edge began in 2005 when Dr Ranjit Singh’s colleague, orthopaedic surgeon and KLSMC founder Dr Saw Khay Yong, successfully regenerated cartilage in the knee joints of goats.
Then, Dr Saw tried to regenerate normal cartilage in patients’ knees by injecting the patients’ own blood stem cells into their knees after drilling holes into the underlying bone. That worked too.
Drawing on Dr Saw’s success with knees, Dr Ranjit Singh tested out the articular cartilage regeneration procedure on the limbs of three patients. Again, success. Cartilage could be regrown.
The early studies, published in international scientific journals, drew interest from orthopaedic specialists and university lecturers from the United States and Britain, who flew to Kuala Lumpur to learn the latest techniques from KLSMC.
“Their technology will change orthopaedic surgery forever,” Dr Adam Anz, a Florida orthopaedic surgeon, said in an interview.
Exciting as that was, Dr Ranjit Singh was now recommending this relatively new procedure – tested on a bunch of goats and a few people – to one of the most famous people in Malaysia.
“This procedure isn’t in the medical textbooks,” Dr Ranjit Singh told his patient. “Will you consider it?”
Dr Ranjit Singh going over a case with a patient.Dr Ranjit Singh going over a case with a patient.
“I’ll think about it,” the patient said.
Dr Ranjit Singh shook his head as he watched his patient hop into the limo and leave the hospital accompanied by the wail of police sirens.
Was he brilliant? Or crazy? Probably both, he concluded.
It is the norm for doctors to leave the public health system to join private practice. It is unusual for a half-dozen orthopaedic specialists, headed by Dr Saw, to leave their private practice to start their own hospital in Bukit Damansara.
It’s extremely rare for such doctors to embark on stem cell research – even while they were designing the hospital building and paying off mortgages and praying for patients to show up. And it’s probably crazy to think of even setting up a stem cell lab in a country where research infrastructure is relatively sparse.
“Is there a better way of doing things in hospitals?” Dr Saw mused aloud during an interview at Nerofico, an Italian restaurant on the ground floor of KLSMC, which serves gourmet food to its patients. “We dreamed of seeing and scanning the patient the same day, and then doing surgery the next day.”
“We were passionate and obsessive about wanting to do things properly. But logically, the risk was still too high to set up a centre so big,” Dr Ranjit Singh added, as he gestured broadly toward the nine floors of the hospital, which includes a pharmacy, a laboratory, operating theatres, a gorgeous high-ceilinged physiotherapy centre on the eighth floor and a rooftop hydrotherapy pool.
“So we needed the final magic ingredient: you have to be a little bit crazy.”
Their craziness has paid off. Thanks to their original research conducted with Universiti Putra Malaysia in 2005, Dr Saw and his colleagues began providing stem cell therapy for sports-related and other common joint injuries.
Soon they found themselves treating national athletes, weightlifters and international patients.
In May this year, world No 1 badminton player Datuk Lee Chong Wei injured his right ankle. Most Malaysians wrote off his chances of competing at the London Olympics. Lee went to KLSMC for stem cell injections into a torn ligament. He recovered quickly.
A few months later, Dr Saw found himself joining millions of Malaysians cheering on Lee in the breathtaking Olympic final against Lin Dan. “I was watching his ankle all the time and hoping he wouldn’t twist it again.”
Dr Saw’s pioneering work in regenerating knee cartilage has won praise from the editors of the peer-reviewed Journal Of Arthroscopic And Related Surgery. In two separate editorials, editor-in-chief Professor Gary Poehling urged readers to study the research published by Dr Saw in Malaysia and his co-authors in North Carolina and Alaska.
Prof Poehling described the diagrams as “amazing” and “priceless” and concluded that “stem cells have vast potential”. Dr Saw continues to publish papers that show evidence that articular cartilage in the knee joint can be regenerated.
Dr Saw Khay Yong: ‘We were passionate and obsessive about wanting to do things properly,’ he says of the KLSMC setup.Dr Saw Khay Yong: ‘We were passionate and obsessive about wanting to do things properly,’ he says of the KLSMC setup.
The KLSMC doctors’ research has now broadened stem cell treatment into cartilage, soft tissue, nerves and tendons – building on ground-breaking work carried out by specialists in multiple fields throughout the world.
“Right now this is the best possible treatment ever,” said Dr Anz, who has flown to Malaysia several times to learn new techniques and collaborate with Dr Saw.
“We want to give our patients the best treatment possible. Once they see it involves stem cells – and they see how it’s so easy to harvest, easy to process, easy to store and easy to inject into (a) patient – that’s going to change the world.”
Currently, Dr Saw and his colleagues are planning a worldwide multicentre trial. The goal is to prove to the global medical fraternity that this form of stem cell treatment works.
“As we will be the principal investigator, a worldwide randomised control trial will showcase biotechnology in Malaysia,” Dr Saw said. “You’ll change the way cartilage injuries are treated. And you’ll rewrite the textbooks.”
Dr Ranjit Singh wasn’t out to rewrite textbooks when he began treating his patient with the arm problem. All he wanted to do was provide the best care possible. So he sent an e-mail to two famous orthopaedic surgeons asking a second opinion on whether or not he should inject stem cells into his famous patient.
“Are you crazy?” a doctor from France replied. However, Dr Ranjit Singh’s mentor urged him to go for it. Faced with two opposite opinions, he knew what he had to do: he went for it.
“It will take several weeks for the stem cells to recognise the injured area and regenerate the tissue, which will reattach back to the bone,” he explained to his patient.
After the keyhole surgery, the patient returned to KLSMC five times for stem cell injections.
Four months later, Dr Ranjit Singh met his patient and asked: “How’s the arm?”
“Perfectly fine,” the patient replied.
As the surgeon reflected on his unique patient – just one among many cases he has treated – perhaps the biggest leadership lesson he learned is to do what you love.
“Doing what you love will drive you all the way – to be focused and persistent, to practise and practise, and finally to have that extra bit of craziness that pushes you forward.
“If you love your job, you’ll do well in it. And if you do well in it, you’ll love your job,” he said.

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Malaysia drugs firms net RM34m sales

BT


he Malaysian pharmaceutical industry generated sales worth RM34.1 million at the Convention on Pharmaceutical Industry (CPhI) Worldwide 2012 in Madrid, Spain, from Oct 9 to Oct 11.

The Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation (Matrade) said the event was a collaboration between Matrade and the Health Ministry to promote exports of Malaysian pharmaceutical products.

CPhI Worldwide is the world's leading networking event for the pharmaceutical industry especially for sourcing contract manufacturing opportunities and collaborations in generic drugs.

"Eleven Malaysian pharmaceutical companies were represented at the event, of which eight were under Matrade-led Malaysia’s national pavilion," Matrade said in a statement.

A total of 174 business meetings took place between Malaysian companies and foreign buyers from various countries such as India, Sweden, Portugal, the United States, Mexico, Algeria, Ukraine, Iran, United Kingdom, Russia, Germany and Australia.

Among the products foreign buyers wanted to source are ethical drugs, paediatric care, dermatological care, nutraceutical products, intravenous solutions, small volume injections, wound healing for diabetics, food supplements and natural colorant powders, it said.

Matrade said the Malaysian participants were also approached by potential partners from India, Mexico, Algeria, Iran and Czech Republic for possible collaborations in contract manufacturing.

With the encouraging result from our inaugural participation in this event, Matrade, the Health Ministry and the industry will continue to work together to ensure our continued presence at this leading event for the pharmaceutical industry, it said.

The forthcoming event by Matrade to promote pharmaceutical products will see Malaysian companies' participation in the Arab Health 2013, which will be held in Dubai from Jan 28 to 31, 2013, it added. -- BERNAMA

New UN initiative uses mobile technology to help fight non-communicable diseases

UN


17 October 2012 – Two United Nations agencies today launched a new initiative called ‘m-Health’ to use mobile technology, particularly text messaging and applications, to help tackle non-communicable illnesses such as diabetes, cancer, cardiovascular diseases and chronic respiratory diseases.
“Technological innovations are changing the landscape of disease prevention and control. The widespread availability of mobile technology, including in many of the least developed countries, is an exceptional opportunity to expand the use of e-health,” said the Secretary-General of the International Telecommunication Union (ITU), Hamadoun I. TourĂ©.
Through the initiative, the ITU and the World Health Organization (WHO) will provide evidence-based and operational guidance to encourage partners worldwide, especially governments, to implement m-Health interventions to address prevention and treatment of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and their common risk factors – tobacco use, unhealthy diet, physical inactivity and the harmful use of alcohol.
Non-communicable diseases are some of the leading causes of death and disease in both developed countries and emerging economies alike, according to a news release issued by the agencies. They dominate health care needs and expenditures in most developed as well as most low- and middle-income countries.
Of the 57 million deaths globally, NCDs contribute to an estimated 36 million deaths every year, including 14 million people dying between the ages of 30 and 70. Using mobile telephone technology, m-Health practices can help save lives, reduce illness and disability, and reduce healthcare costs significantly.
“By joining forces, ITU and WHO will fight against debilitating non-communicable diseases that can be controlled through the intervention of m-Health solutions and services that are at once cost effective, scalable and sustainable,” said Mr. TourĂ©. “In doing so, we will help end a scourge that hinders economic growth and development around the world.”
The initiative will build on current projects, existing health systems and platforms, and will involve partnerships between governments, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector.
“WHO is already using mobile devices to carry out surveillance of non-communicable diseases and their risk factors,” said WHO’s Assistant Director-General for Non-communicable Diseases and Mental Health, Oleg Chestnov.
“For example, the Global Adult Tobacco Surveillance system has used mobile phones to capture data on tobacco use in 17 countries – covering over half of the world’s population. This experience of running population-scale mobile projects will be vital to the initiative,” he stated.
WHO and ITU member countries are also testing mobile solutions for NCDs – ranging from providing assistance to help people quit tobacco, helping people increase their activity levels, eating more healthily and helping patients with non-communicable diseases better manage their conditions. All of these experiences will feed into the new initiative.
The new initiative will initially run for a four-year period and focus on prevention, treatment and enforcement to control non-communicable diseases.
It is currently being discussed in Dubai at ITU Telecom World 2012, where leaders and pioneers in the corporate, research and academic sectors are meeting with high-ranking policy-makers and regulators, with the aim of sharing ideas on the future of global telecommunications.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Global spread of resistant microorganisms a nightmare

 The Star Online


PUTRAJAYA: A powerful antibiotic to treat serious bacterial infections is no longer effective in six out of 10 patients as a result of years of widespread abuse of antibiotics in the country.
Citing an example, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the antibiotic carbapenem used to fight Acinetobacter baumanii, a bacteria that causes dangerous secondary infections in hospitals, was no longer effective in 57.4% of cases last year, a drastic increase from 35% in 2005.
“Likewise, the microorganism Streptococcus pneumoniae that causes pneumonia, among many others, showed resistance in 30.9% of the time in 2010, up from 21.9% in 2003,” he added when launching the National Campaign on the Containment of Antimicrobial Resistance or AMR here yesterday.
Carbapenems are among the antibiotics of last resort for many bacterial infections. There are no new antibiotics in the forseeable future to combat this resistance, and the worldwide spread of the resistant gene is now considered a nightmare for the medical community.
The national campaign to curb the misuse of antibiotics will involve both the private and public sectors although it is far easier to control the practice of government doctors, said Datuk Dr Azmi Shapie, director of the Medical Development Division in the Health Ministry.
Speaking at a media workshop after the launch, he said: “AMR is an extremely serious global problem because it means that many infections are no longer easily treated, leading to prolonged suffering and greater risk of death for patients.
“In addition, the cost of healthcare increases because more expensive drugs are needed, in addition to longer treatment durations.”
In 90% of cases, antibiotics were of no use against ailments like coughs, colds or sore throats as these were mainly viral, rather than bacterial, said Datuk Dr Christopher Lee, head of the infectious disease unit at the Sungai Buloh Hospital in Selangor,
He also said doctors should not hastily prescribe antibiotics while patients should not be quick to demand for them.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Two million Socso members eligible for free health screening

The Star Online


PETALING JAYA: About two million private sector employees will be eligible for free medical check-ups from the Social Security Organisation (Socso).
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam is expected to announce the mechanism for the health screening for Socso members today.
The move will benefit workers if they contract any non-communicable diseases like diabetes and hypertension, among other things. It will also spur the workers to be more aware of their health.
The initiative, announced under Budget 2013 by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, is targeted at Socso contributors aged 40 years and above. It is believed that the free check-ups will be applicable to Socso members who are still working.
It was reported that the Federal Government had allocated RM19.3bil for healthcare and management under Budget 2013, an increase of RM2bil from the last budget.
Budget 2013 has allocated RM200mil for Socso contributors to get free medical check-ups.
Other health initiatives include sugar and urine tests offered at 1Malaysia Clinics.
Socso currently has some six million contributing members nationwide.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai had expressed hope that the Budget allocation for blood test screening and free health checks would help reduce non-communicable diseases by 10% to 20%.
He had said that the funds would help in financing programmes for the early prevention of such diseases.

Saturday, October 13, 2012

UPM Produces Health Drink From Germinated Brown Rice

SERDANG, Oct 12 (Bernama) -- Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) has succeeded in producing a health product from germinated brown rice that can help prevent and reduce the risk of diseases like diabetes, heart problems and Alzheimer.

Its a health drink, known as OryGOLD, produced following a research by a group led by Professor Dr Maznah Ismail, from the BioScience Institute.

She said the product is now available in the market at selected outlets and is sold at RM25 per packet.

Meanwhile, Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Datuk Seri Noh Omar, who launched the product today, said OryGold is another of UPM's research and innovation's success.

TalentCorp's Foray Into Australia Reaps Huge Success

MELBOURNE, Oct 12 (Bernama) - Malaysia's Talent Corporation (TalentCorp) recently completed several outreach programmes in Australia with outstanding success as hundreds of Malaysians mulled the benefits of returning to seize employment and opportunities available in Malaysia's fast-developing economy.

For example, a good indication was the good turnout of more than 60 Malaysian doctors and pharmacists working in Melbourne, who listened to Health deputy director Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah explaining Malaysia's 1Care concept, which involved the integration of private and public health to achieve better and universal medical outcomes.

He assured young doctors and specialists of good incomes and that they would be working in international standard hospitals.

This prompted Pantai Group of Hospitals chief executive Tan Suet Guan to say: "This is true. I sign the pay cheques every month."

Dr Hisham said it was an exciting time to work in Malaysia when research and working conditions in the health sector were developing at a rapid pace with overseas institutions offering help and calling for exchange of doctors and ideas in healthcare.

Universiti Malaya's (UM) Medicine Faculty deputy dean Professor Dr Johari Surin said UM was striving to be in the top 50 universities in the world and urged Malaysians abroad to contribute to the university's progress.

He outlined UM's plans for the future and suggested how the attendees could fit in.

Representatives from Sunway, Pantai and Mahkota medical centres also spoke of their expansion plans to boost their healthcare services.

Discussions centered on, among others, the process to return to Malaysia, such as registration, medical qualifications, schooling for children and income tax incentives.

More obese, stunted Malaysian children

New Straits Times


KUALA LUMPUR: The consumption of major food groups among Malaysian children is not in accordance to recommendation. While grains, meat and fish are consumed adequately or in excess, the consumption of fruits, vegetables and legumes, which are the major sources of dietary fibre, is way below the recommended 20g to 30g per day.

more obese


These were some of the findings from NutriPlanet, the first dietary study of Malaysian children by child nutrition specialist, Danone Dumex (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, in collaboration with International Medical University (IMU) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).
According to UPM's Prof Dr Zalilah Mohd Shariff, the study assessed the overall nutritional and growth status of Malaysian children based on the weight and height for different age groups. This was then compared with the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s global growth curves.
"Besides the unhealthy food intake, the findings suggested the problem of stunting persists, along with a rise in obesity," said IMU's Prof Khor Geok Lin.
"Stunting was most prominent at the age of two years old, and more evident among Malay children and the poor.
"We also identified a 'double burden' in that approximately 30 per cent of children who were classified as stunted were also categorised as overweight or obese," added Khor.
In addition, it was found that the influence of family income on overweight or obesity to be relatively small, indicating that this is a problem fairly independent of socio-economic status.
According to Dr Jacques Bindels, scientific director of Danone Dumex Asia Pacific Research and Development, the findings showed there is a need to address the issue of food intake imbalances across the socio-economic classes and different age groups.
"The double burden of under and over consumption in children growing up in urban areas also deserves timely action, albeit the educational approaches and messages need to be subtle, as only shifting the average condition may solve some problems on the one hand, but cause new ones on the other," said Dr Bindels.
"Studies such as NutriPlanet are vital as the findings allow us to have deeper insights into the nutritional and health status of Malaysian children.
"This in turn enables organisations to offer nutritional products and services that are tailored to local needs," added Dr Bindels.
NutriPlanet is a scientific dossier on the nutritional status of Malaysian children aged between 1 and 10. It is culled from critical analysis of literature and interviews with health experts and stakeholders.
Done in the Klang Valley, NutriPlanet looked at three age groups -- 1 to 3 years old, 4 to 6 years old and 7 to 10 years old -- from three socio-economic classes and a racial distribution in line with the national average.

Thursday, October 11, 2012

The fight against breast cancer

The Star

A mammogram sponsorship programme that reaches out to underprivileged women is making a difference in the fight against breast cancer.
MOST women don’t know the importance of early detection, says Dr Dalilah Kamaruddin, head of Women’s Cancer Detection Centre at the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM). “Some of it is due to ignorance, and some due to fear. They think it is better not to know (about cancer).”
Speaking at the NCSM building in Kuala Lumpur, Dr Dalilah spoke about the Mammogram Sponsorship Programme that is part of the Estee Lauder Companies Breast Cancer Awareness Campaign in Malaysia.
The campaign is now in its 16th year and has raised RM2.75mil which has been channelled towards research, treatment and care of breast cancer. More than one million breast self-examination instructional cards and pink ribbons have been given out to women around the country.
Under the programme, the NCSM provides breast health education and free mammograms to underprivileged Malaysian women in the high-risk group, aged 40 years or older and single mothers. The areas covered are rural villages and urban poor areas in the Klang Valley, Kuala Selangor, Klang, Segamat, Pontian, Batu Pahat, Kluang and Kuantan.
<b>All about awareness:</b> Dr Dalilah (right) with Rossaini Abdul Rahman (centre) and Almihadzar Atan at a mammogram machine. All three believe more information about breast cancer should be disseminated to rural areas.All about awareness: Dr Dalilah (right) with Rossaini Abdul Rahman (centre) and Almihadzar Atan at a mammogram machine. All three believe more information about breast cancer should be disseminated to rural areas.
Estee Lauder Brand general manager Katrina Liew says that by working together with the NCSM and the College of Radiology all these years on the programme, they are constantly refining the process.
“We used to sponsor only the mammograms, which cost RM150 each time. But through feedback and experience, we realise that we’re not getting through to the right people. The people in rural areas may not know of the existence of the programme!
“So this year, we’re letting them use the funds for the entire process of awareness, from education to transportation, to the mammogram itself and even post-treatment,” says Liew.
The NCSM works with various NGOs to bring women to the centre for this purpose. One such NGO is Pergerakan Wanita Umno, whose members Rossaini Abdul Rahman and Almihadzar Atan relate their experiences with women in their area, Gombak.
“We feel it is our responsibility to care (about cancer awareness). A lot of women are shy to go for mammograms, because of lack of exposure. We always try to tell them that early detection is best,” says Rossaini.
Once a month, Rossaini and Almihadzar will gather 30 women from their housing area and bring them to the centre for talks and mammograms, with the funds extended to them by Estee Lauder Companies Malaysia through the NCSM.
“We hold mammogram screenings once or twice a month, on the first and/or third Saturdays. From 8.30am to 2.30pm, we can do up to 30 women. Through the programme, we’ve screened about 400 women to date,” says Dr Dalilah.
She says there is a lot of misinformation and uncertainty about breast cancer out there. For example, some women don’t even know what cancer is, and some think that every tumour is cancerous.
“When they come in, we do a clinical breast examination as well as the mammogram. We talk to them about breast health and about women’s health in general. We also encourage them to do regular breast self-examination. So far, we have detected two cases in every hundred women that we have seen. That’s quite a high percentage,” says Dr Dalilah.
The NCSM also uses the fund given by Estee Lauder Companies Malaysia to perform biopsies for the eligible, should a lump be detected. “We want to fully utilise the funds for all aspects of breast cancer prevention and treatment,” she adds.
Rossaini says she had a friend with Stage 3 breast cancer, way back before she knew of the work that the NCSM was doing to raise awareness. Now she feels happy that she can be a part of that work. She helps put up posters at the flat where she stays, saying that even if she cannot talk to every woman there, the information is there for them to read.
Dr Dalilah says the first step in the fight against breast cancer is early detection. Rossaini and Almihadzar agree, saying that there should be more information disseminated in rural areas.
The NCSM also strives to provide a holistic approach to cancer treatment, by providing a space for support groups to gather. “We don’t want to just do a mammogram screening for women and stop at that. We hope to be able to hold their hand every step of the way, through treatment and post-treatment support,” says Dr Dalilah.
Do your part
“We are also urging the public to help by donating to our Mammogram Sponsorship Programme,” says Liew.
The public can donate RM50 each at all Estee Lauder Companies Malaysia counters (Estee Lauder, Clinique, Origins, Aramis, M.A.C., Bobbi Brown and La Mer) in Parkson stores nationwide. The company will match every ringgit raised to contribute to the programme, which will sponsor free mammograms for the underprivileged in rural areas through the College of Radiology Malaysia and the NCSM.
ErratumIn our article on Sept 24, we stated that Dr Evelyn Ho was an oncologist. She is a consultant clinical radiologist. We apologise for the error.

Who needs a mammogram?

WOMEN should get one baseline mammogram done between age 35 and 40. From 40 to 50, it should be done yearly. From age 50 onwards, get a mammogram once every two years. This is because the effects of menopause and hormonal changes may result in frequent changes in the breast.
Those in the high-risk category should get one every year, from the age of 35 onwards.
Women should also do regular breast self-examination.

Monday, October 08, 2012

About 8,000 graduates from nursing colleges are jobless

The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: About 8,000 graduates from nursing institutions, especially those from private colleges, are jobless and the Human Resource Ministry is searching for solutions.
Its minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said that a study by the Health Ministry showed that 8,000 graduates who pursued nursing courses were jobless, especially those from private nursing institutions
"The Human Resource Ministry and the Health ministry will hold discussions to find a way to resolve the problem," he told reporters after handing out appreciation letters to 60 private college nursing graduates who secured jobs through the My Career Fair 2012 organised by the Special Implementation Task Force at Wisma Perkeso here on Monday.
Subramaniam urged the nurses to accept employment opportunities outside private hospitals.
"Among places that require their service are old folk's homes, child care centres and centres for people with special needs," he said.
Subramaniam said the My Career Fair 2012, which held open interviews for graduates in the medical sectors, featured employers like Sime DarbyMedical Centre, Pantai Cheras Hospital, Hospital Pantai Ampang, Hospital Damai and Assunta Hospital. - Bernama

Liow: Ministry views adolescent mental health issues seriously

MI

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 7 — The Health Ministry views seriously the worsening trend concerning mental health issues involving adolescents aged 15 and below, said its minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
Liow said statistics showed mental health problems involving the group rose to 13 per cent in 1996, 19.4 per cent in 2006 and 20 per cent last year.
“We are very worried about the worsening trend on mental health of teenagers and children because this will afffect national development as they are national assets,” he told reporters after opening the national-level World Mental Health Day 2012 here today.
He drew attention to the fact that teens and children today were heavily influenced by the Internet and communications technology to the point it was leading to less parent-child interaction while parents busy with their careers were also treating lightly the supportive role they needed to play when it came to their children.
As such, Liow said the ministry would make efforts to tackle the problem including preparing a national strategic plan on mental health and increasing the number of Community Health Centres from next year.
Liow said the plan among others would stress on the aspects of promoting mental health and smart partnerships involving various agencies and NGOs.
According to Liow, opening up more Community Health Centres would enable patients to receive treatment in a more conducive environment as compared to hospitals.
He said services like psychological support, counselling and information on mental health were available at such centres.
The first Community Mental Health Centre in the country was launched in Presint 11, Putrajaya last year. — Bernama

Sunday, October 07, 2012

More nurses selected to undergo disaster training

The Star Online


KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has intensified its disaster preparation planning by training over 470 nurses and another 438 in emergency and trauma nursing programmes, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
The training, which started at the beginning of last year, was extended to private institutions to involve more nurses, he said.
Emergency physicians in main hospitals, said Liow, were developing these nurse training programmes, including formulating disaster plans for hospitals and drills to ensure proper patient care.
“This means that nurses need to be prepared to deal with all hazards, during which they play a major role in responding to those events and in managing their victims to ensure the best possible outcomes,” he said in his address at the Third International Conference on Disaster Nursing held in conjunction with the 17th Malaysia-Singapore Nursing Conference here yesterday.
Preparing for emergency: Nurses practising CPR techniques during the Third International Nursing Conference on Disaster at Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur.Preparing for emergency: Nurses practising CPR techniques during the Third International Nursing Conference on Disaster at Berjaya Times Square in Kuala Lumpur.
The ministry's nursing division, he said, would also develop a training module and curriculum for an Advanced Emergency and Trauma Course to prepare nurses for disaster management.
Liow said Malaysia's Policy and Mechanism on National Disaster and Relief Management and the ministry's Malaysian Emergency Medicine and Trauma Services Policy Book stressed the importance of disaster preparation.
“We will take in 1,681 nurses from private nursing colleges by year-end and 6,726 by 2015,” he said.
In ROMPIN, Liow said the ministry would proceed with its study on the source of illnesses in Bukit Koman without the involvement of the Ban Cyanide in Gold Mining Action Committee, which had yet to send its list of experts and the 383 names of allegedly sick patients.
“I have directed my officers to expedite the study so the issue can be put to rest,” he said after chairing the Pahang MCA exco meeting here.

    Teen mental health worrying govt

    Free Malaysia Today


    KUALA LUMPUR:  The Health Ministry views seriously the worsening trend concerning mental health issues involving adolescents aged 15 and below, is worrying.
    Minister Liow Tiong Lai said the statistics showed mental health problems involving the group rose to 13 per cent in 1996, 19.4 per cent in 2006 and 20 per cent in 2011.
    “We are very worried about the worsening trend on mental health of teenagers and children because this will afffect national development as they are national
    assets,” he told reporters after opening the national-level World Mental Health Day 2012 here today.
    He drew attention to the fact that teens and children today were heavily influenced by the Internet and communications technology to the point it was leading to less parent-child interaction while parents busy with their careers were also treating lightly the supportive role they needed to play when it came to their children.
    As such, Liow said the ministry would make efforts to tackle the problem including preparing a national strategic plan on mental health and increasing the number of Community Health Centres from next year.
    Liow said the plan among others would stress on the aspects of promoting mental health and smart partnerships involving various agencies and NGOs.
    According to him, opening up more Community Health Centres would enable patients to receive treatment in a more conducive environment as compared to hospitals.
    He said services like psychological support, counseling and information on mental health were available at such centres.
    The first Community Mental Health Centre in the country was launched in Presint 11, Putrajaya last year.
    -Bernama