Thursday, June 30, 2005

43 Health Products Withdrawn Up To May, Dewan Rakyat Told


A total of 43 health products out of 895 sold by direct-selling companies were withdrawn from the market between January and May this year for not meeting standards, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said Thursday.
He told the Dewan Rakyat that within the same period, 3,922 unregistered health products were seized.
Replying to Raime Unggi (BN-Tenom), Dr Chua said 150 out of 2,147 health products were withdrawn in 2004 for the same reason.
He said products sold by direct-selling companies must be analysed by the Drug Control Authority before they are put on the market.
To a supplementary question, by Datuk Dr Rahman Ismail (BN-Gombak), Dr Chua said the ministry had enough experts to carry out the analysis.

Govt Will Not Entertain Appeals On CSMU - Dr Chua


The government will not entertain appeals on de-recognition of the medical degree from the Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) in Ukraine.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the door for appeals was closed as the CSMU had not appealed or replied to the enquiries made by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) on the issue despite of the long period given to them.
The government regretted the university's attitude which had remained silent all this while, especially when the de-recognition issue was hotly talked about in the country for the past two weeks.
"Till now, we have not received any reply or appeals from CSMU. Only the Ukraine Ambassador to Malaysia made a statement and he tried to turn the matter into a political issue.
"Hence, the cabinet, in its weekly meeting yesterday, decided not to entertain any appeals from the university. The decision is final," he told reporters at Parliament lobby Thursday.
On education quality at CSMU, Dr Chua said the quality of its graduates was suspect, especially their understanding of medical terminologies in English.
"This is because CSMU still used Russian language as the medium of instruction although it was asked to conduct the medical degree programme in English.
"The government is actively promoting Malaysia as a medical tourism destination. This effort will not succeed if people questioned the quality of Malaysian doctors," he said.
Earlier, replying to Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) in the Dewan Rakyat, Dr Chua said the decision to withdraw the recognition was made based on professional assessment without any political or racial undertones.
Therefore, he said, the decision should not be exploited by political parties to fish for votes.
He also said the decision was made taking into account the safety concerns of students following reports of students being raped and threatened not to report the crime to the authorities.
"Besides safety, corruption is also an issue. The MMC sent a letter last year seeking an explanation on the matter but there has been no reply till today," he said.
Dr Chua said the MMC also wrote in to the Ukraine Medical Council seeking clarification that the Ukraine government through its medical council did not recognise Malaysian students who are graduates of CSMU and there has been no reply till today.
He also said CSMU graduates have shallow knowledge and weak skills due to their poor command of English.
"Therefore, we decided to withdraw the recognition. We want quality doctors. We endorse MMC's decision," he said.

HIV/AIDS drug contract


Duopharma Biotech Bhd expects to ink a two-year contract with the Health Ministry likely in August to supply drugs for HIV/AIDS patients, said its managing director Chia Ting Poh.
“We were called by the ministry for a price negotiation and we believe the contract will likely be officially signed by August,” he told FinancialDaily after the company’s AGM in Klang on June 29.
The contract, which may be renewable every two years, will allow Duopharma to supply SLN 30 and SLN 40 tablets, which are three-in-one fixed dose combination (FDC) anti-retroviral drugs, to government, teaching and army hospitals and city halls across the nation.
The new FDC, a life-prolonging drug recommended by the World Health Organisation, will be the first to be introduced in Malaysia.
According to Duopharma’s 2004 annual report, the government intends to fully subsidise the new drug at an estimated cost of between RM15 million and RM26 million, which it says is only 20% of existing treatment costs.
Chia said Duopharma would have exclusive patent rights for SLN 30 and SLN 40, which were waived by UK-based pharmaceutical research firm GlaxoSmithKline.
Chia said the costs to treat an HIV/AIDS patient would be reduced by 80% to RM2,000 per year from RM10,000 per year. Based on official figures, there are 60,000 HIV/AIDS patients in the country with almost 20 new cases reported daily.
HIV/AIDS patients are now paying RM3,000 per year for medication with the remaining RM7,000 subsidised by the government.
“With the government’s intention to fully subsidise the drug, it will encourage more patients to come forward for treatment,” Chia added.
Duopharma is also working closely with the ministry on a pilot project expected to begin by September on the usage of Methadone to cure drug addiction. The government estimates there are 300,000 addicts but unreported cases could be more than that.
“For every one known addict, there are four unknown addicts. The pilot project was initially targeted for six months but it is now indefinite,” Chia said, adding that the pilot project would initially involve 1,300 patients.
“It’s the question of how fast the government can mobilise. There is meticulous paperwork, ensuring appropriate controls are monitored, and doctors are adequately trained to handle the drug,” he said.
He said the government was formulating new guidelines. “The old strategy of criminalising drug addicts and putting them in detention centres is not useful and is costly.” He said private sales of Methadone to general practitioners had increased.

Medical degrees of 333 varsities up for review


The status of medical degrees from 333 foreign institutions currently recognised by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) will be reviewed.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said this was decided by the Cabinet yesterday.
He said a panel comprising representatives from MMC, the Health and Higher Education Ministries and the Public Services Department would visit these institutions.
“We will be assessing their standards and quality of education, including student-lecturer ratio, living quarters and internal security. This is because standards and quality of education tend to improve or deteriorate over time. The review will be implemented as soon as possible,” he said here yesterday.
The decision, stressed Dr Chua, was not related to the recent MMC’s decision to revoke its recognition of the medical degree from Crimea State Medical University.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

CSMU Medical Degree De-Recognition Not An Ethnic Issue, Says PM


The government's decision to de-recognise the medical degree from the Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) in Ukraine is not an ethnic discrimination issue, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Wednesday.
"There is no such intention at all from any party involved in making the decision to be influenced by ethnic considerations," the prime minister said when commenting on the cabinet's decision to endorse the decision of the Malaysian Medical Council to de-recognise the medical degree from the university.
"Students affected by the decision are Malaysian students of all races -- Indians, Malays and also Chinese...they will together face the difficulties," he told reporters after visiting the Malaysian Integrity Institute.
In announcing the cabinet's decision in Putrajaya today, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the de-recognition would not affect 247 Malaysian students currently taking pre-medical course at the university.
Abdullah said the government decided to allow the students to continue their studies until their graduate with a medical degree.
"Those who are in the preparatory level, we will allow them to continue till they complete their degree.
"To the others, including those who have just applied, we have decided not to allow them to go ahead with their plans," he said.
Meanwhile, MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said he was happy with the Cabinet's decision.
He thanked the Prime Minister, his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, and his Cabinet colleagues for agreeing to MIC's request to allow the 247 pre-medical students who are already at the CSMU to continue their studies.
The Works Minister agreed with the Prime Minister that there was no racial discrimination in the MMC's decision to withdraw the recognition.
"The MIC has never perceived the matter as a racial issue," he added.

Question Time: Opportunity in adversity for Sothinathan

By P Gunasegaram
Datuk S Sothinathan's suspension as a deputy minister for three months raises the question of whether the "punishment" reflects the "crime". But it does nothing to answer the older question of the debacle over the decision to stop recognising medical degrees from Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) of Ukraine.
Let's take the first issue first.
The unprecedented step of suspending a deputy minister, also Member of Parliament for Telok Kemang and MIC secretary-general — positions that he will keep — was taken because he criticised the government while being a member of the government.
Sothinathan had last Tuesday interrupted Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad, who was speaking in Parliament over the decision by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) to stop recognition of the CSMU medical degree.
Relying on the Hansard, the official record of Parliamentary proceedings, Sothinathan's interruption came soon after Abdul Latiff said: "If a leader of a component party in the Barisan Nasional says that the decision [to withdraw recognition] was to reduce the capacity of the Indian community to produce doctors, it is not true at all." According to earlier press reports, MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu had alleged as much.
Abdul Latiff proceeded to provide statistics and said that over 200 Malay students are in CMSU but "our friends in Umno support [the decision to withdraw recognition] because Umno is the custodian of quality".
It was at this juncture that Sothinathan, feathers obviously ruffled, asked for permission to speak. He explained that since over 500 students or more than 50% of the students involved were Indians, MIC was obliged to offer its views.
But he did not stop there. He questioned why the MMC, if it were professional, had recognised CSMU in 2001. He went on to ask why the Higher Education Ministry issued no-objection certificates to applicants to the university. This was probably in reference to earlier reports that part of the reason for withdrawing recognition was the poor quality of candidates.
Admittedly, Sothinathan was behaving like a backbencher here rather than a member of the administration. But he could have been excused for that, considering that another administration member made a barely disguised reference to MIC and the party boss.
Could the view not have been taken — considering the heat of the moment, the emotive content in the issue, some provocation to boot and the need to have constructive debate — that Sothinathan could have been excused for his behaviour? What good comes out of making him an example?
Also, others besides Sothinathan were more to blame for emotionalising the issue and when he questions the decision of the MMC, he is not questioning an arm of the government but a body set up under an Act of Parliament. In this instance, however, the government supports the decision of the council in stopping the recognition of CSMU degrees.
In the ensuing melee, the question that started it all has been relegated to the back burner — should the recognition for medical degrees from the CSMU be withdrawn? If so, why?
If there are good reasons for this, the MMC has certainly not articulated them well. MMC president and Health Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Ismail Merican attributed the withdrawal of recognition to the dubious qualifications of students, the number of students per lecturer, and a possible drop in quality of teaching because of a sharp increase in students, amongst others.
As it turns out, it was the Higher Education Ministry that issued no-objection certificates to some of these students, implying they had the minimum qualifications to undertake the course. Such a situation understandably gave the perception that the decision to stop recognition may have had other motives.
But to be fair to the MMC, it made it clear that the current 1,119 students who have already enrolled in CSMU classes could continue as they are not affected by the move to stop recognition of the medical degrees.
This was glossed over as the situation got politicised. Those who would be affected are those planning to study in CSMU rather than those who are already there and therefore, the fallout from the so-called de-recognition will be a lot smaller than the figures suggest. This point was reiterated by the deputy health minister in his reply in Parliament last Tuesday.
The MMC on its part should be a lot more transparent over its recognition procedure. In the haste to de-recognise, it can close the door to lower-income Malaysians, not just Indians but those from other races as well, obtaining medical degrees cheaply, considering the highly limited places in Malaysia and the very high cost of and limited places in developed countries.
The council and the government should certainly do a lot more to produce doctors locally by setting up more facilities in the country. That will reduce dependence on foreign countries and give more highly qualified Malaysians of all races opportunities to obtain medical degrees. Why is the government not doing that?
Meantime, the only victim of this latest Crimean war, which has been blown out of proportion, is Deputy Minister Sothinathan. But this bit of adversity may give his political career a welcome opportunity and boost.
Now everyone knows Sothinathan. Hope his boss is not too discomfited.

P Gunasegaram is group executive editor at The Edge.

CSMU sends appeal letter to Abdullah


The Crimea State Medical University in Ukraine has submitted an appeal to the Prime Minister against the Government’s decision to de-recognise its degrees from Jan 1 next year.
Ukrainian Medical Education Sdn Bhd, which represents CSMU, said in the appeal that the university was not informed of the Malaysian Medical Council’s pending decision and had no chance to take steps to rectify outstanding issues.
Dr Subendran Arumugam, a director of Ukrainian Medical Education, said a grace period or at least a warning should have been given to the university.
"A total of 25,000 doctors from 38 different countries have graduated from CSMU," he pointed out.
"Does this count for nothing? MMC is willing to recognise medical degrees from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt and Jordan, and yet has de-recognised CSMU as lacking in quality."
He said the large increase of Malaysians at CSMU from 53 to 1,061 in recent years had not affected the institution’s one-to-10 teacher-to-student ratio and the students were spread over six to seven years at various levels of enrolment

Doctors only need to do hospital and clinical duties


Government doctors will soon no longer be required to take up administrative jobs to be considered for promotion.
Those concentrating on hospital and clinical work would have similar chances.
This follows the Government’s plan to release doctors from being tied up in administrative work, either as hospital administrators or in other administrative capacities, to enable them to concentrate fully on their hospital or clinical work.
Announcing this, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said, for the purpose, a separate service called the hospital administration service would be introduced.
“This new service must be filled up by professionals with medical background.
“But instead of being filled up by doctors, it will be opened to experienced medical officers and nurses with the required years of service.
“They can be trained either locally or overseas and can take over the administration of hospitals so that doctors, whose service is more needed in hospitals and clinics, will not be burdened with administrative jobs,” he told reporters after an official visit to the Health Ministry yesterday.
This, Abdullah said, was one of the approaches identified by the Government to overcome the shortage of doctors in the country.
The other measures include encouraging Malaysian doctors currently working overseas to return and taking in contract foreign doctors.

Tuesday, June 28, 2005

Doc gets Putrajaya posting to intensify HIV/AIDS fight

Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) director Dr Jalal Halil Khalil will be transferred to the Health Ministry's office in Putrajaya from Friday.
He has been appointed as the new deputy director for disease control for HIV/AIDS. Replacing him as HKL director is Penang state health director Dr Azmi Shafie.
Dr Jalal, who has experience in disease control, said the transfer was in line with the Government’s fight against HIV/AIDS.
“We are taking a serious approach in combating the disease as even the World Health Organisation has said that Malaysia is on the verge of an HIV/AIDS epidemic,” he said.
Dr Jalal, HKL director for 21 months, had served as disease control director in Malacca and also as deputy director in Pahang, Selangor and Negri Sembilan.
To help curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, the Government recently announced that it would provide free condoms and syringes to drug addicts.
On HKL's recently launched life support course, Dr Jalal said it was to train staff on disaster and emergency procedures, as well as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
“We hope it can be conducted nationwide as all hospital staff, including security guards and telephone operators, need to know how to handle emergency situations.”
MoUs on quality education signed

Universiti Malaysia Sabah is co-operating with three institutions, two of them foreign, to raise the quality of education at its School of Medicine.
This follows the signing of three memorandums of understanding on sharing expertise in clinical research and transfer of knowledge.
The institutions are India’s Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Universitas Hasanuddin Indonesia, and the Palliative Care Association (PCA) of Kota Kinabalu.
UMS Vice-Chancellor Datuk Prof Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin, who signed the MoUs today, said in the short term, international scientific seminars could also be arranged. With the understanding reached, he said discussions on experiences in medical education and training would also be held.
He said the understanding with PCA would ensure that their medical students have the right attitude and empathy in caring for the ill.
UMS School of Medicine enrolled its first batch of students in 2003, and they are expected to graduate in 2008.
Noh said a building for the School of Medicine and a training hospital were among the facilities to be constructed with funding from the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
Doctors and hospitals can now advertise

Medical practitioners and institutions are being allowed to "advertise" their services with immediate effect, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
He said they are now allowed to publish their names, disciplines, places of practise, credentials and photos of the practitioners, at newspapers, websites and telephone directories.
However, the information will have to be submitted first for vetting by the Medicine Advertisements Board.
Ukrainian envoy in the dark over CSMU saga

Ukrainian Ambassador to Malaysia Oleksandr Shevchenko said on Sunday the embassy was in the dark over the de-recognition by the Malaysian Medical Council of its Crimea State Medical University (CSMU).
"We learnt it from the press reports and the happenings in the Parliament," he said.
He said there has been no official notification or grace period being given by the authorities (before the de-recognition).
Explaining the situation in CSMU, he said thus far only about 23 medical students from Malaysia have graduated from the university, adding that there are another 1,118 Malaysian students pursuing courses at various levels.
Speaking at a roundtable discussion on the CSMU saga, Shevchenko said Ukraine's higher education system gives emphasis to quality, and ensures the standards at CSMU and other universities are adhered to strictly.
He said on the average, 8% to 10% (no Malaysians) are expelled from universities for not meeting the standards.
On the ratio of lecturers to students, he said at the moment it is one lecturer to 10 students, and this is acceptable from the European Unions standards.
Shevchenko said his country would like to resolve the matter constructively, adding the embassy has prepared its counter-arguments over the de-recognition of CSMU.
Meanwhile, Dewan Rakyat Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur), in his comments at the discussion, said Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek should present a ministerial statement in Parliament on the Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) saga.
He said a satisfactory account of the background, history, process and reasons for the Malaysian Medical Council's de-recognition of CSMU should be given.
"Why was there no grace period given to CSMU, when Universiti Malaya was given five years notice before the de-recognition of its medical degrees by the United Kingdom General Medical Council in the early 80s?" asked Lim.
Lim said it does not reflect well on the professionalism, accountability, transparency and a sense of justice of the MMC and the Malaysian government to spring such a surprise on the CSMU and the thousands of Malaysians studying at the medical university.
Others who took part in the roundtable discussion were DAP vice-chairman M. Kulasegaran, DAP secretary general Lim Guan Eng, UKM Prof T. Ramasamy and Malaysian Trades Union Congress president Syed Sharir Syed Mohd.
Tell-tale symptoms of andropause

When a man starts to forget the birthday of his loved ones or the sweet memories, that could be a symptom that he has reached andropause.
Datuk Dr Tan Hui Meng said andropause can cause impotence, memory loss and intimacy problems in men.
“A study showed that men have the potential of a low sexual drive at the age of 64,” he said at the Men’s Health Public Forum yesterday.
Themed ‘Be A Champion in Health’, the conference was mostly attended by men aged between 40 and 70.
“The decline in sexual desire and erection quality, decrease of body hair and skin changes are among the andropause syndrome,” said Dr Tan.
He said the main factors which influence health were tobacco usage, dietary and physical activities.
The conference was organised by the Malaysian Society of Andrology and the Study of the Ageing Male (Msasam), Ministry of Health and Eli Lilly (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.
The conference was officiated by National Population and Family Development Board (LPPK) director-general Fatimah Saad, who also launched the Living Well book authored by Dr Tan and friends.

Monday, June 27, 2005

Islamic way for needle, condom programme

The pioneer programme to supply needles, condoms and methadone to control the spread of HIV and drug abuse would be implemented according to Islamic jurisprudence.
Under Islamic jurisprudence, anything that was forbidden was permissible in an emergency situation that could lead to death, said Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
“What we are going to do is warranted under the two principles of Islamic jurisprudence because HIV infection in the country has now become a serious threat.
“It had reached a critical stage which could lead to a state of emergency,” he said when opening the 30th national Pemadam annual general assembly at the Perak Darul Ridzuan Building here on Saturday night.
Najib said there were 64,000 people with HIV and that if drastic actions were not taken an estimated 200,000 to 300,000 people would be infected in the next two to three years.
He said the Government would make a final decision on the programme after getting an official edict from the National Fatwa Council.
Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar, in his talk on The Involvement of Employers and Employees in Anti Drug Programmes at the Workplace, said general workers made up the highest number of drug users in the country.
Envoy: CSMU has its own quality check

Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) has its own quality control mechanism to ensure that all its students meet the criteria to become doctors, Ukraine ambassador to Malaysia Oleksandr D. Shevchenko said.
Because of this, about 8% to 10% of the students were expelled yearly for not meeting the mark.
“In 2004, 38 students from various parts of the world were expelled,” said Shevchenko at a roundtable discussion at Parliament House yesterday.
The discussion, organised by DAP to examine the CSMU issue, was attended by the opposition party’s MPs as well as representatives from several non-governmental organisations.
Shevchenko also said his office had yet to receive any official word that CSMU had been de-recognised by Malaysia.

Sunday, June 26, 2005

IMU's new appointments

The International Medical University (IMU) has hired two new professors and an associate professor. Prof Boo Nem Yun joins as Professor of Paediatrics,Prof Cheong Soon Keng becomes a Professor of Medicine and Assoc Prof Lim Pek Hong has been appointed head of the Nursing Department.
“We are delighted about the new appointments. Prof Cheong and Prof Boo have vast experience and skills in both academic and clinical areas of health care. We look forward to their contribution in the training of students in IMU,” said IMU president Tan Sri Dr Abu Bakar Suleiman.
He also expressed his pleasure at the appointment of Asoc Prof Lim as the head of the nursing programme. “With her experience and skills in education and nursing practice, we are confident that she will contribute positively to the development of the nursing programme,” said Dr Abu Bakar.
Prior to her present appointment, Prof Boo was the Professor of Neonatology (which is a subspecialty in paediatrics, taking care of sick newborn infants) in the Medical Faculty of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and head of the Neonatal Intensive Care unit of Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia.
She joined UKM as a lecturer in 1982 and was promoted associate professor in 1988 and Professor of Neonatology (which is the first of its kind in Malaysia) in 1993.
She is the chairperson of the Malaysian Neonatal Resuscitation Program that, over the last 9 years since its inception, has systematically trained more than 10,000 medical and nursing personnel in Malaysia in the proper techniques of resuscitation of newborn infants.
Prof Cheong has been appointed Professor of Medicine in the IMU Clinical School, Seremban. Prior to his present appointment, Prof Cheong was the Professor of Haematology in the Medical Faculty of UKM.
He was appointed a lecturer in UKM in 1980 and became an Assoc Prof in 1987 and the Professor of Haematology (the first-ever appointment in Malaysia) in 1993.
Currently he serves as president of the Malaysian Society of Haematology, vice-president of the College of the Pathologists, Academy of Medicine of Malaysia and vice-president of the National Cancer Council.
Prior to this appointment, Assoc Prof Lim was an associate professor in the Nursing Programme at the medical faculty in UM.
In 1999 she was appointed a lecturer in the nursing programme, at the Medical Faculty of Universiti Malaya and became an associate professor in 2003.
Local Experts Told To Commercialise Biotechnology Products

Biotechnology researchers, especially from local universities, have been urged to commercialise their products which could penetrate the world market.
Minister of Higher Education Datuk Dr Shafie Mohd Salleh said only five percent of the findings of local experts had been commercialised so far despite the huge world market which amounted to US$19 billion.
He said although Malaysia was new in this field, its expertise, especially those in institutions of higher learning, were at par with their foreign counterparts.
"Our experts have made many valuable discoveries in this field. The latest is a "marker" discovered by a group of researchers from the Institute for Research in Molecular Medicine (INFORMM) Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM), which is currently being marketed in several countries."
The government was happy with these achievements and would allocate more funds for such research, he told reporters after launching INFORMM, here, Sunday.
INFORMM director Professor Asma Ismail said the institute carried out "cutting-edge" research such as on diagnostic, vaccinology, disease mechanism, Innovative Therapy and tissue engineering.
The Institute had also patented five other products. They include a Typhoid tracking kit which only needed 15 minutes to trace the deadly disease. This kit is currently in the market.
She said licences for the other four were "being processed". They were a kit for tracing paratyphoid, tuberculosis, cholera and malaria.
She said the kits were more practical and easily used and they were being sold in Pakistan, India, South Africa, China and the Philippines.
Call To Lift De-recognition Of CSMU Medical Degrees

The Parliamentary Roundtable (4) on the Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) controversy Sunday called on the government to lift the de-recognition of the university's medical degrees and provide the university a grace period to rectify any shortfall in its medical course.
The meeting, organised by the Parliamentary Opposition Leader's Office, also felt that the issue and reasons behind the de-recognition should be explained by Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek himself in Parliament.
The group of representatives from various organisations also agreed that Dr Chua should disclose the findings of the technical team sent to evaluate the university.
Chaired by DAP vice chairman M. Kulasegaran, the meeting also called on a fact-finding mission to be sent to CSMU to establish whether the university medical course was on par with other medical degrees recognised by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).
"We agree unanimously on these as our resolutions," said Kulasegaran during the meeting which was open to the media, at Parliament House here.
Also present were Opposition Leader Lim Kit Siang, DAP Secretary-General Lim Guan Eng and Ukraine's ambassador to Malaysia, Oleksandr Shevchenko.
Shevchenko said that until Sunday the embassy had yet to receive official information from the authorities regarding the de-recognition of CSMU, adding that they only knew about it through news reports.
"I'm do not quite understand the reason, as based on information I have so far, only 23 Malaysians have graduated from CSMU, so how could they (MMC) make that as a foundation on the quality of the university's medical course," he said at the meeting.
He said that past years evaluation by the Health Ministry's technical team on the 10 Ukraine universities, including CSMU, had shown positive results.
"That's why we intend to get recognition for other universities as well. But I was told this year's evaluation had shown different findings," he said.
The CSMU issue had caused dissatisfaction, mainly in the Indian community, and many had perceived it as an unjust action by the government.
HIV/AIDS - it's everyone's fight

A multisectoral approach is needed to fight the disease with the rising numbers of cases, Malaysian AIDS Council president, Marina Mahathir, tells JESWANT KAUR
MALAYSIA would not be on the brink of a HIV/AIDS epidemic if we had paid more attention to the early warning signs. Instead, a reluctance to confront the problem
head-on and a false sense of security have resulted in the recent World Health Organisation warning that the country is at the initial stage of a HIV break out.
This is not the first warning from WHO which had issued a similar caution a few years ago. Its recent fear, however, was prompted by findings that 15,000 children in Malaysia had been orphaned by AIDS. WHO is now closely monitoring the “progress” of the HIV situation in Malaysia. Its findings are contained in its UNAIDS/WHO Report on the Global HIV/AIDS Epidemic.

Sixteen years after HIV was first detected in Malaysia, the situation domestically has seen little improvement. Official figures state that about 65,000 people have been diagnosed with HIV/AIDS. Of this, 9,444 have AIDS and 7,195 have since died.
“Obviously, the rising numbers indicate that the Government has not done enough. There was this reluctance to tackle the issue of HIV/AIDS head-on, with the false security that somehow we are different from other countries affected by AIDS and that we can do things our own way,” laments Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) president Datin Paduka Marina Mahathir.

She tells Sunday Mail that Malaysia’s failure to articulate an effective way of tackling the problem had only worsened the situation.
“Everything is deemed sensitive and because of that no one does anything. Is it surprising then that we should be in this situation now?”
“MAC has been voicing the same concern for a long time. We were using the word ‘epidemic’ from the beginning. But unfortunately, we sometimes need to get to a certain level of infection before people really begin to understand how serious it is,” she says.

She says the public’s lack of understanding about HIV/AIDS was responsible for the many misconceptions about the disease.
“I do not think the public is in denial as much as I think they are not very well educated about HIV. There are still many misconceptions about how you do or do not get infected by HIV. It is not surprising then that some people react negatively to suggestions made to improve the situation. If they were better informed, then they would probably be more supportive. We certainly need to do more public education with the aim of eradicating the stigma of HIV/AIDS. That would help a lot with prevention.”
Marina, however, fears that the WHO warning, while revealing the gravity of HIV/AIDS situation in Malaysia, might also result in an adverse reaction from the people.

“My greatest fear is that people will panic and demand the wrong sort of programmes, such as isolation of people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWHAs).
“We need people to be calm and approach the situation based on scientific evidence of what works and what doesn’t. Malaysia is not the first country in the world to be in this situation, so we do not need to invent anything. All we need to do is adapt proven prevention programmes to our circumstances,” she explains.
She says the success of many countries in successfully tackling HIV/AIDS revealed that what was most needed was a multisectoral approach to this disease.

“This means that prevention is being done not just by one group but by everyone in a well-coordinated way. And there needs to be many different approaches to reach many different types of people. As long as we insist that there is only one way of doing things and keep waiting for someone to do that work, we have no hope of tackling HIV/AIDS at all.

Marina stresses that leadership at the highest level was needed to tackle the HIV/AIDS problem, adding that it was heartening to note the Malaysian Government’s decision to implement harm-reduction measures to tackle HIV/AIDS.
“Why has Uganda managed to bring down its HIV/AIDS numbers? It is because President Yoweri Museveni himself heads the national AIDS committee. This is the only way to ensure things will move,” she says.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek had recently said that 1, 200 drug users will be given condoms and needles in Government hospitals and clinics beginning October on a trial basis. Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi had said that the plan was the best so far in tackling the HIV/AIDS situation.

Drug abuse is responsible for the bulk of HIV/AIDS cases in Malaysia. There are 13,000 intravenous drug users and a big number of them share needles, escalating the risk of infection.
“It is because we have reached a critical stage in our HIV epidemic that we require these measures. It would have been good if we had done this long ago but still it is not too late to do something now,” Marina says.
She points out that during MAC’s nationwide training of Muslim religious leaders, it was found that at the grassroot level, the leaders yearned for more knowledge on HIV/AIDS.
“These leaders are faced with the issue but without proper knowledge, they do not know how to help and feel helpless. They were happy when we conducted the workshops and asked for more.”
Marina, however, worries most for PLWHAs as they not only had to endure physical suffering but also mental and emotional anguish in the form of discrimination and neglect by people around them.
“Being turned away by one’s family and close friends must be the most painful thing to experience. If society gets panicky and hysterical and starts clamouring for isolation, then we will end up causing more suffering for PLWHAs in our country. We should be ashamed of such lack of compassion towards our own people.”
She also stressed on the importance of involving PLWHAs in the planning and implementation of HIV/AIDS programmes.
“They know what caused them to become infected and they alone know what it is like to be infected. We will not dream of designing programmes for the blind without their input so how can we design programmes for HIV/AIDS without the involvement of PLWHAs? We do this because we think that once someone gets infected, they do not have any brains anymore. That is what is known as prejudice and discrimination,” Marina says.
Marina will be among the participants from Malaysia attending the Seventh International Congress on AIDS in Asia and the Pacific (ICAAP) in Kobe, Japan, from Friday to July 5.
Decision On Anti-HIV Virus Pioneer Programme After Fatwa

Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the government will make a final decision on the pioneer programme to give needles, condoms and methadone substitution drugs to addicts in a move to reduce the spread of HIV/AIDS after getting an official edict from the National Fatwa Council.
The Deputy Prime Minister said the government had asked the fatwa council to undertake a study on the implementation of the controversial programme according to Islamic jurisprudence.
"The National Fatwa Council is studying (the programme) according to Islamic jurisprudence...give the National Fatwa Council a chance to come up with an official fatwa," he said when opening the 30th annual general assembly of the National Association Against Drug Abuse (Pemadam) at the Banquet Hall of the Perak Darul Ridzuan Building, here Saturday night.
The cabinet had earlier decided to implement the pioneer programme of the Health Ministry beginning October this year because it considered the HIV/AIDS scourge in this country had reached the "emergency" level.
However, the programme was disputed by various quarters especially religious leaders as well as Pemadam who feared that giving the methadone would not help efforts at eliminating drug addiction.
Najib said the government's proposal to implement the programme was also in accordance with the two principles of Islamic jurisprudence namely the fact that the situation had reached an emergency level, and the permission to choose between the lesser of two evils.
The problem of HIV infection in the country had now become a serious threat and had reached a critical stage which could lead to an emergency situation because the spread was going on an upward trend, he said.
"The Malaysiam graph is rising whereas countries such as Australia, whose population equals that of Malaysia, is registering a 64,000 Malaysians are infected with HIV, if this trend continues in the next two or three years, between 200,000 and 300,000 people may be infected," he said.
The Deputy Prime Minister said that based on Islamic jurisprudence, in an emergency situation that could lead to death, anything that was forbidden could be permissible.
He said if the HIV virus was not controlled, hundreds of thousands of people could become victims and this was much worse than efforts at controlling that we would like to give a try.
Najib said the treatment using methadone, for example, was found to be successful in other countries including Muslim nations such as Iran which had succeeded in curbing the spread of the HIV/AIDS virus.
He said such an approach had been recommended by the United Nations as a new method in addressing the problems of drug addiction and HIV virus.
He said he had been told by a medical parctitioner that this approach had a success rate of 80 per cent in rehabilitating addicts whereas the success rate of the Drug Rehabilitation Centres was only between 10 and 15 per cent.

Saturday, June 25, 2005

2,500 commit suicide every year

About 2,500 Malaysians commit suicide every year, mainly due to depression.
Most overdose on drugs, hang themselves or inhale carbon monoxide.
Malaysian Psychiatric Association president Dr Maniam Thambu, who revealed this, added: "Nowadays, an increasing number of people are jumping off buildings."
Dr Maniam said a study on suicides in Kuala Lumpur some years ago showed that more people were jumping off buildings because there were many high-rises in the city.
He said 90 per cent of people who killed themselves suffered from depression, adding that this was a glaring warning about the danger of depression.
Mental illness is in second place on the global list of top diseases, after heart diseases, and if present trends continue, it will be a major problem in Malaysia.
Worried about the trend, the association is working out various strategies in collaboration with the Health Ministry and the Befrienders.
Among the proposals is to treat those suffering from depression more effectively and to reduce public access to poisons such as the weed killer, paraquat.
"We would also like to request that the Health Ministry propose to the Cabinet that websites encouraging suicide be blocked," said Dr Maniam at the 11th Malaysian Conference on Psychological Medicine.
Deputy director-general of Health Datuk Dr Abdul Ghani Mohammed Din opened the conference. Dr Maniam said: "Five years ago if you typed the word ‘suicide’ into a search engine, you would have had 700,000 entries. Now you will get more than four million."
Dr Maniam said some of these websites even offered step-by-step tips on how to take one own’s life using various methods.
At a Press conference later, he recalled a letter he received from a father in the United States who found his teenage son lying dead on a table in his room.
On the son’s computer was a page offering a "how to" procedure on committing suicide.
Mara will still sponsor 40 CSMU medical students

Mara will continue to sponsor the 40 medical students who are studying at the Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) in Ukraine, said its director-general Datuk Zamani Md Noor.
He said the students, who had been studying there since 2001, would not be affected by the Government’s recent move to withdraw recognition of the university.
“We are now looking at alternative universities in Egypt, Jordan and Syria as well as a few in New Zealand and Australia to send new students.
“Last year, we received about 3,000 loan applications to study medicine overseas but due to budget constraints, we sponsored only about 700 students under our Excellent Students Scheme.
“We hope to increase the number to 1,000 students by the end of the year. For this, we will need an allocation of about RM150mil,” he said after presenting tsunami aid worth RM15,300 to 85 students of SMK Sri Muda Penaga here yesterday.
Zamani said Mara scholarship holders were also pursuing medical courses in England, Ireland, Indonesia and India.
“We must understand that the derecognition of Crimea State Medical University is partly due to the poor safety and living conditions of our students,'' he said.
Beginning this year, studentshave to apply through Mara for entry into the universities instead of applying directly to the universities.
“SPM holders will now have to spend two years either at the Mara College in Banting or Seremban to do a diploma in International Baccalaureate programme, which is equivalent to the A-Levels examination.
“Only those who obtain a minimum 13 points in this programme, will be considered for study loan overseas,” he said.
All those with CGPA of 4.0 get to study medicine

Competition for the 910 places for medicine in public universities was less intense this year – all STPM and matriculation students with a CGPA of 4.0 who applied were successful.
This was largely attributed to a significant drop in the number of STPM straight A students and the stiff competition last year which deterred many from making medicine their first choice.
Higher Education Management Department director-general Prof Datuk Dr Hassan Said said of the 910 places for medicine, 595 went to students with a CGPA (Cumulative Grade Point Average) of 4.0.
“This means that there are 315 students with a CGPA below 4.0 who were offered places for medicine,” said Prof Hassan. However, he could not provide the cut-off point for the course.
The number of STPM holders with 4As and 5As was 362, a drop of more than 50% compared to the 767 the year before. However, matriculation students with a CGPA of 4.0 last year was 1,247, compared to 1,263 this year.
Prof Hassan said he had personally looked into all the applications with a CGPA of 4.0. He discovered, for example, that one student was rejected for medicine because he had applied for the course at UM but did not have Biology, which is a prerequisite.
He added that many with a CGPA of 4.0 who applied for medicine did not get their first choice university.
“Many put Universiti Malaya as their first choice but UM can only take 200 students,” he told a press conference yesterday when announcing this year’s public university admission figures.
He said he wanted to avoid last year’s situation where 128 students, mostly STPM holders, with a CGPA of 4.0 failed to get places to study medicine.
Last year, more than half of the record number of 1,774 matriculation and STPM students with a CGPA of 4.0 competed for 779 places. The cut-off point for medicine last year was a CGPA of 4.0 while the year before it was 3.88.
Unlike in previous years, the cut-off points for critical courses this intake were not made available due to technical setbacks. Neither could Prof Hassan give a breakdown of the number of applicants from matriculation and STPM and the success rate of the two groups.
He said this was because there were now two ministries involved – matriculation comes under the Education Ministry – and compilation of the information took time.
Asked how students were going to appeal their offers without knowing the cut-off points, he said students who were not offered one of their eight choices should try for courses that were less competitive.
Applications for places in public universities were up by 22.2% – from 85,966 last year to 105,014 – with 64,877 students qualifying for entry.
The 39,976 who have been offered places at 14 public universities will begin their undergraduate studies on July 3. There was a marginal difference in the percentage of bumiputra, Chinese and Indian students who were offered places between this year and last year (see Chart 1).
“Meritocracy is like a yo-yo. One year up, one year down,” Prof Hassan said of the now four-year-old system of admission where racial quotas no longer apply and matriculation and STPM results are pegged against each other.
Among the critical courses, fewer places were available for dentistry and accounting as universities were overstretched last year to accommodate the large number of top scorers.

Friday, June 24, 2005

Women, take charge!

The Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia is on a campaign to get women to take charge of their reproductive health. KASMIAH MUSTAPHA writes.
Be aware that there are various methods of contraception to protect them against unplanned pregnancies or sexually-transmitted diseases.
This is the message that the Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia (OGSM) wants to tell women. It wants couples to practise responsible family spacing which can protect the reproductive health and well-being of women.
OGSM president Dr Ravi Chandran says cases of unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted diseases (STDs) are on the rise in this country. Unfortunately most women are not in control when it comes to using contraceptives.
“Women are aware that there are various contraceptives that they or their partners can use. However some women cannot take charge of the situation for social and cultural reasons.”
He says there are 5.42 million fertile women in Malaysia. Of this figure 48 per cent are using some form of contraceptives.”The rest are not taking any precautions against unwanted pregnancies or even protecting themselves against diseases. They need to know that effective contraceptives save lives,” says Dr Ravi, a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist.
He says there are various methods of contraception including oral contraceptives, condoms, female sterilisation and intrauterine devices (IUDs).
“We are especially targeting women because we feel women are still the cornerstone of the family’s health. We believe if we look after the woman’s health, we look after the family’s health, society’s health and even the country’s health. That is why we keep saying women’s health is important.
“To take better care of women’s health, it is important that they practise family planning by using the right contraceptives.”
OGSM is embarking on a public education programme aiming at giving women comprehensive and accurate information on family planning.
Called “Yasmin Take Charge!”, the programme includes public forums and education outreach to women and their partners. It is organised with the co-operation of Schering (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

New tool to detect breast cancer

A Universiti Sains Malaysia research team has invented NeuralMammo –an improvised device for early and effective detection of breast cancer.
School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering lecturer Dr Nor Ashidi Mat Isa said the system, comprising image processing and intelligent diagnostic tools, could be used in mass screening programmes.
“It is an invention which incorporates image processing from fine needle aspirates (FMA) of breast lesion,” he said.
Shamsu (left) showing a vase coated with ash glaze and Dr Nor Ashidi showing how to use the NeuralMammo software program in Penang Wednesday.
He said the NeuralMammo which was particularly useful in handling critical cancer cases scored 99% on the scale of accuracy, 97% on sensitivity and 100% on specificity.
“The percentage of false positive and false negative results using the device is considerably low at 2.5% and 0% respectively,” he said.
“We can detect breast cancer fast and efficiently using this device. It can be used in mass screening programmes, especially in developing countries where the pathologist-population ratio is very low,” he said.
Dr Nor Ashidi said the device had the potential to be commercialised, adding that the Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, had started utilising the device.
He said the diagnostic device could be sold between RM20,000 and RM30,000, adding that it came complete with a software programme and a personal computer.
“We are now in the fine-tuning process to get clearer imaging. Our team started work on the project two years ago,” he told a press conference yesterday.
Immigrants bring threat of disease, says Chua

Malaysia faces a threat from emerging and re-emerging infections from illegal immigrants and migrant workers, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
For example, 2.8% of the nearly one million foreign workers examined last year were found to be unfit, he said.
“Of those found unfit, 50% were suffering from hepatitis, 12.3% from tuberculosis, 8.4% from sexually-transmitted diseases and 1.3% from HIV,” he said in his speech at the High Level Forum on Health Millennium Development Goals in the Asia Pacific in Tokyo yesterday.
Dr Chua said Malaysia was looking into the needs of people living in more remote areas such as the orang asli and those in Sabah and Sarawak in terms of reducing maternal and child mortality.
“We are looking into ways to reduce further our already-low rates and the differentials between states,” he said.
He added that training of staff on neonatal resuscitation had started.
“This can bring down our infant mortality rate even further,” he said, adding that 99% of all deliveries in Malaysia were “safe deliveries.”
Sabah Director admits complaints, vows to improve

Sabah Health Director Datuk Dr Zainul Hamzah acknowledged that hospitals in the State received many complaints from the public over the services rendered.
However, he said services in the hospitals are expected to improve with the on-going service quality courses conducted regularly.
He was responding to media reports including in the Daily Express Sunday Forum that hospital staff, including doctors and nurses, treat patients and close family members of patients rudely.
"We received a lot of complaints (from the public) on this matter and we are conducting quality service courses to enhance the services in the hospitals," he said after the launching of the Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS), Clinical Education programme at Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH).
The complaints range from the services that patients received from hospital staff, doctors and nurses including on alleged negligence that resulted in death.
In other developments, Zainul said Sabah is still dependent on contract doctors from other countries.
"Currently, there are about 600 doctors serving in the hospitals and clinics throughout Sabah of which a large number are contract doctors," he said.
He said it is the Government's aspiration to produce more doctors, particularly in Sabah, in order to increase (the quality of) services to the people.
Hence, Zainul said the setting up of medical schools is welcomed so that more doctors could be produced to offset the imbalance in the doctor-patient ratio.
He said it is heartening that more Malaysians from the peninsula are now coming to Sabah to study medicine here. Previously, he said, Sabah was the last choice for the medical students.
To the first batch of medical students who will be undergoing the clinical education programme at the QEH, he urged them to observe hospital regulations very closely including dressing appropriately for the occasion.
The students, most of whom are in their third year at the university, would be following doctors visiting patients.

Wednesday, June 22, 2005

Selangor Stops Sending Medical Students To CSMU

Selangor will stop sending medical students to Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) in Ukraine following the decision by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) to de-recognise the university's medical degree programmes.
Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Mohamad Khir Toyo said the present 25 students from Selangor at CSMU, who received government education loans, would be the last to be sent there unless the MMC reinstated its recognition.
The state, however, would continue to send medical students to Russia, and the next group of 13 students would go there in September, he told reporters after the State Executive Council meeting, Wednesday.
"The more places we send our students to, the better it would be because we can gain from the medical experience of other countries," he said.
Dr Mohd Khir said he would visit CSMU soon to reassure the Selangor students that they could continue studying at the university.
He said they did not need to fear because their degrees would still be recognised by MMC, which would only withdraw its recognition for the programmes starting with the January 2006 intake.
Among the reasons given by MMC for withdrawing its recognition was the sudden increase in the number of students accepted into the university from Malaysia, which rose to 1,366 last month from only 53 in 2001.
It said the sharp increase could harm teaching quality.
CRIMEAN WAR 2005: MPs trade barbs over medical council action

There was high drama at the Dewan Rakyat today when emotional MPs exchanged allegations and insults over the de-recognition of the Crimea State Medical University.
At one point, MPs’ party lines were blurred, with the DAP and MIC appearing to momentarily join forces to question Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad over the issue.
It began when Latiff told the House that Arts-stream students who had failed their Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia were among those accepted by the institution.
They had apparently managed to obtain no-objection letters from the Higher Education Ministry to pursue the course despite their lack of qualifications.
By then, the decibel level had risen with DAP and Barisan Nasional MPs, except those from the MIC, trading barbs.
Latiff, raising his voice above the din, said that while there were students with excellent academic credentials at CSMU, there were also those with questionable entry qualifications.
At this juncture, Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang, who had obtained permission from the Speaker yesterday to debate a motion on the issue, stood up to question Latiff’s statements.
What followed was almost five minutes of near-pandemonium as Lim and fellow DAP MPs took to the floor to question Latiff, to the jeers of BN backbenchers.
Describing the Malaysian Medical Council’s decision in the matter as "high-handed, arbitrary and insensitive", Lim said it had failed to take into account the undergraduates’ welfare.
He was followed by M. Kulasegaran (DAP-Ipoh Barat) and Dr Tan Seng Giaw (DAP-Kepong), who criticised the MMC decision, asking why the body had not given CSMU a grace period to rectify alleged weaknesses.
He added that Malaysian Indians had gone to CSMU as they could not afford more expensive institutions elsewhere.
Kulasegaran alleged that former Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad had expressed surprise at the number of Indians at CSMU during a visit.
(MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu had also earlier criticised the MMC decision, calling it a move to prevent more Indians from becoming doctors.)
K. Devamany (BN-Cameron Highlands) entered the fray at this point, expressing concern over the welfare of students already enrolled at the university.
Datuk Dr Rahman Ismail (BN-Gombak) immediately defended the MMC’s decision, saying it had acted professionally.
Latiff said the decision was made by the MMC after careful study.
"The decision is made solely to ensure quality, and has nothing to do with race, ethnicity or religion.
"Don’t be too emotional. The Ipoh Timur and Ipoh Barat MPs speak as if they are the ambassadors of Ukraine. They also want to give the impression that MIC and DAP are in cahoots over this issue."
Latiff took the floor again to resume explaining the MMC’s move even as heckling from the Opposition ranks persisted.
He said the number of Malaysian students had increased from a mere 53 to 1,366 in May this year, causing concern to the MMC.
"The desired lecturer-to-student ratio is one to four, but we got to know that it was one-to-eight at CSMU.
"We wrote to the university for an explanation in 2002 but none was forthcoming until the recent decision. So we gave them a grace period."
He said the move should not inconvenience students, as those from universities not recognised by the Government could still sit a medical qualifying examination.
"We give them three chances, sometimes even four, and I daresay most of those we gave this additional opportunity to — about 200 of them — were Indians.
"CSMU can also appeal after rectifying its shortcomings. We are also facilitating credit transfers for students who want to transfer to a recognised university."
Latiff said there were also Malay students at the university but Umno was not protesting.
"This is because Umno is a custodian of quality," he said.
Latiff said all BN component party chiefs, except Samy Vellu, had accepted the MMC decision.
This obviously provoked MIC secretary-general Datuk S. Sothinathan who stood up to urge Latiff not to get too emotional.
The Natural Resources and Environment Deputy Minister said the MIC, "as the party responsible for the welfare of Indians, was duty-bound to speak up on the issue".
He disagreed with Latiff’s statement that the majority of those who graduated from unrecognised universities were Indians.
"If MMC is indeed professional, how come it recognised CSMU in 2001? Why did it make a decision in haste? We want to know how many students from all countries are in CSMU."
A clearly agitated Sothinathan also questioned Latiff over how the Higher Education Ministry issued no-objection letters to unqualified students.
His outburst saw calls for him to "be quiet" and "sit down".
At this point, Dewan Rakyat deputy Speaker Datuk Lim Si Cheng asked MPs to take their seats, but his advice fell on deaf ears.
As it was already 5.30pm, Lim then called on Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Nazri Abdul Aziz to read a motion to adjourn proceedings.
But an irate Nazri took several minutes to shout invective at Kulasegaran, ignoring repeated calls from Lim to sit.
This prompted Fong Po Kuan (DAP-Batu Gajah) to ask Nazri to retract his statements under Standing Order 36 (10).
Lim managed to get all parties to sit down but this was not to be the end of the episode: BN MPs staged a walkout as Fong Kui Lun (DAP-Bukit Bintang) began his adjournment speech, with most heading for the MPs’ lounge.
The drama continued in the lobby as Nazri and Kit Siang continued their exchange of words.
Sothinathan, when met at the lobby, said: "It is our duty to raise the issue, and that is all we have done.
"We want to know why weaknesses identified in 2003 and last year were not rectified," he said, adding that the MIC was upset because nothing was done to remedy the situation before the de-recognition.
Latiff expressed surprise at Sothinathan’s outburst. "I do not know what triggered it," he said. "You must ask him.
All government hospitals beef up security measures

All 125 government hospitals nationwide have immediately beefed up security measures on the Health Ministry’s orders, following the disappearance of a newborn baby at Sungai Petani Hospital on Sunday.
Although government hospitals had existing security measures, there was still room for improvement, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said.
“All government hospitals have security procedures that the staff and visitors must adhere to but in the case of the missing baby, the effectiveness of the process is questionable,” he said.
“Perhaps there is a need to install closed-circuit TV cameras or come up with an electronic device to monitor the movements of staff, patients and visitors at the wards,” he said yesterday.
On Sunday, the newborn baby of Noryati Abu Bakar, 31, and Mohamad Nordin Derais @ Idris, 34, was snatched from Sungai Petani Hospital Ward A4 where he was warded shortly after birth as he had difficulty in breathing.
The 3.6kg, baby which was born at 8.32am on Sunday was seen by Mohamad Nordin three times before he vanished from Ward A4 the same day.
His disappearance was only discovered at 2.30pm by a hospital staff member.
The baby was the couple’s third child. Mohamad Nordin also said he would not be able to recognise his son now as he had only managed short glimpses during his three visits to the ward.
Hospital director Dr Harif Fadzilah Che Hashim lodged a police report on the missing baby at 6.03pm on Sunday and the baby’s father Mohamed Nordin made his report at 7.50pm the same day.
Dr Abdul Latiff said the parents of the missing baby had the right to take legal action against the hospital if they wished.
“We sympathise with the parents,” he added.
Hospitals Ordered To Tighten Security After Baby's Disappearance

All hospitals in Kedah have been told to step up security, especially in maternity wards, following the disappearance of a newborn boy at the Sungai Petani Hospital on Sunday.
State Health, Community Development and Unity Committee chairman Datuk V. Saravanan said the measure was taken to avoid a similar incident.
"We can improve the situation by tightening security like allowing only the parents of a newborn into the ward while others have to obtain written permission from the hospital authorities," he told a media conference after visiting the missing baby's family at Taman Sri Tanjung, Sungai Layar, here Tuesday.
The 3.6kg baby, born at 8.32am on Sunday, was found missing at 2.20pm the same day after he was bathed by a nurse.
The nurse reportedly placed the baby on a bed and went to prepare milk for him, but she found the baby not there when she returned.
Saravanan said stern action would be taken if there was evidence to show negligence by the staff.
Asked why the hospital only lodged a police report four hours after the baby was discovered missing, he said the delay was due to various procedures which needed to be followed by the hospital.
Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Syed Razak Syed Zain, met by reporters at a function in Alor Star, expressed the state government's sympathy for the family.
"This is a first in Kedah. We urge the police to intensify the search for the baby because the incident affects the image of the hospital and also the state government," he added.
In KUALA LUMPUR, Health Director-General Datuk Dr Ismail Merican said the Health Ministry would leave it to the police to investigate the case.

Tuesday, June 21, 2005

Free health clinic for Orang Asli

Seated on the staircase of his house, Tok Batin Yat Cabang smiles.
His neighbours are making their way to the village kindergarten for a free medical check-up.
But the 92-year-old headman of Kampung Cemperoh, Janda Baik, is feeling his age today, and decides not to join them.
Besides, he knows he will get a house call from the doctor in charge after the team finishes screening the members of his Temuan tribe.
The check-up is provided by the Ti-Ratana Mobile Clinic Team, a non-profit volunteer-based programme established by the Ti-Ratana Welfare Society and the Lions Club of Serdang.
A voluntary social worker, Maria Wan Don, had informed the Ti-Ratana team that the Orang Asli settlement here needed healthcare services.
Ignoring the heat of the mid-day sun, mothers cradled their babies and held the hands of their toddlers as they waited.
Among them was Noriah Osman, 33, a mother of five.
She carried her baby boy in a sarong sling as she waited for the paediatricians to attend to her elder son.
"I’m excited. It’s been nine months since we had a medical check-up here.
"When my children fall ill, I have to walk three or four kilometres to get to the rural health clinic.
"So this is a blessing indeed," she said.
"I think my son has a problem with his hearing. I hope they can cure him."
The programme included de-worming for children, pap smears and gynaecological checks for the women, and blood pressure, glucose level, body mass index, dental, eyesight and hearing tests for everyone.
The team also gave talks on health care and first aid.
"Part of the programme is to teach mothers to feed their children a proper and balanced diet," said Dr Lai Kwong Choy, a general health practitioner in the programme.
"It is important for us to educate them on health issues as we have found that there is a dangerous lack of knowledge in that area on their part.
"We are planning to conduct check-ups here every three months so that the people will familiarise themselves with the team and come to trust us.
"Right now, they are still quite shy and so we have a problem reaching out to them."
Kelantan A Problematic State To Health Ministry - Dr Chua

Kelantan gives the Health Ministry the most problems as a result of the state government's failure in providing satisfactory health services to its people.
Health Minister, Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said his ministry had to provide special allocations of almost RM100,000 yearly to implement specific programmes like clean water availability and food supplementation, including provision of vitamins for undernourished children in the state.
"The unsatisfactory state of health of the people in Kelantan, with its many infectious diseases because of poor water quality and unhygienic food, is a big challenge to the ministry.
"All this is known to the state government, but they have still failed to provide clean water supply or raise the socio-economic standard of the people, especially the rural poor," he told reporters after visiting the construction site of a new health clinic for Gua Musang here Sunday.
He said the ministry had to shoulder the risk of potential disease outbreak although it was mainly due to the weakness of the state government.
Besides this, he said the PAS government, under the leadership of Datuk Nik Abdul Aziz Nik Mat, had also failed in terms of enforcement, resulting in infectious diseases like cholera, typhoid, malaria and dysentery continuing to be a problem in Kelantan unlike other states which hardly faced such cases.
He said about 30 per cent of Kelantanese children below the age of five were malnourished compared to the 20 per cent average at the national level.
"We hope the state government supports our efforts to help the poor as other states don't have such programmes. It is also proof Kelantan has never been mistreated by the federal government," he said.
On other developments, Chua said the federal government had approved an allocation of RM70 million for expansion of the Gua Musang Hospital.
"It is for the building of three wards, including a maternity ward, operating theatre, laboratory, blood bank, nurses hostel, a pharmacy, X-Ray facilities and upgrading of existing equipment," he said.
Malaysia's Infant Mortality Rate Drops Dramatically

Malaysia has done well in reducing the infant related mortality rates over the past several decades, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
He said Malaysia's infant mortality rate had dropped from the ratio of 40.8 per 1000 livebirths in 1970 to 13.0 in 1990 and 6.2 by 2002.
"Our under five (years old) mortality rate has also fallen by a similar magnitude over the corresponding period, from 57 to 17 per 1000 livebirths between 1970 and 1990, and to nine in 2000," he said in his speech at the High Level Forum on the Health Millennium Development Goals (MDG) at Mita Conference Hall in Tokyo, Tuesday. His speech was faxed to Bernama here.
The two-day forum started Tuesday and was hosted by Japan in cooperation with the Asian Development Bank and the World Health Organisation. The participants are Health, Finance and Development ministers from Asia Pacific region.
Dr Chua said although Malaysia was facing shortage of doctors and nurses, maternal and child health (MCH) was not compromised.
In fact, a lot of headway was made by training allied health profesionals, such as community nurses, medical assistants and dental nurses and providing basic health care to those in the rural areas.
"We have also provided training to the traditional birth attendants. As a result, the proportion of births attended to by skilled health personnel had increased from 20 per cent in 1970 to 96.1 per cent in 1990 and 99.2 per cent by 2000," he added.
Dr Chua said Malaysia also achieved 99 per cent in "safe deliveries" for the babies due to the specific MCH programme where all the antenatal mothers were tagged according to their levels of risk and those at greater risk were given greater attention.
"We audit every maternal death. Infant growth is monitored by growth charts. There is also nutritional surveillance of children and rehabilitation for those who are mal-nourished," he said.
He also said that to further bring down the infant mortality rate, training was also provided to the staff on neonatal resuscitation.
Misinformation hampers efforts to tackle breast cancer

Misinformation and traditional taboos are hampering efforts to lower the incidence of breast cancer in the country.
In Malaysia, the disease is the number one killer of women, with the National Cancer Registry reporting 3,723 cases in 2003.
Prof Madya Dr Biswa Mohan Biswal of Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) said, however, the chances of recovery today had increased with the availability of new drugs and medical advances.
Dr Biswa, who is with the university’s Department of Nuclear Medicine, Radiotherapy and Oncology, said modern treatments, including the use of the drug docetaxel, had “significantly improved” the survival rate for breast cancer patients.
“USM handles 700 to 800 new cancer cases annually, of which about 40 per cent are breast cancer,” he told a recent seminar for 120 cancer survivors at the USM health campus here.
“It is a highly curable disease if detected early but here, many patients disappear after they’re told that their breasts need to be removed.”
He said most patients would look for alternative medicine, but 80 per cent returned to the hospital after the disease had reached a critical stage.
“Other medicines can be taken as a complement but not as an alternative to the treatment they receive at hospitals. They should also discuss with their doctors before taking other medicines, as the drugs might be harmful and dangerous.”
Dr Biswa said women need not fear the disfigurement of breast removal.
“We have the technology now to reconstruct the breast by using excess fat from the tummy,” he said, “but most patients reject the idea.”
Dr Biswa said it was regrettable that in some cases, relationships between patients and husbands or families had turned sour after treatment.
“Some patients suffer from inferiority complex and withdraw from society. This should not be the case as they have recovered and can lead a normal life just like before the problem was detected.”

Sunday, June 19, 2005

Insinuation annoys MMC

The Malaysian Medical Council is irked by the Ukrainian Embassy's insinuation that a Ukrainian medical course was derecognised here due to lobbying by other medical schools.
“It is not true. We are not that easily swayed and the statement is uncalled for. We do not make decisions based on lobbying,'' MMC president Datuk Dr Ismail Merican said.
The embassy stated on Friday that it believed the increasing popularity of the university might have led to “inconvenience to other medical schools and their lobbyists represented in Malaysia.”
It also implied that there was “explicitly prejudiced approach” towards other Ukrainian universities which had applied for recognition from Malaysian authorities.
Dr Ismail said the decision was made based on a visit by a technical group and discussions by a technical committee made up of officers from the Higher Education Ministry, Public Services Department, Health Ministry and MMC.
He said similar criteria were used when assessing local and foreign medical programmes.
“Not even the oldest medical school which is at Universiti Malaya is given blanket approval. All medical schools are assessed between two to five years. We want to make sure there are high standards and quality medical education,” he said.
He said MMC's decision was based on facts and “there is no truth in the claims. To even suggest this is uncalled for.”
The council decided on Tuesday to withdraw the recognition, citing factors such as dubious entrance qualifications and medical graduates who faced difficulties using English jargon.
Samy Vellu Questions Motive Behind CSMU Recognition Withdrawal

Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu Saturday ticked off the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) for withdrawing its recognition of the Ukraine's Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) medical programme and questioned its motive for doing so.

A visibly upset Samy Vellu also demanded a proper and acceptable explanation from the MMC, saying that he would raise the matter in the Cabinet as the issue affected the future of many students.
"The MMC is not a communist politburo where everything is secret. I don't like that. You must tell the truth," he told reporters before opening the First International Symposium on Thirukurral at Universiti Malaya here.
He said there were 700 to 800 Malaysian Indian students studying at CSMU and other universities in Russia and he feared that the same thing might happen to the other universities because "these are the universities where people who don't get places in the country are studying."
MMC president Datuk Dr Mohamed Ismail Merican announced on Thursday that the council had withdrawn recognition of the medical undergraduate programme offered by CSMU to students registered and admitted into academic year one after Dec 31, 2005.
He said the MMC had also decided at its June 14 meeting not to recognise similar programmes offered by 10 other universities in Ukraine.
He said that after the authorities visited CSMU in October 2003 to verify CSMU as well as the other 10 Ukrainian universities, they found that some of the Malaysian students admitted into the medical undergraduate course were school drop-outs with very poor secondary school results.
He also said that the ability of the Ukrainian universities to provide teaching in English was doubtful as the number of English-speaking lecturers and the facilities were insufficient to meet the demand from the sudden increase in the number of Malaysian students.

Saturday, June 18, 2005

Sabah Offers Medical Scholarships

Sabah is offering scholarships for students from the state to pursue medical studies at Kursk State Medical University in Russia.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said officials from the state government also visited the Middle East recently to look into opportunities for Sabah students going to universities there to study.
"Egypt agreed to accept our students for medical and engineering courses while the Istanbul University in Turkey offers places for our students to study medicine and pharmacy," he added.
UM Professor Receives "Life Ball Crystal Of Hope" Award

Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman, who heads Universiti Malaya's infectious diseases unit, became the first individual to receive the Swarovski Award's "Life Ball Crystal of Hope" for her untiring efforts in the fight against AIDS.
The university in a statement today said Dr Adeeba, from the department of medicine, received the award from Hollywood actress and singer Liza Minnelli at one of Europe's largest AIDS charity events in Vienna, Austria recently.
She was honoured by Life Ball, an independent non-profit organisation, whose objective is to raise funds in support of different organisations involved in helping and working with HIV positive patients and people living with AIDS.
During the event, Dr Adeeba also received an endowment of 100,000 Euro (about RM450,000) from Life Ball on behalf of TREAT Asia Project (Therapeutics Research, Education and AIDS Training in Asia), of which she is one of its steering committee members.
TREAT Asia is a network of clinics, hospitals and research institutions working to ensure the safe and effective delivery of HIV/AIDS treatment throughout Asia and the Pacific region.
The donation, the varsity said, would be used to improve the education and training of healthcare workers and the community in the region regarding antiretroviral therapy through a standardised curriculum.

Friday, June 17, 2005

KIDNEY FAILURE DUE TO DIABETES: Malaysia ranks as world No 1

This is one position that Malaysia does not want!
The country has been ranked number one in the world when it comes to diabetes as the cause of kidney failure by the US Renal Data Registry.
Datuk Dr Zaki Morad Mohd Zaher, a consultant nephrologist with the Health Ministry, said: "We even beat the US and all other European countries.
"This is worrying because it implies that we are not controlling our diabetes very well," he said here today.
The number of Malaysians suffering from end-stage renal failure has increased more than 56-fold between 1980 and now — from 43 in 1980 to 12,000.
Nephrologists believe that the number of registered patients may not reflect the actual situation in the country as there could be many suffering in silence due to lack of facilities. Some could also have resorted to traditional or alternative treatment.
Dr Zaki said that at least nine out of every 100 Malaysians had diabetes.
And at least 40 out of every 100 diabetic patients would have kidney disease.
"The incidence of kidney failure is rising," he said, adding that they were getting 92 new end-stage renal cases per million population or between 2,000 to 3,000 new cases every year.
He said they also saw a trend of new cases among the older age group of 55 and above. The increase was about 21 per cent.
Dr Zaki, who is also the National Kidney Foundation Board of Managers vice-chairman, said in the 20-40 age group the number had levelled off to about five per cent as many of those with kidney failures were being treated.
"Kidney failure among the older group is rising and we also notice that diabetes is becoming a common cause of kidney failure in the country," he told the New Straits Times at the 2005 Kidney care campaign themed "Love your kidneys" launched by Health Ministry’s Parliamentary Secretary Lee Kah Choon today.
Dr Zaki said that between 2003 and last year, about 53 per cent of all new cases that started on dialysis were diabetic.
According to the World Health Organisation, Southeast Asia will have the highest rate of increase in diabetics, from 35 million in 2000 to 80 million in 2025.
More than eight per cent of Malaysian adults suffer from diabetes. And by 2010, this figure is expected to reach 12 per cent.
Dr Zaki said: "It looks like we are going to have more diabetes and kidney failure patients."
The Ministry has embarked on a new strategy to reduce these alarming figures through education, counseling and getting doctors’ cooperation.
Dr Zaki said they were now encouraging doctors, both in the public and private sectors, to educate their patients on diabetes prevention and if they already had the disease, the measures they had to take to prevent kidney failure.
"It may not be successful in every case but we are trying to reduce it by at least 20 to 30 per cent which in itself will be an achievement," he said.
The Ministry and the Malaysian Society of Nephrologists was working together to create awareness among doctors and allied health staff, while for public awareness the effort was being jointly done by the Ministry and the National Kidney Foundation.
Dr Zaki said early detection would help prevent kidney failure and this could be achieved only with people checking regularly if they suffered from kidney disease.
"Our aim is also to target those in the high risk group, especially with a history of family members having diabetes and kidney failure," he added.
He also pointed out that many Malaysians suffered from diabetes in urban areas because of their lifestyle.
"Exercise regularly, control blood sugar and stop smoking. Carbohydrates and food with refined sugar content should be eaten in moderation," he said, adding that Malaysians should cut down on nasi lemak and noodles and eat more of vegetables, legumes, wheat germ and other healthy food.
Meanwhile, Lee told a Press conference that 115 Government hospitals nationwide were providing dialysis for those suffering from kidney failure in addition to more than 70 dialysis centres run by non-governmental organisations and the private sector.
The Government subsidy for the treatment of kidney failure patients was RM17 million, he added.
He also disclosed that the Government had allocated RM10 million for the healthy lifestyle campaign, RM10 million to tackle HIV and another RM10 million for the anti-smoking campaign.
Cheaper drugs in the offing

Come 2007, Malaysians can expect protein-based drugs to cost at least 30% less when the nation’s first biopharmaceutical manufacturer goes “full steam ahead.”
Dr Mohd Nazlee Kamal, chief executive officer of the government-owned Inno Biologics Sdn Bhd, said the drug development programme that it launched in 2003 was cruising along as planned.
Construction of its RM100mil bio-facility in Nilai will take off in the first quarter of 2007.
The bio-facility will use German technology to produce the drugs.
Dr Mohd Nazlee said it would be based on a contract manufacturer business concept whereby it would undertake drug development jobs for foreign drug companies.
He said the plant would produce drugs such as the human growth hormone Erythropoeitin and red blood cell promoters.
“We are targeting the Asean market where there are some 500 million people,” he told Malaysian journalists here yesterday.
Dr Mohd Nazlee is here to lead the Inno Biologics delegation to the BIO 2005 Conference which will be held at the Philadelphia Convention Centre from Sunday to Wednesday.
The firm is among 1,600 biotech firms – 20 of which are from Malaysia – taking part in the event.
Dr Mohd Nazlee said Malaysia needed to move fast and grab the growing opportunities provided by the industry.
“Our production will only be in full swing after the plant goes through the stringent process of certification by the United States Federal Drug Authority. It’s a complex procedure, so it takes a little time,” he added.
He said the off-patent drug market was growing because many drugs were losing their 20-year patents, adding that this was a new growth area for biopharmaceuticals.
Dr Mohd Nazlee said developing drugs was not only very complex but also very costly.
“For example, US firms spend about RM800mil to develop a drug. To be competitive, we should cut this cost by at least half. We have to work hard in this field and we need the support of the private sector,” he said.
The success of Inno Biologics would be the benchmark for Malaysian investors to put their money in this industry, he said.
The company has projected its revenue to reach between RM80mil and RM100mil by 2010 when it reaches full production, Dr Mohd Nazlee said.
On the problems Inno Biologics faced in Malaysia, he said the lack of qualified talents was one of them and added that the firm was working hard to get the right people.
“We are about 15 years behind and need concerted efforts to overcome the lag,” he said.
Crimea U students can stay on

Malaysian students who have enrolled for the first year of their medical degree at the Crimea State Medical University can go ahead with their studies.
Malaysian Medical Council president Datuk Dr Ismail Merican said the 1,119 students there would not be affected by the council's decision to remove the university's medical undergraduate programme from its list of recognised programmes.
“The council in its meeting on Tuesday had unanimously decided to withdraw the recognition granted to these programmes and it applies to any student being registered and admitted after Dec 31 this year.
“This means that those who are already there can continue,” he told reporters here yesterday.
The same ruling, said Dr Ismail, also applied to the 363 Malaysians taking up medicine at other now unrecognised institutes in Ukraine.
Among the reasons cited for the withdrawal were the “dubious” qualifications of students admitted into the institute’s medical studies, the difficulty faced by its medical graduates in using jargon in English and the possible strain on the quality of teaching due to the sudden increase in intake since 2001.
Asked if it was fair since many of these pre-medical students had already turned down options to study elsewhere, Dr Ismail, who is also the Health Ministry’s secretary-general, said the council would not exempt them.
“They can go ahead and study in the institute if they want to, but when they come back, they must sit and pass the Medical Qualifying Examination. If they are really well trained, they should have no problem passing the examination,” he said.
Crimea State Medical University was the first Ukrainian varsity to be recognised by the MMC after a visit in 2001. Dr Ismail said the council made a return visit to the institute in 2003 after receiving numerous complaints.
“We found that in 2001, there were only 53 Malaysian students at the institute but this has risen to 1,366 students by May this year. We fear this may compromise the quality of education and that this is nothing but a business operation.
“Some of the students admitted were in fact not eligible, being school dropouts from the arts stream and having very poor secondary school results. These graduates were also not very fluent in their usage of English medical jargon. This may jeopardise our patient safety and well-being,” he said.
The council, stressed Dr Ismail, would not compromise on patient safety and would ensure that medical undergraduates had the required knowledge and skills to practise medicine safely.
MMC Withdraws Recognition Of Ukrainan Medical Undergraduate Programmes

PUTRAJAYA, June 16 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) has withdrawn recognition of the medical undergraduate programme offered by Ukraine's Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) to any students registered and admitted into academic year one after Dec 31, 2005.
MMC president Datuk Dr Mohd Ismail Merican said MMC also decided at its June 14 meeting not to recognise similar programmes offered by 10 other universities in Ukraine.
The MMC was concerned about the quality of medical training or education in Ukraine in producing safe and competent doctors to meet Malaysia's needs, he told a media conference Thursday.
The decision would not affect the current 1,119 medical undergraduates enrolled in various academic years in CSMU as the de-recognition would only apply to those admitted and registered after Dec 31, 2005, said Dr Mohd Ismail who is Director-General of Health.
Those pursuing the pre-medical foundation course would be eligible only if they were admitted and registered into the first academic year before Dec 31 this year.
"In other words, any CSMU undergraduates admitted and registered for academic year one and onwards before Dec 31, 2005 are eligible to register with the MMC upon their graduation.
"Those who register after Dec 31 must sit and pass the Medical Qualifying Examination stipulated under the Medical Act 1971 to be eligible for registration (with the MMC)," he said.
The CSMU was the first institution to be granted recognition by the MMC effective Aug 7, 2001. As of last month, 1,366 students are studying in CSMU -- 1,119 in various academic years and 247 others taking the pre-medical course.
Dr Mohd Ismail said that following numerous complaints, the authorities visited CSMU in October 2003 to verify them as well as the other 10 Ukrainian universities for the purpose of granting recognition.
They found some of the Malaysian students admitted into the medical undergraduate course were school drop-outs with very poor secondary school results.
The students were allowed to pursue the programme after passing the pre-medical foundation courses conducted by the Ukrainian universities.
"Their secondary school qualifications were never taken into consideration. Even arts stream secondary school drop-outs were allowed to pursue such courses," Dr Mohd Ismail said.
He said a study conducted on CSMU graduates working in the Health Ministry, and the feedback gleaned from their supervisors, revealed that the graduates' usage of English medical jargons was limited as they were more fluent and familiar with technical jargons in Ukrainian or Russian.
"Their jargons, being alien to our medical fraternity, may jeopardise the safety of our patients and well-being," he said.
The ability of the Ukrainian universities to provide teaching in English was doubtful as the number of English-speaking lecturers and facilities were insufficient to meet the demand from the sudden increase in the number of Malaysian students.
Dr Mohd Ismail said during the authorities' first visit in 2001, there were only 53 Malaysian students in CSMU, and the number jumped to 900 in 2003.
"The drastic increase in the number of student intake may inevitably compromise the quality of medical education," he said, attributing the spike to purely business considerations.

Thursday, June 16, 2005

More Kidney Disease Awareness Campaigns In The Offing

The Health Ministry will organise more kidney disease awareness campaigns to impress on the people the importance of preventive measures to keep such diseases at bay.
Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said Thursday such campaigns and activities, which were also aimed at doctors and health workers, were necessary in view of the rising number of kidney patients.
"I understand that these activities have been successfully carried out in Singapore and hundreds of thousands of Singaporeans have undergone screening for kidney disease," he said at the launch of the national-level kidney disease awareness campaign here. His speech was delivered by the ministry's parliamentary secretary, Lee Kah Choon.
Chua said that in the United States, awareness campaigns had revealed that 20 million Americans suffered from chronic kidney disease.
The information gleaned from awareness campaigns would enable the ministry to take more effective measures to overcome end stage renal failure which in turn could also reduce cardiovascular disease among patients, he said.
He said that in view that most of the cases were diabetics, the ministry had drawn up measures for early detection like conducting urine and blood tests and for controlling the blood pressure and sugar level of diabetic patients,
The patients could also play their part by taking medication and living a healthy lifestyle, he added.
Meanwhile, Lee told a news conference that the ministry was asking certain non-governmental organisations which run kidney dialysis centres to adhere to the ministry's standard to ensure good and proper treatment of patients.
He said some of the dialysis centres run by NGOs or individuals did not have properly-trained staff like nephrologists.
These centres might be facing financial constraints or were simply ignorant of the need to have properly trained nephrologists, he said.