Wednesday, November 30, 2005

Dengue Cases Down To 649 Last Week

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 (Bernama) -- The number of dengue cases dropped to 649 for the week ended last Saturday compared to 814 a week earlier.
Of the 649 cases, 22 were haemorrhagic dengue, said the Health Ministry's Disease Control Division in a statement, Tuesday.
The number of dengue cases in Putrajaya fell to one from four, Sabah fell to six from 20, Perlis fell to seven from 19, Penang fell to 43 from 85, Melaka fell to 17 from 32, Kelantan fell to 18 from 33, Pahang fell to 31 from 53, Kedah fell to 26 from 38, Kuala Lumpur fell to 61 from 85, Terengganu fell to 13 from 15; Selangor fell to 204 from 231 and Perak fell to 49 from 231.
However, the cases in Negeri Sembilan rose from 20 to 32 and Johor rose from 101 to 113.
Cases involving students dropped from 119 from 102 with Selangor recording the highest number with 38 cases.
The Disease Control Division also said that 51,873 premises had been inspected and 551 of them had been found to breed aedes mosquitoes. A total 284 compound fines were issued and fines worth RM43,000 collected over the past week.

Infectious Diseases Brought In By Illegal Workers

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 29 (Bernama) -- Illegal immigrant workers are responsible for some of the infectious diseases detected in the country.
The ministry's Parliamentary Secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said the matter was compounded by the fact those who enter illegally and fall sick avoided treatment fearing they would be detained and deported home.
At the same time employers are also reluctant to send their sick illegal workers for treatment fearing they could be penalised for employing illegal workers.
He said this when winding-up the committee level debate on the 2006 Budget at the Dewan Rakyat sitting here, Tuesday.
Earlier, during the debate Datuk Mohd Said Yusof (BN-Jasin) asked the government to review the foreign workers health screening monopoly given to FOMEMA Sdn Bhd.
He suggested that the task should be given to local companies as Fomema is now a Singaporean company.
"Government should review the monopoly given to Fomema and we should establish three companies owned 100 percent by Malaysians to screen foreign foreign workers in Malaysia," he said.
He said the doctors in Fomema's panel also failed to carry out their responsibility with due diligence.
"There are doctors who don't conduct proper screening and there were instances all the blood samples of 100 foreigners were type "O". How can all of them have the same blood type. Maybe the doctor only screened one of the workers, not all," he said.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

Action sought over drug blog

Star: A 24-YEAR-OLD systems engineer in Kuching has allegedly shared his drug-taking experiences in his blog, detailing the substances, and how to get an enhanced high.
The blog came to the attention of a Nanyang Siang Pau reader, who sent an e-mail to the daily to complain about the blogger, who was supposedly a computer graduate from an Australian university.
The blog, according to the reader, had developed into an information exchange platform for drug users.
Established in 2002, the blog has categories like Chinese New Year, Fast Food Inc, Food Reviews and Travel.
There were also comments from visitors to the site.
Under the Drug category, the blogger had included at least 50 articles describing prices of drugs, their packaging, methods of use and photographs showing how to take them.
Among the substances featured were methamphetamines, benzodiazepines, amphetamines and cannabis.
The blogger had expressed his worries about getting HIV/ AIDS but later claimed that a medical check-up showed that he was not infected.
There are also photographs in the blog showing him injecting himself with drugs.
Nanyang said the blogger demonstrated an intention to spread his knowledge of drugs to the public.
The police were reportedly making a case against the blogger based on the complaint while Malaysian Crime Prevention Foundation vice-chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said such a blog was akin to defying Malaysian laws.
He urged the police to take immediate action against the blogger, and added that the blog must be shut down.

Bar smokers from varsities

Star: A Vice-Chancellor has made a radical proposal to ban smokers from getting enrolled at public universities as a move to ensure smoke-free campuses.
Universiti Malaysia Sabah vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Mohd Noh Dalimin said the idea might sound harsh but the suggestion was necessary as students so far had no qualms about puffing away, ignoring the Tobacco Products Control Regulation (Amendment) 1997.
Under the law, those who light up in no-smoking zones could be fined up to RM5,000 or jailed a maximum two years.
Kosmo! quoted Prof Mohd Noh as saying that smoking was difficult to curb among university students as they picked up the habit in school.
His proposal was supported by several vice-chancellors, including Prof Datuk Dr Ibrahim Abu Shah of Universiti Teknologi Mara, who agreed that stricter measures were needed when enrolling students.
He said this could be the first step towards ensuring the problem did not get out of control in the universities.
Prof Ibrahim added that university staff also mustn't smoke on campus and students should not hesitate to report those who do so to the management.

Drug rehab centres to upgrade living conditions

Star: PADANG BESAR: About 20,000 inmates in the 28 drug rehabilitation centres nationwide can expect better living conditions, including sleeping on thicker mattresses.
National Anti-Drugs Agency (AADK) deputy director-general Zamri Hamid said under the upgrading plan, concrete buildings would replace the existing wooden ones.
Security fencing had also been erected at 11 centres while the fencing of 17 other centres would be replaced next year.
“The new fencing has high security features to prevent inmates from escaping,” Zamri told reporters after launching the new facilities at the Bukit Chabang Drug Rehabilitation here yesterday.
The facilities include a visitor's room, reception area and cooperative club.
Also present was the centre’s commandant Nazer Mustaffa.
Zamri added that to date, the hostel at three centres in Sepang in Selangor, Bachok, Kelantan and Papar, Sabah, had been replaced with concrete buildings while 22 remaining hostels would be replaced next year.
“With such facilities, we hope the inmates will not feel left out and they will not take drugs again,” he said.

Monday, November 28, 2005

Malaysian men prefer to keep silent

NST: Malaysian men prefer to keep problems below the belt to themselves. They ranked below the Taiwanese, South Koreans and Chinese when it came to seeking treatment for erectile dysfunction (ED).
"In every country, including Western countries, there is an uptrend in ED, but Asian men and Malaysian men in particular are not so forthright and don’t want to tell us about their problems," consultant urologist Prof Datuk Dr Tan Hui Meng said.
He recently concluded the first phase of the "Asian Men’s Attitudes to Life Events and Sexuality Study" which showed Malaysians are still hesitant to talk about ED.
The RM4 million study polled 9,057 male respondents aged between 25 and 70 in four countries, with 3,000 respondents in Malaysia, 2,000 in Taiwan, 2,055 in China and 2,002 in South Korea.
"Although we asked embedded questions, Malaysians were still less forthcoming," he said.
The questions included: "How do you rate your confidence that you can get and keep an erection?" and "During sexual intercourse, how difficult was it to maintain your erection to completion of the intercourse?"
Dr Tan, who is secretary-general of the Asia Pacific Society for Sexual Medicine, said this was the first time a psychosocial study on quality of life issues, health treatment issues and men’s attitude towards health had been studied.
Despite the high prevalence of ED, seeking a treatment was low among Malaysian men, with only 36 per cent seeking help.
"The interesting bit about this study is that we found that 20 per cent of Malaysian males with ED sought traditional treatment," he said in an interview.
The study concurred with an earlier Western study that the older men became, the more they reported their struggle with ED.
Between ages 20 and 29, only one to three per cent of men in the four countries reported ED to their doctors.
Of those in their 60s, between 10 per cent (Malaysia and Taiwan) and 30 per cent (China and Korea) reported such cases.
In Malaysia, 11 per cent of men in their 60s reported ED cases. The low figures among Malaysians could indicate reluctance to talk about their sex life or the inability to have one, Dr Tan said.
In South Korea, Taiwan and China, men with ED were significantly dissatisfied with their quality of life.
Dr Tan said Malaysian men were a "generally satisfied bunch".
"In all countries, people with ED were less satisfied with their quality of life but Malaysia ranked the lowest."
Various aspects of respondents’ lives were studied, including their career, relationship with partners and their sex life.

Number of fatalities alarming

NST: The industrial accident rate has dropped but the number of fatalities is still alarming.
More than 80 per cent of fatal accidents occurred in small and medium-sized industries (SMIs).
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn attributed this to the SMIs lackadaisical and "hardcore" attitude in the implementation of safety features for workers.
"They are more concerned with making profits rather than looking into workers’ safety. They feel that implementing safety features is an extra financial burden," he told the New Straits Times.
"There were a number of serious and fatal industrial cases reported this year, especially in SMIs," he said.
He has directed the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) to come down hard on those who do not adhere to Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) regulations.
He cited a recent incident at a SMI in Puchong where both hands of a worker were crushed inside a die-cutting machine resulting in the woman bleeding to death.
"DOSH’s initial investigation revealed that there were no safety features put in place to protect workers operating the machine and neither was the deceased wearing protective gear," Fong said.
The work site has been ordered to close pending further investigation and a detailed report from the company.
Between 2000 and last year, industrial accidents resulted in 54,207 workers suffering permanent disability.
"These industrial accidents can be averted if only industries complied with the OSH regulation," he said.
He said DOSH and Socso were already on the ground visiting the more than 50,000 registered SMIs to create awareness on the importance of them adhering to the OSH Act and regulations.
"SMIs play a vital role in economic development and their workers are major players in the economy. It’s the responsibility of employers to ensure a safe and healthy work environment," said Fong.

Biggest male effort to end violence against women

Sun2Surf: PETALING JAYA: The White Ribbon Campaign, the largest effort in the world, of men working to end men's violence against women,was launched at 1 Utama New Wing here on Sunday.
The campaign, running globally from Nov 27 to Dec 11, is organised by the Men's Action Network Against Violence (Man.V) and All Women's Action Society Malaysia (Awam) with the support of Watsons Personal Care Stores Sdn Bhd.
Throughout the campaign, men across the world are encouraged and called on to wear a white ribbon, as a personal pledge never to commit, condone, or remain silent about violence against women.
Initiated in 1991 by a group of Canadians, the campaign now involves 47 countries.
Man.V, an affiliate of Awam, aims to encourage men to speak up about the issue and their experience of violence, leading these men to make a personal pledge to confront and eradicate this problem.
"Society should respect human rights and gender equality," said Man.V coordinator David Anthony.
"Men's violence against women continues because explicit or tacit permission is given to men by social customs, legal codes, and even by religious norms," explained Awam president Judith Loh-Koh.
"We recognise the importance of working with men to bring about change and realise that if men are part of the problem, they can also be part of the solution."
Meanwhile, Watsons Malaysia general manager Ian Cruddas, who launched the campaign by spray-painting a white ribbon on a poster, said: "I hope that men will stand by their mothers, wives, sisters and daughters and give them full support.
"I also hope that men and boys alike will help promote gender equality."

Bird flu scare: Patient tests negative

Malay Mail: The man warded recently at Penang Hospital with symptoms of lung infection does not have the deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza.
Initial tests on the 61-year-old man showed he was free from the virus.
"Hospital authorities have, however, advised him to stay for a few more days so that they can continue to observe his condition," parliamentary secretary to the Health Ministry, Datuk Lee Kah Choon, said yesterday.
"All I can say is that he does not have the deadly virus but the health authorities need to conduct more tests to determine what he is suffering from.
"There are no bird flu cases in Penang or other parts of the country," he added.
The man was warded on Friday, five days after returning from China with his family.
He felt ill soon after his return and began to show flu-like symptoms three days later.
The man said he did not have any contact with live or dead birds in China and did not visit any poultry farm.
Lee said the Ministry had identified 21 hospitals nationwide in anticipation of bird flu.
"The Government is also looking at providing Tamiflu as and when there is a need.
"We have a comprehensive plan to protect every one, be it patients, medical staff and the people at large," he said.
He also said the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry as well as the Customs and Immigration departments had an equally important role to play in the fight against avian flu.

Guidelines for treatment of hypertension

Malay Mail:A total of 70,000 Malaysians aged 18 and above will be probed deeper for evidence of hypertension in the 2006 National Health and Morbidity Study (NHMS) to be conducted next year.
"Doctors believe that a much more aggressive stance is needed to ascertain incidence of hypertension in treating the disease," said chairman Datuk Dr Zaki Morad Mohd Zaher, together with a working group developed the Malaysian Guidelines for the treatment of hypertension.
The guidelines were developed on behalf of the Health Ministry and Academy of Medicine.
The International Society of Hypertension estimates 42 per cent of the world’s population or almost one in two adults will be hypertensive by the year 2020.
According to the president of Malaysian Society of Hypertension, Datuk Dr Azhari Rosman, one in three Malaysians aged 30 and above suffer from hypertension while only six out of every 100 have their blood pressure under control.

Rain’s over, but dengue outbreak a real threat

NST: The first round of floods in the East Coast ended yesterday but there is an imminent danger of another threat — a dengue outbreak.
The Aedes mosquitoes flourish during rainy seasons and the continuous downpour last week has created breeding grounds.
State Health Committee chairman Datuk Ishak Muhamad said there was a possibility that there could be more Aedes mosquitoes in the next few days.
Based on the the Kuantan Meteorological Department’s forecast, the next round of floods in the East Coast will begin early next month, giving the mosquitoes ample time to breed.
Ishak said the State Health Department and the local authorities had been instructed to intensify efforts to destroy these breeding grounds, especially in housing estates.
So far this year, there had been eight deaths recorded in Pahang due to dengue fever, compared to the three fatal cases last year.
Cases in the State peaked during the first quarter of this year before ebbing in June.
However, the number increased again in September, with most of the new dengue cases recorded in Kuantan, Pekan and Maran.

Biologically wired to be transsexual

Star: PETALING JAYA: There have been medical studies done which show that one of the reasons for someone being transsexual is biological and there are tests that can be done to determine that.
This was disclosed by consultant clinical andrologist Dr Mohd Ismail Mohd Tambi who also provides counselling to individuals with issues concerning sexual identity at his clinic.
He said that in studies done by endocrinologist Prof L.J.G. Gooren who is an expert in Gender Studies and Gender Reassignment Programmes at Vrije University in Amsterdam, Netherlands, magnetic resonance imaging scans of the brain showed differences between men and transsexuals.
“Scan of the hypothalamus (the region at the base of the brain of which a part is involved in sexual behaviours) show that a part of it is bigger in males by 44% than in females. But for a transsexual male the scan will reveal that it follows the size of a female's. The reverse is true for transsexual females.”
Other scientists have authenticated the study internationally, he told The Star.
Dr Mohd Ismail said that Prof Gooren’s study also showed that the process of sexual orientation (one's realisation of one's gender) was complex and the physical changes were usually early and the mental changes usually came later.
It was usually during adolescence that transsexuals would want to be close to the gender of their choice, he said.
“They do not decide on their gender overnight. The process is complicated and dynamic. It is influenced by the sex determinant genes, testosterones and hormones, environmental factors and the mental changes in the hypothalamus,” said Dr Mohd Ismail.
He said he had spent two weeks at the Gender Clinic of the Free University in Amsterdam in 2001, where he learnt of the studies by Prof Gooren.
The studies also said there was a possibility that one in every 15,000 males and one in every 35,000 females were transsexual.
Dr Mohd Ismail cited his own paper which he presented four years ago at a local counselling seminar in which he said that counselling was a must as there were many individuals who were confused about their sexual identity and might not actually be transsexuals.
He added that if they were transsexuals they needed to be provided with avenues to be reassigned in terms of gender according to the laws of the country.

Product for joint health launched at symposium

Malay Mail: Merck Consumer Health Care recently launched its Seven Seas Joint Health brand across Asia with a Joint Health Symposium in Hong Kong attended by an international gathering of joint health experts.
The Symposium featured a key-note address by Amye Leong, official spokesperson for the United Nations-endorsed Bone and Joint Decade 2000-2010. Leong shared about her devastating personal battle with arthritis as well as outlining the key objectives for one of the UN’s most important global health initiatives. Also presented during the Symposium were data pointing to a potential joint health crisis due to an ageing population in Asia.
The research, conducted by leading international research institute Synovate in five Asian markets – Indonesia, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Singapore and Taiwan – revealed that more than one in four adults (26 per cent) aged between 29 and 64 suffered joint health problems in the last 12 months. Of these sufferers, almost one in two (47 per cent) say their condition has impacted significantly on their daily lives.
Siti Nooruhani Ibrahim, general manager for Merck CHC, Malaysia and Singapore, said a Cardiff University study showed clearly that cod liver oil, enriched with EPA, helps maintain joint suppleness.
“With the launch of FlexiCare, Malaysians are able to take care of their joint health and not have to suffer from debilitating joint diseases like arthritis,” she said.
In Malaysia, the Seven Seas Joint Health brand is known as the Seven Seas FlexiCare system.

Sunday, November 27, 2005

RM50,000 to combat HIV/AIDS among children

NST: The Malaysian Council For Child Welfare (MKKM) today received a donation of RM50,000 to finance its campaign against HIV/AIDS, violence and neglect among children.
Berjaya Group chairman and chief executive Tan Sri Vincent Tan made a personal contribution of RM20,000 while RM30,000 came from Berjaya Group Berhad.
Tan presented the cheques today to MKKM president Tan Sri Zaleha Ismail at its annual Hari Raya lunch treat for 270 children from 12 welfare institutions at Kelab Darul Ehsan in Ampang.
They are from Persatuan Kebajikan HIV/AIDS Malaysia, Shelter Home, Asrama Darul Falah Perkim, Pusat Latihan Autisma, Sekolah Pertuturan Kia, Pondok Penyayang Raudah, Wisma Anak-Anak Kesayanganku, Persatuan Ibu Tunggal Pantai Dalam, Persatuan Anak Yatim Taman Permata, Sekolah Rendah Agama Sri Al-Ummah, Persatuan Penyayang Nurul Iman Setapak and Persatuan Anak Bekeperluan Taman Sri Rampai.
The children, aged between six and 12, also received duit raya and gifts from the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Fauziah.
In her speech, Zaleha said the number of children afflicted with HIV/AIDS was increasing and more awareness programmes were needed.
"We are working with our 32 affiliates to conduct campaigns on violence, neglect and HIV/AIDS among children," she said.
Also present were the Unicef representative to Malaysia Gaye Phillips and Kelab Darul Ehsan general manager Muhamad Azmir Abdul Rahim.
Entertainment was provided by singer Norsheila Amin, nasyid group Feelherc and 11-year-old Nurzaitul Aina Johari from Wisma Anak-Anak Kesayanganku.

Bird flu watch over man

NST: A 61-year-old man, who returned from China last Sunday, has been warded for observation at the Penang Hospital after he showed signs of lung infection, one of the symptoms of bird flu.
"He felt ill soon after his return and began to show flu-like symptoms three days later," State Health and Welfare Committee chairman P. K. Subbaiyah said today.
"Upon advice from a doctor in a private clinic, the man sought treatment at the hospital.
"Initial diagnosis prompted doctors (at the hospital) to admit him yesterday evening in the normal ward for observation."
Subbaiyah said according to the man, he did not have any close encounter with live or dead birds in China.
He also did not visit any poultry farm.
"Despite his age, the man continues to remain healthy," he said.
Subbaiyah said Penang Hospital had set up an isolation ward in anticipation of bird flu cases about three weeks ago.
"Everything is in place. The medical teams are well prepared to face any possible bird flu outbreak and Penang Hospital has been designated as the State avian flu operation centre."
Checks by the New Sunday Times showed that quarantine areas are in place, together with signs placed near the hospital’s emergency entrance notifying the public that the area was restricted for bird flu screening.
State Transportation Committee chairman Datuk Koay Kar Huah urged the State Health Department to conduct stringent checks at all entry points leading into the State, particularly those coming by air and sea.

Only medical staff can carry out such checks

NST: Only medically-trained people should be allowed to examine the private parts of females under detention, doctors said today.
Kuala Lumpur Hospital consultant pulmonary and critical care physician Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai said women suspected of hiding something in their vagina or rectum should be taken to a hospital for examination.
He said police could perform a superficial search of the person but leave it to the professionals when it came to examining the private parts.
"We are talking about a fine line here," he said when commenting on the alleged mistreatment of a woman from China who was forced to strip and do squats to expel hidden objects.
He said that yesterday’s statement by Women’s Aid Organisation executive director Ivy Josiah that squatting exercises would not necessarily bring out anything hidden in the vagina or rectum was right.
"Only a medically-trained person will be able to do a proper examination and determine if there is anything hidden inside a woman."

Lukewarm response to loo design competition

Star: PETALING JAYA: Many Malaysians are critical over dirty public toilets but response to calls to come up with award-winning designs to overcome this longstanding woe recently has been lukewarm.
The authorities are tight-lipped over the entries for its public toilet competition which closes on Dec 16.
“Maybe they will submit at the last minute. We advertised the competition on Nov 23,” said a Housing and Local Government Ministry official.
The competition organised by the ministry is divided into three categories – stand-alone public toilet, toilet in eatery shop and toilet in shopping complex.
Deputy Minister Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew said a winning design should include features like how to keep the toilets clean and dry.
He said some users must wash up after easing themselves and a good bidet with a suitable spray – not too strong pressure and at the right angle – would be one way to avoid wet floors.
Malaysia Institute of Architects president Dr Tan Loke Mun noted that keeping public toilets clean and dry was a big challenge.
“Neighbouring countries appeared to be successful in this aspect which depends on not just toilet designs but also proper maintenance and good user habits,” he noted.
The competition jointly organised with the Public Works Ministry offers a first prize of RM5,000, a second prize of RM3,000 and a third prize of RM1,000.
The competition is open to all Malaysians – individual, group or company – and there is no age limit.
Visit for details.

Saturday, November 26, 2005

Spa, Herbal Treatment Potential Tourist Draw In Sabah

KOTA KINABALU, Nov 25 (Bernama) -- Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman Friday called on entrepreneurs and the tourism industry in the state to make use of the mushrooming herbal and spa treatment business as a tourist draw.
Besides Sabah's natural attractions -- from Mount Kinabalu, the highest peak in South East Asia, and the diving haven in Sipadan Island -- tourists would be able to enjoy spa and herbal treatment which could contribute to their well-being, he said in a keynote address at the opening of a two-day seminar which began here today.
The Convention for Women In Business was organised by the Sabah Women Entrepreneurs and Professionals Association (SWEPA).
Musa said: "The spa industry is one such industry that helps people to relax, reduce stress and achieve a better quality of life. As such, it is not surprising to see the mushrooming of spas in the local scene."
In this respect, he said, to promote spa treatment as one of the tourist attractions, spa operators must manage their outlets professionally and deliver the best possible service.
"To this end, training institutions should offer human resource development programmes for therapists to equip them with the necessary knowledge and know how," he said.
At the same time, Musa said, the relevant authorities such as City Hall must also ensure higher standards of operations while organisations such as Sirim Bhd must play an active role in ensuring that the quality of the state health tourism programmes was upheld.
He also said that Sabah, which was endowed with 1,250 species of plants with medicinal value from its tropical rainforests, offers much potential for growth in manufacturing herbal-based health food and beverages, medicine, health-enhancing products, dietary supplements, flavours and fragrances, cosmetics and toiletries.
"In this respect, it pleases me to note that Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) has already made the commercialisation of biodiversity one of its research projects," he said.
In Malaysia alone, the growing herbal medicine market was currently estimated at RM2.35 billion, he added.

Duopharma lands RM9.5 million HIV/AIDS drug contract

The Edgedaily: Chemical Company of Malaysia Bhd’s (CCM) newly acquired 73.8%-owned subsidiary, Duopharma Biotech Bhd, has been awarded a RM9.5 million contract by the Health Ministry to supply anti-retroviral drugs SLN30 and SLN40 tablets, to treat HIV/AIDS patients, to all government hospitals for two years starting 2006.
Duopharma is the only company approved by the ministry to produce the World Health Organisation-recommended 3-in-1 fixed dose combination (FDC) products, which will be available in Malaysia.
An announcement from CCM on Nov 25 confirmed a FinancialDaily article on Sept 6, which stated that Duopharma’s proposal to manufacture the FDC had received the greean light from the government and that the company would be receiving a formal award soon.
Duopharma’s 2004 annual report had the number of HIV/AIDS patients in the country at about 60,000 at the time with almost 20 new cases being reported daily.
The report also added that fully subsidised FDC would cost the government between RM15 million and RM26 million annually or 20% of existing treatment costs and allow the government to treat more patients.
Meanwhile, Duopharma said it has also been awarded a RM1.6 million contract from the ministry in October to supply methadone to 10 government hospitals and seven private clinics under a six-month pilot study to test the feasibility of using the drug to treat drug addicts.
The company, which recently appointed two new members to its board – Dr Mohd Hashim Tajudin and Datuk Mizanur Rahman Ghani – also released its third quarter results ended Sept 30, 2005, and attributed the rise in earnings to increased sales to both the public and private sectors.
It posted a net profit of RM5.96 million, up 11.34% from RM5.35 million in the corresponding quarter last year. Revenue was also up 22.53% to RM22.71 million from RM18.53 million, while earnings per share rose to 4.44 sen from 4.06 sen.

RM13,600 ginseng cure that wasn’t

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: A young childless couple wanted a baby so much that they were willing to try anything, including spending RM13,600 on ginseng.
The products were said to be able to solve the 29-year-old engineer's fertility problem.
At least that was what the couple (whose names have been withheld to protect their privacy) was allegedly made to believe by an employee of a company who told them how other customers had conceived through their remedy.
A bunting outside the company's premises in Section 14, Petaling Jaya, also purportedly gave them the impression that conception was guaranteed.
Nine months after they began the fertility programme in February 2003, the 28-year-old self-employed wife realised that there was no change in her husband's condition, and she had still not conceived.
They decided to go back to the company's premises in Petaling Jaya, but to their shock the shop had closed.
The couple then went to another outlet in KL Plaza here where an employee gave them some more ginseng products and told them to continue with the 18-month programme until January this year.
When January came, they were unsuccessful again.
They faced another shock when they found the KL Plaza outlet had closed as well and decided to do a search at the Companies Commission of Malaysia (CCM), which revealed that the company's registered address was in Johor Baru.
This time, the couple decided that enough was enough and proceeded to file a claim at the Consumer Claims Tribunal.
At the hearing held in camera – the first of its kind at the tribunal – on Oct 12, New York Skin Solutions Sdn Bhd (formerly known as Giant Ginseng Holdings Sdn Bhd) denied ever guaranteeing anything about their products through its employees or advertisements.
The company also argued that the couple, fully aware of the husband's condition, decided to try their luck anyway with the ginseng products.
Yesterday, the tribunal ordered the company to pay RM5,000 to the couple within 14 days.
President Yang Zaimey Yang Ghazali said it was illogical for someone to pay such a huge sum of money if they were not promised anything.
“Although there is an element of misrepresentation, I must strike a balance. I cannot allow your RM13,600 claim in full because the products have already been consumed,” he told the couple.
Yang Zaimey also ticked off the company for constantly moving its outlets, which gave customers a negative perception.

Spread of HIV among the young highly likely

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The spread of HIV among Malaysian children will reach an alarming stage in five to 10 years if nothing is done to educate them now.
United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) representative to Malaysia Gaye Philips said statistics showed that children have been tested HIV-positive, which meant that there was a trend for the virus to spread among the young.
“They need knowledge, such as knowing the risks of unsafe sex and sharing of needles.
“I once asked a group of young people who are graduates if they know how to protect themselves against AIDS.
“They told me (that they would) wash their hands as many times as possible and eat a healthy diet,” she said after the launch of the Unite for Children, Unite Against Aids programme.
Phillips said the biggest challenge in fighting HIV/AIDS was to break the stigma.
“We cannot be complacent by thinking it is all right to be infected with HIV because there are drugs available.
“But the drugs cannot cure. They only prolong one’s life,” she said.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said 1,500 (2.3%) of the 65,000 HIV positive cases in Malaysia were those below 19.

Prostar HIV/AIDS programme fails to reach target

NST: The Government’s Prostar HIV/AIDS programme has failed to reach the young Malaysians it was designed to help.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said it had become clear that the programme’s target audience was "the wrong one".
"That’s why we are evaluating the programme," he said. "The target audience was the ‘good people’. It should reach the (correct) target."
Now, the Health Ministry wants to work with Unicef Malaysia to improve it, said Dr Latiff.
Still, Malaysia’s programme is considered a rarity among countries battling the auto-immune disease that has infected millions since its discovery.
Unicef representative to Malaysia Gaye Phillips said very few countries reached out to schools via a programme like Prostar.
"We should not reject Prostar because we already have it in place but we have to review it and make it more exciting to young people," she said.
Phillips added that 19 people contracted HIV every day in Malaysia. For every known person with HIV/AIDS, three were unreported or undetected.
The Health Ministry and Unicef today launched the Malaysian chapter of the Global Campaign on Children and AIDS at the Institute of Health Management here.
Unicef regional director Phillip O’Brien said Malaysia was fortunate to have strong leaders prepared to deal with the epidemic, the fifth fastest-growing epidemic in Asia.
At its launch in 1996, the Prostar programme was expected to reach out to 2.6 million children and teenagers by 2000.
The programme has trained 64,000 youths as peer leaders on issues relating to HIV/AIDS.
The programme is also aimed at educating young people on HIV/AIDS prevention, encouraging healthy lifestyles and establishing Prostar Clubs.
There are 65,000 people living with HIV/AIDS in the country and 25,000 are children who are either infected or affected by the disease.
To date, 117 Prostar Clubs have been formed at state, district and school levels.

New Hospitals To Undergo Thorough Checks Before Handover

SUNGAI PETANI, Nov 25 (Bernama) -- Newly completed hospitals will undergo comprehensive checks over a three-month period before they are handed over to the Health Ministry, Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said.
He said the checks were to ensure the construction was done according to specifications to prevent problems that had occurred previously, such as fungus infestation or cracks.
New hospitals in the past were immediately handed over to the Health Ministry after they were completed, he told reporters after attending a briefing on the Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST) now being built in Semeling here.
He said this when asked when his ministry would hand over the completed new Sungai Petani Hospital.
On AIMST, Samy Vellu said it was over 90 per cent completed and he expected it to be fully operational in March next year.
The RM465 million institute is founded by MIC led by Samy Vellu.
A total of 2,500 students will be enrolled as the first batch in the institute in April next year and the enrolment is expected to increase to 7,500 within five years.
Currently, 1,100 students are studying at the institute's temporary campus in Bandar Amanjaya here.
Samy Vellu said AIMST would seek the approval of the Higher Education Ministry to transfer its engineering faculty to TAFE College in Seremban, Negeri Sembilan, another MIC-sponsored institute, which would be made a branch campus of AIMST.
He added that AIMST would collaborate with several universities in England in various fields.

Friday, November 25, 2005

Haj Pilgrims Need Not Go For Avian Flu Jab

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 (Bernama) -- Malaysian pilgrims performing the Haj this year need not go for vaccination against Avian flu amid worldwide concern on the killer virus reported to have infected several Asian countries.
Tabung Haji General Manager (Health) Dr Haji Shuhaimi Ismail said there was no cause for alarm as Malaysia was still free of infection from the influenza.
"In the first place, there is no vaccine against the bird flu as yet. The Avian influenza usually does not infect human being," he said when asked on steps taken by Tabung Haji to check the spread of the virus.
Didier Pittet, a health expert from the Geneva University Hospital, was reported to have called for the cancellation of the Haj, in the event of the outbreak of the influenza on human being.
The concern heightened following the reported death of chickens at a poultry farm in southeast Riyadh.
The report was refuted by the Saudi Haj Affairs Minister, Hamed Al-Manae, saying no case was detected in the country and that his government was taking every precautionary measure against the virus.
Dr Shuhaimi said it was the responsibility of the Saudi Arabian International Disease Control Divison of the Saudi Health Ministry to provide appropriate protection to the pilgrims.
The quadrivalent meningoccoccal vaccination given to intending pilgrims as required by the Saudi government was an anti-viral infection and it was sufficient for protection, he said.
He however advised pilgrims who kept pet birds or poultry to have proper checks in case they had any infection from the flu which had reportedly killed 67 people in Asia since 2003.
The first batch of 444 Malaysians will leave for the Holy Land on Dec 3.

Thursday, November 24, 2005

INS Bioscience Launches Herbal Anti-diabetic Product

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 24 (Bernama) -- Healthcare company INS Bioscience Bhd (INSB), riding on the success of its wheatgrass products, has added yet another feather to its cap with Insupro forte, a herbal anti-diabetic product.
Speaking to Bernama at the soft launch of Insupro forte-cum-INSB Hari Raya gathering held over the weekend, the company's executive chairman Datuk Abdul Majid Khan said Insupro forte may replace insulin for diabetics.
"It is a product from China and we want to introduce it here," he said.
Using sophisticated biotechnology, Insupro forte is produced through the extraction and enhancement of bitter gourd's active ingredients and is said to have no side effects.
According to INSB's distribution and marketing arm, INS Enterprise Sdn Bhd (INSE), research led by Universiti Malaya's Professor Dr Mustafa Ali Mohd confirmed that bitter gourd has blood glucose lowering agents.
The study also concluded that the effects of Insupro forte, which is also for general health, were comparable to those of drugs.
INSE said that clinical tests had also been carried out on 600 cases of diabetes in 20 hospitals in China.
The company has distribution channels throughout Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand, Indonesia and Hong Kong.
Abdul Majid said in Malaysia, the INSB products, which include wheatgrass bio coffee, bio soy milk and health food supplements, are marketed through the multilevel marketing (MLM) method.
"Direct selling is the most effective," he said.
Abdul Majid said in some countries where there was no (MLM) format, smart partnerships were formed with companies that have distribution networks.
"Maybe through pharmacies, like in South Africa, and in America we bought a company that also has this network," he said.
In China, the company has its own office and stockists and is now trying to develop more distribution points, he added.
"In our strategy we try to emphasise important markets like China, Japan and the United States. For Malaysia, we would like to have it as the corporate headquarters, and for manufacturing, we are looking at China," Abdul Majid said.
"By having it in China, we can gain two things -- having the advantage of cost and gaining entry into the internal markets," he said.
In line with this, INSB is looking at one of the provinces in Inner Mongolia as a possible entry point for manufacturing.
"This is still under negotiations," Abdul Majid said.
He explained that Inner Mongolia was chosen as it is relatively underdeveloped, and offered many incentives compared with other parts of China.
"There is also a renowned company there called "Milk". Milk is a health product and so perhaps we can develop synergy later on if we are based there," he said.
Those keen to know more about Insupro forte and be one of the INSB product distributors can get in touch with product consultant Kamaruddin Abdul Rahim at Tel: 016-6644332 or e-mail:

City Hall launches toilet patrol

NST: Look out, the toilet patrol is coming. City Hall today launched a public toilet cleaning patrol to flush out owners of premises who do not give priority to hygiene.
And to prove it is serious, City Hall’s toilet patrol will clean up toilets belonging to recalcitrant owners and bill them for it.
The patrol, comprising seven officers and a supervisor, will check on toilets in places like restaurants and shopping complexes.
City Hall director-general Salleh Yusup said: "We have a city of international standard. So we should have toilets to reflect that status."
Salleh said this after launching the Federal Territory’s "World Toilet Day" function. World Toilet Day fell on Nov 19.
Premises with dirty toilets will be given notices to clean up. Repeat offenders will be charged.
Salleh said from January to October this year, owners of 33 toilets had their offences compounded while 513 were given warnings. A total of 546 owners were given notices by health inspectors to clean up.
The launch also saw premises receiving awards for having outstanding toilets. They included KL Sentral, KL Tower and the Wangsa Maju Projet petrol station.

Makna drops plan for house calls

Star: PETALING JAYA: National Cancer Council (Makna) mobile units will cover districts as a whole under its early cancer detection campaign and not make house-to-house visits.
Makna president Datuk Mohd Farid Ariffin said the mobile units would focus on rural areas around the country to help detect cancer of the prostate, breast, stomach and cervix among the people.
“We plan to launch this initiative, which has taken at least two years to plan, as early as February.
“Equipment to carry out this early detection is being acquired with technical assistance from foreign consultants,” he told The Star yesterday.
Mohd Farid, who is a former deputy health minister, said the campaign would also focus on educating and creating awareness among the public on the advantages of early detection.
“We will carry out tests on both men and women for the four types of cancer. Cervical and breast cancer cases are high among women,” he said.
He said Makna welcomed any assistance for the campaign from all parties concerned over cancer cases, when asked whether Makna would be working with the Health Ministry on this initiative.
On Monday, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek asked Makna to review its early cancer detection campaign, which would purportedly include going house to house, an exercise deemed to be contrary to medical ethics.
Dr Chua said Makna should get the ministry’s advice before embarking on such a campaign to ensure it would not cause unnecessary worry and confusion among the public.

Hospital fees to be regulated

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: A new ruling will be enforced soon to ensure that all private hospitals adhere to the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Schedule of Fees.
The Private Healthcare Services and Facilities Regulation requires private hospitals to set prices according to the schedule.
Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said the draft of the new ruling, under the Private Healthcare Services and Facilities Act, was now with the Attorney-General's Chambers.
“The MMA Schedule of Fees is now only a guideline to private hospitals, but after the ruling they must follow the schedule of fees.
“Otherwise, they will be considered to be breaking the law and action, such as fines and revoking their medical practising licences, can be taken,” he said, in replying to a question by Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar (BN – Larut) in the Dewan Rakyat yesterday.
Lee said the regulations were implemented based on a study of fees charged by private hospitals, clinics and dentists.
To a supplementary question by Lau Yeng Peng (BN – Puchong), Lee said there could not be a separation of the right of prescription in Malaysia.
“This is because we are lacking in pharmacists and those living in the rural areas will also have problems looking for pharmacists, who are mostly based in towns,” he said.

Putting problems over sleep disorders to rest

Star: PETALING JAYA: If you snore compulsively, you are suffering from a sleep disorder symptom.
Many of us, without realising it, may have sleeping disorders but are unaware of the dangers that come with it.
According to the Sleep Disorder Society of Malaysia (SDSM), about 10% to 35% of the world population suffer from some form of sleep disorder, and over half of them do not seek medical advice.
This could result in serious problems like road accidents when one drives a vehicle without enough sleep.
To diagnose the local situation, SDSM, Universiti Malaya Department of Psychological Medicine and Dreamland Corporation have combined efforts and launched a Sleep Health Careline – an Interactive Voice Response System hotline to serve as a survey module and to educate the public on sleep hygiene.
Those suffering from sleep problems can dial 03-7960 2924 and answer a series of 10 symptomatic questions.
They would then be given advice on good sleep hygiene like not indulging in caffeine or nicotine before bedtime.
Callers who leave their name and number will have their calls returned within a week.
At the launch yesterday, UM head of Department of Psychological Medicine and SDSM deputy president Prof Dr Hussain Habil said sleep disorders had been known to be the source of many road accidents.
“With data from Careline, we will research the prevalence of sleep disorder problems here, then work with other agencies to tackle the problem,” he said.

Surgeon, doc to be quizzed over clash

Star: PETALING JAYA: A cardiac-thoracic surgeon and a medical officer who clashed in an operating theatre at the University Malaya Medical Centre about two months ago will appear before a hospital committee of inquiry next week.
According to an operating theatre staff member, who declined to be named, the surgeon who had blood on his surgical gloves slapped a medical officer from the anaesthesiology department.
The female doctor then struck back at the surgeon, breaking his spectacles.
Following the incident, several medical officers informed the hospital management that they did not wish to serve under the surgeon, who is also a professor at the university.
They also insisted that action be taken against the surgeon because his behaviour was unbecoming, and he had put the medical officer at risk of possible infection from the blood on his gloves should the blood carry any virus.
“We will resolve the matter,” UMMC director Prof Datuk Dr Mohd Amin Jalaludin said yesterday.
“There is no such thing as doctors not wanting to work with the surgeon.
“The surgeon has returned after a long medical leave; and we will have both doctors before the committee.”
The surgeon, when contacted, declined to comment on the case, saying that he was not authorised to make press statements.
Medico Legal Society president R. Arunachalam said any doctor with a history of losing his cool required psychiatric evaluation.
He said a surgeon who loses control in an operating theatre might misuse the scalpel and injure others.

Mara To Send Medical Students To Middle East From Next Year

PASIR MAS, Nov 23 (Bernama) -- Medical students sponsored by Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) will be sent to leading universities in Jordan and Egypt from next year, its chairman Brig Gen (Rtd) Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Zainal Abidin said.
He said for a start 100 students would be chosen to pursue medical courses at University Al-Azhar in Cairo and University Alexander di Jordan.
"It is much cheaper to send them to the Middle East than Europe besides the students not having to worry about high living costs or halal matters," he told reporters after opening a seminar for entrepreneurs organised by Mara at Sekolah Kebangsaan Mekasar, here Wednesday.
However, he said this did not mean that previous universities would not be considered but the Middle East would be given priority for Muslim students.
According to him, Mara had researched the quality of the universities concerned and had found them to be at par with that of other countries.
"Our neighbour, Indonesia for example, has been sending its medical students to these places and some have of them have become famous medical specialists," he said.
He also assured that qualifications from these universities were recognised by the government.

Wednesday, November 23, 2005

School toilet clubs can nurture good habits

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The 10,000 schools in the country can lead the way in nurturing good toilet habits among Malaysians by setting up toilet clubs.
Proposing this, Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew said the role of teachers and students was vital and they formed a good network to reach out to society.
“I hope the Education Ministry can consider this and get the education departments to implement the proposal,” he said yesterday.
Lau, who heads the ministry's nationwide clean toilet campaign – a joint exercise with the 145 local authorities in the country – said help and support from the Education and other ministries, including Health and Tourism, as well as related government agencies and the private sector, was vital for the success of the campaign.
Lau, who also chairs the newly set-up Quality Restrooms Association of Malaysia (QRAM), said there must be on-going and concerted efforts towards cleaner public toilets and nurturing good and clean toilet habits among Malaysians.
The country observed World Toilet Day on Nov 19, with Lau launching the national level celebrations at Taman Tasik Shah Alam.
The celebrations, together with a three-day exhibition beginning Nov 18, drew a huge crowd.
Random interviews with those manning the exhibition booths at the venue spoke volumes of the people’s bad habits.
“There was a lot of food and some visitors just threw their unfinished food and styrofoam containers into the lake,” said an exhibitor.
“So you can imagine what they will do when they are alone inside public toilets.”

Reasons for poor reporting by Socso doctors

NST: Doctors on the panel of Socso are aware of the various occupational diseases, but there are reasons for the poor reporting, says the Malaysian Medical Assocation (MMA).
One of the reasons cited by the MMA president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin was the frequent movement of workers.
He said the reluctance of employers to comply or adhere to certain health examination criteria was another factor that restrained the work of doctors.
"The limited payments available for the total comprehensive tests discourage them from carrying out the necessary tests for confirmatory diagnosis," Dr Teoh said yesterday.
He was responding to an NST report on Saturday quoting Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn as saying that thousands of workers were losing out on Socso benefits due to under-diagnosis of occupational diseases by panel doctors.
Some of the 4,690 doctors on the Socso panel have taken it upon themselves to limit investigations leading to a negligible number of workers being identified with such diseases.
Workers have lost out in medical treatment, compensation and possibly, disability benefits.
Most of the cases referred to Socso involved noise pollution with occupational diseases that went undiagnosed, including skin and lung-related diseases and muscular skeletal disorder.
Using the United Kingdom standard of one worker with an occupational disease to every industrial accident, Malaysia should have registered 69,132 workers with occupational diseases.
But only 183 cases of workers with occupational diseases were recorded last year.
Dr Teoh said it was simplistic to compare the numbers in the UK as the type of industries was different and Malaysia relied heavily on foreign workers.
He called on Socso to give detailed report of the types of claims made, the number of claims rejected and the reason for the rejection.
"Socso has been rather rigid in the implementation of the rules and this has made it extremely frustrating for the patient, employer and doctor," said Dr Teoh.
The MMA, through its Society of Occupational and Environmental Medicine, was conducting regular courses to update its members on this issue.
Dr Teoh said the MMA was willing to co-operate and collaborate with the various bodies to develop the discipline of occupational medicine.

Public hospitals up to par

NST: Despite the negative perception, public hospitals are better than private establishments.
This is because most of the 125 public hospitals in the country adhere strictly to the high standards imposed by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH), Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said today.
He gave an assurance that patients in accredited hospitals would receive the best possible care in a safe environment at a minimum cost. Dr Chua said these hospitals had put in place the high standards set by the MSQH, with the focus on clinical areas.
Eighty-five of the 125 hospitals in the country have gone through the MSQH accreditation training up to June and 52 of them have achieved certification.
Some of the accredited public hospitals are Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang, Kota Baru Hospital, Penang Hospital and Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital in Kuantan.
In the private sector, only 15 of the 219 hospitals are accredited.
These include the Ampang Puteri Specialist Centre, Subang Jaya Medical Centre, Sunway Medical Centre, and Pantai Medical Centre.
Dr Chua said the MSQH standards were subject to frequent revision and updating in line with advances in medical knowledge, practices and technologies.
"It is wise for patients to seek treatment at accredited facilities."
Dr Chua was speaking after launching a 64-multislice CT scanner costing RM4 million at Pantai Medical Centre here. He also witnessed the awarding of the MSQH Accreditation Certificate to the hospital.
The minister urged all hospitals that have yet to embark on the accreditation journey to do so quickly.
The reward is universal acclaim that the accredited hospital has met most, if not all, of the rigorous international standards for quality of care.
MSQH is affiliated with the International Society for Quality in Healthcare (ISQua) and the ISQua Federation, a body that oversees accreditation programmes worldwide.
Dr Chua commended Pantai Medical Centre for its efforts to upgrade quality of facilities and services.
He noted that the 64-multislice CT scanner is at the forefront of computerised tomographic imaging today.
With the addition of the machine, he said, the centre could provide more sensitive anatomical imaging for patients, particularly in the early diagnosis of coronary artery diseases.
At present, only Sarawak Hospital has such a scanner. Three are scheduled to be installed at cardiac centres in the peninsula under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
At present, Dr Chua said, 22 public hospitals have CT scan facilities and another 18 hospitals, mainly district hospitals, would also be equipped with them under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

Dengue Update: Co-operate or risk fine and jail

NST: People who stop health officers from checking their premises for Aedes mosquito breeding grounds will now be taken to court.
And they could face a fine of up to RM50,000 or two years’ jail, or both.
This warning was issued by the Health Ministry’s Disease Control director Dr Ramlee Rahmat to developers, contractors, house, land, shop and factory owners following instances where the door was shut on health inspectors.
"The officers are doing their job," Dr Ramlee said.
"It is an offence for owners to stop them from doing enforcement work."
Dr Ramlee said everyone should co-operate with the authorities to destroy Aedes breeding grounds.
The ministry and local authorities were doing their best to avert a major dengue outbreak, he added.
A total of 814 dengue cases, including 41 dengue haemorrhagic fever, were reported last week compared with 751 cases the previous week.
Dr Ramlee said the cumulative suspected dengue cases from Jan 1 to Nov 19 stands at 35,289 dengue cases with 88 deaths as compared with 27,365 cases and 85 deaths during the same period last year.
"We urge the public not to be complacent as the current weather conditions could lead to an outbreak."

New Concept In Treating Mental Patients

JOHOR BAHARU, Nov 22 (Bernama) -- A new concept is being implemented in treating mental patients in the country that does away with the old method of isolating them and instead emphasises on the community's participation in the treatment process.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latif Ahmad said the new concept would be introduced at the Hospital Permai, one of the two mental institutions that is being rebuilt at a cost of RM600 million and expected to be completed within 30 months from now.
In line with the changes in the treatment approach the patients would be isolated only for short periods before being handed over to the society, he told reporters after attending the Aidilfitri and Deepavali do organised by the Hospital Sultanah Aminah Vistor's Board here.
At the same time this method eliminates the need for bigger space and more beds and that's why the new Hospital Permai is situated on a smaller area of 53 hectares and with only 734 beds compared to 2080 currently.
He said the concept involving the community is being widely practised in developed countries and its effectiveness was proven by studies conducted by mental health experts.
The other mental institution in Tanjung Rambutan would also follow suit.
Abdul Latif said, a new mental institution in Sungai Petani is being planned under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

Reluctance Of Kins To Donate Blood, A Headache To SGH Blood Bank

KUCHING, Nov 22 (Bernama) -- The reluctance of relatives to come forward to donate blood for patients undergoing emergency operations are some of the setbacks faced by the Sarawak General Hospital's (SGH) blood bank in replenishing its supply.
Chairman of the Kuching Chapter of the Malaysian Red Crescent Society Blood Donor Recruitment Program, Ayub Abdul Rahman said Tuesday the SGH's blood bank required an average of between 50-70 pints of blood on a normal day.
"At the moment, the blood bank is facing problems because it cannot force close relatives of patients in such dire needs to give their blood even if their blood types match," he told Bernama here.
He said at present, the blood bank was not getting enough supply even though social taboos concerning donating blood, especially amongst certain cultures, had improved a lot over the years.
Generally supply from the blood bank was given to patients, most in need of blood, such as those involved in accident cases as well as undergoing major surgeries and complicated deliveries, he said.
Ayub said priority was also being given to children with blood diseases, including leukaemia and anaemia, as they needed regular blood transfusions.
As such he appealed to non-governmental organisations (NGOs), including social and recreational clubs, as well as government departments and agencies to come forward to donate blood for a good cause.
Students, particularly from the local institutions of higher learning, were also encouraged to donate blood prior to going for their year-end semester breaks and school holidays, he said.
Members of the public could come to the SGH's blood bank here to donate blood during office hours, he said.

Tuesday, November 22, 2005

RM593,000 aid for Daycare Centre for elderly

Sabah Times:KOTA BELUD: The Federal government through the Social Welfare Department has allocated a sum of RM593,000 for the Senior Citizens Daycare Centre at Sandakan.
The centre, which has begun operations, supplements the existing centres in Sabah at Kinarut, Sandakan and Tawau.
Announcing this yesterday, Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Haji Yahya Hussin said the allocation is in line with the National Senior Citizens Policy which aims to optimise the potential of senior citizens and ensure they are adequately protected and cared for.
The State government, he said, has also implemented several programmes to help senior citizens including the Aid for the Elderly Scheme and General Aid Scheme.
“Statistics from the Sabah Welfare Services Department show that in 2004, aid totalling RM14 million was handed out to 16,283 people under the two schemes.
“And until October this year, aid totalling RM12.84 million has been dispensed to 17,855 recipients under the two schemes,” he said at the state-level National Senior Citizens Day celebrations at Dewan Tun Said here yesterday.
Yahya stressed that his ministry would constantly endeavour to ensure that aid to people in need of it especially those in rural areas is delivered in a timely and orderly manner.

Cancer: Push for awareness

NST: It is frightening and it is eating into our vitals. Every year at least 40,000 Malaysians get cancer.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said: "This is only a conservative figure. There are lots of deaths that are reported as due to old age."
The National Cancer Registry received 42,985 cancer notifications in 2003, of which 23,746 were "unique incident" cancer cases. About 97 in every 100,000 men suffer from cancer while the rate for women is 127.6 per 100,000 women.
Dr Chua said the most common cancers among Malaysians were those affecting the liver, breast, stomach, colon, cervix and prostate.
The five most frequent cancers in children, newborn to 15 years old, are leukaemia, cancers of the brain, lymphoma, connective tissue and kidney.
The most common cancers afflicting those aged 15 to 49 are nasopharynx, leukaemia, lymphoma, lung, colon and rectum in men and cancers of the breast, cervix, colon, uterus, lung and rectum in women.
"We are concerned with the growing number of Malaysians suffering from various types of cancer and are in the midst of finalising the Cancer Prevention Action Plan," he said after attending the ministry’s Deeparaya Open house today.
In welcoming the participation of non-governmental organisations in creating greater awareness of cancer prevention, Dr Chua requested them to first discuss their programmes with his ministry.
"NGOs must ensure that whatever tests they carry out are effective as we do not want a false positive," said Dr Chua when referring to the National Cancer Council’s (Makna) move to hold a big cancer campaign in February with an allocation of RM1.1 million.
He said another important aspect was the issue of medical ethics.
"I am not sure how the NGO plans to do the campaign and how it intends to handle patients detected with cancer," he said, adding the ministry encouraged primary prevention through education, such as campaigns against smoking .
Makna president Datuk Mohd Farid Ariffin, when contacted, said they did discuss the issue with a desk officer at the ministry and were given the go-ahead.
"Since the minister has brought the issue up, we do not mind following up our proposed campaign with ministry officials," he said, adding that they plan to hold the campaign particularly in the rural areas.
He said Makna would concentrate only on breast, cervical, stomach and prostate cancers. "We want to create cancer awareness in as many people in both urban and rural areas but our concentration is on rural because there are many people who cannot afford to come to towns for screening and tests.
"We hope to collaborate with the ministry and the National Population and Family Development Department so that those detected with cancer can be referred for further checks and treatment to Makna and the ministry," he added.

Local firm promotes female arousal oil

Star: The Malaysia Boleh spirit got “intimate” at the Sexpo down south in the past three days.
So, what is a Malaysian company doing in a Sexpo?
“We’re here simply to disseminate information and create awareness on a fabulous product,” said B.B. Teh, who is Biodel Sdn Bhd director.
And the “fabulous” product introduced at the three-day Singapore Sexpo 2005 is Zestra, a female arousal fluid.
“We are not limiting ourselves to the Malaysian market because our company is Zestra’s sole distributor for Asean countries,” said Teh.
“So we take every opportunity to participate in exhibition or seminar revolving sexual health in the region.”
Teh also said that the company’s participation in the Sexpo, which ended yesterday, was timely as Biodel will launch Zestra tomorrow in Kuala Lumpur.
The response to Zestra in the Sexpo was tremendous, he said, as Biodel received many trade enquires from Singaporeans, Indonesians and Thais.
So what did Teh think of the Sexpo which is the first to be held in Southeast Asia?
“Not as what we expected in term of exhibitors. There was too much emphasise on condoms, dildos and exotic dancing girls. What’s missing are the big players like Durex (international condom manufacturer) and Pfizer (the maker of Viagra),” he said.
However, Teh reckoned the Sexpo to be “low key, less skin and no sleaze” and more informative and educational.
“It is expected because this is Asean and particularly Singapore.”
The American-product Zestra, is an externally applied botanical oil for women who want to increase their overall sexual pleasure and satisfaction.
Zestra, which is priced about RM50 for a packet of three, aroused interest among the Sexpo visitors.
“Many older gentlemen were very frank about needing external help to boost their partners' libido and sexual response. The men told me that they themselves had Viagra and Cialis,” said Teh.
“Many were very disappointed when I told them that we were not selling Zestra in the Sexpo.”
The other Malaysian company in the Sexpo was condom manufacturer Luveex which gave away 50,000 condoms.

Makna Urged To Call Off Its House-to-house Cancer Screening Programme

PUTRAJAYA, Nov 21 (Bernama) -- The Health Ministry wants the National Cancer Council (Makna) to call off its house-to-house cancer screening programme scheduled for next February.
Its minister, Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said though the initiative was welcomed, he hoped the non-governmental organisation would first discuss the matter with the ministry to ensure the programme was carried out properly and effectively.
According to Chua, the programme meant for prevention must take into consideration cancer education and also avoid "false positive" tests.
"Besides this, there is also the question of patient confidentiality and medical ethics," he told reporters here Monday.
He said the question of follow-up action should also be considered by Makna.
"What happens if someone is screened to have cancer? It is not just a matter of conducting tests," he stressed.
Newspapers yesterday reported that Makna had allocated RM1.1 million to form a mobile cancer screening team that would go house-to-house to help in the early detection of the disease among the people.
Meanwhile, Chua said his ministry was in the final stages of formulating its Cancer Prevention Action Plan which would be presented for Cabinet approval once completed.
The plan covers among others diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation and the use of herbs or traditional medicines in the fight against cancer.

Monday, November 21, 2005

Start lessons on the birds and bees early

Sun2Surf: SUBANG JAYA: Early sex education can help prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, unwanted pregnancy and abortions especially among young girls.
Malaysian Federation of Family Planning Associations chairman Dr Kamaruzaman Ali said there is thus a need for the Education Ministry to replan primary and secondary school curriculums to introduce sex education at an earlier age and emphasise more on sex education.
He said if possible the ministry should make sex education a stand alone subject.
"In Hongkong, children start learning sex education from the age of three or four," he said at the close of the 3rd Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health (APCRSH).
Kamaruzaman, who is the APCRSH local organising committee chairman, said children should start knowing about sex early, but it should be implemented or taught according to the level of their understanding.
He said teachers need also be retrained to effectively impart information to students.
Asked to comment on the Durex sex survey this year which shows 39% of Malaysians practise unprotected sex, he said:
"The point of survey is that youngsters should not be ignorant and need to be given the knowledge that it is dangerous to have unprotected sex."
Kamaruzaman said parents should also understand that "to teach their children sex education at a young age is not teaching them to have sex early."
Last week, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said she would meet Education Minister Datuk Seri Hishammuddin Hussein to make sex education a compulsory subject in schools next year.

Five schools save charity run

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Twenty-five years ago, Terry Fox defied all odds by running across Canada wearing a prosthesis on his right leg to raise funds for cancer research.
Unfazed by his disability – his leg had to be amputated above the knee due to cancer – and unhappy with the lack of work done to find a cure for the disease, he decided to undertake the 5,374km run.
The event raised millions of dollars for cancer research and he become a legend worldwide even before dying at the age of 22.
His legacy lives on in Malaysia, with the annual Terry Fox Run being held here for the 10th time yesterday.
The run was almost cancelled because there were no sponsors, but in the end it saw a turnout of about 1,200 people at the Lake Gardens through a voluntary effort by parents and teachers of five international schools here.
Parent Manisha Willms, who was part of the organising committee, said the international schools had participated actively in previous Terry Fox Runs, so when the word got out that it might not go on this year, they pooled their resources together to make it happen.
The schools, she said, organised the run together with the Canadian Association of Malaysia and Canadian High Commission.
“We also managed to sell about 1,700 T-shirts and received cash donations. All the proceeds will stay in the country and go to the Cancer Research Initiative Foundation,” the mother of two said, adding that the run was also the biggest single one-day fundraising event in the world with 55 countries participating.
The schools were the International School Kuala Lumpur, Alice Smith International School, Mont Kiara International School, Australian International School and French International School.
Association representative Doreen Buchy said the run was unique in that entry was free and participants could roller-blade, bike, walk, jog or run the 4.8km route.
Her son, Logan, started the first Terry Fox Run in Scotland three years ago.
“Being a Canadian, I wanted to do something that really meant a lot. I even received a plaque from Fox's mother thanking me for my efforts,” 16-year-old Logan said, adding that the run he started in Aberdeen had continued after he came to Malaysia last year.
As for 12-year-old William Hollomon, also a Canadian, he really enjoyed the run, which he joined because he wanted to raise money for cancer research.
“My aunt has cancer, so I am dedicating this run to her,” he said.
The organisers are still finalising accounts and the total collected will only be known tonight. Last year RM130,000 was raised.

Proposal to make errant motorists pay higher premiums

Star: PETALING JAYA: Hardcore traffic offenders, better think twice if you are still bent on ignoring the law.
You may soon find yourselves facing a hefty loading on your insurance policies for joining the ranks of the accident-prone.
And certain groups of repeat offenders may actually be denied coverage altogether.
The moves come under a proposal the Government is looking at to force motorists who chalk up summonses blithely or refuse to change their attitude even after being hauled to court to think about safety.
It is learnt that the proposal is targeted at those who commit serious offences such as speeding, beating traffic lights, queue cutting, reckless driving and overtaking on double lines.
Road Safety Department director-general Suret Singh, who confirmed that the Government was mulling over the proposal, said bad drivers must be penalised.
“Eventually, those who flout traffic rules will have to pay the price,” he said, adding that the Government was working with insurers and other relevant groups to implement the proposal as early as next year.
Certain insurance companies now impose loading of between 5% and 150% based on the age of vehicles and frequency of claims but not on the number of offences committed by the insured.
General Insurance Association of Malaysia executive director Lim Chia Fook said the proposal was one of a range of measures being looked at to increase road safety awareness and reduce accidents.
“The insurance industry will support the move as it is a reasonable underwriting procedure to distinguish between high-risk drivers and the safer ones,” he said.
He noted that in the United States, drivers in the high-risk group faced heavier loading if they were involved in accidents.
“Because it becomes expensive if they are reckless, people think about driving safely.”
Traffic offenders who refused to change, he added, must be taken off the road.
According to Lim, underwriters will look at the various types of information available, including the frequency of summonses, the number of compound fines paid and the gravity of the offences.
The proposal, he added, was viable and timely.
“So the various agencies need to sit down and come up with a fair and effective mechanism to implement it to promote a safe driving culture in the country,” he said.
Road Transport Department (JPJ) director-general Datuk Emran Kadir said his department would gladly supply the names of serious traffic offenders to insurers.
“It is the right of insurance companies to impose loading or even deny serious offenders coverage as they are the ones who pay out when an accident happens,” he added.
The JPJ's online link with insurance companies under the e-insurance cover note system, he said, would allow easy exchange of information on offenders.
However, he added: “I will support this move, but a driver who has repented and stopped committing dangerous offences should not be continuously penalised by insurers.”

Conference Call For Implementation Of Sexual Rights

PETALING JAYA, Nov 20 (Bernama) -- The third Asia Pacific Conference on Reproductive and Sexual Health (APCRSH) which ended Sunday called on governments of the world to respect sexual and reproductive rights of their people.
The conference stated that only by respecting sexual and reproductive rights would the society at large be able to address challenges like HIV/AIDS, reducing maternal mortality, improving maternal health, reducing child mortality, promoting gender equality and eradicating poverty.
"The development of health systems and health sector reforms should not deprive people of their rights and access to affordable sexual and reproductive health," said a statement issued by the conference secretariat at the end of the four-day international conference held at the Sunway Convention Centre, here.
"We will advocate for the availability, accessibility and affordability of the widest possible range of contraceptives including emergency contraception. We will strongly promote male and female condoms for dual protection as well as the improved management of sexually transmitted diseases," the statement said.
The conference also noted and welcomed the increasing number of countries that had legalized abortion and were actively promoting safe methods of pregnancy termination.
"Nonetheless women throughout the region remain at risk of illness or death due to unsafe abortion, we will work to promote services to eliminate the harm cased by unsafe abortion while respecting the laws of the countries," the statement said.
The conference also acknowledged the special needs and rights of the marginalized and vulnerable groups including migrants, ethnic minorities and people with disabilities to sexual and reproductive health services.
"We will work to end stigma and discrimination and promote social justice for all in each of our country," the statement said.
Deputy Information Minister Datuk Donald Lim closed the conference which had attracted more than 1,213 participants from 57 countries.
Tun Dr Siti Hasmah Mohd Ali, the wife of former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, who delivered the conference keynote address said that education including sex education was basic to any intervention for prevention of HIV/Aids, unwanted pregnancy and unsafe abortions especially among young girls.

Sunday, November 20, 2005

Complaints about docs who keep mum

Star: PETALING JAYA: Doctors who do not take the trouble to explain to patients about their illness and the medicines they are prescribing has led to complaints of poor service in the profession.
The Malaysian Medical Association said other reasons for the complaints could be that patients “expect the unreasonable from their doctors”.
There were also complaints from unhappy patients who went to different doctors and ended up misinterpreting the different opinions of their ailments.
“Patients must play their role by not doctor-hopping while doctors should improve on their communication skills,” said MMA president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin, adding that these could stop people from having a negative view of the profession.
He was responding to complaints on the deteriorating standard of service at clinics.
Dr Teoh said that the cornerstone of medicine was in a strong doctor-patient relationship.
He said doctors had been advised to inform their patients about the type of medicines that they were prescribing.
“Some doctors are apprehensive that patients will self-medicate if they know the names of the medicines.
“However, the policy of the MMA is to have doctors label their medicines.”
The declining standard of service has led to the Foreign Workers Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (Fomema) suspending over 100 clinics on its panel to curb irregularities in the examination of foreign workers.
These clinics had not maintained a proper register of medical examinations, and they operated X-ray machines without a licence, submitted identical X-rays for more than one worker and had not kept records of specimens collected.

21 years of kidney dialysis

Star: KOTA KINABALU: Imagine sitting for four hours as a dialysis machine next to you cleans your blood. You do it three times a week throughout the year.
Pensioner Michael Mojitoh has been doing it for 21 years.
The 63-year-old former Health Department technician is among the oldest kidney patients relying on the machine since his kidney failed in 1984.
“I have gotten used to it,” said Michael who was one of 36 patients seeking treatment at the MAA-Medicare Charity Kidney Dialysis Centre in Tanjung Aru near here recently.
The ailment ended his dream of farming on his 2ha land at Kampung Nambazan in Penampang near here – something he wanted to do when he retired.
“Now I cannot plant padi. But I’m happy just walking among the fruit trees and looking at the fish pond near my house,” he said.
The opening of the MAA-Medicare centre has made it easier for kidney patients to seek treatment.
Prior to this, they had to queue up at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here for their turn at the 12 dialysis machines there.
When Michael first suffered kidney failure after a bout of hypertension in 1983, there were no dialysis machines in Kota Kinabalu.
He and two other patients had to be treated at the General Hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
They also had to stay there.
It was then that doctors suggested that he go for a transplant but there was no available donor among his family members.
“Now there are more kidney donors and I cannot undergo a transplant as I have been infected with hepatitis C due to blood transfusions,” he said.
Due to his condition, Michael said he has to watch his diet and avoid food high in phosphate and salt.
“So I don’t take things like coffee and durian, all the stuff which I liked,” he said with a smile on his face.

World Toilet Day: Looking around

Star: PETALING JAYA: The state of our public toilets may leave much to be desired but on the day set aside as World Toilet Day, we were suddenly flushed with ideas.
It was a day when VIPs, especially local authority officials, were out in full force to do their part. And practically everyone had an idea or two on how to keep public toilets clean.
The first salvo came at the national-level launch in Shah Alam where Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew said the state of toilets in coffeeshops, restaurants and petrol kiosks could only be described as “below average”.
Lau said the campaign – quaintly themed “Care for the next user” – was aimed at encouraging good sanitary practices.
“Good toilet habits are a good reflection of a gracious society. It is important to have clean toilets because it’s hygienic. People who see a dirty toilet will not want to use it,” he said yesterday.
The Government, he added, was holding discussions with various industries to come up with high-tech devices for toilets to make them cleaner.

In Ipoh, a competition will be held next year to determine which toilet is the cleanest, and the prize for the operators will be a free trip to the next World Toilet Summit in Thailand. And those who cannot keep their toilets clean will be punished.
Though the details have yet to be worked out, Perak Urban and Local Government Committee chairman Datuk Chang Ko Youn said: “One immediate penalty is to revoke the contracts of operators.”

Over in Kuala Terengganu, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Idris Jusoh delivered a verdict of “not satisfactory” after inspecting the cleanliness of several public toilets.
“I will continue with my crusade of inspecting toilets in future as this is in line with Islam Hadhari (Civilisational Islam), which emphasises cleanliness,” he said.

In Penang, the Penang Municipal Council has allocated RM1mil this year to upgrade its 27 public toilets on the island.
“In view of the expenditure, we may consider awarding cleaning contracts only to professional contractors who have the proper qualifications,” said council president Datuk Ahmad Phesal Talib.

In Malacca, city councillors will “adopt” public toilets to ensure they are clean.
Datuk Bandar Zaini Md Nor, the man behind the adoption scheme, has taken the lead by assuming responsibility for the toilets at Taman Bunga Merdeka in Jalan Kota and the one next to the Memorial Museum.

In Johor Baru, Datuk Bandar Datuk Wahid Dahlan said food outlet operators must have clean toilets or risk having their premises closed down.
“Toilet cleanliness is one of the main conditions for licence renewal,” he added.

Migratory birds no threat

NST: Butterworth: The movement of migratory birds to Malaysia from countries affected by the deadly avian flu, such as China, Vietnam, Thailand and Indonesia, does not pose a threat to Malaysians.
National Parks and Wild- life Protection Department (Perhilitan) director-general Musa Nordin, in assuring the public today, said tests on some of the bird species had so far shown that they were free of any disease, including the H5N1 strain of avian flu.
Musa said more than 300 samples, taken from over 100 species of birds, had been tested since the first bird flu outbreak in 2003 and all results had come back negative.
"Tests have clearly indicated that the deadly virus can only be passed to humans through local poultry. These migratory birds do not get into contact with our chickens and ducks."
However, he advised the public to immediately report to the authorities if they found cases of birds dying.
"We are not taking any chances. There is still a possibility that some of these birds may bring in the disease.
"Perhilitan together with the Veterinary Services Department will continue to collect blood, saliva as well as bird droppings for testing.
"We will carry out such activities as well as monitor the situation until the migration period (which began last month) ends in March," he said after opening a celebration to welcome the arrival of migratory birds at Dewan Sukan Titi Mukim in Penaga near here today.
The event, sponsored by Shell, was attended by Perhilitan conservation division director Siti Hawa Yatim, Wetlands International- Malaysia director Dr R. Sundari and Penang Malaysian Nature Society chairman K. Kanda.
More than 15,000 birds of over 30 species will make the 3km shoreline in Kuala Muda near here their new home during this period.

Saturday, November 19, 2005

Backing for avian flu fund

NST:MALAYSIA strongly backs Canada’s proposal to set up a fund to help poor countries affected by the deadly avian influenza (bird flu) virus.
Canadian Prime Minister Paul Martin made the proposal at the Asia-Pacific Economic Co-operation (Apec) Leaders’ Dialogue with the Apec Business Advisory Council (Abac) here yesterday.
"I strongly support the Canadian Prime Minister’s proposal to set up a fund for the affected countries.
"If breeders in poor countries are forced to cull all their birds (due to avian flu), they could expect to receive some compensation but not necessarily full reimbursement," Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi told Malaysian journalists here yesterday.
Describing the proposal as positive, he said the fund could help support efforts to tackle the threat of avian flu since breeders normally were not willing to destroy the infected birds if there was no offer of compensation.
"Take the Nipah virus outbreak in Malaysia (in 1998), for example. Although it was not so serious, it involved billions (of ringgit) in compensation. Thus, if we don’t help (poor countries affected by avian flu), the virus may spread to neighbouring countries and continue to move around," he said.
According to the World Health Organisation, at least 130 people in five Apec countries — China, Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam and Cambodia — have been diagnosed with the H5N1 strain of the avian flu, and at least 67 have died.
Abdullah said at an earlier meeting between US President George W. Bush and leaders from seven Asean countries, including Abdullah, the leaders recognised the urgent need for an action plan to tackle avian flu.
"We agreed to work together. To begin with, by exchanging information on the situation in the countries concerned, particularly those in the Asean region, and that any steps taken that have been effective in curbing this virus should be shared among all countries," he said.

National clean toilet campaign kicks off

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The answer to nature’s call should be in the toilet bowl and not on the floor.
While we may think that this is common knowledge, a study found that over 2.6 billion people (40% of the world’s population) worldwide were not potty trained.
Today, Malaysia will embark on a nationwide toilet-cleaning exercise to promote social awareness on the importance of clean public toilets.
This exercise will be held in conjunction with World Toilet Day today and will involve presidents and officers of 145 local councils.
Housing and Local Government Deputy Minister Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew said yesterday that each municipal council would clean a public toilet under its jurisdiction.
Lau, who is also chairman of the newly established Quality Restroom Association Malaysia (QRAM), will be attending the exercise with the Shah Alam Municipal Council at noon today.
“We will be commissioning a production company to do a news clip on clean toilets,” said Lau.
He said the clip would contain information on toilet cleanliness and would be aired on all local channels.
Lau had also previously mentioned that his ministry and Sirim would be drafting a grading guideline for public toilets.
Hence, the next time nature calls we should “focus” on keeping our toilets clean and “aim” in the right direction.

Expired drugs dumped in rural areas

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Fake or expired medicines and inferior quality beauty products are being dumped in the rural areas, raising concerns over safety.
Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Mohd Shafie Apdal said unscrupulous parties were dumping such products at sundry shops and mini-markets to avoid detection by the authorities.
“We are very concerned over this trend and will work closely with the Health Ministry to monitor the situation. Stern action will be taken against those responsible,” he told reporters at his ministry’s Hari Raya open house yesterday.
In the urban areas, he said, such problems were less common as medicines and drugs were only allowed to be sold in pharmacies and other licensed premises.

Rural areas to get more clinics

Star: JOHOR BARU: The number of rural polyclinics and community clinics will be increased by 5% under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, said Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek.
He said more mobile clinics would also be set up to serve both urban and rural residents.
“Forty percent of our population are in the rural areas where there are 865 polyclinics and 1,900 community clinics.
“It is undeniable that there are still areas where residents do not get satisfactory medical services,” he told reporters after visiting a polyclinic in Tongkang Pechah, Batu Pahat.
Dr Chua said people in rural areas should also enjoy good medical services, just like those in towns and cities.
“However, many rural polyclinics have not been maintained or upgraded.
“So, under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, we want to improve and upgrade the clinics in the rural areas, such as upgrading some community clinics to polyclinics.
“This is because some clinics can no longer cope with the rising number of patients,” he added.
Dr Chua said the Tongkang Pechah polyclinic would receive RM150,000 to improve their services and for such equipment as blood and urine analysers.
However, he said it was pointless to have good facilities without the necessary personnel; many doctors and nurses prefer to be posted in urban areas.
“For example, the positions for doctors in urban areas are 80% filled, but it is only 60% in the rural areas,” he said.
“As such, those who have served in rural areas will be given preference when they apply to further their studies.”

Work stress causing prisons staff to fall ill

Star: TAIPING: More than 2% of the 11,000 prisons staff members nationwide have developed chronic health conditions over the last 10 years because of their work.
Internal Security Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Abu Seman Yusop said a total of 227 suffered these conditions, with cases of high blood pressure topping the list followed by heart disease.
Abu Seman said AIDS was another health threat to prisons staff although there had been no new cases detected since two prison wardens who contracted HIV from prisoners died in 1990.
“Prisons staff who deal with prisoners with infectious diseases on a regular basis are likely to be exposed to the diseases.
“They are also working under tremendous pressure because it is not easy to handle inmates,” he said yesterday after a ceremony to mark the completion of a basic prison management course by 197 prison officers.
Due to the work pressure faced, Abu Seman said the Government should consider providing a critical allowance to deserving prisons staff.
Prisons Department director-general Datuk Mustafa Osman, who was also present, said the department was preparing a paper to justify the payment of such an allowance.
“We hope to submit the paper to the Government by the end of next month,” he said.

Menglembu pigeons didn’t die of bird flu

Star: IPOH: The pigeons found dead in Menglembu did not die of the dreaded avian flu.
Veterinary Services Department director-general Datuk Dr Hawari Hussein said the carcasses tested negative for the deadly H5N1 virus.
He said the pigeons appeared to have been poisoned but the department had yet to confirm so.
“However, our concern is that the birds did not die of the highly-pathogenic avian influenza,” he said yesterday.
Of late, dead pigeons found in Bidor, Sungai Petani and Menglembu created a stir among residents who were worried that the birds died of avian flu.
In the latest incident in Menglembu last Thursday, more than 40 dead pigeons were found, some on the rooftop of a house in Taman Gamelan.
It is learnt that the Veterinary Research Institute conducted tests on 38 of the dead birds from Menglembu.
Samples were also sent to the Chemistry Department to find out if the birds had been poisoned.

In PENANG, several dead pigeons found at the posh Sri York Condominium area have raised concerns among the residents.
Condominium maintenance officer Koay Keng Soon said six to seven pigeons were found dead at various spots in Block 33 yesterday.
“Residents are worried and we have contacted the state Veterinary Services Department to collect the bird carcasses for examination.
“We have not seen more than three dead birds at any one time in this area before,” said Koay.
The rest of the carcases had been thrown away by cleaners making their rounds before the management took two of them and handed them to the department.
When contacted, a department spokesman said they had just received a report on the matter and would carry out an investigation.