Sunday, April 30, 2006

Blinded by the lens: Look closely and be warned

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: She slept with her contact lenses on. It turned out to be a costly mistake as the eyes were so badly infected that she became blind on one side.
Aishah (not her real name) suffered from severe cornea ulcer — a common injury among those who fail to follow the correct procedures in the wearing of contact lenses — and had to spend almost a month in hospital.
Things only returned to normal after a cornea transplant. After that, Aishah, 20, vowed never to wear contact lenses again.
Cases like this are becoming a worrying trend, especially among women and schoolgirls, according to health authorities. The Health Ministry has recently set up a task force to look into the problem of cornea ulcer.
Representatives from the ministry, government, private and university hospitals are in the task force.
Eye doctors in the country have also been asked to report cases of corneal ulcer.
This would help them gauge the extent of the problem in the country and also compile data on patients.
Aishah was only 15 when she started wearing lenses and was disciplined in her use for almost a year. But the one slip of wearing them overnight caused the blindness in the left eye when it developed an ulcer.
"It was Hari Raya and I was away from home with friends. Being late, I decided to sleep at my friends’ place. I slept with my contact lenses on," Aishah said. The next day, the eyes became red and irritated.
Yet, she continued wearing the lenses the whole of the next day until she reached home.
By night, the left eye was so badly infected that she had to be rushed to the hospital. A doctor told her that she had a severe cornea ulcer and had to be admitted.
"I was warded for almost a month and seeing no sign of improvement, I was transferred to Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital (HUKM) where I was admitted for two weeks. It was too late. I was blind in the eye.
"I was inconsolable. I cried for days but I saw a ray of hope when the HUKM ophthalmologist told me that I could have a cornea transplant."
Aishah, who is studying at a public university, said she had a cornea transplant done three years ago.
Melissa (also not her real name), 23, is another person who lost her left eye, just two months into wearing lenses. She, too, developed a corneal ulcer and sought treatment at a private clinic.
"It was only after the fourth day, when my condition worsened that the doctor referred me to HUKM."
Melissa said that the ophthalmologists did their best to save her eye but it was too late.
Melissa uses a blank on the affected eye while waiting for a cornea transplant.
HUKM senior consultant specialist and professor Dr Muhaya Mohamad said contact lenses were safe to wear if the wearer strictly maintains stringent lens hygiene.
"All contact lenses are foreign bodies to the eyes. They can and sometimes cause problems.
"However, these complications are fairly uncommon and easily remedied."
What is worrying the health authorities and the ophthalmologists is the increasing number of women, including schoolgirls, coming in with corneal ulcer and other eye complications from the use of contact lenses.
Dr Muhaya, who is president of the Ophthalmological Society of the Malaysian Medical Association, said: "It’s even worrying now with the sale of cosmetic lenses in the market. There are women buying them off the shelf instead of at an optical outlet".
She said an optometrist would advise buyers on the proper use and handling of the lens to avoid infections.
"The risk is greater in soft lens wearers and those wearing lenses on an extended basis."
She said symptoms of acute eye pain, foreign body sensation, discharge and a red eye should warn the wearer to remove the lens and seek immediate medical help.
"Delay in treatment of this condition can lead to corneal scarring or corneal perforation in extreme cases."
It is also important to make sure that contact lenses are stored and cleaned in proper commercially-prepared, sterile solutions.

Dr Chua: Only safe treatments will be allowed

NST: BANTING: Only traditional treatments like acupuncture, reflexology and herbal medicines will be allowed in government hospitals under the plan to incorporate such treatments.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the current proposal had identified several areas the practitioners could work on, including pain management, oncology, rehabilitation and post-natal care.
"We will only allow treatments that are proven to be safe and effective. However, there are many issues to be ironed out such as the legal aspect of such treatments."
Speaking to reporters during a visit to the Banting Hospital yesterday, Dr Chua said it was wrong to assume that spitting bomohs and incense-filled corridors would now be a common sight in hospitals.
"What we are trying to do is to integrate Western and traditional treatments, and it will not be like what was described in Parliament."
On Thursday, Member of Parliament for Sri Gading Datuk Mohamed Aziz asked whether all hospitals would be filled with smoke from incense, and have dukun and pawang spitting on patients, and practitioners going into trance and speaking in tongues.
Dr Chua said to regulate the practice, a Traditional Treatment and Complementary Medicine Act was being drafted.
"Accreditation is another issue and we want those who practise to be recognised by the National Accreditation Board and Public Service Department."
He said a committee will be set up comprising officials from the Health and Higher Education Ministries to evaluate practitioners who qualified from countries such as China, India and Indonesia.
He added that the plan was only expected to be implemented in three years.

Poor pay keeping best brains away

Star: LONDON: Peanut salaries and an obsession with world-record breaking. These were some of the reasons given by Malaysia's best brains in Britain for them being reluctant to return home.
In a candid, no-holds barred report to the Government, Malaysian students and professionals spoke their minds on the “pull-push” factor surrounding the brain drain issue.
Their grouses ranged from measly salaries and long working hours to the lack of government support and appreciation for talent and expertise.
Some were particularly irked by what seemed to be a national obsession for world-record breaking and called on the Government to rid itself of its “first world infrastructure, third world mentality” image.
Others commended the Government for its efforts to find out why they were not returning but hoped for more measures to involve them in the nation-building process.
In a nutshell, they would like the Government to instil among overseas Malaysians a love for the country and the desire to see it march forward in unity.
That would be the strongest reason for them to return and serve the nation, they said.
The findings were compiled by the 10,000-strong UK Executive Council for Malaysian Students and submitted to Deputy Science, Technology and Innovation Minister Datuk Kong Cho Ha earlier this week.
The deputy minister had requested for the feedback after meeting council chairman Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Mohd Fuaad in London last month.
The survey, which started last month, covered mostly medical, engineering and accountancy students who formed the bulk of Malaysia’s 12,000-student population in Britain.
Firdaus said they had received very good response from students and professionals.
“We’ve submitted the preliminary report to the ministry as more feedback is still coming in everyday,” he said, adding that they hoped to compile the full report after the students had finished their final examinations.
The council represents 58 Malaysian student societies or about 80% of the Malaysian student population in Britain.

Saturday, April 29, 2006

Health Clinic For Pulau Mantanani Islanders

KOTA BELUD (Sabah), April 29 (Bernama) -- A health clinic will be built at Pulau Mantanani under the Ninth Malaysia Plan for the benefit of more than 1,000 residents on the island.
Medical officer at the Kota Belud Clinic Dr Redzal Abu Hanifah said it was among three clinics proposed to be built in the district under the Ninth Plan.
Currently, the islanders have to go to the nearest clinic in Kuala Abai, more than an hour's ride by speedboat, for treatment.
During bad weather and rough sea conditions, usually in March, the islanders faced difficulties getting medical treatment because they could not leave the island and health personnel could not come to the island.
"We will normally attend to them (Pulau Mantanani residents) first when they come for treatment to clinics on the mainland because we are aware of their transportation problems.
"The boat service to the island is only until 3pm," said Dr Redzal, who was in the entourage accompanying Assistant Agriculture and Food Industry Minister Japlin Akim, on a visit to the island recently.
Japlin, who is also Usukan assemblyman, said public toilets would be built on the island this year following islanders' requests.
On residents' requests for land ownership, he said, the state government would study the matter.

Top Dentist In Armed Forces Retires

KUALA LUMPUR, April 28 (Bernama) -- Malaysian Armed Forces (ATM) Dental Director Mejar Jeneral Datuk Dr Mohamad Termidzi Junaidi, who retired Friday, created history when he became the first Asian chairman of an international military dental service under the United Nations (UN).
He chaired the Section Defence Forces Dental Services (SDFDS), one of the main components of the International Dental Federation (FDI), from 1998 to 2000.
For Dr Mohamad Termidzi, 53, it was the high point of his military service spanning nearly 30 years.
"I chaired the SDFDS during conferences in the United States, South Korea, Spain and Mexico," he told Bernama after handing over the ATM Dental Director's duties to Kolonel Dr Sukri Hussin at the Defence Ministry here.
He said he had served as a SDFDS executive member from 1995 to 1998 and was entrusted to be the FDI Field Dental Parts Working Group Head in 1996 in Seoul, South Korea.
He also successfully organised a SDFDS/FDI conference in Kuala Lumpur in 2001.
Through Dr Mohamad Termidzi, a dental and biomedical research cooperation programme was being planned with the United States Navy Institute of Dental and Biomedical Research.
The third in a family of nine siblings from Kuching, he received his early education at Sekolah Rakyat and Sekolah St Thomas in Kuching before being accepted into the Royal Military College in Sungai Besi in 1967.
"I was the only one selected among 25 candidates from Sarawak at the time," he said.
He received an ATM scholarship to study for the Bachelor of Dental Surgery in Universiti Malaya and graduated in 1972.
He is married to Datin Halimaton Zawiah Busu and they have a son and three daughters.

Tests to find cause of illness

NST: MALACCA: Blood and urine samples of rats and cattle are being analysed to determine the source of a viral outbreak at a National Service training camp recently.
The State Health Department has sent the samples, found near the camp in Alor Gajah, to the Veterinary Services Department’s laboratory in Kuala Lumpur.
Deputy director Dr Ghazali Othman said some of the sick trainees were infected with leptospirosis.
"It is caused by the bacteria of the genus Leptospira which is found in the body of animals like rats, cattle and even wildboars but there are many sub-types of the bacteria.
"We are trying to find a match between the Leptospira found in the blood of the sick trainees with those in the rats and cattle to determine the strain of bacteria which infected them," he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
The results of the laboratory analysis would help the department recommend preventive measures to the Taboh Naning NS camp to prevent future outbreaks.
"We expect to finalise a report detailing more conclusive recommendations to the camp operator on how to better safeguard the health of their trainees by next month.
"They will probably have to take some prophylactic (preventive) antibiotics especially for leptospirosis," he said.
It was reported that over 94 NS trainees at the camp had come down with viral fever since April 18, and at the height of the outbreak 52 trainees had to be warded and 79 isolated at the camp.
At Press time, only 10 remained warded at the Malacca Hospital and 14 isolated at the camp.
On Wednesday, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek revealed that there was a concurrent infection at the camp, with trainees falling sick with Influenza B and leptospirosis.
He had said those who with leptospirosis fell ill after undergoing a water adaptation exercise for 15 to 30 minutes at a nearby pond, which could have been contaminated with rat and or cattle urine.
The two water ponds used were full of Leptospira.

Chua: Government To Strengthen Medical Professionalism

SinChew: KUALA LUMPUR (Fri): Malaysia will strengthen local medical professionalism over the next five years by improving the profession of specialists, sub-specialists, nurses and medical officers in order to face the global challenges.
The government has allocated RM1bn for medical training under the 9th Malaysia Plan, said Health Minister Chua Soi Lek.
He said the government had decided to train 400 specialists and sub-specialists.
"We will allocate RM300,000 for short courses and scholarships over the next five years in order to train more specialists and sub-specialists," he added.
Chua told Sin Chew Daily that medical, healthcare and professional services could not stay stagnant in Malaysia, especially on the prevention of infectious disease.

Special Report: The crushing years

NST: Children fall down, and scrape their knees. They get tired and cranky, and often they cry. But depressed? It happens, and stress makes it a possibility that parents should consider, writes ANITA ANANDARAJAH.
Dr Toh believes stress causes depression.

RANI used to smile when her 10-year-old son Rakesh put his palms together, as if praying, whenever he passed the altar room. But then he started doing it whenever he passed a broom, and the rice cooker in the kitchen.
The first doctor they saw ran some tests, then said he was normal. She went to the University of Malaya Medical Centre for a second opinion, and discovered he was suffering from depression.
It’s an uncommon disorder in children but not any less serious whenever it strikes.
Loosely defined, it is a prolonged low mood.
Children get depressed for many reasons, said Dr Toh Chin Lee. It has always been present but few parents or doctors recognise it, said the Kuala Lumpur Hospital child and adolescent psychiatrist.
In 1996, a Health Ministry survey found that 13 per cent of children aged between five and 15 have mental health problems. The survey, the second National Health and Morbidity Survey, also found 8.7 per cent of this age group were predisposed to depression.
Four years later, it made mental health the theme of a campaign to promote healthy lifestyles. Primary school pupils were one of its target groups taught to recognise stress.
Dr Toh believes stress causes depression in children.
"Most handle it successfully. But stress piled upon stress can be difficult to cope with. Some families may not recognise the child's needs."
A marriage break-up can cause undue stress, for instance. So can being bullied, or becoming a victim of verbal abuse.
Children may feel sidelined by a sibling, scared of fierce teachers, or struggle to meet parents’ expectations.
Children need stability, routine and predictability in life, he said.
How can parents tell if their a child is suffering from depression?
It was Rani’s training as a nurse which helped her notice Rakesh’s behaviour, shortly after he began tuition classes.
"He was frightened of his tuition master who would beat other children. I thought the discipline would help my son learn better," she said.
Attending psychiatrist Dr Aili Hanim Hashim saw Rakesh’s family environment as the predisposing factor. "There is little nurturing of the child in the family."
Aside from depression, Rakesh was diagnosed as suffering from obsessive compulsive disorder.
"His tic has been there for many years. The problem was exacerbated with the strict tuition master," Dr Aili explained.
Now 16, Rakesh is responding well to therapy and anti-depressants, and his tic subsided after six years.
At the UMMC’s child and adolescent psychiatric unit where he was treated, the youngest patient diagnosed with clinical depression is 14 years old.
The unit gets 10 new cases a week, excluding referrals from other units in the hospital.
Changes in behaviour should tip off parents and teachers, said child psychiatrist Dr Subash Kumar Pillai, also with UMMC.
This is important because struggling continually with negative thoughts and a poor self image will lead to an inability to cope with problems, he said.
The problem is, too often, bad behaviour is thought of as just being naughty.
"Children can be treated. Bad behaviour is just a symptom."
Parents need to look deeper into what the child may be going through.
"If previously he enjoyed going to school but suddenly refuses to go, it could be a sign that something is bothering him.
"Look out for somatic symptoms like frequent stomach aches, headaches and fever. Older schoolchildren may come up with cleverer complaints as their brains are better developed compared to pre-schoolers."
Can children get over it, like they get past teasing? Dr Subash points to genetics.
"If a parent has depression, and the child gets it at a young age, it may take a longer time to get better," he explained.
"The earlier it is caught the sooner we can offer better treatment and medication."

Sadly, a psychiatrist or psychologist is often the last person consulted. Parents are desperate to avoid the stigma of the psychiatric unit — the "gila" ward.
That has led many of them to alternatives offered by non-government organisations such as the Agape Counselling Centre.
Housed in shoplot off Old Klang Road in Kuala Lumpur, the centre has incentives that draw children naturally: toys. In its two playrooms, there are hundreds of dolls, action figures and puppets which children use to express their emotions.
The centre keeps a low profile, and visits are by appointment only. Yet its phone rings off the hook, and 235 clients walked through its doors last year.
Roughly one in seven were found to be suffering from depression.
"Cost is also a factor for our clients. They find consultation fees at private hospitals too expensive," said Lisa Sum, the director of the play therapy department.
The play method adopted at Agape was successful in drawing little Tien out.
His mother was deeply worried, for the once happy-go-lucky boy was bossing her about, acting like the man of the house when he was just 10 years old.
After three sessions, he revealed he was missing his father.
"Tien was drawing a picture of a car on the white board when he blurted out that he had dreamt that he was in the car with his father," said his counsellor.
After some gentle probing, he blurted that his father died of cancer. Father and son had been very close.
By the seventh session, Tien reverted to his old self. His counsellor said: "It was as if he had let go."

*Names have been changed to protect the privacy of those interviewed.

Alternative medicine to aid healing

Star: BANTING: Introducing traditional or complementary medicine in hospitals is not about allowing hocus pocus or peculiar rituals. Alternative medicine will instead be used to promote wholesome healing.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said alternative medicine could be used to help promote better healing, such as the proven effectiveness of acupuncture, reflexology and post-natal massage.
The Government, he said, would however only introduce alternative healing into hospitals after careful studying.
“Of course, we will not simply allow bomoh or sinseh into hospitals,” Dr Chua said, in response to some negative remarks over the intention to introduce alternative healing in hospitals.
Sri Gading MP Datuk Aziz Mohamed had asked in parliament recently whether bomoh would be “spitting blessed water” on their patients or have the hospitals filled with incense smoke.
Dr Chua said very important issues needed to be addressed first before complementary medicine was introduced.
“For instance, who will be responsible for the healing administered by the alternative medicine practitioners? Which relevant department or agency is tasked with accrediting their professionalism?
“We also need to strictly ensure the herbal products to be used are absolutely safe,” said Dr Chua after visiting the Banting hospital here.
He was accompanied by hospital director Dr Anisah Mohd Tahir and Teluk Datuk state assemblyman Datuk Ei Kim Hock.
Dr Chua said it would take about three years before alternative healing was introduced as a pilot project in selected hospitals.
Five areas of health had been identified as suitable for the introduction of alternative healing.
They are: rehabilitation (such as the physical therapy given to patients suffering from stroke), oncology, pain management, mental health and wellness management.

MMA lauds promotion of specialist doctors

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Specialist doctors have reason to cheer, thanks to the Health Ministry's decision to allow 1,000 of them in government hospitals to be promoted from the U41 grade to the U48 special grade.
According to Dr Vasan Sinnadurai, chief of the Malaysian Medical Association's (MMA) Section Concerning Medical and Health Staff, the move would help keep the doctors in service.
“We're very happy,” he said. “This will definitely encourage more specialists and doctors to stay in government service and serve the people.
“We have to commend the Health Minister for two really good moves recently – allowing us to do locum and giving the promotion,” he said.
Health Minister Dr Chua Soi Lek announced on Thursday that the Public Services Department had agreed to the promotion two days after MMA president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin told the ministry about the plight of specialists stuck in houseman or medical officer posts.
Dr Vasan said many doctors had been leaning towards the private sector recently because they were not getting the U48 grade, as the previous promotion system did not allow immediate promotion from U41 to U48.
“The U41 grade is on par with that of a house officer, so many doctors' self-esteem was starting to be affected.
“Many of them were feeling unhappy staying at that level.
“But now with the minister's intervention, doctors can not only get a promotion but also bypass the U44 grade and go straight to a U48, which is a very big jump for them,” he added.
The promotion comes with a significant pay increase of up to RM2,000, along with added incentives such as extra allowances.

Friday, April 28, 2006

Healing plants found in Malaysian forest

Star: GENEVA: Plants thought to help treat or cure cancer, AIDS and malaria have been found in the rainforests of Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei, a report from the Swiss-based global conservation group WWF said on Thursday.
But the rapid destruction of trees, much of it by illegal logging to meet growing world demand for timber, could wreck any chance of using these discoveries in the fight against disease, the WWF declared.
A promising anti-cancer substance has been found in a Borneo shrub by researchers for an Australian pharmaceutical firm, while a chemical found in latex produced by a tree appears to be effective against the replication of HIV, the report said.
In the bark of another species of tree, the researchers discovered a previously unknown substance which in laboratory tests appeared to kill the human malaria parasite, it added.
In all, it said, 422 new plant species had been discovered in Borneo - shared by Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei - in the last 25 years and many others were believed to be there which could have medicinal applications.
But "all these promising discoveries could eventually be lost if the disappearing rainforests of the heart of Borneo are not adequately protected," the WWF said.
"More forest destruction could well deny science the opportunity to discover and develop further potential sources of life-saving medication," it quoted Murray Tait, vice president of Drug Delivery at Cerylid Biosciences, the Australian company that identified the anti-cancer compound, as saying.
Borneo's forest cover has shrunk to 50 percent of its territory today from 75 percent in the mid-1980s, the report said.

Socso to cover stress-related disorders too

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: It’s no longer about physical injuries or medical claims, the main focus of Socso since its inception in 1969.
The social security organisation will now compensate workers for depression and stress-related ailments at the workplace.
The traumatic incidents that can lead to mental and psychological disorders include various acts of violence, sexual harassment, serious job accidents and sudden death of an employee.
About 1,500 government doctors nationwide have been trained to assess workers with such conditions.
They have also been given the latest guidelines, known as the Impairment and Disability Assessment of Traumatic Injuries, Occupational Diseases and Invalidity (second edition), on how to assess such disorders.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn said mental and psychological disorders were either under-reported or not properly assessed.
He said the guidelines gave protection to workers suffering from cancer, skin diseases and other occupational diseases.
“Now doctors can make objective assessments and recommend the right amount of compensation to patients under our expanded and improved guidelines,” he said.
He said the inclusion of additional occupational diseases and mental and psychological disorders was part of Socso’s comprehensive coverage plan to better protect workers.
Under the guidelines, those suffering from moderate to severe mental and behavioural impairments related to on-site accidents would be recommended for compensation.
In extreme cases, doctors have to visit the insured person’s home or workplace to further assess cases of psychological and occupational functioning impairment.
Some of the serious symptoms of those suffering from suspected psychological impairment include having suicidal tendencies, severe obsession with certain rituals, depression, frequently becoming violent and displaying manic excitement.
The guideline, drafted by Socso’s Medical and Rehabilitation manager Dr Mohammed Azman Azizi Mohammed and medical experts, would also address the inconsistencies in awarding compensation.
In the past, there have been claims that compensation awarded to injured workers differed though they had the same type of injury or condition.

Promotion For Medical Officers

KUALA LUMPUR, April 27 (Bernama) -- About 1,000 medical officers in grade U41 who have been functioning as specialist doctors can now breathe a sigh of relief following an announcement that they will be promoted to grade U48 as medical specialists soon.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said a proposal for their promotion had been submitted to the Public Service Department (PSD).
"I am made to understand the PSD will hold a meeting to discuss the matter end of the month," he told reporters at the Parliament lobby here Thursday.
He said the promotion would involve local and foreign medical officers with at least two years experience.
"It is not fair to have medical specialists being paid and given posts as medical officers," he added.
Chua said the government wanted to give recognition to medical officers in grade U41 for fulfilling their responsibilities despite being paid a salary which did not commensurate with their job.
"When they have reached the U48 post, the medical specialist will receive RM2,000 more than those in U41 ... they also get to be appointed as division or unit heads," he added.
Chan also said that the Competency Level Appraisal (PTK) course for medical specialists would be reduced to four days from two weeks previously.

HFMD: S'wak Registers Lowest Number Of New Cases Thursday

KUCHING, April 27 (Bernama) -- The Hand,Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD) in Sarawak finally registered the lowest number of new cases since the first case was detected in February with only 28 new cases in the last 24 hours compared to 38 new cases Wednesday.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said as the number of new cases continued to dwindle, there were no critically ill cases reported.
"There are 8,960 cumulative cases with the highest number of new cases from Bintulu and Miri followed by Miri respectively," he said in HFMD's daily update here Thursday adding that six new hospital admissions were reported as of 10am Thursday.
The disease had claimed nine lives, with three cases confirmed to be Enterovirus 71 (EV71) positive.

Perak Free From Bird Flu, Says MB

TAIPING, April 27 (Bernama) -- Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali Thursday announced that Perak is now free of the bird flu infection after two tests on 1,300 samples of birds showed negative results.
Making the announcement at the Bukit Merah Laketown Resort, he hoped this would regain the confidence of Singapore and enable that republic to import chicken and ducks from Perak again.
"The announcement must be made quickly because the state government does not want the poultry industry to be affected any longer," he told reporters here Thursday.
He said the announcement was made after the State Veterinary Department and the State Health Department informed him that Perak was free of the bird flu.
A total of 53,662 birds and 6,279 eggs were destroyed in four places affected by the bird flu in the state recently.

Thursday, April 27, 2006

Drop in number of fatal accidents last year

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The number of road fatalities nationwide fell for a second successive year last year, although motorcyclists and pillion riders continue to top the victims’ list.
Last year, 6,200 people lost their lives compared with 6,228 in 2004, a 0.5 per cent decrease. In 2003, there were 6,283 deaths.
Motorcyclists and pillion riders accounted for 3,591 deaths, compared with 3,500 in 2004 and 3,548 in 2003.
The good news is that fatal accidents dropped from 5,678 to 5,623, although the number of accidents jumped from 326,815 to 328,264 cases.
Federal traffic police chief SAC II Nooryah Mat Anvar is concerned with the increasing fatalities among motorcyclists.
"Our statistics show that speeding is the main cause of accidents among motorcyclists," she said at the Federal police headquarters in Bukit Aman yesterday.
"And what’s more worrying is the trend among children aged from 11 to 15 riding motorcycles and dying in the process."
Nooryah said in accidents involving other road users, speeding was also the main cause of death.
"We have advised motorists to obey the speed limit many times but to no avail and when they are fined, they complain.
"Speeding leads to higher fuel consumption and when fuel prices go up, they also complain. So, when you break the speed limit, you may not only be fined but end up spending more on fuel."
Motorists came second in the casualty list with 1,244 deaths. Other vehicles (764) came next, followed by pedestrians (601).
Selangor registered the highest number of accidents with 87,705, followed by Kuala Lumpur (45,000); Johor (42,606); Penang (30,934); and Perak (27,225).

Malaysia May Declare Itself Free Of Bird Flu Next Month

PUTRAJAYA, April 26 (Bernama) -- Malaysia will be declared free of the H5N1 bird flu virus end of next month if there is no new case of the disease between now and then, said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin Wednesday.
He said the surveillance would end in the third week of May.
Up until Wednesday, there had been no new case of the H5N1 virus detected in poultry and other birds in the country and this meant the country was free of the disease, he said.
"However, because of the past cases, we still need to continue surveillance. If by the end of May there is no new case, we will be able to declare the country free of the disease," he told reporters at his office.

Malaysia Can Be Clinical Research Centre

KUALA LUMPUR, April 26 (Bernama) -- Malaysia can become an effective centre for clinical research at a relatively low cost compared to Western nations, Science, Technology and Innovations Minister Datuk Dr Jamaluddin Jarjis said.
He said giant pharmaceutical companies, especially those in Europe and the United States, were facing high research and development and production costs.
This made the medicines produced by them very expensive and not competitive in the market, he said when winding up the debate on the Ninth Malaysia Plan for his ministry in the Dewan Rakyat Wednesday.
As an example, clinical trials alone could exceed 60 per cent of production cost of medicines, sometimes as high as US$1 billion (RM3.65 billion), he said.
"In this aspect, Malaysia can play an effective role as we have the experts, infrastructure and advanced equipment needed," he said.
Jamaluddin said Malaysia's strategic location could also make it an important distribution centre in the Asia-Pacific region not only for medicines but diagnostics equipment and biomedicines as well.
He said the world's biotechnology industry was expected to reach RM3.69 trillion by 2015 and Malaysia would use every means possible to offer attractive incentives to get a share of the earnings now valued at RM184 billion annually.

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

RM1.5 Million As Initial Fund For TCM Pilot Projects

KUALA LUMPUR, April 26 (Bernama) -- A sum of RM1.5 million will be allocated to the Health Ministry as an initial fund to start off a traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) pilot programme at three government hospitals.
The ministry's Parliamentary Secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said the fund would come under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP)'s coffers for the programme at Kepala Batas (Penang), Putrajaya and Sultanah Aminah (Johor) hospitals.
"This amount will be used for further research and survey on the system to be implemented for this programme," he told reporters after officiating the 11th Southeast Asia Healthcare Show 2006 here, Wednesday.
Yesterday, he announced in Johor Baharu that the Cabinet had agreed to start off the TCM pilot projects with the intention of providing a holistic treatment approach in the country's healthcare system.
The projects would adopt a concept where patients were given the option of either undergoing western or traditional treatment at the selected government hospitals.
However, Lee could not specify the date for the pilot projects to take off as the TCM division set up under the ministry was still determining the standards and suitability of traditional medical practitioners to be engaged.
"Hopefully, we want the practitioners to be home grown but maybe we will invite experts with vast experiences in their own countries to come in to train and share their knowledge with us," he added.
Lee said traditional treatment had great potential to be developed in the country based on the estimated annual revenue of RM4.5 billion said to have been generated from the service.
"We hope that this revenue could increase in the years to come," he said, adding that the World Health Organisation (WHO)'s statistics had also shown that 70 per cent of the population in developing countries and 50 per cent in developed countries used traditional treatment.

National Breast Cancer Summit In June

SERDANG, April 26 (Bernama) -- An inaugural national summit on breast cancer education aimed to generate holistic strategic initiatives for breast cancer education in Malaysia as well as to raise awareness on breast health will be held at the Sunway Lagoon Resort Hotel beginning June 30.
Organising co-chairman of the summit Dr Mazanah Muhammad, a survivor of breast cancer, said the summit was expected to bring together breast cancer patients of all ages, family and the public who had an interest in breast health.
Themed "Voices of the Stakeholders," the three-day summit would provide more information to the public about breast cancer in various languages, she said.
"A lot of the printed information on the disease are in English, but we also want to make the information available in Bahasa Malaysia, Tamil and Chinese because every Malaysian understands English," she told a press conference here Wednesday.
She said in conjunction with the summit, a workshop on breast cancer would be held in which resolutions from the workshop would be compiled and presented to Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil for further action.
More than 500 participants comprising medical professionals, healthcare workers and breast cancer patients and survivors, would attend the summit, she said adding that the Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Fauziah Tengku Abdul Rashid is expected to launch the summit.

Frustrated specialists want out

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: After years of medical school acquiring postgraduate degrees, they achieve their dream of becoming specialists. That’s when the bubble bursts.
Promotions are frustratingly slow in coming and they get stuck in the U41 salary scale of housemen, earning between RM1,738 and RM4,107 a month. As specialists, they are supposed to be in U48 with a minimum of RM4,014 and a maximum of RM6,492.
It is therefore not surprising, the Malaysian Medical Association says, that many specialists want to leave.
Their frustration is heightened by the fact that pharmacists, dentists, dieticians, optometrists and medical assistants with degrees are all lumped under U41.
There are over 200 young specialists in government service who have not moved from their medical officer’s grade of U41. The figure is expected to increase to 1,000 in the next two years. Some of them have been stuck for up to 11 years.
MMA president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said: "We urge the Health Ministry and the Public Service Department to expedite the promotion exercise or the Government will lose these qualified specialists to the private sector."
Under the Sistem Saraan Malaysia, all government officers have to pass the Penilaian Tahap Kecekapan (PTK) before moving to the next salary scale. Previously, a specialist was always placed on a higher scale and the promotion process was smoother as requirements were much less complicated than today.
MMA acting secretary Dr Kuljit Singh said a doctor who had completed three years in government hospitals was eligible to pursue a postgraduate programme locally or abroad.
"Most of them today are trained in local master’s programmes in one of the universities," he said.
By right, he said, a specialist should be promoted to U48 upon recognition but, instead, they were told to sit for the PTK exams.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Ismail Merican said the ministry had proposed that specialists be automatically promoted to U48. But the PSD had placed three conditions, including the PTK exam requirement.
"After discussions, we agreed five months ago to hold more frequent short-term PTK exams for specialists. The ministry is working out the details. I hope the specialists will be patient a little longer."

Govt hospitals to offer traditional treatment

NST: JOHOR BARU: Patients will soon have a choice of whether to seek modern or traditional treatment at selected government hospitals.
Sinseh, bomoh and ayurvedic practitioners will be able to treat patients at selected government hospitals following a Health Ministry initiative to incorporate modern and traditional medicines into the national healthcare system. This is to provide more "holistic" medical care.
Health Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said three hospitals had been identified to set up departments to provide traditional and complementary medicine (TCM).
They are the Kepala Batas Hospital in Penang, the Putrajaya Hospital in the Federal Territory, and the Sultanah Aminah Hospital here.
"The Cabinet has approved this integrated healthcare system and the ministry’s TCM division has been entrusted with recruiting manpower and verifying their professional certificates," he told reporters after opening the Sixth World Symposium on Traditional Chinese Orthopaedics and the World Federation of Traditional Chinese Orthopedics (WFTCO) meeting here yesterday.
Present were China’s ambassador to Malaysia Wang Chun Gui, Johor Baru Chinese Chamber of Commerce and Industry honorary chairman Tan Sri Low Nam Hui, WFTCO president Sze Zhee, WFTCO deputy chairman Soo Cheng Ren, and Johor Chinese Medicine, Orthopaedics and Acupuncture Association chairman Ong Yi Xin.
A total of 300 Chinese orthopaedists from 24 countries attended the symposium.
The fusion of Western and traditional forms of treatment is popular overseas and in Singapore. It has been adopted as part of modern healthcare as it offers more choices for patients.
In Malaysia, only two private hospitals — the Tung Shin Hospital in Kuala Lumpur and the Lam Wah Ee Hospital in Penang — offer both modern and traditional treatments.
Lee, however, said the ministry had not set a timeframe for TCM adoption, as the first priority was to recruit TCM practitioners.
"The ministry will formulate standard guidelines on the recruitment of the practitioners," he said.
It is learnt that the Health Ministry is considering recognising TCM degrees from Dalian, Shanghai and Beijing in China.
World Health Organisation statistics show that two-thirds of the population in developing countries and more than half in developed countries favour TCM.

National Service Camp fever cases: Source of infection identified

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The cause of the fever which landed some National Service trainees in hospital has been identified.
Eight of the trainees were found to be infected with leptospirosis which is caused by bacteria found in the urine of animals such as rats and buffaloes. Another 11 were found to be suffering from Influenza B.
They were among 94 trainees at Kem Putera Taboh Naning in Alor Gajah, Malacca, who fell ill on or after April 18.
Only 31 of the 94 are still in hospital. Some are still awaiting the results of their blood tests.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the trainees reported sick after undergoing a water adaptation exercise at a nearby pond and this probably caused the leptospirosis.
"They were in the pond for 15 to 30 minutes. All those who went into the pond came down with the same symptoms," he said after launching the ministry’s web portal here yesterday.
"That is why there was a drastic increase in the number of trainees down with flu and cold symptoms. But none of them was in serious condition," he said, adding that the bacteria could also infect those jungle trekking or engaging in other outdoor activities.
"Some of the trainees have not been exposed to the outdoors and fall sick easily."
Dr Chua said another 11 trainees were down with Influenza B, which has similar symptoms.
The trainees’ blood samples were sent to the National Public Health Laboratory and the Medical Research Institute for testing.
The trainees were admitted to hospital on April 18 after their body temperatures rose above 39 degrees Celsius.
They also complained of sore throats, dizziness and fatigue.
Dr Chua said the number of cases had dropped drastically.
"There was only one case two days ago. Most of them have been discharged."
At present, 31 trainees were receiving treatment and would be discharged within two to three days, he added.
Dr Chua asked parents of trainees not to worry. The ministry, he said, was closely monitoring the situation at the camp.
"We are confident that in two to three days, we will declare the place safe."
Meanwhile, in Malacca, National Service Council chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye suggested that state health departments conduct regular hygiene inspections at all camps nationwide — especially at the canteens.
He said he would propose this to the NS council at a meeting on May 2.
"I have talked to the Health Department here. They will probably conduct the check once in three months or so."
State Health Department director Dr Nooraini Baba said at present her department conducted scheduled checks on all NS camps in the State twice a year.

Just click for health advice

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians can now get medical advice with only a few clicks of a mouse or a handphone keypad, with the new MyHealth Internet portal.
The Health Ministry's newly launched health portal ( offers a variety of services including forums, articles on health, an infectious diseases warning system, a Frequently-Asked Question section and more importantly, an “ask the experts” section.
Patients can now check with health experts on a variety of disciplines via the website or a handphone-based version of it, but since certain questions would need to be referred to specialists, the response time would vary from three days to two weeks.
The portal was launched yesterday at the official World Health Day celebration at the Putra World Trade Centre by Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who said she hoped the celebration would help increase efforts to get people to lead healthier lifestyles.
Rosmah, the wife of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, said the contributions of those in the health industry were appreciated but there were still challenges that needed to be overcome.
“The challenges include a shift towards a wellness paradigm where focus is given to preventive, curative and rehabilitative aspects,” she said.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said, “The MyHealth portal is one of the components under the Telehealth project and it provides information to increase people's knowledge so they can take care of their own health.”
During the annual celebration, initiated worldwide by the World Health Organisation (WHO) in 1950, Dr Chua said the ministry's new emphasis would be on human resources for health services.
“This year's theme is 'Working Together for Health', and it stresses the importance of producing a high-quality and sufficient workforce for the health sector,” he said.
The celebration also saw WHO's Malaysia, Singapore and Brunei representative Dr. Han Tieru presenting Dr Chua with the World Health Report 2006.
When commenting on Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi's open-policy statement on Sunday, Dr Chua said the ministry would continue to be open and transparent about disease outbreaks.
“Pak Lah has this open and transparent policy. Even Barisan MPs are more critical of the Government than the opposition, increasing the public's confidence in the Government,” he added.

Sarawak nearly HFM-free

Star: MIRI: Sarawak will seek the approval of the Health Ministry to declare the state free of hand, foot and mouth disease.
State Disaster Relief Committee chairman Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said the number of new cases detected daily throughout the state was below 50 for the past two weeks and there have been no new serious cases or fatalities for a long time.
“We will check with the Health Ministry whether we can declare the state free from this epidemic.
“There are not many cases around anymore. No serious cases have been reported for quite sometime now and no more schools or kindergartens closed.
“The highest number of cases was on Feb 28 when 330 cases were recorded in a single day,” he said yesterday.
Dr Chan said 36 new cases were detected yesterday, and none were serious.
Throughout Sarawak, only 30 people remain warded but none of them are critical, he said, adding that the number of deaths stood at nine.
From the onset of the epidemic in early January until yesterday, 8,894 confirmed HFM cases were recorded statewide.
The regions worst hit were Sibu Division with 2,324 cases, followed by Miri Division, Kuching Division and Bintulu Division, Dr Chan added.

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Only 126 Medical Students Return Home To Serve Gov't

KUALA LUMPUR, April 25 (Bernama) -- Only 126 of the 428 medical students who had received notification from the Public Service Department (PSD) have returned home and reported to the department so far, said Deputy Minister in the Prime Minister's Department Datuk M. Kayveas.
Replying to Shim Paw Fatt (BN-Tawau) in the Dewan Rakyat Tuesday, he said the group had been placed in the Health Ministry and Public Institutions of Higher Learning (IPTAs).
He said government-sponsored students who had completed their studies abroad were required to serve with the government for a certain period as stipulated in the agreement, and the government, through the PSD, was monitoring them so that they would return and serve in Malaysia.
Action had been taken against the remaining students who had not returned after completion of their studies, including seeking compensation as had been agreed upon under the agreement.
So far, 50 students had paid such compensation, he said.
"Other action included allowing those who completed their studies in 2002 and earlier to postpone their return for four years if they were still continuing their studies for specialisation.
"A total of 201 students had applied for the postponement and of this number, 55 students have been allowed to do so," Kayveas said.
He also said that 43 students had so far been referred to the Attorney-General's Chambers for legal action as they had failed to return to Malaysia.

Better protection for patients under new Health Act

NST: PUTRAJAYA:Operators of private hospitals and clinics will be hauled to court if they fail to investigate complaints by patients and provide answers within 14 days.
This protection for a person seeking the services of doctors at private facilities, including dental clinics, is part of a grievance mechanism provided under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998, which comes into effect on May 1.
Medical Practices director Dr Mohd Khairi Yakub told about 500 people from the private healthcare sector yesterday that any member of the public who was unhappy with the service could complain to the clinic or hospital authorities.
If the authorities fail to investigate the verbal or written complaint or fail to provide their findings within 14 days, the director- general of health will step in to investigate.
He would then make his recommendations known to the complainant and the hospital or clinic.
"The hospital’s or clinic’s failure to comply will result in legal action," said Dr Khairi.
Also present at the briefing at the Health Ministry were minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek, his deputy, Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad, and director-general Datuk Dr Ismail Merican.
A novel feature of the Act is that private healthcare facilities are required to make social contributions. The Health Minister will decide on the type and quantum.
This may include setting up a patients’ fund, offering discounts, providing welfare wards or beds and free services to the disabled and residents of old folk’s homes, and public education.
Other provisions include:
• Private hospitals cannot turn away patients who require emergency treatment even if they cannot afford a deposit.
• All deaths must be reported to the director-general.
• Policy statements on billing procedures prior to treatment, consent and medical reports must be drawn up to ensure safety and quality.
At a Press conference after the briefing, Dr Chua said the Act would be implemented in three stages: first in the Klang Valley, then in the northern and southern States, and finally in Sabah and Sarawak.
"It will be six months before there is full implementation. We are doing this in stages because there are a lot of complexities in the Act and we want to give the sector time to familiarise itself."
All private hospitals, maternity and nursing homes, ambulatory care centres, haemodialysis centres, blood banks, hospices, psychiatric hospitals, community health centres and psychiatric nursing homes must now be licensed to operate. Private medical and dental clinics will also have to register with the ministry.
"This Act is good for the health industry as it will regulate healthcare, more so when health services are becoming commercialised and the cost is escalating," he said.
Patients could rest assured that the minimum standards of care were being met, he said.
Dr Chua said he would determine whether a board of visitors should be set up at each private healthcare facility to foster good relations between hospitals and the community.
Dr Chua, Dr Ismail and Dr Khairi spent more than an hour taking questions from those present.

Chua’s dose of shocking news

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Some doctors have told Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek that they have forgotten how to deal with emergency cases.
He said he was surprised when he heard this, adding: “Malaysians will be shocked to know that private doctors do not know how to handle emergencies.”
He advised those who had lost touch with basic emergency care to go for refresher courses.
Basic emergency services, he said, were during life threatening situations such as stopping a patient from bleeding in accident cases, putting on drips, offering cardiac pulmonary resuscitation and placing intubations.
“All practising doctors must have the responsibility – in both the professional and ethical point of view – to know how to render first aid to patients,” he told reporters here yesterday.
He had earlier briefed private healthcare providers on the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services 1998 Act and Regulations 2006 that will come into force on May 1.
Among those who attended the meeting were operators of private hospitals, maternity and nursing homes, haemodialysis centre, blood banks and hospices.
The new Act will expand the ministry’s scope of control and coverage on private healthcare facilities and services.
The current Private Hospital Act 1971 and the Private Hospital Regulations 1973 are deemed to be inadequate.
For instance, the penalty for operating a private healthcare facility without licence under the current Act was a fine of up to RM1,000.
Under the new law, a sole proprietor can be fined up to RM300,000 or jailed six years or both, and a corporate body can be fined up to RM500,000.
Dr Chua said providing basic emergency care was one of the main items under the new Act.
“We (in the ministry) were once toothless tigers. Now, we have teeth,” he said.
Dr Chua said the new Act enabled the ministry to check on private hospitals and clinics when there were complaints from the public.
“Patients can complain about anything including the bill,” he said.
“The Act will be implemented in phases, starting with the Klang Valley and then to other parts of the country,” he said.

Monday, April 24, 2006

Six Months For Medical Practitioners To Get Used To New Act

PUTRAJAYA, April 24 (Bernama) -- General medical practitioners (GPs) will be given six months to familiarise themselves with the regulations and guidelines under the new Private Healthcare Facilities Act 1998 which comes into force on May 1, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said Monday.
He said the GPs needed ample time to understand the various aspects of the Act because it would cover 12 healthcare facilities and services, as opposed to the more lenient Private Hospital Act 1971, which covered only three types of private healthcare services.
Thus, the Act would be implemented in phases, starting with the central region in Kuala Lumpur and the surrounding areas of the Klang Valley, followed by the northern and southern regions and finally, Sabah and Sarawak.
"Right now, we are holding roadshows in all the states and districts throughout the country to assist the GPs in the Act's implementation," he told journalists after a briefing on the implementation of the Act for some 300 GPs here.
Talks by the ministry's officials at the roadshows would mainly be directed at private family healthcare clinics and dental clinics which had to register under the new Act, he said.
Private hospitals registered under the Act would have to receive scheduled visits by a Board of Visitors, assigned to ensure that the minimum criteria on facilities, equipment and staffing were adhered to.
Dr Chua said the Act was a bold move by the government to regulate the private healthcare industry in view that health services were now more commercialised and the costs were escalating.
The patients would benefit as they were be attended to by licensed and approved clinics which provided highly regularised healthcare and support, he said.
The public would also have an avenue to air their grouses and complaints to the board of visitors over the healthcare services rendered by clinics throughout the country.
"Under this new Act, any complaint will be investigated. If the hospitals are unable to investigate, the Director-General of Health will investigate and action can be taken on any complaints which have grounds and are supported by evidence," he said.
Under the Act, the private hospitals would have to make welfare and social contributions like participating in blood donation drives, giving special discounts to the disabled and underprivileged and giving emergency treatment to patients at no cost.
There would also be a minimum standard on equipment/apparatus/appliance for emergency treatment, ambulance, doctors' bag and others, Dr Chua added.
He said offenders could face a minimum fine of RM1,000 and maximum of RM500,000 as well as a jail term of up to six years if convicted.

Council yet to receive reply from Health ministry

Star: THE Malaysian Council for Tobacco Control Council that the Health Ministry had yet to reply to its 16 proposals related to its anti-smoking efforts.
Council chairman Prof Dr Syed Mohamed Aljunid said the council had submitted the proposals earlier this year to seek funding for its members as requested by the ministry.
“Last year, we were asked by the Health Ministry to put up the proposals. We then held a two-day workshop where we came up with 16 proposals,” he said during the council's annual general meeting recently.
He said the funds sought were not channelled to the council but the non-governmental organisation (NGO) members.
“If they want us to help them, it is only fair they give us their co-operation,” he said.
Formed in September 2004, the council comprises 35 NGOs and higher learning institutions.
The members are seeking allocations for activities like monitoring of tobacco industry marketing activities, surveillance programmes at workplaces, computer research centres at schools and research on the effectiveness of stop-smoking treatment at clinics.

Free orthopaedic treatment

NST: JOHOR BARU: Sixty Chinese orthopaedists will spend five hours treating those with muscular, bone and joint problems in what could be the largest ever medical camp here this week.
The medical camp will be held at Southern College from 10am to 3pm on Wednesday.
Diagnosis, treatment and medicine will be free of charge.
The charity event is one of the highlights of the two-day Sixth World Symposium on Traditional Chinese Orthopaedics, organised by the World Federation of Traditional Chinese Orthopaedics, beginning tomorrow.
Organising chairman Soo Cheng Ren said the event was being held here in line with the State Government’s efforts to promote medical tourism.
"It is an honour for Malaysia to be chosen as the venue for this prestigious event. It is a gathering of the cream of the industry and Chinese orthopaedics in the country will gain significantly," he said.
A total of 300 Chinese orthopaedists from 24 countries will attend the symposium.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek is expected to open the event tomorrow, while Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman is expected to close it on Wednesday.
China’s Ambassador to Malaysia Wang Chun Gui is expected to attend the opening ceremony.
The last symposium was held in Germany in 2004.

Tie-up to produce liver cells

Star: CHICAGO: Biotech contract manufacturer Inno Biologics Sdn Bhd has entered into a joint venture with a Japanese company to manufacture liver cells from stem cells which will be used in toxicity studies.
The joint-venture company, called Innocelltec, will be one of the pioneers in the world in manufacturing liver cells from stem cells.
Inno Biologics chief executive officer Mohd Nazlee Kamal said the core business of the Japanese public-listed company, Effector Cell Institute, which was closely affiliated with the University of Tokyo, was stem cell work.
“We are going to have a technology transfer to manufacture liver cells for use in toxicity studies,” said Mohd Nazlee, who was in the United States recently for the Biotec Expo in Chicago.
He said three Malaysians would be trained for six months in Japan.
Mohd Nazlee said Innocelltec had a long-term strategy for regenerative medicine.
“It is an area of interest to us. We are going through an exciting phase of our industry and looking for important niche areas with great potential. It is a matter of doing it right,” he said.
Inno Biologics, a contract manufacturer which produces biopharmaceuticals, is the flagship biotech company of Inno Bio Ventures Sdn Bhd, a Malaysian Finance Ministry incorporated company.
The company took part in the expo in Chicago where its officials held discussions with a number of companies that had expressed interest in becoming their customers.
“We have to be competitive and prove our competency. When we prove those two components, they will sign contracts with us,” Mohd Nazlee said.
He said that in terms of competency, Malaysia did not have a very traditional background in biotech manufacturing but had graduates with basic understanding and practice as well as some experience.
“We will try to mitigate this by getting them trained in companies overseas,” he said.
He said Inno Biologics had sent its employees to the Canadian Biotech Research Centre, General Electric training centre and to Germany for training.
They also learnt good manufacturing practices in the United States.
Mohd Nazlee said Malaysia had a competitive edge over India and China as its infrastructure and intellectual property protection were much better.
He said the company's move to Putra Nilai, 20 minutes from the KL International Airport, was strategic for doing business with foreigners.
The company is expected to be fully operational there in June.

Sunday, April 23, 2006

Institute to sign cancer research deal with China

NST:Talks on a joint collaboration to help develop human tissue extraction techniques which will provide a new lease of life for cancer patients are nearing the end.
Institute director-general, Dr Daud Mohamad, said China was one of the pioneer researchers in human tissue development.
He said patients with colon, lung, kidney as well as brain cancer would benefit from the technology.
"Upon the finalisation of the human tissue deal, Mint will move on to the next stage by commercialising the technology."
Some 15,000 cancer-related patients are the beneficiaries of Mint’s 14 radio-pharmaceutical treatment centres in the country.

Aussie Consultant in Health Plan Spooks Civil Society

PENANG, Apr 21 (IPS) - Civil society groups here are eager to meet the newly- appointed Australian consultant who has been tasked with drawing up a blueprint for a new national health-financing scheme.
The local press revealed earlier this month that a little-known Australian consulting firm, Karol Consulting, headed by Karl Karol, had been appointed to come up with a blue-print for a national health insurance scheme. No further information was divulged..
The government says it cannot cope with rising health care costs and wants to find a new way to finance the country's health care system. It spends just two percent of GDP on health care -- well short of the World Health Organisation's recommendation of 5-6 percent
It now plans to introduce a national health insurance scheme under which Malaysians, apart from exempted groups, would have to pay health insurance premiums to a proposed National Health Fund.
Civil society groups like the Coalition Against Health Care Privatisation (CAHP) are worried that foreign consultants and donor agencies would advocate a neo-liberal approach, treating health care as a commodity, with patients treated as ‘consumers' and having to pay more for what they now receive at a nominal cost in the public sector.
Last year, IPS had highlighted the Australian link to Malaysia's health financing plans. The former Health Insurance Commission (HIC) Consultancy of Australia had undertaken a project in 2002 aimed at providing consultancy advice on the proposed establishment of a National Health Financing Authority in Malaysia. Its project on Malaysia involved the preparation of a submission, covering the key issues that had prompted the reform of the national health financing system.
From Oct. 1, 2005, HIC became known as Medicare Australia, an agency of the Australian government that delivers health-related programmes. Karol is listed as the director of Medicare Australia Consultancy Services on Medicare Australia's website. But when IPS telephoned the organisation, they said that he had left the organisation late last year.
Karol teamed up earlier this year with another agency, the Sydney-based Aus Health International (AHI), to work on the Malaysia project. AHI represents the New South Wales health system and was set up in 1996 as a ‘‘government-owned business''. It is involved in international development assistance and commercial activities and has worked in countries like Tonga, Fiji, the Philippines and Mongolia in the ‘structural reform' of their health systems.
On its website, AHI announced it ‘‘has won a health financing project in Malaysia in partnership with Karol Consulting''.
IPS telephoned both Karol and AHI's general manger for project management, Sharon Gudu. Both seemed reluctant to reveal much and did not respond to a list of emailed questions.
AHI revealed on its website in its section for Malaysia that "the Secretary General of the Ministry of Health, accompanied by senior officials, (made) a study tour with a focus on the structure and organisation of hospitals, privatisation of hospitals, hospital management, and integration of health services.''
Karol, for his part, did mention that he was working with AHI on the Malaysia project while Gudu, based in Australia, said the two groups were still in discussion.
Karol emailed IPS later saying, ‘‘I mentioned your enquiry to the client (the Malaysian authorities) and have been asked to request you to address all questions to the MOH (ministry of health). ''
The project funder for the health financing study in Malaysia is the United Nations Development Programme. Among its projects in Malaysia is democratic governance ‘‘designed to promote accountability, transparency and anti-corruption, thereby improving the quality of service delivery.'' Attempts to reach its resident representative in Malaysia, Dr Richard Leete, proved unsuccessful.
When asked over the phone later whether he was upholding transparency, Karol said, ‘‘I am being transparent, but I think you are aware of (the line of) communications here with the health ministry.''
A potential conflict of interest could arise if AHI is involved in the health financing study. AHI already has an interest in the Malaysian private sector through an Oncology Centre in Malaysia. The Centre is a joint venture between AHI and Gleneagles Hospital, a leading private hospital operator in Malaysia and Singapore, with AHI holding majority shares. The Centre provides consultation services by consultant oncologists and haematologist and facilities for chemotherapy and radiotherapy.
Asked whether AHI's interest in the Malaysian private sector would compromise its ability to provide independent advice, Sharon Gudu told IPS, ‘‘No, that would not be a conflict of interest. I am sorry I have not got any more comments to make.''
Malaysian Health Ministry Director General Ismail Merican told IPS he did not know of AHI's role in the consulting. ‘‘I have not been briefed on that.'' He said that Karol Consulting had been appointed and it would carry out its work in the next 9 to 12 months.
Health ministry parliamentary secretary Lee Kah Choon too was unaware of AHI's role in the consulting project. As far as he was concerned, Karol Consulting was appointed as the consultant for the project. He revealed that it would be working together with Malaysian consultants. When asked who they were, Lee said they were a group called ‘‘First Principal''.
Lee was also quick to dispel concerns that public interest groups might not get to meet Karol and the other consultants to air their concerns. ‘‘I was made to understand that part of their survey is that they will have to meet other groups,'' he told IPS. ‘‘How can you do your consulting if you don't meet anybody?''
The CAHP, made up of some 80 civil society groups, meanwhile is concerned that they will be presented with a fait accompli, if civil society's views are not taken into account.
‘‘There is a strong and growing argument that the involvement of commercial interests and the market skews the distribution of these social services and leads to rising inequity,'' notes CAHP secretary Jeyakumar Devaraj, a respiratory physician. This, he says, is a fundamental challenge to the paradigm that regards the market mechanism as the most efficient way of providing essential social services through a public-private mix.
Devaraj explains: "These larger issues have to be debated and sorted out first before concrete planning can be undertaken to revamp health care financing. Such a major decision is going to have an impact on the future of Malaysian health care.''
The coalition wants these concerns brought to the people - the academics, the health profession, and civil society. According to Devaraj, ‘‘the issues are not so complex that you can't discuss it with the public and they can be easily debated. We should not decide in haste and under pressure of commercial interests.''

17 more NS trainees warded with fever

Star: MALACCA: Seventeen more trainees at the national service camp here have been admitted to the Malacca Hospital after coming down with high fever.
The number of trainees warded is now 42 while 80 others are isolated at the camp.
Malacca Hospital director Dr Abu Bakar Mohamud said there were 12 new admissions from the camp yesterday and five on Friday.
He said the 25 trainees warded on Thursday were recovering well and that the hospital would not release any trainee until the blood test results were out.
“We are taking precautions until we find out the cause of the ailment,” he said, adding that the test results would be out in one or two days.
Camp commandant Lt Kol V. Pannirselvan Veloo said the camp authorities had briefed all trainees, trainers and the camp operator on safety measures.
Many trainees had expressed their dissatisfaction with the food and drinking water at the camp, he added.
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam, who visited the camp on Friday, wanted a clean-up of the camp, particularly the canteen, which he described as “very dirty.”
He also said that the camp had been using polluted water from the water storage tank that had been left untouched for more than a month.

Saturday, April 22, 2006

Blitz on quacks

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: In the sternest move yet to weed out quacks, a major blitz is being conducted against illegal practitioners of cosmetic surgery and beauty enhancement clinics.
The Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) and the police are going after them by making surprise visits on such salons following several complaints of botched jobs, some of which left customers disfigured for life or even caused death.
In issuing the stern warning, MMC president Datuk Dr Ismail Merican, who is also director-general of Health, said it was an offence under the Medical Act 1971 for any person not registered under the Act to practise modern medicine.
On conviction, such a person would be liable to a fine not exceeding RM2,000 for the first offence; a fine of RM5,000 or two years’ jail or both for the second or subsequent offences and a further penalty of RM50 each day for the continuance of such an offence in addition to the penalty.
“Practising medicine illegally may also expose them to harsh criminal action under the Penal Code, especially when human suffering and lives are involved.”
The NST had reported a case in October 2004 of stewardess Jenny Liew Fong Khuan who collapsed and died outside a private clinic in Kuala Lumpur after a nose job.
Malaysian Association of Plastic, Aesthetic and Craniomaxillofacial Surgeons (Mapacs) president Dr R. Angamuthu estimates that for every procedure performed by a legitimate surgeon, more than 10 are conducted by fly-by-night practitioners. Currently, Malaysia has only 40 plastic surgeons.
He said the quacks were usually from China and Taiwan. They were recruited by beauty salons and operated discreetly from shops, hotels or houses.
Among the common procedures offered are double eyelids and nose surgeries, breast augmentation and liposuction.
"Errant practitioners as well as unqualified persons have capitalised on the gullibility of the public by blatantly advertising in the media. Such advertisements on options available which include the use of electronic therapy, have led to a sort of poster war."
Among treatments offered was botox or ascorbic acid (vitamin C) injections, not approved by the Drug Control Authority.
"Their efficacy has not been scientifically proven to date," he added.
MMC had also received reports that injections were given by unqualified persons in unhygienic settings.
The mushrooming of chiropractic and traditional/complementary medicine (TCM) centres is another major concern for the council.
Dr Ismail said the modalities employed by chiropractors and registered TCM practitioners were generally accepted as a form of traditional and complementary practice, provided they did not result in harm. But they were definitely contravening the Act if practitioners duped the public into thinking that they were registered medical practitioners.
Chiropractors and non-doctors were not permitted to utilise 28 instruments listed under the Act, permitted only to doctors. These items include the stethoscope, blood pressure meter, surgical needles, syringes, scalpel blades and forceps.
"Non-doctors are not allowed to order any form of investigations such as X-rays or blood samples," he said, adding that although the Act did not explicitly prohibit TCM and Malay, Chinese, Indian or other native therapeutic methods, any act deemed to induce any person to believe that one was qualified to practise medicine or surgery according to modern scientific methods was an offence and anyone indulging in such malpractices could be prosecuted.
Dr Ismail warned the public to be wary of such practices and advised them to seek the guidance of health authorities when in doubt.
"Whoever utilises illegal services is doing so at his or her own risk. The Health Ministry, as well as the Council, will not be responsible for any adverse outcome."

Docs checking on Siti Harisah

Star: SUNGAI PETANI: Siti Harisah Azizan, whose body is writhen with bone deformity, has been admitted to Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (HUKM) for further analysis and diagnosis.
HUKM director Prof Datuk Dr Mohamad Abdul Razak said Siti Harisah, 23, from Sik, Kedah, was admitted to the orthopaedic ward on Wednesday.
He said she would be there for at least one to two weeks and that all expenses incurred during her stay would be waived as she was categorised as a disabled person.
On April 12, The Star reported Siti Harisah as suffering from cerebral palsy (CP), as noted in her record at the Sik Hospital where she was born in 1983.
However, HUKM consultant orthopaedic surgeon Prof Sharaf Ibrahim said CP was not a progressive disorder and that Siti Harisah’s physical deformity might be caused by a neurological disorder.
He said a multi-discipline team would be assessing Siti Harisah’s condition before a definite analysis was determined for appropriate treatment or therapy.
Siti Harisah was accompanied by her mother Robiah Salleh, 52, brother-in-law Zanudin Arafadin and Disabled Persons Association Langkawi chairman Salmah Ibrahim.
Since her plight was highlighted in The Star, help in the form of cash and kind has come pouring in, and visitors stream in to visit Siti Harisah at her house in Kampung Mandoi, Sik.
Datuk Azman Mahmood, corporate adviser to a property developer, sponsored her flight with her mother to Kuala Lumpur.
Azman, who is also chairman of several public-listed companies, is also providing RM600 monthly for Siti's expenses.
The family’s hotel stay in Kuala Lumpur would be paid by businessman Martin Lim See Man, who was also at the KL International Airport to receive them on Tuesday.
Siti, who weighs a mere 15kg and is about the size of a year-old baby, lies in a foetal position the whole day long.
Robiah, who had to resign from her factory job to care for her daughter, spends about RM600 a month on diapers, vitamins and medication.
Her previous attempts to get aid from the welfare office in Sik have failed.
Robiah said her daughter had high fever a few days after she was born at Sik Hospital in 1983, followed by an epileptic fit.
She took her to the same hospital, where she was given symptomatic treatment.
She was not sent to any referral hospital for a proper diagnosis, Robiah added.

Mawar aims to be the first NGO-run dialysis hospital

Star: SEREMBAN: It all began in 1997 when Datuk Dr Yeow Chai Thiam decided to set up a haemodialysis centre here.
“I have seen how people whose kidneys failed suffered, especially the underprivileged and those from the low-income group. These people cannot afford renal replacement treatment or dialysis.
“That was why I decided to set up the Mawar Haemodialysis Centre,” said Dr Yeow.
Seven years after its formation, Mawar has branched out, setting up dialysis centres in Lukut, Bahau and Rantau in Negri Sembilan as well as in Sepang and Seri Kembangan in Selangor, and in Gemas Baru, Johor.
National Kidney Foundation statistics show about 12,000 Malaysians have end-stage renal failure and receive dialysis treatment at 320 centres nationwide.
The most common causes of kidney failure are diabetes mellitus and hypertension.
Others include kidney stones and urinary tract infections.
Dr Yeow said Mawar wants to be the world’s first non-governmental organisation-run haemodialysis hospital.
“The hospital, to be named Mawar Renal Medical Centre, will be the first of its kind in Asia,” said Dr Yeow, who is the chairman of Mawar Haemodialysis Centre.
With this aim in mind, the Mawar centre in Seremban is being upgraded into a hospital.
“At Mawar, anybody can obtain dialysis treatment,” Dr Yeow said, adding that a patient needs to pay a minimum of RM60 for each dialysis session, compared with up to RM250 at other privately run dialysis centres.
“Now Mawar and its branches provide dialysis to more than 250 patients at any particular session,” he said.
Facilities to be available at Mawar's hospital will include radiograph checks and endoscopy as well as stress, blood, urine, echo and ultrasound tests, CT Scan, nephrology and psychiatric consultation.
Two surgery rooms will also be available.
The hospital will admit patients with renal problems like stones and urinary tract complications.
It will initially have 78 beds – 58 of them for adults.
Dr Yeow said the RM5mil upgrading work at Mawar’s main centre at Jalan Rasah here is expected to be completed by October.
“Despite being oriented to assist the poor, Mawar still accepts wealthy patients and they are charged corporate rates. The payments will be used to subsidise dialysis treatment for the underprivileged,” said Dr Yeow.

Friday, April 21, 2006

Five Pharmacies Caught Supplying Preparations To Illicit Market

SHAH ALAM, April 21 (Bernama) -- Five pharmacies in Malaysia were found supplying preparations containing pseudoephedrine, commonly used in cold syrup, to the illicit market between 2005 and March this year, a United Nations official said.
Wong Hoy Yuen, the Malaysian project coordinator for precursor control in East Asia for the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC), said the pharmacies were subsequently prohibited from further buying the preparations.
He said the government had also taken other preventive measures such as limiting the number of wholesalers dealing in the preparations and requiring approval for the export of the preparations as well as pre-export notification (PEN).
Through the PEN, Malaysia was also able to detect any import of precursors or intermediate compounds for the illicit market, he said.
Malaysia currently receives the PEN from many countries and 1,541 notifications were received in 2005 while 762 were issued.
From the total PEN received, 17 notifications for imports were not allowed because the importers either had no valid licence or permit, had denied ordering the precursor or did not exist.
Wong said this to reporters after the signing of a partnership agreement between the government, five local chemical companies and UNODC to train employees in the industry to help stop illicit manufacture of drugs of abuse.
The agreement was signed by Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad, Wong and representatives of the chemical companies.
Under the agreement, UNODC will provide a DVD to train employees in the industry to understand the importance of precursor control and what they can do to help the government curb diversions of precursors for illicit use.
The DVD was produced by UNODC in nine languages for distribution in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam, China, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, the Philippines and Cambodia.
Wong said cooperation between the chemical and pharmaceutical industries and the government was vital to prevent the diversion of precursors and chemicals that could be used to produce drugs such as ecstasy, syabu and amphetamine type of stimulants.
"Diversion of precursors from the licit trade is a global problem and Malaysia has also seen diversion of it since years ago," he said.
He said the government would not know about the diversion unless it was notified by the industries.
"So the industries would have to be a lot more socially responsible in preventing the diversion," he added.

More male nurses soon

Star: PASIR MAS: Do not be surprised to see a male nurse adjusting the drip or taking a patient's temperature at a government hospital.
The Health Ministry is increasing its intake of male nurses to address the acute shortage of nurses.
This year, some 300 to 400 of the 3,000 trainee nurses would be males, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad.
“It is not that males are stealing a traditional female-dominated profession but there are certain areas where men are needed in providing nursing services,” he said after attending the Silver Jubilee celebrations of the Tanah Merah district hospital about 35km from here.
Present were hospital director Dr Khalid Ibrahim and Radicare (M) Sdn Bhd CEO Datuk Abdul Rahman Hamzah.
Dr Abdul Latiff said society had generally come to accept male nurses.
He added that the integration of male nurses into the public hospital system could be seen as a natural process.
The Malaysian Nursing Association, he said, was formerly headed by a man.
Dr Abdul Latiff also said the ministry would hold a special programme for nurses to develop soft skills such as public relations apart from clinical skills.
This was to ensure that they could handle medical emergencies as well as patients.
Dr Abdul Latiff lashed out at nurses and doctors who publicly complained about their work.
He said they should bring their grievances to their respective boards.
He said last year, public hospitals treated 50 million cases.
This showed services at public hospitals were generally good despite complaints, he said.

19 NS trainees warded for suspected viral infection

Star: MALACCA: Nineteen trainees from the national service camp in Taboh Naning here have been warded for suspected viral infection while 45 others at the camp have been isolated.
Ten girls and eight boys were admitted to the Malacca Hospital early Wednesday morning after coming down with high fever, after a boy was warded at Alor Gajah Hospital on Tuesday.
All of them – five from Malacca, 13 from Johor and one from Negri Sembilan – are under quarantine at the hospitals.
Malacca Hospital director Dr Abu Bakar Mohamud said blood samples of the trainees had been taken and sent to Kuala Lumpur Hospital for further tests.
“At the moment, we suspect that they are suffering from viral infection,” he said.
“We have yet to determine the exact cause of the ailment but a possibility is the water in the pond used for water activities.”
The trainees’ fever, he said, had come down and their condition was “under control”.
Camp commandant Lt-Kol V. Pannirselvan Veloo said 45 trainees had been isolated and placed under observation by medical staff at the camp.
“We have stopped activities at the pond while waiting for the test results on the water,” he told reporters at Malacca Hospital here yesterday.
The camp surroundings and food supplied had been checked and found to be problem-free, he said, adding that the pond also tested safe three weeks ago.
He also said activities were continuing as usual for the rest of the camp’s 460 trainees.
State Human Resources, Health and Consumer Affairs Committee deputy chairman Datuk Abu Pit told parents not to worry as personnel from the hospitals and state Health Department were monitoring the situation closely.

Docs need to improve, the 72% trust rating is not high, says pollster

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Doctors may be rated as professionals most trusted by Malaysians but the level of trust in them is no way near absolute.
“Doctors should be concerned that they only got a 72% trust rating compared with the 90% that doctors in Britain enjoyed,” said Dr Zainal Abidin Abdul Majid, chairman of Business Ethics Institute of Malaysia (BEIM) which did the local survey.
“We have heard of mishaps and mismanagement involving doctors, so the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) president should endeavour to improve doctors’ integrity and get them to abide religiously by their code of practice,” he said yesterday in response to MMA president Dr Teoh Siang Chin’s comments yesterday.
Dr Teoh had said that the MMA was honoured that Malaysians found doctors the most trustworthy and added that the profession rested on the public’s belief in doctors.
On Wednesday, The Star reported the results of the survey which had 2,074 respondents.
Of the 15 options, Malaysians trusted doctors the most, followed by teachers, professors, priests, scientists, judges, TV newsreaders, journalists, trade union officials, the police, civil servants, the man in the street, government ministers, business leaders and politicians.
The survey aimed to gauge Malaysians' trust in the integrity of several professions and to compare the findings with those of the survey conducted by a British opinion research organisation, Mori.
On International Islamic University dean of research Prof Datuk Dr Syed Arabi Idid’s comments that the survey was very localised and the majority of respondents were from universities and some from shopping malls in the Klang Valley, Dr Zainal Abidin said:
“This is not true. Though the survey was done in the Klang Valley, only 8% of respondents were from universities. On top of that, 28 organisations responded to the survey,” he said.

Thursday, April 20, 2006

Do Not Complain To The Press, Says Health Deputy Minister

TANAH MERAH, April 20 (Bernama) -- The Health Ministry Thursday warned its employees, including doctors and nurses, against going to the press with their grouses and complaints concerning the ministry.
Its Deputy Minister, Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said stern action would be taken against any staff who did so.
"If (they) have problems, complaints, etc, communicate with the people at the top, we will take (necessary) action," he told a press conference after launching the silver jubilee celebration of the Tanah Merah Hospital here Thursday.
Dr Abdul Latiff said the move did not mean that the ministry curtailed freedom of the press but that the ministry's staff had ethics to observe adding that pharmacists, doctors and nurses were also bound by their respective professional ethics and bodies.
In another development, he said the ministry was planning to increase the number of male nurses in the country.
He added that more than 3,000 nurses were trained every year with only about 10 per cent of them comprising men.
"We will try to have more men to be trained as nurses because male patients are more comfortable and interact better with male nurses," he added.

Dentistry Expert To Help In Forensic Work

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 (Bernama) -- Forensic investigation will be more efficient now after Malaysian dentist, Dr Mohd Fadhli Khamis completed his PhD at the University of Adelaide, Australia, researching dental variation of Malaysia's population.
A father of four who is currently based at the School of Dental Sciences at Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) where he lectures in oral biology and is involved in the Craniofacial Biology Research Group, Dr Mohd Fadhli will receive his doctorate in Dentistry from University of Adelaide on Sunday.
His research work will help the police and authorities identify bodies using tooth size and morphological variations.
"My PhD project was planned to cover two main disciplines: dental anthropology and forensic dentistry. The project will also help to develop the expertise of USM's craniofacial unit within the School of Dental Sciences," Dr Mohd Fadhli said in a statement released by the University of Adelaide.
The combination of forensic dentistry coursework and the PhD program at the university had provided him with great balance in terms of teaching, forensic services and research.
He began his career as a dentist in the Ministry of Health in 1994 and joined USM in 2000 as a trainee lecturer in the School of Dental Sciences and was given a portfolio in forensic dentistry.
Under the academic training scheme, USM sponsored his studies at University of Adelaide over a five-year period where he initially did a Graduate Diploma in Forensic Odontology and stayed in Adelaide for his PhD.
His research program was also partly sponsored by the South Australian Police.
Established in 1874, the University of Adelaide is one of Australia's oldest university with a five-star rating for prestige.
Some of its illustrious Malaysian alumni include Royal Selangor managing director Datuk Yong Poh Kon, the Chief Minister of Sarawak Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud and former Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Datuk Seri Adenan Satem.

Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Doctors' Professionalism Is A Privilege, Not Rights: MMA

KUALA LUMPUR, April 19 (Bernama) -- Doctor's professional status is not an inherent right but is a privilege granted by society, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) President Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said.
He said the maintenance of this privilege would depend on the public's belief of the profession's trustworthiness.
"This privilege is accorded to the doctor due to the professional qualification, training and vocation as a compassionate healer," he said in a statement Wednesday.
The statement came in response to a survey on trust in integrity conducted by Business Ethics Institute of Malaysia (BEIM) that placed doctors as the top professionals trusted.
The survey, conducted in collaboration with the Binary University College and the University of Nottingham, Malaysia, saw 72 per cent of the 2,074 respondents felt doctors tell the truth.
Honoured by the results of the survey, Dr Teoh said MMA had always been instrumental in formulating and updating their ethical code to meet new challenges posed by changing practice and societal norms.
With the growing awareness and access to information, he said more people had better understanding of their health needs and this resulted in greater public expectation on better professional communication and explicit accountability.
He said the individual level of a doctor-patient relationship was a collaborative partnership to restore or maintain good health and doctors always appreciated patients who made their own choice of physicians to promote mutual consent.
The society needed doctors who were skilled and professionally updated besides uncompromisingly ethical and passionately committed to healing, he added.
"The essence and substance of professionalism should be taught at all levels of medical education as part of the profession's response to the changing societal expectations," he said.

HFMD: Four-year-old Iban Boy In Stable Condition

KUCHING, April 19 (Bernama) -- A serious case of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) has been reported in the last 24 hours in Sarawak but overall. the number of cases continued with its downward trend.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said there was one serious case involving a four-year-old Iban boy warded in the Bintulu Hospital but had been transferred to the Miri Hospital.
"However, he has improved and is in stable condition," he said, adding that as at 10am Wednesday a total of 39 new HFMD cases had been reported compared with 55 new cases yesterday, with eight new hospital admissions.
"There are 8,679 cumulative cases with the highest number of new cases from Miri, followed by Kuching and Kota Samarahan," he said in a statement here.
The disease has claimed nine lives so far.

Buck up, healthcare sector told

NST: PETALING JAYA: Eroding clinical skills among healthcare professionals, inept surgical skills and unwarranted deaths has the director-general of Health unhappy. Datuk Dr Ismail Merican also lamented their poor command of English.
"Like it or not, we have to have a certain level of command of the language. As they say, one rotten apple will spoil the whole barrel," he said.
There were "many challenges" facing the healthcare sector but he was most concerned with the quality of doctors and allied health personnel.
Speaking to 300 delegates at the first National Conference on Hospital and Health Services Management, Dr Ismail played the role of a motivator instead of criticising them.
Delivering the keynote address, "Towards Excellence — The Need for K-Managers in Hospital and Health Service Management" he said when it came to complaints, most could be nipped in the bud.
"Don’t take the attitude that we can never be wrong," said Dr Ismail, also president of the Malaysian Medical Council.
A recent audit revealed that there were "white elephants" in many hospitals — equipment that had been lying around for five or six years.
Hospital directors, he said, must ensure that equipment was fully utilised.
"These are not criticisms. These are challenges and observations ... these were told to us by the minister himself."
Dr Ismail also touched on personal grooming and interpersonal skills, adding that these "small things made a difference".
He said hospital directors should keep up with the latest in their respective fields as the educated public demanded more from the healthcare sector.