Wednesday, May 31, 2006

25,000 to get full stipend

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Some 25,000 allied health professionals can look forward to a full specialist allowance once the current masters programme for public health is reviewed.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said he had instructed director-general Datuk Dr Ismail Merican to review the current four-year programme at local universities.
“Currently, the four-year masters programme for public health produces allied health professionals who get a partial specialist allowance,” he said after attending the MCA presidential meeting yesterday.
“The time has come to change the programme to two years of study and a further two years of sub-specialist study.
Dr Chua said this meant that the professionals could benefit from a full specialist allowance, on par with doctors who were specialists.
Allied health professionals include nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and dental nurses.
Dr Chua said the change was needed as the current masters programme was created 20 years ago and that medical needs, technology and information had all changed since then.
“The ministry received RM1.5bil for training under the Ninth Malaysia Plan and so this is where some of the money will go,” he said.
He said the ministry would develop more masters programmes to train specialists and had also identified 32 different sub-specialties that individuals could train in.
“The figure of 25,000 is not something we plucked from the air. We have to see Malaysia’s needs, the amount of money involved and the availability of places for training. Training for specialists is very limited everywhere in the world,” he said.
He added that the focus of the recent World Health Assembly in Geneva that he attended was on human resource development and it was in line with the Prime Minister’s call to create human capital.
In February, Dr Chua said, there was a shortage of 129,634 allied health professionals.
There are only 61,472 such professionals in the country.

Tuesday, May 30, 2006

Msian Medical Team Leaves Today For Quake-hit Yogyakarta

KUALA LUMPUR, May 30 (Bernama) -- Malaysia will send a medical team of 76 armed forces personnel to help victims of last Saturday's earthquake in Yogyakarta, Indonesia, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said Tuesday.
He said the team, comprising eight officers and 68 other ranks, would leave with medical supplies in four Royal Malaysian Air Force (RMAF) aircraft at 4 pm from the RMAF base in Subang.
"We realise that the number of victims is huge and there is a great need for medicines as the local hospitals there are unable to cope with the large number of quake victims," he told reporters after presenting armed forces veteran entrepreneurs awards and launching a book, "Pahlawan Tanahair", here.
The quake, of 6.2 intensity on the Richter scale, has taken the lives of more than 5,000 people and left up to 200,000 homeless.
Najib gave the breakdown of the medical personnel as one anesthesiologist, three medical officers, two dental officers, 40 paramedics and several support staff.
He also said that Malaysia would establish a field hospital and a mobile hospital in Yogyakarta.
"We will also send two ambulances and a landrover," he added.
The medical team is headed by Col Dr S. Jegathesan.
On Malaysian students remaining in Yogyakarta, Najib said students who wanted to return to Malaysia could do so in the RMAF aircraft that sent supplies there.

Health Minister In US And Canada For Official Visit

PUTRAJAYA, May 30 (Bernama) -- Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek will be in the United States and Canada for a seven-day official visit next week.
A statement issued by the ministry Tuesday said Chua and members of the delegation would visit, among others, the National Centre for Complementary and Alternative Medicine and Vaccine Research Centre at Bethesda, Maryland; the Harvard Centre for Cancer Prevention in Boston in the United States and the Chondrogene Facilities at Toronto in Canada.
Senior officers in the delegation will include Health Director-General Datuk Dr Mohd Ismail Merican, Deputy Director-General (Research and Technical Support) Datuk Ir Dr M.S Pillay and Director of the National Institute of Natural Products, Vaccine and Biological Dr Nor Shahidah Khairullah.
Chua, will be in New York from tomorrow until June 3 for the "High-Level Meeting and Comprehensive Review of the Progress Achieved in Realising the Targets Set-out In The Declaration of Commitment on HIV/AIDS".
The declaration was endorsed during the United Nations conference on HIV/AIDS in New York in 2001.

UMMC launches CDs on mental illnesses

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Hospital statistics show that 21,000 people were treated for mental illnesses by the University Malaya Medical Centre last year, mostly for depression.
Dr Sharmila Kanagasundram, a lecturer and psychiatrist at UMMC, says the number of patients seeking treatment for mental illnesses is increasing by 15 to 30 per cent every year.
UMMC Head of Department of Psychological Medicine Prof Dr Hussain Habil estimates that, "up to 21 per cent of the population suffers some form of mental illness".
He says 17 per cent of these suffer from schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, depression and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD).
These shocking figures were the catalyst for the launching of a series of Family Audio CDs by UMMC and the Committee of Affective Disorders and Schizophrenia Training (CAST) to educate patients and their family members on the four most common mental illnesses.
"The CDs will help lay persons gain a better understanding of the common mental illnesses," Dr Sharmila, the project co-ordinator, said.
"They are recorded in simple language in Malay and English with no technical terms."
There are four sets of CDs — on schizophrenia, bipolar affective disorder, depression and ADHD — available for RM10 each at UMMC’s psychiatric ward, outpatient clinic and at the Universiti Malaya bookstore.
UMMC and CAST will be working with several pharmaceutical companies to produce the next series of CDs on functionality in schizophrenia anxiety disorder, sleep disorder and dementia.

HFM alert issued for Gawai Fest

Star: MIRI: A statewide alert has been issued in Sarawak of another possible outbreak of hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) – from the exodus of people from cities and towns to the rural regions for the Gawai Dayak festival.
The state health and medical services department had issued an alert to all hospitals and clinics and also informed the state disaster relief committee.
Deputy Chief Minister and committee chairman Tan Sri Dr George Chan Hong Nam said past experience showed that the mass movement of people during the Gawai period could result in a sudden peak in HFMD cases.
He said this trend was seen in 2001 during the HFMD outbreak that year. An initial deadly attack was followed by a decline in cases, but during the Gawai period, the outbreak peaked a second time.
“We are worried it may happen again. The rush by urban folks to get back home to the rural longhouses and settlements for Gawai – on June 1 – may result in swift transmission of the virus in rural regions,” he said in an interview here yesterday.
The recent HFMD epidemic claimed 10 lives – the last death was that of a six-year-old girl in Miri on May 6.
“Since then, there has been a decline in new cases daily and there is no critical case now,” Dr Chan said.
“Every divisional health officer has been instructed to be on the alert and be prepared for any eventualities.
“They have been told to spread the message to as many rural settlements and longhouses as possible so that the villagers themselves would be on the alert also,” he added.
Dr Chan said the daily number of new cases has been low over the past few weeks, adding that 24 new cases were detected state-wide yesterday.

Organ transplant programme needs more support

NST: Without strong financial backing, it will be difficult to develop the nation’s organ transplant programme.
Health Ministry Medical Development Division director Datuk Dr Noorimi Morad said the emphasis of the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP) is on other fields, including oncology, rehabilitation medicine and nuclear medicine.
At the 9th Scientific Meeting of the Malaysia Society of Transplantation held here, she said getting appropriate logistical support systems for organ transplants is another problem.
“For example, when there are changes in Malaysia Airlines’ management, we have to undertake a time-consuming review of the previous arrangements,” she said, stressing the need to set up a National Transplantation Policy and a dedicated fund to support it.
“The policy will incorporate strategies, act as a reference for medical professionals, and encompass the ethical issues of transplantation,” she said.
A special committee, she added, would hold its first meeting at Putrajaya today to look into organ transplantation in the country.

Malaysian Mission To Build Temporary Hospital To Treat Victims

BANTUL (Yogyakarta), May 29 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian Humanitarian Mission will build a temporary hospital here to treat victims of Saturday's devastating earthquake.
Head of the mission, Supt Abdul Aziz Ahmad, said the hospital would be built by the Medical Corps of the Malaysian Armed Forces.
It would be completed within days once the construction materials arrived, he told Bernama Monday.
He said the mission members were now focused on search and rescue operations.
The mission is made up of 37 members of the Special Malaysia Assistance and Response Team (Smart), 10 military medical officers, 20 members of the Malaysian Red Crescent Society, 39 firemen, 30 policemen and five doctors from the Kuala Lumpur Hospital.
The death toll in the magnitude 6.2 earthquake rose to 5,135 this afternoon, up from 3,700 reported yesterday as more bodies were pulled out from the rubble. More than 200,000 have been left homeless.
The Malaysian mission is based in Bantul, about 20km from Yogyakarta.
In KUALA LUMPUR, non-governmental organisation (NGO) Global Peace Mission (GPM) said today it has sent a medical team to Yogyakarta while another NGO Yayasan Salam Malaysia (Salam) said it will send medical volunteers tomorrow.
The GPM team left this morning on the Royal Malaysian Air Force aircraft to Solo, which is near Yogyakarta where the airport was damaged by the earthquake.
The team took along RM300,000 worth of medical supplies donated mainly by Kotra Pharma (M) Sdn Bhd and Kampung Baru Medical Centre, said GPM president Datuk Dr Abdul Razak Kechik in a statement.
He said the team is led by GPM chief executive officer Fauwaz Hasbullah and includes Dr Hassan Mat, Dr Khalil Ramli, nurses Juwita Yatim and Dayana Omar, and a GPM volunteer.
They will be assisted by the Indonesian missionary body Dewan Dakwah Indonesia to identify the locations where they will provide assistance.
Anyone wishing to donate to GPM can do so through its bank accounts in Bank Islam Malaysia Berhad (No. 14-023-01-002922-4) and Maybank (No. 5642-2161-1602).
Meanwhile, Salam will send a team of eight volunteers comprising experts in emergency medical operation.
The team will operate a mobile clinic in the quake-hit area for 10 days, it said in a statement.
The public wishing to donate to Salam can do so through its account in Public Bank Bhd (No. 3072879302).

100 M'sian Students Opt To Remain In Yogyakarta To Help Quake Survivors

PUTRAJAYA, May 29 (Bernama) -- About 100 Malaysian medical students in Yogyakarta have chosen not to return to Malaysia following Saturday's devastating earthquake in the city as they want to help survivors there, Higher Education Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Datuk Dr Adham Baba said.
He said that they had verbally informed him of their decision to stay back as they felt that besides being able to help victims, the experience would serve them in good stead when they qualified as doctors later.
"They see this as an invaluable experience for them," he told reporters after giving a talk to 31 university students who will be going to Australia for a study trip, here Monday.
The 12-day trip to Melbourne and Canberra is meant to expose the students to campus life Down Under.
Adham said that there were about 350 Malaysian students pursuing higher education in Yogyakarta province and that about half of them had returned to Malaysia following the killer quake, which has claimed more than 4,000 lives so far.
Those remaining behind were mostly medical students doing their practical at various hospitals there, he said, adding that all of them were spared in the earthquake.
However, he said these students needed to get in touch with the Malaysian embassy in Indonesia or Malaysian Students Department representatives so that their welfare could be monitored.
He also advised them to be in constant contact with the families so that they did not needlessly worry about their well being.
Meanwhile, in YOGYAKARTA, all the 100 Malaysian medical students studying at the Gadja Madha Medical university have been delegated tasks depending on their seniority to help survivors.
A final year medical student, Shan Nair, 25, told Bernama that he had chosen to remain in the city on humanitarian grounds as he felt that he could be of service to the people here.
Nair, who is from Taman Chi Lung in Klang, about 60 km west of Kuala Lumpur, said that he had informed his family in Malaysia of his decision to remain behind to help.

Monday, May 29, 2006

Rise due to risky behaviour

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Issues involving sexuality and drug use as well as the link to HIV/AIDS need to be discussed more openly and thoroughly, said the Malaysian AIDS Council.
President Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said in a statement that one of the council’s functions was to act as a bridge between the Government and the community in dealing with these controversial and sensitive issues.
She was clarifying a report in The Star yesterday that quoted her as saying that homosexuality was one of the reasons why HIV/AIDS was so widespread.
She was also quoted as saying that if the issue could be tackled with the Government's help, the number of people infected could be reduced.
Clarifying further on the report, Dr Adeeba said she had responded to a query at a press conference on Saturday to mark the council’s 8th biennial general meeting and did not, at any stage, ascribe the widespread rise in HIV to homosexuality.
“MAC has always maintained a stand that the rising cases of HIV/AIDS in the country is due to risky behaviour and not perceived risky groups of people.”
She reaffirmed the council’s commitment to HIV treatment, prevention and care in a non-discriminatory and non-judgmental manner.

Health D-G’s message is food for thought

Star: PENANG: There is a downside to living in a hawker food paradise like Penang.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Ismail Merican said yesterday Penangites were prone to contracting the virus from contaminated food.
“To continue enjoying hawker food, Penangites should vaccinate themselves against Hepatitis A,” he said during the Penang Hepatitis Day awareness campaign at Gurney Plaza yesterday which was opened by Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.
“The symptoms become apparent only at the late stage of the disease and by then it is usually too late to take any action,” he said.
Hepatitis B, which was linked to liver cancer, could be prevented by vaccination, said Dr Ismail, who is also Malaysian Liver Foundation president.
Dr Koh called on hawkers to be hygienic, adding that: “Cleanliness must be given the utmost importance.”

14-a-pack ban won’t affect cigarette sales

Star: The ban on the sale of 14-a-pack cigarettes from June 1 will make smokers buy packets containing 20 sticks, China Press reported.
The daily quoted Federation of Sundry Goods Merchants Association of Malaysia president Lean Hing Chuan as saying that the sales of cigarettes would not be affected by the ban.
He said he believed smokers would not give up their habit following the ban.
“They will now resort to buying packets containing 20 sticks,” he said.
He said the increase in cigarette price had not deterred consumers from smoking but drove them towards cheaper or imitation cigarettes.
The daily also quoted the Selangor-Kuala Lumpur Coffee Shops and Restaurants Owners Association secretary Fong Chin Peng as saying that smokers will only quit the habit if cigarette prices were raised again.

Sunday, May 28, 2006

MRCS, Mercy Malaysia Appeal For Donations For Indonesian Quake

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS) and MERCY Malaysia are appealing for public donations to help survivors of Saturday's Yogyakarta earthquake.
For the MRCS, the public can channel their donations to the MRCS International Relief Fund, which can be made either by cheque or cash deposited into its Maybank account 5144-2210-2657.
As for MERCY Malaysia, donations can be deposited into its Maybank account 5621-7950-4126. Cheques should be made out to "MERCY Humanitarian Fund".
All donations within Malaysia are tax exempt.
In a statement Sunday, MRCS said it had sent a five-member team to join the Malaysian government's search-and-rescue team in Yogyakarta. The MRCS team will be stationed in Solo for two weeks.
Today, at 4 pm, 12 MRCS volunteers, bringing along a "Clinton Cooker" (a field stove), departed for Yogyakarta on board a Royal Malaysian Air Force C-130 aircraft, the statement said.
The MRCS headquarters in Jalan Ampang also became the coordination centre to gather information on the 150 Malaysia students resident in the affected area. All of them were later confirmed to be safe.
"The first group of 50 students have arrived at the Royal Malaysia Air Force base at Subang Airport and the rest will arrive at 9pm today," MRCS said.
Family members can contact the MRCS Operation Room at its national office in Jalan Nipah off Jalan Ampang, at the telephone numbers 03-42578726/42578122 or by fax at 03-42573537.
In a separate statement, Mercy Malaysia said it would deploy an Emergency Medical Relief mission team to Yogyakarta in Central Java, Indonesia.
The 11-member team comprising seven medical specialists and four non-medical volunteers, would leave in three batches today and tommorow, the statement said.

MAC: Tackle issue of gays

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The HIV/ AIDS scourge in the country can be reduced if the issue of homosexuals is resolved first, the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) said.
MAC president Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said: “As most of us know, homosexuality is one of the reasons why HIV/ AIDS is so widespread.
“If we can tackle the issue with the help of the Government, the number of people infected with HIV/AIDS can be reduced.”
She added, however, that the issue was sensitive.
“That is why there is a gap,” she told reporters after the opening of the Eighth MAC biennial general meeting at the Dynasty Hotel here yesterday.
Dr Adeeba said one of the aims of the MAC was to bridge that gap.
She added that MAC would organise some HIV/AIDS prevention programmes outside the Klang Valley to explain the dangers of HIV/AIDS to more people in the country.
“It is crucial for people who live in the rural and border areas to know about the dangers and how to avoid getting infected,” she said.
Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor, who is the new patron of the Malaysian AIDS Foundation and wife of Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, opened the meeting.
She said 6,120 new HIV cases were reported last year, adding that there was an average of 19 new cases daily in Malaysia.
Rosmah said that about 700 of the new cases involved women and although it seemed a small figure, it was an acute increase from three in 1989 and 380 in 1999.
“If we are not careful and diligent in educating the public about the dangers of HIV/AIDS, as many as 300,000 Malaysians might be infected with the virus by 2015,” she said.

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Playground shelters to get tiled roofs

Star: SHAH ALAM: The Subang Jaya Municipal Council will tear down the zinc roofs of gazebos and shelters in playgrounds and parks, and replace them with tiles.
This is to reduce the risk of lightning strikes and offer as much protection as possible to people taking shelter in them.
The council made the decision following the death of school student Hezrill Remmy Ng Muhammad Husaini Ng Abdullah, 14, who was struck by lightning, with three others at USJ 16 on Thursday, while taking cover under a shelter.
The shelter they were in had a zinc roof.
Council president Datuk Mohd Arif Abdul Rahman said the council held an emergency meeting yesterday evening to discuss the issue after The Star highlighted the incident on Thursday.
“We decided that the first step we should take is to replace the zinc roofs as they were conductors of electricity and could attract lightning,” he said, adding that the council's Engineering Department would be carrying out a survey to replace the zinc roofs as soon as possible.
He said council officials were also shocked, as there had never been reports of people being hit by lightning while taking shelter under shelters or gazebos.
He said only gazebos built about five years ago had zinc roofs while the rest had been designed with clay roof tiles so the number was not expected to be too high.
Mohd Arif said the council would also discuss the issue at length during its board meeting next week and look into the possibility of making it mandatory for all future developments in the Subang Jaya area especially to have lightning arresters installed in the parks.
He said the Subang Jaya township was known as a lightning hot spot and the council would be looking at all possible ways to ensure the safety of the people.
Subang Jaya assemblyman Datuk Lee Hwa Beng, who also attended the meeting, said the survey by the MPSJ Engineering Department would also include the number of public parks, hawker centres and bus stops in the municipality as these too would be exposed to the dangers of lightning strikes.
Lee, who is also an MPSJ councillor, said the council was considering installing lightning arresters at all such places and the survey would allow it to estimate how much such an undertaking would cost.

Ban On Sale Of Cigarette Packets Of 14 Sticks And Less From June 1

KUALA LUMPUR, May 26 (Bernama) -- The sale of cigarette packets containing 14 sticks or less of cigarettes will be banned from June 1, the Health Ministry announced Friday.
The decision was made in accordance with the Tobacco Revenue Control Procedures 2004 on the sale of cigarettes in Malaysia, the ministry's Disease Control Division Director Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat said in a statement.
He said the procedures stipulated that shopkeepers could sell cigarettes in packets containing 20 sticks but could not sell lesser amounts from unwrapped packets.
The penalty for various offences ranged from RM1,000 to RM50,000 and up to two years' jail, including for those who advertised the products or failed to adhere to the packaging and labelling requirements.
The government banned cigarette advertisements and posters at public places, including coffee shops and mini markets, in 2004.
Cigarette companies are not allowed to sponsor soccer tournaments since 2004 and the Formula 1 race since last year.
Asking the tobacco companies and retailers to adhere to the new rules, Dr Ramli said the ministry would come down hard on offenders.

Friday, May 26, 2006

Some herbal firms violated regulations

Daily Express: Kota Kinabalu: Some herbal companies have violated the regulations by adding ingredients, including prohibited items, to their products after obtaining registration from the Health Ministry.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latif Ahmad said herbal companies were required to obtain registration numbers from the Ministry for their products before they could be sold to the public.
He said the registration numbers were issued by the Ministry through the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau.
"It was discovered that some companies, after getting the registration numbers to market their products, have violated the regulations.
"They observed procedures only for the sake of getting the registration numbers and after that changed or added other ingredients to their products without referring to the Ministry," he told reporters after opening a seminar on herbal medication, here, Wednesday.
In doing so, he said, the companies had jeopardised consumers' health. Abdul Latif said the Ministry's enforcement unit would continue to conduct random checks to ensure that companies which manufacture and market herbal products abide by the regulations. On the seminar, he hoped the participants would come up with a resolution which the Government could adopt to stimulate the growth of the herbal industry and in making the country the world's biotechnology centre.
"Malaysia has experts in the herbal industry and the Government is serious about developing the industry," he added.

CM: Herbs sector can be next major earner

Daily Express: Kota Kinabalu: The local herb industry and its entire value chain may become another income earner for Sabah apart from other resources such as oil palm.
Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said herbs, considered as alternative crops or "Crops for the Future", have commercial potential but have not been fully exploited and cultivated on a large scale.
He said this when officiating the National Herbal Medicines Conference 2006, Tuesday. His speech was read by his Deputy, Datuk Yahya Hussin.
Musa said the industry will spawn numerous opportunities for the entire value chain be it growers, research and development (R&D), manufacturers, marketers, distributors, retailers and end-users.
"According to a report by the World Health Organisation, 80 per cent of the world's population depends on herbal medicine.
"It has been said that tropical forests contribute 25 per cent of the world's medicinal products and nearly half of the prescription drugs are plant-derived," he said.
Being known as the fourth most bio-diverse nation in Asia, Malaysia has an estimated 15,000 known plant species, 4,000 of which with medicinal values while the rest remains largely unexploited.
It is estimated that in Sabah, there are 1,250 species of indigenous plants with commercial value.
In view of its rich bio-diversity, Sabah offers many business opportunities to convert natural resources into value-added products through processing and R&D activities.
"Local herbs can be produced into a wide range of products mainly health food and beverages, herbal medicine, health enhancing products, dietary supplements, flavours and fragrance, cosmetics and toiletries.
"Hence, the local herbal industry holds great potentials and I urge entrepreneurs to actively pursue R&D as well as manufacturing local herbs," Musa said.
Towards this end, as a major step in the development of the Speciality Natural Product (SNP) industry in particular, the State Government, has established the Sabah Industrial Precinct (Saip) to encourage the development of agro-based industries, particularly those based on natural resources and non-traditional crops such as herbs.
Musa said to have a viable SNP industrial cluster in Sabah, efforts in R&D by academic and research institutions, the Government as well as the private sector must play their respective roles.
"Ultimately, the task of translating these policy guidelines and R&D findings into globally competitive products lies in the hands of our corporate players," he stressed.
With the launch of the National Biotechnology Policy last year, Sabah could tap all of the advancement in agriculture and heatlhcare biotechnology as she is blessed with a large gene-pool of biodiversity, which could potentially lead to remedies of some incurable diseases such as cancer.
"Herbal remedy could provide some alternative if not protection against deadly diseases."
Meanwhile, the conference's organising chairman, Datuk Nancy Ho, said plants-made pharmaceuticals have enormous potentials to bring new, improved and accessible treatment options to many patients suffering from cancer, cystic fibrosis, multiple sclerosis and heart disease.
Recent reports have shown that plants thought to help treat or cure cancer, Aids and malaria have been found in the rainforests of Borneo.
Hence, it is timely to bring together scientists, research workers and practitioners to share their knowledge, she said.
Also present during the function were Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad and other dignitaries.

M'sia Scores High Points As Education Centre From UNU

TOKYO, May 26 (Bernama) - Malaysia scored high points Friday for its efforts to become a global hub for education when the prestigious United Nations University here sealed a pact with the government to pave the way for the setting up of an international institute for global health in Malaysia.
The United Nations University-International Institute for Global Health (UNU-IIGH) will join hands with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia to undertake high quality research in public health, control of newly-emerging diseases, telemedicine and health finance reforms.
It will be located at the UKM Hospital in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. A critical area for the Third World is in the public health delivery system, whereby research will be undertaken to ensure that poor people in remote areas have quick access to quality medicine and medical facilities.
To this end, a memorandum of understanding was signed at the Capitol Tokyu Hotel between the Malaysian Ministry of Higher Education and UNU, and witnessed by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.
In a speech at the signing, Abdullah said that on May 17 the Cabinet gave the approval for the pact as it was serious about Malaysia getting to work fast to undertake research on what was a crucial area given the spate of infectious diseases that has plagued the region in recent years.
He said Malaysia, which has pledged US$46.65 million (US$1=RM3.68) for UNU-IIGH for the next decade, would not be stingy to share its research findings with other countries.
Malaysia has advanced in instituting effective public health policies via well-planned health policies which helped it to deal with and eradicate some very infectious diseases.
However, Abdullah said, the institute was important as "we are still baffled over the spread of HIV-Aids globally and we hope that the medical community worldwide would work hard to find a cure".
"The institute would lead to the strengthening of all matters related to a preventive and promotive approach to health," he said.
At the signing of the MoU, the ministry was represented by its secretary-general, Datuk Dr Zulkefli A. Hassan, while the university's rector, Prof Hans van Grinkel, signed for UNU.
Grinkel said Malaysia was chosen given its track record in fighting infectious diseases, such as SARS and avian flu, as well as its strategic and effective programmes to eradicate poverty and uplift the quality of life.
He said research on public health was crucial, especially for many Third World countries which were still grappling with improving the quality of health of their populace.
He cited how in Japan the life expectancy had over time risen to 81 years but in Malawi it had dropped to 40 years.
In Malaysia, the life expectancy for men had risen to 73 years while women would live a year longer than their male counterparts.
UNU-IIGH would also establish cooperation and undertake dialogue with universities, research institutes, governments, non-governmental organisations, industries, the United Nations and other organisations.
Managed by a director to be appointed by the UNU rector, UNU-IIGH would have 12 research fellows and 10 support staff.

Project to help men with ED speak out

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: About 42% of Malaysian men above 40 years suffer from erectile dysfunction (ED) but only 7% admit it.
Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital head of urology unit Dr Zulkifli Md Zainuddin said many Malaysian men with ED chose to suffer in silence.
He said this at the launch of pharmaceutical company Bayer (South-East Asia) Pte Ltd's “Thumb Campaign”, a project to help Malaysian men deal with the taboo subject.
The company will distribute pamphlets, questionnaires and bags with a picture of a thumb to denote their ED status.
Asian Society of Andrology treasurer Dr Mohd Ismail Mohd Tambi said ED had a long-term impact on the psychological and sexual well-being of sufferers.
”ED is a couple's problem and requires a couple's solution. The women can play an important role in improving the sexual relation of their partners by encouraging them to talk about ED with doctors,” he said.
“Once accomplished, they can normalise their sexual relationship and intimacy as well as enhance their communication.”

Violence against children is rising, warns Unicef rep

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Violence against children is on the rise and the area it is increasing most is at home, said Gaye Phillips, the Unicef representative from Malaysia.
“From studies coming through, it shows that the home is the most unsafe place for children,” she said.
The perpetrator might be a parent, an older brother, sister, aunt, uncle or even close friends of the family who have trusted access to the child.
“Violence comes in all forms. The worst is sexual and physical abuse but there is also emotional and psychological abuse.
“You can perpetrate great violence against children just by the things you say,” she said at a press conference yesterday at Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam).
The press conference was called to release Suhakam’s Reducing Violence, Harm and Exploitation of Children report, which was done in collaboration with Unicef (United Nations Children’s Fund).
Phillips attributed the increase in violence to better data and mandatory reporting at hospitals and police stations.
“You have legislation in place. This does give you an advantage over many other countries which do not have an institutional mechanism in place,” she said.
However, she pointed out that violence against children at home is often under-reported.
“The increase of violence against children is a global phenomena,” she added.
Phillips said there was a need to look at how to prevent the “triggers of violence” in the homes where violence becomes the first option to solve a problem or express a feeling.
“We need to really strengthen the family so that they will nurture their children in a constructive way,” she added.
Suhakam commissioner Datuk Dr Raj Karim said an important aspect was victim protection.
She called for a National Action Plan and a task force to combat trafficking of children effectively.
In its report, Suhakam also recommended that children be invited to forums and conferences to voice their experiences and be given a say in the shaping of decisions and policies that concerned them.
“Children are not mini persons with mini rights, mini feelings and mini dignity. They are vulnerable human beings with full rights that require more, not less, protection,” it said.

Thursday, May 25, 2006

Worksite mishaps decline as safety drive kicks in

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The numbers are going down. From 4,654 accidents at building sites with 95 deaths in 2003, the figure fell to 4,445 accidents with 81 deaths in 2004 and 3,150 accidents with 77 deaths last year.
Despite this, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn remained concerned.
He said contractors and sub-contractors continued to flout safety rules, one of which was the use of unskilled workers to erect scaffolding for high-rise construction.
"Do you know how dangerous it is when the scaffolding is not up to specifications? It can collapse, resulting in death or serious injury to the workers," he told the New Straits Times.
The number of scaffolding collapses and workers falling to their death or suffering serious injury has been rising, especially in the Klang Valley.
Fong also suspects many minor accidents and near-misses are not reported to the Department of Occupational Safety and Health.
He said mobile teams from DOSH doing routine checks on construction sites had found workers leaving tools and equipment around carelessly when they stopped for tea or lunch breaks.
"They do not realise that their carelessness could result in accidents."
He said contractors were still defying the law despite the tightening of safety rules following an accident that resulted in the death of management consultant Dr Liew Boon Horng at Plaza Damas, Sri Hartamas, in December last year.
In the first four months of this year, 1,307 construction sites in the Klang Valley were checked. Many were told to upgrade safety procedures.
Most complied after warning notices of stop-work orders were issued.
Fong said DOSH had initiated legal action against 34 contractors for not adhering to safety rules.
Most will be charged under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994, under which they are liable to a RM50,000 fine or two years’ jail or both upon conviction.
Fong said he would rope in the Master Builders Association and contractors associations to hold talks for contractors and sub-constractors on the importance of adhering to safety procedures.

Number of accidents in 2003: 4,654 with 95 deaths
Number of accidents in 2004: 4,445 with 81 deaths
Number of accidents in 2005: 3,150 with 77 deaths

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

Housewife claims RM3.2m damages

NST: ALOR STAR: RM3.2 million.
This is what a middle-aged housewife and her family are claiming against Jitra Hospital for giving her HIV-contaminated blood six years ago.
If that sounds like a lot, it’s just a fraction of the RM100 million Bashah Mustaffa, 52, of Kampung Padang Pekan, Jitra, had originally asked for in general, aggravated and exemplary damages.
The reduced demand was contained in a written submission handed by her lawyer, Jagdeep Singh Deo, to High Court registrar Rozita Md Lazim yesterday.
Copies of the submission were distributed to the media. Bashah and her husband, Abdul Halim Abdul Hamid, 54, were both in court.
Jagdeep, in his submission, stated that the former Quran teacher was now asking for a reduced amount following a change in the trend of courts awarding huge amounts in damages.
The trend of filing wild libel claims and multi-million-ringgit awards, characteristic of the mid-1990s, was curbed in 2001 by then Chief Justice Tun Mohd Dzaiddin Abddullah, who described it as "a blot on the legal landscape".
Jagdeep said Bashah would not concede to a small sum because her condition was caused by "negligence of the highest order".
He said the mother of four was now asking for RM2 million in general damages for psychological trauma, humiliation, loss of reputation and loss of sexual desire.
She was asking for another RM500,000 and RM750,000 in aggravated and exemplary damages, bringing the total sum to RM3.25 million.
"Bashah now lives in fear," Jagdeep said. "The reality is that she may die prematurely as she no longer has immunity after being infected by the HIV virus."
Bashah, Halim and their four children, now aged between 18 and 28, had on May 16, 2000 filed a negligence suit against the director of the hospital, the director of the Kedah Health and Medical Services Department, the Health Ministry and the Government.
During the proceedings in chambers, the director of the hospital admitted in June 2003 that his staff had been negligent in treating Bashah, but denied responsibility for her husband and children. Their cases are still pending.
Bashah was warded at the hospital on April 28, 2000 for severe menstrual bleeding.
On April 30, she was given two pints of blood and asked to return for a blood test a week later. On May 8, she was taken to Alor Star Hospital, where she was told of the mistake.
On May 15 the same year, the Kedah state Health and Medical Services Department said the contaminated blood had been administered to Bashah before the hospital had received the results of the blood screening as required by the World Health Organisation.
Bashah’s plight shocked the nation and prompted the Cabinet to issue an apology to her and her family on May 17, 2000.
In her suit, Bashah claimed she had been handed the "death sentence" after receiving the contaminated blood as there is no cure for the HIV infection.

Poultry from Indonesia will be culled

NST: PUTRAJAYA: It’s certain death for any chicken, duck or any other fowl from Indonesia caught at Malaysian landing points, to stop the avian flu virus from spreading here.
Their owners will face a maximum fine of RM5,000 or two years’ jail or both, for importing animals without a permit under the Animal Act 1953.
Veterinary Services Department acting director-general Datuk Dr Mustapa Abd Jalil said the birds would be destroyed immediately upon seizure, as the Act empowered them to destroy any animal bearing the threat of disease.
"No need for laboratory testing. We don’t want to take the risk," Mustapa said at his office here yesterday.
The department, along with the police, Customs and Immigration, will be on high alert at all landing points on the west coast facing Sumatra, where six avian flu deaths in Medan have sparked fresh concerns, given its proximity to Malaysia.
Surveillance would also be stepped up at entry points along the Thai-Malaysia border, he said.
Seizures made by the police, Customs or Immigration would be reported to the VSD, which would conduct the culling of birds, he said.
The ban on imports of fowl from Indonesia imposed two years ago, when the H5N1 virus first surfaced there, is still in force, but Mustapa was concerned about passengers bringing their birds with them across the Straits of Malacca in ferries or passenger boats.
"They often bring in chickens and other birds in plastic bags. We hope for co-operation from the Indonesian authorities in monitoring their exit points."
Mustapa said information from Indonesian authorities indicated that the six deaths were from the same family of villagers who reared free-range chickens.
The first death on May 4 was of the mother, who was the index case, followed by her four children and a nephew. Two other family members are still in critical condition.
A large number of birds in the area have died, and some pigs there also tested positive for the virus.
Mustapa said the authorities there believed the family had been infected directly from birds.

MMA: Be fair to local docs

Star: PETALING JAYA: Be fair to doctors from local universities, the Malaysian Medical Association has advised the Government.
“If local specialist doctors are happy and satisfied with their job, they will be the best examples to show to those overseas that it is wise to return home and serve the country,” said MMA president Dr Teoh Siang Chin.
Word of mouth would be a more effective way to attract Malaysian doctors abroad to return home, he said.
“They (the doctors overseas) are sure to ask their colleagues in Malaysia about working conditions here before making a decision to return,” Dr Teoh said, responding to reports that Malaysian specialist doctors would be given an instant reward of a pay rise of about RM4,000 if they come back.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek had announced last Saturday that these doctors would immediately move up from the Grade U41 salary scale of RM3,000 to Grade U48 of RM7,000.
Other incentives include an on-call allowance of RM170 (an increase from RM25), allowing locum in government hospitals, and a simplified Bahasa Malaysia examination for service confirmation.
Dr Teoh said the MMA welcomed the move, but added: “I don’t think money is the main factor for doctors to return home, especially those at Grade U48.”
He said they were now earning £3,000 (RM19,791) to £4,000 (RM26,388) per month and coming home would mean a pay cut.
“It has taken them eight to 10 years to reach that level, and with their qualification and experience, I believe they would have more prestige and value in Malaysia.
“It is more important for them to know whether the country is offering them the specialty that they are interested in and whether they are recognised,” he said.

Tuesday, May 23, 2006

Bird flu deaths in Medan raise fresh fears

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Six avian flu deaths in Medan, a mere 157km across the Straits of Malacca, are sending chills up the spine of veterinary and health officials here.
Following a request by the Veterinary Services Department, the Customs and Immigration departments are looking out for the possibility of birds being smuggled to Malacca on barter and passenger boats.
Checks have been stepped up in Malacca and Port Klang.
Veterinary Services Department acting director-general Datuk Dr Mustapa Abdul Jalil said the department had been informed by its counterparts in Indonesia that the situation in Medan was serious.
"We have also been told that the source of the deaths were chickens," he told the New Straits Times.
Dr Mustapa urged Malay- sians and Indonesians to abide by directives on the import and export of birds and their products from all avian flu-affected countries.
Under the Customs Act 1967, smugglers can be fined 10 times the amount of the sei- zure or jailed three years for the first offence. Subsequent offences carry a penalty of 20 times the amount or five years’ jail.
Dr Mustapa also urged farmers to be alert and to report unusual bird deaths to the nearest Veterinary Services Department.
An AFP report yesterday quoted Nyoman Kandun, director of the Indonesian health ministry communicable disease control centre, as saying that an epidemiological investigation had been launched into the deaths.
Five died some weeks ago with the sixth death, that of the father of one of the other victims, occurring yesterday.
He said experts feared this might be Indonesia’s first few cases of human-to-human transmission of the virus.
"We cannot confirm that (human-to-human transmission) has occurred but we cannot rule it out," said Kandun.
He said Indonesian officials were being assisted by the World Health Organisation, and the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. Indonesia’s bird flu toll now stands at 32.
It has witnessed more bird flu deaths than any other country this year with the world’s second highest number of fatalities since 2003.
Meanwhile, Health Ministry Disease Control Division acting director Dr Zainal Ariffin Omar said his staff were working closely with the Veterinary Services Department on the matter.
"All doctors have also been directed to alert the ministry if they come across patients, especially foreigners and Malaysians who arrived from avian flu-affected countries, seeking treatment for bird flu symptoms."
He said clinical and ground surveillance had started, aside from checks on human traffic between the two nations and other avian flu-affected countries.

Media Role In HIV/AIDS Awareness Campaign Extended To Prisons

SUNGAI PETANI, May 22 (Bernama) -- The Information Ministry intends to extend the media's role in the HIV/AIDS awareness campaign to prisons in the country, Deputy Minister Chia Kwang Chye said Monday.
He said the programme introduced last year in collaboration with RTM and Bernama would now be expanded to rope in all the print and electronic media in the country.
Speaking to reporters after launching the HIV/AIDS programme for juveniles at the Sungai Petani Prison, he hoped the media would play its best possible role to ensure success of the programme.
Earlier, when launching the programme, he said the awareness campaign must be carried out in all prisons in the country to instil awareness on juvenile delinquents and convicts on the dangers of drug addiction.
"If no immediate preventive measures are taken, there will be an estimated 300,000 HIV cases in the country by 2015," he said.
As of December 2004, 64,439 HIV cases were reported, with 7,195 deaths in the same year, he added.
Earlier, in his speech, Prisons Department Director of Rehabilitation Hassan Sakimon said they have implemented the human development plan programme at all prisons in the country.
One of the modules under the programme is to rehabilitate juveniles by stressing on physical, clinical and psychological aspects, he added.

Monday, May 22, 2006

Cool tags for a novel campaign

Star: The National Cancer Society Malaysia recently initiated a novel campaign to create awareness of cancer among the young in Malaysia, writes K. S. USHA DEVI.

WHEN emcee and actor Bernie Chan was asked to help promote the Empowerment Tag (or E-Tag) for the National Cancer Society Malaysia, she had no hesitation whatsoever in agreeing.
“My father is a cancer survivor. He had six months of treatment for colon cancer at the end of 2004,” Chan explains, recalling the emotional and physical toll that the episode had taken on her family.
For Chan, it was a wake-up call to the fact that cancer is a non-discriminating disease and that it could strike anyone.
“It was a lesson for me that we have to take control of our lives and lead a healthy lifestyle, to be aware of our bodies and get educated,” she says.
The family rallied around to take care of her 73-year-old father, with Chan, the youngest of six siblings, driving her father to the hospital for his chemotherapy treatment.
“My father was a real trooper. He never complained and most importantly he did not doubt that he would survive,” she says.
And because of this emotional experience, Chan is strongly advocating the E-Tag as a means to spread the message of prevention and early detection of cancer.
Retailing at RM12 each at NCSM, the E-Tag is a stylish ornament embossed with catchy slogans like “beAWARE”, “getEDUCATED” and “celebrateLIFE”.
The messages are bold statements about the fight against cancer, which is becoming a major morbidity and mortality concern in Malaysia. (According to a 2004 report compiled by a group from the Department of Pathology, Faculty of Medicine, Universiti Malaya, the Malaysian population is estimated to bear a cancer burden of about 40,000 new cases per year.)
Another celebrity who has lent his hand to the E-Tag campaign is singer Ferhad.
“It’s similar to when I write my music. I want people, especially the young generation, to feel empowered and build up their self–esteem and self respect,” Ferhad explains.
“The E-tag is an attractive method to get the attention of the public because it is both fashionable and has an underlying message.”
To fuel the interest of the younger generation, Neal Jansen, 21, Jessica Yong, 23, and Melissa Lee, 19, were also roped in to promote the E-Tag campaign.
“My mother, Anne, has been a strong supporter of cancer activities and I wanted to help her out by doing my part,” says Jansen, a marketing student at a local college.
The battle against the disease is also an experience that Jansen is aware of because people close to him, including his godmother and a cousin, were struck by cancer.
“My godmother was 50 and the cousin was only 32 when they died of cancer,” he says. “I can’t run away from the fact that the disease is here and it is real.”
Jansen says he would volunteer to do another advertisement similar to the E-Tag if required.
Yong, an events manager, was approached by NCSM and she was enthusiastic about helping out.
“I knew about the disease through celebrities such as Kylie Minogue, Anastacia and Sharon Osbourne who had highlighted their battle with cancer,” says Yong, who feels that E- Tags are “very cool” to wear.
Lee also finds the E-Tag “very hip” as it can be worn in a number of ways.
Lee participated in the campaign because her mother is a close friend of Anne Jansen, who is its project coordinator.
It was also through the Lees that NCSM got connected to Digital Commerce (DCM), which sponsored the advertisement.
Gary Tay, managing director of DCM, was approached to do the work, which he did for free.
Eugene Lim, DCM's creative director, decided to use celebrities and young people to promote the E-Tags.
“The E-Tags were created as a modern, cutting-edge and compelling fundraising and communications campaign that appeals to the young,” Lim explains.
“The team worked well together and the final result is a positive, upbeat message about cancer awareness especially targeting young people.”

# The National Cancer Society Malaysia will continue to sell the E-Tags until the end of the year. For more information, call the Society at 03-2698 7351.

Doctors take eight years to specialise

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian doctors take longer to become specialists than their counterparts in Britain and other western countries.
A local doctor said it would take at least eight years for a fresh medical graduate working in hospitals here to become a specialist and earn a U48 pay under the Public Services Department salary scheme.
“Doctors serving in Britain or elsewhere can qualify as specialists in two-third the time.”
He said that under local requirements, doctors have to wait at least three years after completing their one-year housemanship before they could take up the specialist course.
“They would take at least four years to complete the course. However, the doctor will have to wait for his qualification to be gazetted by the local medical authorities before he can enjoy the specialist pay.”

RM4,000 jump for Malaysian medical specialists who return

Star: LONDON: Malaysian specialist doctors will be rewarded with an “instant” pay rise of about RM4,000 if they were to return home and serve the country.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said they would immediately move up from the Grade U41 salary scale of RM3,000 to Grade U48 of RM7,000.
He said the Public Services Department (PSD) had approved the “big jump” in recognition of their specialised skills and training in Britain.
“So my advice is return home while the going’s still good,” he said during a dialogue with a group of Malaysian doctors and medical students in Malaysia Hall here on Saturday.
Dr Chua urged them not to take too long as there could be a surplus of doctors in Malaysia in 10 to 15 years.
“It’s either doctor laku or doctor yang tak laku,” he said, adding that the competition was intense in the Klang Valley, which had a ratio of about one doctor to 400 people.
Dr Chua also cautioned Malaysian medical students that they would find it more difficult to work in Britain in the next three to five years.
This is because the British government would increasingly give preference to its citizens and EU nationals, while Malaysians would be lumped together with other nationalities.
He said he was not appealing to them on the grounds of nationalism or patriotism.
“We’re appealing to them on the basis that there is definitely a better future in their own country.”
Elaborating on the incentive for Malaysian specialists, he said those with post-basic qualifications such as Membership of the Royal College of Physicians, United Kingdom (MRCP) and MRCOG (Obstetrics and Gynaecology), as well as two years' experience would start off on the U48 salary scale.
“That’s a big jump and they’re only two rungs away from Special Scale already,” he said.
Dr Chua said the ministry was also developing 32 sub-speciality services that faced shortages.
He said they had taken over from the PSD the task of selecting medical students for masters and postgraduate programmes.
“We plan to send 400 students for sub-speciality training, both in Malaysia and overseas every year.”
He said the ministry hoped to overcome mismatches as had happened in the past, where the students’ aspirations were not matched by their scholarships.

Dr Chua also touched on a wide range of incentives as well as career advancement prospects including:
# ON-CALL allowance increased from RM25 to RM170;
# ALLOWING locum in government hospitals;
# SIMPLIFIED Bahasa Malaysia exam for service confirmation;
# FULL-PAYING patients in Putrajaya and Selayang hospitals as a pilot project, where part of the full rates go to doctors; and
# 298 promotional posts approved for senior positions.

Present were Malaysian High Commissioner Datuk Abdul Aziz Mohamed, Malaysian Students Department director Dr Syed Raisudin Syed Abdullah, Islamic Medical Association of Malaysia (UK & Eire) vice-president Dr Mohammad Iqbal, UK Executive Council for Malaysian Students chairman Wan Mohd Firdaus Wan Mohd Fuaad and MCA Club UK president Alan Ling.

Mental disorders afflict 21% of Malaysians

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Twenty-one per cent of Malaysians have mental disorders as a result of the pressures of life, and the figure is rising.
According to clinical psychologist Mahadir Mohamad, based on a survey from 1995 to 2000, depression topped the list, followed by psychosis, and drug and alcohol-related mental disorders.
“Based on year 2000 statistics by the Public Health Institute (Disease Burden Department), 108,324 people suffered depression.
“Those between the ages of 30 and 59 were most affected by this disease, and the figure is rising by the year,” he said at a forum on recognising mental health and illness organised by KL Clinical Psychology Counselling Centre here yesterday.
He said anxiety was also a form of mental disorder, with 33,714 people diagnosed with it.
Mahadir, who works for the Health Ministry, said 24,647 people were diagnosed with psychosis. Alcohol and drug-related mental disorders accounted for 21,441 and 27,522 people respectively.
“One of the main reasons for mental disorder is the pressures caused by life, love and marital problems.
“Many are not aware that they are suffering from such a disease because they refuse to spend money to get professional help,” he said.
He said that based on statistics, in the year 2000 there were 319 deaths caused by mental disorders. Drug-related mental disorders topped the list with 187 deaths, followed by depression with 94, psychosis (eight) and alcohol-related mental disorders (30).
“These figures were only reported cases, what about those that went unreported?”
He added that there was insufficient publicity on mental illnesses to warn the masses of this silent killer.
“Some of them don’t even know that they have a mental illness, and also there is a social stigma that when you see a shrink, you are deemed insane.
“This perception is wrong and those who feel that they have a mental illness should come forward to get counselling from any government clinic before it becomes acute,” he added.
KL Clinical Psychology Counselling Centre director Ray M.K. Choo said people are ready to seek professional help.
He said his company charged RM130 for an hour’s session and that many were willing to spend money on mental health.
“We have had hundreds of patients since this company was opened five years ago, and the awareness among urban people is on the rise.
“This awareness is good for society.”

HIV patients may get free drugs

Star: PENANG: HIV/AIDS patients may soon get free anti-retro viral treatment drugs.
Currently, instead of paying more than RM1,000 for their monthly anti-retro viral treatment medication, Malaysians only pay about RM100 as the rest is subsidised by the Government.
Health Ministry Parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said the ministry was now working with a pharmaceutical company to produce the drugs locally.
He said no time frame had been set yet but the ministry was optimistic that an agreement would soon be reached.
“We will try to provide the medication for free if possible. At the very least there will definitely be a significant reduction in cost,” he said at the Penang Family Planning Association (PFPA) International AIDS Memorial Day celebration here yesterday.
Lee said the Health Ministry’s target last year was to provide at least 2,000 patients with treatment but it only managed to help about 1,700.
“It is important for patients to realise that although there is currently no cure for AIDS, it is a manageable disease. With proper treatment, patients can lead normal, healthy lives,” he said.
During the memorial day event, a short trilingual play in Malay, Chinese and Tamil entitled Pindah Rumah was staged by SMJK Convent Datuk Keramat Drama and Dance Club members.
Eighteen winners of the PFPA Sampaikan Mesej Buat Sahabatmu contest were also presented with certificates and a total cash prize of RM1,160.
Also present was PFPA president Tunku Datuk Dr Ismail Jewa.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

More People In Malaysia With Mental Disorders

KUALA LUMPUR, May 21 (Bernama) -- More Malaysians are having mental disorientation due to pressure resulting from changes in the surroundings, a competitive life and increase in social-economic standards, an expert said Sunday.
Clinical psychologist Mahadir Ahmad said according to a survey by the Health Ministry's Public Health Institute in 2001, about 21 per cent of the country's population had mental disorientation problem.
He also cited statistics on cases reported at government hospitals since six years ago with 108,324 people having mental disorientation and depression and of the total, 58,265 of them were between 30 and 50 years of age.
"Perhaps, there were more people with the problem but due to lack of awareness, they did not seek treatment and there was no record of their cases," he said during a public forum on health and mental disorientation here.
Mahadir said lack of promotion on mental health, especially in the rural areas was among the reason for those having the problem did not seek treatment.
He also said the stigma that those who went to hospitals for mental treatment were insane was also a factor and expressed the need for the media to play their role in creating awareness among the public on the importance of psychological treatment to prevent one from getting mental health problems.

Loving them despite AIDS tag

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The first time Angel saw the leaves on a tree rustling in the wind, she started shaking in fear. She had never seen anything like it before.
She was abandoned as a baby and had spent her entire life in a welfare home, with no tree or bush in sight.
A couple heard her story over the radio and decided they wanted her, even though she was HIV-positive.
When Dominic Damian, 52, brought Angel home, she was so fearful she didn’t move for six hours. Today, Angel, now 10, smiles shyly in return when one smiles or blows kisses at her.
"Every child has a right to parents and a normal life," Damian said in an interview at his home recently.
"True, when someone is HIV-positive there are many issues involved. But we’re all family, that’s all."
Angel is not only HIV-positive, she is under-developed for her age and is a slow learner. Her adoptive parents have just learned she has a brain tumour.
After 18 years of marriage and four adopted children, Damian proudly declared: "These are all ours. We have told them all that they are adopted and we are a family through nurture, not nature."
Couples like the Damians are living the message of what International AIDS Memorial Day, which falls today, is all about.
Apart from honouring the memory of those lost to AIDS, it is also a day to show support for those living with HIV and AIDS, to raise community awareness and involvement in the fight against HIV/AIDS.
Malaysian AIDS Council president Dr Adeeba Kama- rulzaman, quoting South African Supreme Court Justice Edwin Cameron, who is HIV-positive, said there is a need to "normalise" HIV/ AIDS.
"In Malaysia, we seem to be moving forward but we will always be two steps behind," she said.
This is because the number of non-governmental organisations, doctors and government departments involved in the fight against HIV/AIDS was still too small, she explained.
"Other government agencies, aside from the Health Ministry and departments under it, are not stepping up to the plate."
Dr Adeeba says the community needs to better understand the disease in order to overcome the stigma and discrimination.
HIV-positive couples like Ali, 45, and Aminah, 33, (names have been changed), strive to live normal lives. Married just over a year ago, they each have children from previous marriages.
Ali, who does not have a fixed income, has a 11- year-old son and Aminah has three children, including a nine-year-old boy who is HIV-positive.
Caring for three healthy children and one HIV-positive child when the parents themselves carry the virus is a challenge like no other.
Asked whether he had considered this before marrying Aminah, Ali said: "Yes, but more importantly, she loves me and her children accept me.
"I thought, ‘my child gets a mother and her kids get a father’. We want a complete life too."
Aminah, who has cervical cancer, said she had thought many times of what would happen to all four children.
"I want to see my kids grow up and I always pray, asking God to lengthen my life," she said.
Said Ali: "If we think too much, we’ll be messed up. The least I can do is to prepare, like deciding where the children will go when we die.
"We don’t have anything any more. We’re just waiting to die. The only thing we have now are our children."

Saturday, May 20, 2006

Bird flu has been contained

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia will be declared free from avian flu on June 3 if there is no further outbreak in the next two weeks.
Veterinary Services Department director-general Datuk Dr Mustapa Jalil said the H5N1 avian flu threat in the country has been contained.
“Everything is under control and there has been no new case reported in the affected areas in Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Perak,” he said.
Dr Mustapa said Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin will make the declaration on June 3.
The country reported a series of bird flu outbreaks, starting in late February when free-range chickens in villages near Kuala Lumpur were found infected.
The second outbreak was reported in Perak when birds at the Bukit Merah Laketown Resort Ecopark and Kampung Changkat Tualang, some 100km from the Ecopark, tested positive.
The third outbreak was reported in Permatang Bogak, Permatang Sintok and Permatang Tok Loba, all in northern Seberang Prai, in late March.
About 2,000 birds, mostly free-range chickens, were culled.

Organ donors can benefit many patients

Star: MALACCA: A bone donor can benefit 20 to 25 people who suffer from bone-related diseases.
Like the cornea, bones are considered tissue and can be retrieved from a person who has died no longer than six hours ago.
Professor Ab Rani Samsudin, dean of Universiti Sains Malaysia's (USM) School of Dental Sciences, said a donor’s bones would be cut into small pieces and used for patients who suffer from bone-related diseases or loss of bones in accidents.
A donor’s skin can be used to treat two to three burn victims, or in the case of children, five to six patients.
Thus, the multiple organs and tissue donated by 19-year-old student Teoh Chit Hwa on May 11 benefited up to 35 people.
While the heart, liver and kidneys were transplanted on patients, the bones and tissues were kept at the National Tissue Bank in USM Hospital in Kelantan.
“Demand for bones is high and the supply is never enough,” said Professor Ab Rani who helped set up the tissue bank.
He also predicted that the bones donated by Chit Hwa would be used up in three months, although bones could be kept in the tissue bank for several years.
Professor Ab Rani said whenever there was a request made for bones, and there was none in the tissue bank, he would source from nearby countries such as Singapore, Thailand and Sri Lanka.
Records from the National Transplant Resource Centre showed that a total of 24 cadaveric donors had given bones so far.
There were two bone donors last year, and five each in 2004 and 2003.

Hospital staff amazed by organ donation surgery

Star: MALACCA: The gift of life is always special, all the more so when several organs are donated to help other live. As such, the surgery to remove multiple organs from a 19-year-old student at the Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) Hospital proved to be an eye-opener for the hospital's medical staff.
Many who were off duty returned to the hospital in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, while others stayed on after work on May 11 to witness the retrieval of organs and tissues donated by student Teoh Chit Hwa.
The surgery was carried out by a team of surgeons flown in from the Klang Valley.
“This is a breakthrough for the hospital, and has helped to motivate the staff and increase awareness of organ donation,” said Prof Ab Rani Samsudin, dean of USM's School of Dental Sciences.
He said the medical staff were amazed by the teamwork and coordination involved, and several days later were still talking about the organ donation procedure.
The 14-member team that procured the organs consisted of staff from the National Heart Institute, Hospital Kuala Lumpur and Selayang Hospital, who had raced against time to get Chit Hwa's heart, kidneys and liver back to the Klang Valley for transplant operations.
Chit Hwa, 19, who died of a brain tumour, was the first person to donate his heart, liver, kidneys, bones and skin at USM Hospital.
National Transplant Resource Centre senior transplant co-ordinator Jamaliah Kario, who was with the team, said it was unusual to see such a crowd of observers during a procurement operation.
“Many were curious,” she said.
According to the resource centre's chief transplant coordinator Dr Lela Yasmin Mansor, a case like Chit Hwa's was the best way to increase awareness of organ donation.
“They might have heard about it but have not been really touched.
“Nothing beats real experience,” she said.

Exercise, Kelantan folks told

Star: KOTA BARU: Walk or cycle – in other words, exercise more. This was the advice given to Kelantanese to fight obesity and diabetes.
National Diabetes Institute (Nadi) permanent member Datuk Prof Mustaffa Embong said Kelantanese should adopt a healthier lifestyle in view of a recent study which found the state to have one of the highest diabetes rates in the country.
The Universiti Sains Malaysia study found that 18% of Kelantanese were suffering from diabetes, compared with the national average of 14% to 15%.
Prof Mustaffa suggested that besides walking or cycling to the mosque and other places, people should also wash their own vehicles, do more gardening and use the stairs instead of lifts.
He noted that Kelantanese cuisine was high in fat, and urged the people to maintain a healthy diet.
Obesity, he added, could lead to diabetes.
He was speaking after attending a two-day Nadi nationwide roadshow at KB Mall here.
According to Nadi, more than 1.6 million adult Malaysians are diabetic.
Prof Mustaffa also advised people to have regular health check-ups.
“Diabetes can be treated but not cured. Prevention is better,” he said.

Eight Universities In Egypt Offer 600 Places For Medical Studies

SHARM EL-SHEIKH, May 20 (Bernama) -- Eight universities in Egypt are offering 600 additional places for medical studies to Muslim students from Malaysia in this year's intake.
Malaysian Ambassador to Egypt Datuk Zainal Abidin Ab Kadir Friday said it was a substantial increase from the 50 places offered to Malaysian medical students every year.
"We will sign a memorandum of understanding with the Cairo University on May 22 and organise a similar ceremony in Malaysia with the other universities," he added.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed will be in Cairo on May 21 and 22 for the signing ceremony.
There are currently about 6,000 Malaysian students in Egypt, most of them studying at the Al-Azhar University.
Zainal Abidin said the places at the eight universities would only be offered to government-sponsored students.
He said efforts were also being made to get more students from Egypt to study in Malaysia.

Friday, May 19, 2006

Foreigners Continue To Gain From Local Herbal Resources

KUALA LUMPUR, May 19 (Bernama) -- The growing awareness on the need for a healthy lifestyle has brought about the development of various herbal based products that are easily available in the market under various brands and packaging.
Unfortunately, given a closer look, most of these pharmaceutical products either come from foreign countries or are produced by foreign companies operating in this country and using local herbal plants as the main ingredients.
While the manufacturers of these products have been fully exploiting the local herbal plants and in the process making huge profits for years, not many local entrepreneurs have seriously entered into the sector.
This has been despite the fact that herbal plants have been available in abundance locally, indeed right at the front lawn of most homes.
Now, there is a dumping of these herbal products from Europe, US, and several other Asian countries such as China, India and Thailand in the local market.
This situation has raised the concern of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi so much so where during the recent tabling of the Ninth Malaysia Plan, he pointed out that the agriculture sector was not confined to the production of food alone but also pharmaceuticals.
He said there was no reason why Malaysia should continue to import the herbal products which form a billion dollar market while the country is rich with various species of herbal plants with medicinal properties.
Responding to the challenge from Abdullah, a herbal based company, Gitex (M) Sdn Bhd recently took the initiative to organise a workshop aimed at raising the awareness of the value of herbs and the golden opportunity that they present to those wishing to enter the industry.
Chief executive officer of Gitex, Safinah Yaakob said the workshop was aimed at providing guidance and help to young entrepreneurs in the herbal industry, especially in the area of marketing and rebranding of their products which have been in the past produced in small-scale or on a part-time basis.
"During the workshop, we tried to match the entrepreneurs with parties keen on helping them to market their products easily," she told Bernama recently.
Participants at the workshop who all gave the thumbs up for the programme said that it was a very good platform to establish herbal entrepreneurs as it was organised by the Forest Research Institute of Malaysia (FRIM) with very good networking with Mara, the SMI Bank, and the Malaysia External Trade Development Corporation, among others.
The director general of FRIM Datuk Dr Abdul Razak Ali said that the lack of effective promotion on local herbal products has opened up the space for foreign products to monopolise the market.
"Therefore, there should be more aggressive promotion of local products and the mass production of local herbal products would also contribute to the country's economy," he said.
Some participants at the workshop also hoped that the government would give attention to developing more Bumiputera entrepreneurs in the industry.
One participant, Zainal Abidin, 55, also expressed hope that the workshop would be held regularly and nationwide so that more new entrepreneurs could be roped in while the existing ones would learn more about the trade.
Zainal grows the "Misai Kuching" herbal plant in a farm in Batu Gajah, Perak and supplies his produce to several manufacturers who produce herbal based health products.
Besides the Misai Kucing, he also cultivates the Kacip Fatimah, Tongkat Ali, and Aloe Vera plants in his farm.
He hopes to expand his farm in the future, with the help of loan from a bank.
Another participant, Ayu, said that the workshop generated a lot of ideas towards rebranding the products of her company. She said the rebranding would be able to give a more competitive edge to her company products.
All participants also agreed that more of the workshops should be held to bring forth many more entrepreneurs in the industry which would in turn help generate economic growth from a source that has long remained untapped.

Big jump in reported cases of Influenza B

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The Influenza B virus has hit Malaysia with a vengeance. The Health Ministry recorded a tremendous jump in cases last month compared to earlier in the year.
Institute for Medical Research’s Infectious Diseases Research Centre director Dr Nor Shahidah Khairullah said Malaysians who were old or very young were advised to be vaccinated.
"This will provide 70 to 90 per cent protection against the virus," she said.
She said an IMR surveillance and specimen analysis of patients since January showed that many Malaysians had been infected by the new strain.
"We saw a tremendous rise in people with suspected Flu B in April. We have sent specimens to the World Health Organisation’s laboratory in Australia for confirmation of the new strain."
The new strain named B/Malaysia/2506/2004 was detected in December 2004 during a laboratory surveillance carried out on influenza viruses.
The strain, though not as severe as Influenza A, can lead to death in the very young or old and those suffering from ailments like diabetes, heart diseases and chronic obstructive airway disease.
Last year, the strain infected quite a number of Malaysians with many coming down with the flu in April and November.
Dr Nor Shahidah said other Flu B viruses circulating in Malaysia were the B/Shanghai/361/2002-like and B/Hong Kong/330/2001-like.
It is learnt that some 15 to 20 per cent of 26 million Malaysians suffer from some form of influenza-like illness every year.
In 2001, the prominent Flu B virus circulating in Malaysia was B/Sichuan/379/99 with many infected in April, May and June. In 2002, the B/Hong Kong hit the nation.
In April 2003, the B/Sichuan infected many in March, April, May, September, October, November and December.
The first 11 months of 2004 saw Malaysians being infected with either B/Shanghai/361/2002-like or B/Hong Kong.
Dr Nor Shahidah said this was the first time that Malaysia had stumbled upon a unique virus.
"We constantly monitor influenza viruses to determine new variants. This is also done worldwide to update the vaccine annually," she said.

Diabetes time bomb

Star: SUNGAI SIPUT: Diabetes and end stage renal failure will soon become a big health problem in Malaysia if people fail to adopt a healthy lifestyle.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said, currently, 8% of Malaysians are suffering from diabetes, and some 11,500 from end stage renal failure.
“Malaysians will have to start changing their lifestyle if they want to avoid becoming victims of diabetes and kidney problems later,” he said, adding that by 2050, 12% of Malaysians would suffer from diabetes while in 2010, 25,000 from kidney failure.
It had become a challenge for the ministry to lower the number of people suffering from diabetes and kidney failure, Dr Chua told reporters at Sungai Siput Hospital yesterday where he launched a haemodialysis unit.
“The ministry will focus on campaigns to promote a healthy lifestyle under the Ninth Malaysia Plan and instil the importance of maintaining good health,” Dr Chua said, adding that Malaysians made up the highest number of kidney failure patients among Asean countries.
On another matter, he said the ministry would not build more hospitals under the 9MP but would consolidate their services.
Later, Dr Chua said the ministry would build 507 health clinics under the 9MP.
“A sum of between RM600mil and RM700mil has been allocated to build the clinics,” he said, adding that current clinics would also be upgraded.
Dr Chua was speaking to reporters after presenting appointment letters to members of the health clinic advisory panel in Perak.
He said the emphasis for the soon-to-be built clinics would be practicality.

Centre flooded with calls after organ donation story

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The National Transplant Resource Centre was inundated with calls yesterday after The Star front-paged the story of a 19-year-old who died of brain tumour and had his wish of donating his organs and tissues fulfilled.
Dr Lela Yasmin Mansor, chief of the centre, thanked the media for highlighting such stories.
“The impact and response is really great,” she said yesterday.
Dr Lela hoped this would encourage other young people to come forward and pledge to donate their organs.
Yesterday, The Star reported that Teoh Chit Hwa died of brain tumour on May 11, but his act of donating his tissues and organs would give 35 people a new lease of life.
The centre received more than 50 calls yesterday asking about organ donation and about five people walked in to ask for forms, said senior assistant transplant coordinator Jamaliah Kario.
“The telephones just rang non-stop,” she said.
On a normal day, Jamaliah said, she would get one or two calls only, and “very seldom” would she get a walk-in visitor.
At the National Heart Institute, heart transplant co-ordinator sister S. Ramayee received 10 e-mail, all requesting for pledge forms in bulk.
“I don’t normally get so many e-mail in a day,” she said, adding that whenever newspapers ran a story on organ donation, it would spark off interest to pledge.
Dr Lela recalled that when The Star ran the story of an 82-year-old woman donating her corneas after she passed away in July 2002, the centre received calls from senior citizens asking for forms.

Teamwork in transplant ops helped beat the clock

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: It was a race against time but teamwork and coordination involving at least 100 people in Kelantan and the Klang Valley made it all possible.
And what they achieved was to fulfil the wish of Teoh Chit Hwa to donate his organs to save the lives of others.
The race began when the parents of the 19-year-old student, who died of a brain tumour at Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan, consented to the donation of his organs.
Those playing a part comprised doctors, nurses, drivers and telephone operators from four hospitals as well as police outriders in Kuala Lumpur, Sepang and Kelantan, and Malaysia Airlines and Royal Malaysia Air Force (RMAF) pilots.
Their efforts led to transplant operations of four organs – the heart, a pair of kidneys and the liver – being performed at the National Heart Institute (IJN), Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) and Selayang Hospital after a 14-member medical team boarded RMAF and MAS flights to reach Kubang Kerian by noon on May 11.
The operation to harvest the organs started at 1.30pm.
The first to be taken out, at 3pm, was the heart, which was rushed to the airport in Pengkalan Chepa where the RMAF mercy flight was waiting to fly back to Subang. The heart arrived at IJN at 5.10pm.
“The heart without blood flow must be transplanted within four hours,” said National Transplant Resource Centre chief transplant coordinator Dr Lela Yasmin Mansor.
A second team escorted by police outriders rushed from the operating theatre at 3.30pm to the airport with the pair of kidneys and liver to catch a 4.10pm MAS flight.
A technical glitch delaying the flight to 4.45pm turned out to be a blessing in disguise.
“We were fortunate. If not for the delay, we might have missed the flight,” said Dr Lela.
When the MAS flight touched down at KL International Airport, two of the organs were rushed to Selayang Hospital, and a kidney to HKL.
At Selayang Hospital, the liver recipient had been waiting in the operating theatre since 4pm. The transplant began at 10.40pm and the whole operation was completed by 2am.
Both kidney transplants were performed early on May 12, with that in Selayang Hospital completed by 7am and that in HKL by 5am.
A liver without blood flow must be transplanted within five to eight hours of procurement and kidneys within 24 hours.
Meanwhile, the team in Kubang Kerian also harvested Chit Hwa’s bones and skin, completing this by 7.30pm on May 11.
USM's Prof Dr Rani Samsudin, who helped establish the National Tissue Bank at USM Hospital, said the bones could benefit 20 to 25 people.
“The donation is really meaningful. I am proud of the family of the deceased for their willingness to share their loved one with others,” said Dr Rani.
Chit Hwa’s parents consented to the donation of various organs and tissues but not the corneas.
According to Dr Lela, the student had a primary brain tumour, which was not malignant and did not spread elsewhere, and this made it possible for him to donate his organs.
The transplant resource centre is open Monday to Friday and closed on Saturday.

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Three New Hospitals To Be Built In Sarawak

SIBU, May 18 (Bernama) -- Lawas, Kota Samarahan and Mukah in Sarawak will get new hospitals under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP), Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said Thursday.
He said the three hospitals were among eight new ones that would be built throughout the country.
Also to be built were 108 rural health clinics, which were a continuation from the Eight Malaysia Plan (8MP), he told reporters after opening the Selangau health clinic, about 80km from here.
The clinic costing RM14.3 million was completed in Nov, 2003 and began operations on Sept 1, 2004.
According to Abdul Latiff, the specifications of the health clinics to be built in Sarawak would be different from that of the peninsula as considerations were made for special needs of the people living in the interior of the state.
"We have added extra features like maternity wards and facilities for post-natal care, which are not available in health clinics in the peninsula," he said.
Abdul Latiff also said that his ministry would organise outreach programmes in all public and private universities offering medical courses to give a better insight of the actual situation in the vast landscape of Sarawak for graduate doctors going to serve in the state.
He said government doctors had to accept the fact that their services were needed in rural areas.
"The government will give priority for financing of specialist studies to doctors who served in rural areas," he added.

Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Bausch & Lomb recalls product

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: When Sharinder Kaur Dhillon, 21, tried Bausch & Lomb’s ReNu with MoistureLoc contact lens solution last year, she experienced an allergic reaction and stopped using the product.
A few months later, she came across newspaper articles linking fungal eye infections (Fusarium keratitis) to the solution and was relieved that she did not suffer a worse reaction.
"I bought that brand because the one I usually used was out of stock, but it caused irritation to my eyes and I stopped.
"After seeing the articles, I never touched that brand again," she said.
Alfred Jay Gasper, 28, however, was a loyal MoistureLoc user but stopped buying all products by Bausch & Lomb after reading about the eye infections.
Yesterday, Bausch & Lomb announced it was permanently removing its MoistureLoc contact lens solutions worldwide with immediate effect.
In a statement, Bausch & Lomb Malaysia said a voluntary product exchange of the MoistureLoc, which was manufactured in Greenville, in the United States, would be launched as soon as details were finalised.
Sales of MoistureLoc in Malaysia had also been suspended since March to facilitate investigations.
The optical trade had also been notified in April of Bausch & Lomb’s intention to accept returns.
The statement came after health authorities in Hong Kong, Singapore, the United States and Malaysia reported that many contact lens users treated for Fusarium keratitis had used MoistureLoc.
In Malaysia, the Health Ministry had in March ordered the immediate withdrawal of all ReNu multipurpose contact lens care solutions made by Bausch & Lomb from the market following cases of contact lens-related fungal eye infections.
Based on information received from the Tun Hussein Onn Eye Hospital, the Health Ministry said there were 14 contact lens-related infective keratitis cases between January 2005 and February this year.
Out of the 14, six patients cited ReNu as the solution used.
"Bausch & Lomb’s top priority is the safety of our customers and we want them to have complete confidence in our products," said Bausch & Lomb chairman and chief executive officer Ronald L. Zarrella in the statement.
Zarrella added that extensive investigations showed that there was no evidence of product contamination, tampering, counterfeiting or sterility failure.
"That leads us to conclude that some aspects of the MoistureLoc formula may be increasing the relative risk of Fusarium infection in unusual circumstances.
"We are continuing to investigate this link," he said in the statement.

Work to meet expectations, healthcare providers told

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Healthcare providers have been asked to walk the extra mile to meet the expectations of their patients.
Director-General of Health Datuk Dr Ismail Merican said the demands on the Malaysian government health system and its staff had changed dramatically over the years.
"The public is selective and expects a health delivery system that is not just exemplary from the medical point of view, but one that gives added value to the services provided," he said.
Dr Ismail was speaking at the Continued Professional Development (CPD) Professional Award Day 2005 at Kuala Lumpur Hospital yesterday.
He said in view of this, doctors and all allied health staff must ensure that they had sufficient knowledge in their respective areas of professionalism and continue to upgrade themselves.
He said it was important that all healthcare providers were aware of what was happening in the academic world.
"We need to get access to the latest medical journals to pick up the bits that may make a difference between success and failure," he said.
Commending KLH for introducing the clinical skills laboratory to enhance the abilities of its staff, Dr Ismail said this would eventually be introduced in all hospitals as part of a government training exercise to provide quality care to patients.
He said the ministry would allocate RM300 million for training and another RM300 million for outsourcing under the Ninth Malaysia Plan to upgrade the quality of existing staff in skills and specialisations.
Meanwhile, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said that the CPD Professional award was another way of encouraging all staff to participate in medical education and professional development programmes organised by hospitals and the ministry.

Only Homeopathy Practitioners Allowed In Hospitals, Says Dr Ismail

KUALA LUMPUR, May 16 (Bernama) -- Only traditional medicine practitioners in the registered homeopathy field who met the criteria set by the Health Ministry will be allowed to practise in government hospitals.
Health Services Director-General Datuk Dr Ismail Merican said the ministry would not permit any group from among traditional healers, particularly bomohs, to treat patients in hospitals.
"We have taken the approach that those wishing to practise traditional medicine in hospitals must be registered. Only then we will know whether they are qualified or not," he told reporters Tuesday.
Dr Ismail said the move to enlist the services of traditional healers was not against the law as they are recognised by the World Health Organisation.
"We cannot ignore traditional medicine as many Malaysians and people in developing countries still use traditional medicines," he said.
Earlier, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad, when launching the Professional Award Day, said the event was held every year to recognise doctors' services in line with the ministry's plan and that of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to give emphasis to human capital development.
Dr Ismail was announced as the recipient of the "Outstanding Academic Award" while Kuala Lumpur Hospital's Deputy Director (Medical) Datuk Dr Abdul Gani Mohamad Din won the "Professional Management Award."

Road safety progammes prove beneficial to students

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Pupils who underwent road safety programmes in school have been found to be 30% more alert when it comes to basic road safety.
This finding is based on a pilot scheme held in 25 schools in Pasir Mas, Kelantan, last year.
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) Road Safety Research Centre director Prof Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi expects a similar programme, to be introduced in schools nationwide next year, to have similar results.
“Researchers found there was a big difference in the knowledge and awareness of basic road safety between those who underwent the programme and those who didn’t,” he said.
“Pupils in Pasir Mas were more savvy than those in Tanah Merah.”
The programme, which involved 306 teachers, was carried out in two phases.
In phase one from March to June, teachers received training, while phase two between June and November involved the pupils.
The results were encouraging, and a task force had been formed to review the Pasir Mas syllabus for schools next year, said Dr Radin Umar, who heads the 40-member task force of representatives from UPM, the Transport Ministry, teachers and education officials.
“In the next six months, the task force will make recommendations on how the existing syllabus can suit the school curriculum,” he added.

Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Lawyer: I got hepatitis C at medical centre

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: A lawyer, who is suing a cardiologist and Pantai Medical Centre for RM28 million, said he contracted incurable hepatitis C from a blood transfusion.
P. Paramanathan, 46, testifying in his suit against Dr Kenneth Chin and Hospital Pantai Bhd at the High Court yesterday, said he was admitted with a heart ailment and was given the blood transfusion.
"I got hepatitis C as a result of a blood transfusion at the Pantai Medical Centre in 1996 following an angioplasty. Dr Chin told me the blood transfusion was necessary because I was bleeding after the procedure," he said.
Paramanathan, who was emotional and broke down during his testimony, said according to specialists there were three ways to contract hepatitis C: As a drug user, having multiple sex partners and through blood transfusion.
"I am not a drug user and neither did I have multiple sex partners. The only blood transfusion that I had in my life was at Pantai Medical Centre," he said, replying to questions from his counsel S.G. Lingam.
Paramanathan filed his statement of claim on Sept 7, 2000 and is seeking RM17 million in general damages, special damages of RM1.141 million for future medical expenses and also RM250,000 for the cost of a liver transplant, if it becomes necessary to do so. He is also seeking RM10 million in aggravated and exemplary damages.
Paramanathan’s ordeal began on March 10, 1996, when he was admitted to the Pantai Medical Centre with chest pains.
An angiogram done by Dr Chin revealed that he had several blocked arteries and he needed an angioplasty. However, after the operation, Dr Chin told him he was bleeding and recommended a blood transfusion. The nurses at PMC transfused a pint of blood to Paramanathan and after it was completed he developed red spots on his face and arms and his body ached. He was discharged on March 18, 1996. Paramanathan had a follow-up visit in May, where blood tests showed his liver was infected.
On June 18, 1996, Paramanathan had a second angioplasty performed by Dr Chin which was not successful, resulting in the cardiologist recommending open-heart surgery.
Paramanathan sought a second opinion from the Subang Jaya Medical Centre, where physicians concurred that open-heart surgery was the only choice.
"When cardiologist Datuk Dr Rozali Wathooth visited me on the night of June 27, 1996, he informed me that my liver enzyme reading was high and he referred me to gastroenterologist Dr Yin Thing Phee who confirmed that I had hepatitis C," he said.
Asked by Lingam how contracting hepatitis C had changed his lifestyle, Paramanathan said doctors had described it as a "time bomb".
"The virus may be low but the damage is always ongoing. I am depressed. I have been advised not to share items such as razors and toothbrushes," he said.
He said after the open-heart surgery, he got married and had two children, and they all had to be constantly tested for hepatitis C. "I am always afraid of infecting my wife, my children and other family members."
Paramanathan said he wrote to the Malaysian Medical Association and the Health Ministry about the matter but the parties were evasive and non-committal, indicating they did not want to get involved.
Counsel Robert Lazar represented Dr Chin, while counsel Sunder Kalasi represented Pantai Medical Centre. Hearing before judge Noor Azian Shaari continues.