Saturday, September 30, 2006

Air quality drops in Klang Valley and Sarawak

Star: PETALING JAYA: Scattered rain and thunderstorms are expected early next week bringing much needed respite to the current hazy situation.
The haze worsened in parts of the country yesterday as Indonesia continues to record a high number of hotspots causing transboundary haze, according to the Department of Environment website.
Air quality deteriorated in parts of the Klang Valley and Sarawak yesterday with Sri Aman in Sarawak and Nilai in Negri Sembilan recording unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) levels of 106 and 101 respectively.
As of 5pm yesterday, 38 locations recorded moderate air quality and only 10 had healthy readings. On the brink of hitting unhealthy API readings were Petra Jaya (92), Sarikei (92) and Kuching (93) in Sarawak, Bukit Rambai (91) in Malacca and Kuala Selangor, which recorded 96 on the API.
Healthy API readings are between 0-50, moderate 51-100, unhealthy 101-200 and very unhealthy at 201-300. Air quality is deemed to be hazardous once the API hits above 300.
A Meteorological Services Department forecast officer said that this weekend was expected to be dry as the inter-monsoon season was only expected to arrive early next month.
More rain is expected throughout the country when the wet season commences in the later part of next month.
The situation, he said, was expected to improve as the south westerly wind direction should change over the next few days.
On Thursday, 554 hotspots were recorded in southern Sumatra, he said. Satellite pictures yesterday recorded 629 hotspots in Borneo, mostly in Kalimantan.
As at 9pm yesterday, the department recorded very poor visibility levels of 5km and less in Labuan, Kuantan, Malacca, Kuching, Sri Aman, Bintulu and Miri. Sri Aman recorded the poorest visibility at 2km. Normal visibility is more than 10km.
Meanwhile, those who feel eye or throat irritation are advised to get treatment.
“Other common symptoms include flu, cough and cold but will only be felt after a few days. The haze will especially affect asthmatic patients and those with low immune-resistant such as children and the elderly.
“Try and avoid outdoor activities, drink lots of fluids and refrain from smoking,” said said Dr J. S. Deo, chairman of the Malaysian Doctors Co-operative Society.
Meanwhile, the Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) feels that the haze in parts of Sarawak is believed to have originated from fires in Indonesia.
NREB state enforcement chief Dania Goyog said: “We have conducted intensive checks all over the state.
“The slash-and-burn shifting cultivation in the state's interiors had already stopped for this year.”
“Our finding is that the haze is transboundary,” he said after a visit to central Sarawak.
Goyog said the NREB's statewide ban on open burning imposed three months ago was still in place and was being strictly enforced in all divisions.
Department of Environment Miri chief Norina Frederick said the department had earlier in the week detected a few local sources of fires in central Sarawak, but they were not serious and did not cause the haze.
The state Meteorological Services Department said southern Sarawak was expected to continue experiencing hazy conditions because of the prevailing dry spell. The monsoon will begin in the middle of next month.
“For Kuching, Samarahan and Sri Aman divisions, the dry weather will last until the monsoon starts, while the central and northern Sarawak regions are expected to have isolated showers in the afternoon and late evening in the next few days,” a forecaster said.
Parts of Singapore were also shrouded in haze caused by smoke blown from burning forests in southern Sumatra.

Friday, September 29, 2006

Consumer Body Seeks Govt Probe Into Meat Sold At Fast Food Eateries

SHAH ALAM, Sept 29 (Bernama) -- The Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam (CASSA) Friday called on two ministries to investigate and determine if meat sold in fast food eateries is free from "a dangerous carcinogenic" substance.
CASSA President Datuk Dr Jacob George said the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs should conduct the probe because CASSA has received a report from its international counterpart that a group of doctors in the United States found that every sample of grilled chicken products from seven US fast food restaurants tested positive for a dangerous carcinogenic compound called PhIP during analysis at an independent laboratory.
He said in a statement that CASSA was informed that the doctors had sued the seven fast food chains over the substance in the grilled chicken products.
He also said that CASSA has been informed that the Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has filed a suit in California to compel fast food restaurants in the United States to warn unsuspecting consumers.
Carcinogenic is any substance or agent that promotes cancer, and it may cause the disease by altering cellular metabolism or damaging the DNA directly in cells, which interferes with the normal biological process, he said.

IJN Recognised As World's Best Heart Centre, Says Outgoing Chairman

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 (Bernama) -- The National Heart Institute (IJN) is recognised as the best heart treatment centre in the world and its expertise has gained international recognition, said Tan Sri Mohamed Khatib Abdul Hamid, who completes his term as IJN chairman after four years.
IJN's achievements in heart treatment were recognised by many people even during his visit to Britain, Germany and Austria recently, he said.
"We went over there to seek their co-operation but, as it turned out, they were more eager to join hands and wanted to use the IJN brand to provide heart treatment services to other countries," he told Bernama Friday.
He also revealed the case of an Indonesian millionaire whose heart condition was detected only at the IJN and was later corrected.
"I leave IJN full of pride of its many achievements," said Mohamed Khatib, a former diplomat with 36 years in the foreign service.
Mohamed Khatib, 68, who hails from Perak, was chairman of the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre from 2003 to 2006.
He was also the special representative to the prime minister from 1992 to 2002 before being appointed IJN chairman.
He was also happy that he was able to fulfill the wish of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that IJN serve the poor as well as ensure that the specialist workforce did not leave the institute.
"Now, more than 82 per cent of IJN patients are sponsored as they are either retired or poor. In fact, even the rich get the best service from IJN and at a low price too.
"I am proud to say that in four years, only three doctors left IJN and that too for specific reasons," said Mohamed Khatib.
He added that the desire of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to see IJN achieve excellence globally has also been achieved.
In the four years at IJN, Mohamed Khatib was proud to have been of service to the public, including many friends, who came for heart treatment.
"I am proud to have been a part of IJN. Everybody here works as a team. Even the sweeper has a role at IJN," said Mohamed Khatib.

Fat Nation: Can Malaysians stomach this?

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: There is too much fat in the Malaysian waist. But that’s not the frightening part.
This is: Malaysia has the most number of fat people in the Asean region. In fact, the number of fat people here exceeds that in many developed countries, including Germany and France.
In the last 10 years, the number of fat people has more than doubled, resulting in more Malaysians falling ill and diseases such as hypertension and diabetes shooting up.
A survey shows that 54 per cent of the adult population is either obese or overweight. Ten years ago, it was only 24.1 per cent.
The MySoN (Malaysian Shape of the Nation) survey also shows that 48 per cent of Malaysian men and 62 per cent of Malaysian women are fat.
By contrast, in Singapore, about 24 per cent of men and 48 per cent of women are fat. Only eight per cent of men and 13 per cent of the French are fat.
Malaysian Indians are the fattest at 63.4 per cent followed by Malays (53.5 per cent), Chinese (50.8 per cent) and others (45.2 per cent).
National Heart Institute senior consultant cardiologist and department of cardiology head Datuk Seri Dr Robaayah Zambahari said fat Malaysians were at risk of getting cardiovascular disease, hypertension, lipid disorder and diabetes mellitus.
“Our study also shows that 13.5 per cent of the adult population is diabetic, compared with only 8.3 per cent in 1996,” she said at a joint Press conference with consultant nephrologist Datuk Dr Zaki Morad, University Malaya Medical Centre consultant endocrinologist Professor Dr Chan Siew Pheng and Sanofi Aventis medical director Dr Muruga Vadivale.
The MySoN survey was conducted over two days — in May and June — and involved 1,985 patients (926 men and 1,033 women) and 90 doctors across the country.
The test for obesity — termed abdominal obesity — was how large a waist the patients had.
Anyone with a waist circumference of more than 90cm (35.4 inches) for men and more than 80cm (31.5 inches) for women is considered obese.
Dr Robaayah, the national co-ordinator of the survey, said: “The MySoN survey confirms the importance of measuring waist circumference, alongside current measures such as body mass index, blood pressure, blood glucose and lipid levels, in identifying patients at an increased risk of serious diseases such as diabetes and heart ailments.”
The reason why Malaysia is a fat nation, according to Dr Robaayah, is the good life and unhealthy lifestyle.
Among these, she said, were eating too much, especially fast food and carbonated drinks; the preference for lifts and escalators to staircases; and little or no exercise.
The MySoN survey, the first of its kind in the country, was initiated by Sanofi-Aventis.

Hospital closes patient care section

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Chinese Maternity Hospital in Jalan Pudu has temporarily closed its patient care facilities.
Board of Directors' chairman Tan Sri Tee Hock Seng said the closure was to facilitate the upgrading and refurbishing of the facilities to meet the requirements of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 and Regulations of 2006.
“The temporary closure is also for the conversion to a Women and Child Care Centre with more modern facilities and equipment to meet the needs of the public.
“However, all out-patient consultants' clinics will be open as usual,” he said in a press statement yesterday.
Tee also said that patients who had been scheduled for admission would be admitted to the Tung Shin Hospital located next door.
The labour ward, operation theatre, wards and support services have also ceased to operate since Sept 16.
The upgrading works are scheduled to be completed within a year.

17 pharmacists selling drugs without prescription

Star: ALOR GAJAH: Seventeen pharmacists have been found selling psychotropic pills without prescriptions this year, with two of them having been charged in court.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said: “We even caught a pharmacist exporting 400,000 psychotropic pills, a drug that can be processed into syabu and amphetamine, to Australia by forging documents stating that they were vitamin B complex (supplements).”
“Their actions have tarnished the image of the profession in the country,” he said after visiting Alor Gajah Hospital yesterday.
He added that cases of pharmacists dispensing drugs without doctors’ prescriptions were on the rise and they should stop at once.
Calling such pharmacists irresponsible, he stressed that it was not for a pharmacist to take on the role of a medical practitioner.
The minister proved his point with figures – the licences of five pharmacies were suspended for selling prescription drugs without medical prescriptions up to June this year.
Over the same period, five pharmacists were caught selling antibiotics without prescriptions, matching the figure for the whole of last year.
Dr Chua, a medical doctor, said his ministry had received many complaints from the public of pharmacies dispensing prescription drugs illegally.
“They are not only selling the drugs, but have also taken over the role of medical practitioners in advising (patients) and dispensing drugs,” he said, warning of more follow-up action by the ministry.
Offering some of his own advice, the minister said pharmacists, as professionals, should be clear about their role and responsibilities.
The sale of antibiotics, psychotropic pills and dormicum (sleeping pills) must be controlled and pharmacists must record accurately every prescription drug that was sold and closely monitor stocks, Dr Chua said.“I'll never entertain appeals from any pharmacy that is suspended for selling prescription drugs inappropriately,” he warned.
Dr Chua also said that a new RM50mil hospital with 50 beds would be built in a different location in addition to existing one in Paya Datuk, Alor Gajah, to cater to increasing healthcare needs there.

List Of Clinics For Mammogram Out In A Month

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 (Bernama) -- The list of clinics that offer a subsidy of RM50 on the charge for a mammogram to determine breast cancer will be announced by the government in a month's time, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said Thursday.
She said the ministry was identifying the clinics which would participate in the programme and was determining how the test would be carried out.
"We also hope more government clinics would be provided with the equipment to conduct the test," she told reporters after launching an insurance scheme for women, "MZ Ladycare", here.
The government has provided for a RM50 subsidy for a mammogram in the 2007 Budget to encourage women to take the test in a move to increase awareness and to help detect breast cancer early.
Shahrizat said private clinics charged between RM100 and RM120 for a test.
She said the ministry was drawing up programmes to instil awareness among women, especially in the rural areas, on the importance of taking the mammogram.
Shahrizat advised women to invest their money in buying health insurance and going for health tests instead of purchasing household decorations.

Thursday, September 28, 2006

Don’t play doctor, pharmacists warned

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Pharmacists: Don’t play doctor.
This advice also goes to private laboratories which sometimes run a battery of tests with misleading results.
Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican is especially fed up with such practices as they continue to occur despite advice from the ministry.
In fact, there has been an increase in such cases due to poor enforcement, he said.
"The role of the pharmacist is to dispense medicines prescribed or recommended by doctors and not to examine and prescribe medicines," he told the New Straits Times.
The only things they are allowed to recommend are vitamins and supplements.
He knows of a case where a person collapsed after being prescribed a medicine by a pharmacist. The danger, as he sees it, is that some pharmacists are prescribing medicines for people with high cholesterol, diabetes and high and low blood pressure which are serious medical problems.
"They are playing with fire as wrong medication can lead to disastrous results," he said.
Dr Ismail warned pharmacists that they were treading on dangerous ground as even doctors were extra careful when treating patients with these complaints.
He also took private laboratories to task for charging exorbitant fees for tests that sometimes gave "absolutely wrong" results.
Dr Ismail personally handled a case where a patient came to him with a laboratory test that stated he had hepatitis B. But tests at Kuala Lumpur Hospital revealed that he did not have the disease.
"Screening is not just doing the test and saying hello and goodbye. It involves talking to the patient, counselling about the prospect of the test being false or positive, if positive what are the implications.
"One test does not conclude that a person should be put on a particular medication. Only doctors will know when to start medication for patients."
Dr Ismail said it was unacceptable for a person to be told that he had cancer or hepatitis B when he actually was healthy.
"It is totally unethical for laboratories to do a tumour marker test and conclude that a patient has a terminal illness like cancer."
Dr Ismail said the ministry was awaiting the Pathology Bill to be passed to make sure that tests were not done in a haphazard manner by unlicensed people and unscrupulous laboratories. He urged the public to file complaints with the ministry if they come across pharmacists prescribing medicines.
Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society president John C.P Chang admitted there were black sheep among the 4,500 pharmacists in the country.
"We are aware of it and we have informed all pharmacists to refrain from prescribing medications to people."
He said they were trained to carry out tests for cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure but not allowed to prescribe medicines.
"It’s the black sheep who are spoiling our name. They should be more responsible. I am very angry with irresponsible pharmacists and pharmacies," he added.
He urged the ministry not to let up in its efforts to bring such pharmacists to book.

Corporatise ambulance services, says MMA

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Corporatisation of emergency services in the country is an alternative the Government should consider to improve the ambulance services in the country, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said.
Its president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said the MMA agreed with the Health Ministry that the emergency services needed drastic improvement.
However, outsourcing the ambulance services to the private sector, as proposed by the ministry, had its own woes because the private sector was primarily about the bottom-line and profit, Dr Teoh added.
“Unless there is very close monitoring and enforcement, we may see the day when the one with the deepest pockets rather those with the greatest needs command the ambulances.”
He was responding to Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek’s statement on Tuesday that the ministry faced a “big problem” with the ambulance services and had proposed outsourcing the services.
“We would suggest the corporatisation route – much in the manner of the National Heart Institute.
“The entity is still owned by the Government but operates like a market-oriented service,” Dr Teoh added.

Wednesday, September 27, 2006

M'sia To Set Up Road Safety Research Institute

LINKOPING (Sweden), Sept 27 (Bernama) -- Malaysia will set up a road safety research institute, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, by the end of this year to carry out road safety-related research, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy.
Describing Malaysia as having a unique situation which warranted its own road safety research institute, Chan said the facility, to be located at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)'s main campus in Serdang would allow the government to have better references when formulating road safety policies in the country.
"The government has approved RM50 million to set up the institute under the Ministry of Transport, which will be headed by a director-general with appropriate number of researchers," he said.
The institute, he added, would be tasked with carrying out all kinds of road safety-related research, including in road engineering, design, vehicle design, human behaviour, legislation and road accidents.
Chan was speaking to Malaysian journalists after spending a day visiting the Swedish Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) here, together with Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam and Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, who is also chairman of the state Road Safety Council.
VTI, located about 250km from Stockholm, is one of the leading research institutes in Europe.
It was established 80 years ago, with its research findings having direct applications in Swedish and European transport policies. VTI is also a world leader in the field of simulator technology for passenger cars and lorries, besides having its own laboratory, a tyre-testing facility and a crash track.
Chan said the Malaysian institute would be given an annual grant by the government for 30 years to carry out its research activities. However, he declined to reveal the amount of the grant.
He said the institute would be temporarily located outside the campus until the permanent structure at UPM is ready.
"We are looking for a director-general now. It will be confirmed soon. The government has someone in mind," he said but declined to name the candidate.
However, it is widely speculated that UPM deputy vice-chancellor (Academic and International Affairs) Prof Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi is the main candidate as he has been described as an expert on road safety, not only in Malaysia but internationally as well.
Dr Radin is part of Chan's 16-member delegation visiting Sweden.
Chan also said the setting up of the road safety institute was part of the Ministry of Transport's Road Safety Master Plan (2006 - 2010) which involved fields such as engineering, education, enforcement and environment protection or better known as the 4E master plan.
"We can see a lot of changes in road safety (after this)," he said.

Young doctors fear errors most

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Making mistakes is many young doctors’ worst nightmare.
A survey has found that it was one of the biggest worries haunting newly qualified medical students who feared that their errors would cause harm to their patients.
Their fears are not without justification.
Health Ministry records showed that the number of cases with potential medico-legal implications at its hospitals has increased over the years.
In 2003, there were 72 cases. It rose to 79 in 2004, and 83 last year.
The amount of compensation paid was between RM220,000 in 2000 and RM330,000 last year.
In view of this worrying trend, the Malaysian Medical Association has decided to provide new government doctors with a professional medical indemnity scheme.
The scheme is offered by the Medical Protection Society (MPS), Britain, at an annual fee of RM200.
Under the scheme, doctors will be able to seek professional advice and help when they encounter ethical dilemmas, medical mishaps or problems such as complaints, inquests, medical council enquiries, claims or even media enquiries.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, who launched the MPS scheme at MMA House, described it as a timely move.
"This scheme will provide doctors with assistance and advice to protect them and their patients."
He said medicine was not an exact science and when mistakes happened, it was important for doctors to respond with compassion, care and openness and for patients to have access to redress.
Dr Chua said a doctor who was familiar with medico-legal issues would be less fearful when dealing with mishaps.
On another issue, Dr Chua said Malaysian students pursuing medical studies in Britain could now apply for a three-year working visa upon the completion of their courses.

Faster help on the way with 800 ambulances

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Help is on the way. Some 800 ambulances will be bought under the Ninth Malaysia Plan to help tackle a shortage which is delaying the response time.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek also said that the Economic Planning Unit was studying the proposal to lease the vehicles or outsource the ambulance service.
He was commenting on a New Straits Times report that the shortage of ambulances was nearing critical levels and that the state of medical emergency response was not up to international standards.
The NST found out that there is not even a clear picture on how many ambulances there are in the country.
In the Klang Valley, the 14 all-day ambulances cater to 6.5 million people and the response is usually more than 15 minutes.
Dr Chua conceded that the ambulance service posed a big problem to his ministry.
He noted that there were 1,000 ambulances in the country but believed many were out of service after years of abuse.
"The ambulance service has been a headache for the government; normally, a new vehicle will break down after only four years due to poor handling.
"Because of this, the ministry feels it is better to rent the ambulances or pay to use the private ones available," he said after launching the "Special Discounted Indemnity Insurance Scheme for Young Medical Doctors" here yesterday.
Dr Chua said the ministry had submitted a proposal to this effect.
"We are awaiting the outcome of the study. We will then do an indepth study on the ambulance service."
The ministry plans to have an Ambulance Call Centre and enough ambulances to reach patients within 10 minutes of a call.
But Dr Chua cautioned that a large number of ambulances need not necessarily guarantee quality service.
"It’s akin to being at a restaurant. The presence of many waiters does not mean your food will arrive fast."
At the function, Dr Chua presented a RM10,000 cheque from the Malaysian Medical Association to the family of the late Dr Norbaizura Yahya.
Dr Norbaizura, who was attached to the Seremban Hospital for two months, was escorting a patient to Selayang Hospital in an ambulance when it skidded and landed in a ditch after one of its tyres burst along the North-South Highway near Bangi.
After 16 days in a coma, Dr Norbaizura died in the Serdang Hospital’s Intensive Care Unit on Sept 19.

Hoping for a big blast, he almost loses face

NST: ALOR STAR: The country’s first firecracker explosion victim this year was more daring than victims in previous years.
Instead of playing with the usual firecrackers — banned by the government anyway — he made a meriam tanah.
The idea is to create a loud explosion by digging a hole in the ground and placing a small amount of carbide inside before covering it with a plank.
The next move is to light a match and it goes "boom".
Sidek Ahmad, 13, is lying in pain at the Alor Star Hospital bed here after he burned his face and hand during the making of his underground explosive.
"I will never do it again," he said, on the verge of tears.
The incident happened while Sidek was playing meriam tanah with his 10-year-old brother Wahab behind his home in Kampung Lebai Saman in Naka, Kuala Nerang.
The two boys had kept it a secret from their parents and went to the site after breaking their fast about 8pm on Monday.
After successfully setting off the first explosion, Sidek was checking the hole when a burst of flame spewed out and burned the flesh on his face and left arm.
His brother, who was behind him at the time, was not injured.
The boys ran home, with Sidek screaming in pain. They confessed their actions to their parents who then rushed them to hospital.
A family member said the boy might have to spend two weeks in hospital.
The police, however, are not taking the case lightly.
Padang Terap district police chief Deputy Superintendent Hamzan Darus said that while firecrackers were illegal, meriam tanah was deemed more dangerous.
"This type of explosion-making is classified under Section 4 of the Explosives Act 1957," he said.
The police believe that such explosive could be used for illegal purposes. The Act stipulates that the offence carries a maximum five years’ jail sentence or a fine of RM10,000, or both.

We lack trained personnel, says Chua

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has proposed outsourcing ambulance services to the private sector to overcome issues like the lack of trained personnel and maintenance of vehicles.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the Economic Planning Unit was studying the ministry’s proposal, which was submitted in June.
“Our problems are basically lack of trained personnel accompanying the ambulance, the attitude of drivers and poor maintenance of the ambulances. So it is better to rent the ambulances or outsource the service to the private sector based on the number of ambulances they can offer.
“We will only accept their offer if the rates are appropriate and do not burden the Government. In many countries, ambulance services are outsourced and operated separately from the hospital setting,” he said.
Dr Chua said presently there were 1,000 ambulances in the country, with an additional 800 to be purchased under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
He said this after launching the special discounted indemnity insurance scheme introduced by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) in collaboration with the Medical Protection Society (MPS).
The professional indemnity insurance for young non-specialist government doctors is to create awareness of clinical risk management as well as encourage the officers to practise with medical indemnity cover.
MMA president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said the annual premium of RM200 was inclusive of MMA membership, and for locum work outside the Health Ministry’s premises, there would be an additional subscription.
Meanwhile, the Health Ministry is finding ways to help Malaysian medical students whose specialist training has been disrupted by the new British policy.
Dr Chua said the ministry would consider allowing them to continue their Masters programme locally.
He said British High Commissioner to Malaysia William Boyd McCleary had said that Malaysian medical students could work in Britain for three years, which would enable them to be recognised by the British Medical Council.
After the three years, students who planned to do their specialist training would have to apply for a work visa, but priority would be given to British and European Union citizens.

Dead doc’s family not eligible for compensation

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The family of young Dr Norbaizura Yahaya, who died two weeks after being involved in an ambulance accident, is not eligible for compensation because she was not confirmed in her post.
To ease the burden on her family, the Malaysian Medical Association gave a RM10,000 donation to her clerk father, Yahaya Shahuddin, 50, yesterday.
MMA president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said her death raised the issue of young doctors being exposed to occupational risks but not eligible for compensation until they are confirmed in their job.
“Confirmation can take up to two years after reporting for duty and during this period the doctor has to carry out all normal duties in hospital as well as accompany patients on emergency transfer.
“Hundreds of such emergency trips take place each day in all the states under varying road and traffic conditions. Even more dramatic are the mercy helicopter flights,” said Dr Teoh.
On Sept 4, Dr Norbaizura was accompanying a patient in an ambulance from the Seremban Hospital to the Selayang Hospital when the vehicle burst a tyre at the expressway near Bangi and landed in a ditch.
Dr Norbaizura, 24, from Sabak Bernam, went into a coma and died last week. She graduated two months earlier.
Her husband Kapt Muhd Pasli Sarman said: “I was told the Health Ministry is investigating the accident but I have not been given any details.”
The army engineer, attached to the Iskandar Army camp in Johor, said they had been married for two years.

Tuesday, September 26, 2006

Health Ministry Proposes To Privatise Ambulance Service

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 (Bernama) -- The attitude of drivers and lack of trained personnel have driven the Health Ministry to privatise the ambulance service in government hospitals.
Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said his ministry had sent a proposal to the Economic Planning Unit in the Prime Minister's Department in June and was awaiting approval.
He said the ambulance service was a headache to his ministry as a new vehicle would often break down after only four years in service due to poor handling and maintenance.
"Because of this, the ministry feels it is better to rent the ambulances or pay for the services of privately-run ones," he said when asked on public complaints about the poor ambulance service in government hospitals.
Government hospital ambulances are said to be late in arriving at places of emergency and are inefficient.
There are 1,000 ambulances in government hospitals nationwide, with 800 new ones to be bought under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
Dr Chua, however, said a large fleet of ambulances would not necessarily guarantee quality service.
"It's like being in a restaurant. The presence of many waiters and waitresses does not mean your food will arrive fast," he added.
Earlier, Dr Chua launched the "Special Discounted Indemnity Insurance Scheme for Young Medical Doctors" where he also presented a cheque for RM10,000 from the Malaysian Medical Association to the family of the late Dr Norbaizura Yahya.
Dr Norbaizura, 24, who was attached to Tuanku Ja'afar Hospital in Seremban, died two weeks ago after being in coma for 16 days following an accident involving an ambulance in Bangi.

M'sian Medical Grads Can Do Housemanship In UK

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 (Bernama) -- Malaysian medical students who complete their basic medical degree in the United Kingdom are allowed to do a three-year housemanship there.
The housemanship would qualify them to obtain the British Medical Council recognition, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said Tuesday.
He said this was conveyed to him in writing by British High Commissioner to Malaysia David McCleary in reply to a query on the matter by his ministry.
"If the newly-graduated doctors want to work in the UK for more than three years, only then they need to apply for a work permit," he told reporters after launching the special discounted indemnity insurance scheme for young medical doctors.
The British government announced in April that foreign doctors wishing to work in the country's hospitals need to apply for a work permit, a move seen to provide employment opportunities for doctors from the United Kingdom and European Union member states.
However, the latest move by the British government is said to have affected Malaysian doctors intending to pursue medical studies at Master's level or specialise in that country.
Of the 11,500 Malaysians studying in the UK, 1,000 are medical students.
"Malaysian doctors working in the UK with a valid work permit are allowed to continue serving there until their permit expires," Dr Chua said.
He said doctors who could not complete their Master's degree or specialised medical programmes in the UK would be permitted to continue their studies at local universities.
"They can come back and we'll consider accordingly, to enable them to pursue a Master's programme at the local universities," he added.

'991' service leaves a lot to be desired

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Gurdip Kaur from the Independent Living and Training Centre in Rawang gets frustrated and angry talking about the "991" ambulance service. She had a bad experience six months ago.
When her fellow resident at the centre, Ramzam Begum collapsed on the sofa, Gurdip, paralysed from the waist down, called "991".
"There is no promise we will send an ambulance. All our ambulances are out," the operator told her.
Fifteen minutes passed. No ambulance arrived.
"Froth was starting to form in Ramzam’s mouth. That is a danger sign, and I was getting anxious," said Gurdip, a former nurse.
She called again and was told the same thing.
She joined other residents — five wheelchair-bound and one who had only one leg — in trying to revive Ramzam, who had a history of fits and is paralysed on one side of her body.
"We kept rubbing her palms and calling out her name," Gurdip said.
About 45 minutes later, a St John Ambulans Malaysia vehicle arrived to take her to the Selayang Hospital.
"I think the most unfortunate people in the world are the disabled because we are helpless. Disabled people should be given priority in medical emergency cases," she said.
Edward Lee of Seksyen 5, Petaling Jaya, would rather avoid what Gurdip went through and just call a private hospital, even if it means paying for the ambulance service.
A few months back, Lee called for an ambulance from the Assunta Hospital in Petaling Jaya, for his sister Lily, who was in a semi-coma state.
The ambulance arrived within 15 minutes and the hospital charged him RM50.
"With the ‘991’ service, I am not sure which hospital my sister would be sent to.
"I would rather go to a hospital where my sister’s records are kept. In a medical emergency, you don’t want to take any chances," he said.

Striving for fast response to emergencies

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The emergency response times of Malaysian ambulances are still slow.
The average times — from the call to the time the ambulance reaches the victim — should be between 10 and 15 minutes.
"Anything more than 15 minutes is unacceptable," said Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican.
He added that even this was slow compared with Western countries which had a benchmark of seven to eight minutes.
But not all agencies in Kuala Lumpur dash to their victims within 15 minutes.
The Civil Defence Department’s (JPA3) response time is less than 30 minutes from its headquarters on Jalan Ampang.
The Malaysian Red Crescent (MRCS) response time is about 20 minutes from its headquarters on Jalan Ampang, while the University Malaya Medical Centre’s is between 10 and 45 minutes from Jalan University, Petaling Jaya.
St John Ambulans Malaysia (SJAM) says its response time is about 15 minutes within a five kilometre radius.
SJAM, MRCS, UMMC and JPA3 blame the traffic and lack of co-operation from motorists for the delay in arriving at emergency scenes.
SJAM’s regional commander for the Federal Territory Dr Lee Hoo Teong said many motorists do not move out of the way despite the sirens when it rained.
The Civil Defence Department in Kuala Lumpur plans to introduce a motorcycle squad next year to buy time until the ambulance arrives.
The MRCS was the first to start a motorcycle squad service for medical emergency in 1997. The SJAM started a similar squad last year.
Some agencies admitted that the delay in arriving at the emergency site was also due to poor communication and weakness in the emergency hotline (999 and 991) service.
Dr Lee said there was a lack of communication among agencies and this leads to either no ambulance arriving, or too many attending to one emergency case.
The problems in the emergency hotline service could be one reason why Johor 991 calls sometimes end up in Malacca, said Johor JPA3 director Che Osman Hussin.
"I believe we should have one central number just for Johor so that the agencies can handle the emergency cases efficiently," he said.
The thousands of ringgit needed for ambulance maintenance and rising petrol costs make it difficult for non-profit organisations, such as the SJAM and MRCS, to respond to medical emergencies.
Dr Lee said SJAM spent RM2,000 a month on petrol and about RM400 to RM500 on vehicle maintenance.
"It is difficult for us to sustain as we receive, at most, about RM1,000 in funds monthly," he said.
MRCS secretary-general Datuk Abu Hassan Salleh appealed to the public for funds to buy more ambulances to cope with the increasing number of cases.
Penang general hospital physician handling the medical emergency department, Dr Teo Aik Howe said, however, that the strategic location of the agencies responding to the emergency calls was more important than the number of ambulances they had.
"When an emergency call comes in, the first thing we have to know is who is nearest to the victim," he said.
The Penang Hospital has four ambulances, while the JPA3 also has four and the SJAM has just one.
The JPA3 handles about 30 cases daily in George Town and Butterworth on the mainland.
The Penang Hospital handles about 19 cases daily in areas within a 20km radius from Jalan Residensi in George Town.
It used to handle cases in Bayan Lepas on the south of Penang but recently brought in the SJAM to handle those cases under the Emas Project, a community-driven initiative.
Residents in Cameron Highlands can call their Hospital Desa in Tanah Rata directly instead of calling ‘991’, said Ellangovan Nadarajah, who sits on the hospital’s advisory board.
He said the hospital had three ambulances that not only responded to emergency cases but also ferried critically ill patients to the Ipoh General Hospital when the need arose.

Emergency services not up to the mark

NST: Your loved one has just collapsed. You dash to the phone and call 991. You wait, wait and wait. Your concern turns to fear, then to frustration and anger. There is still no sign of the ambulance...

KUALA LUMPUR: There are not enough ambulances in the country — a shortage that is nearing critical levels, the New Straits Times has found.
But sources reveal that the shortage of ambulances is just the first layer of the problem.
They cannot match international standards, taking longer than most developed countries to reach more than 5,000 accidents in the nation every day.
When they do reach the patient, they usually have no medically-trained person on board to treat the injured or critically-ill in what doctors call the "golden hour".
There is not even an Ambulance Act, a law common in many countries to set the benchmark for emergency services.
The state of medical emergency response here is prompting the government to move urgently to fix the problem.
Malaysia’s top health official, Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, agreed there was an ambulance shortage.
"We should have more, and the number depends on the location. Urban areas usually require more. Fourteen ambulances in KL is not enough."
He also noted that the services take too long to respond.
"Anything more than 15 minutes is unacceptable," he said.
There is not even a clear picture of how many ambulances there are in the country, and the authorities who have the figures are tight-lipped about them.
In the Klang Valley, the 14 all-day ambulances cater to 6.5 million people — not including ambulances in private hospitals, which charge a lot more.
The 14 services have to dash about handling an average of 85 emergency calls daily, while in Penang, just five vehicles respond to about 50 calls a day.
Kepong MP Dr Tan Seng Giaw said it was clear that the number of ambulances was inadequate for KL while Segambut MP Datuk Dr Tan Kee Kwong suggested that the number of ambulances should be about 80 for KL.
In greater London, there is one ambulance for every 27,000 people.
This is about four times more than the number catering to the KL population, according to figures from St John’s Ambulans Malaysia regional commander for the Federal Territory Dr Lee Hoo Teong.
Kepong’s Dr Tan said: "Not only should we have more ambulances, they should be manned by well-trained personnel and be well-equipped."
Dr Ismail admitted that not all ambulances operated by the agencies were in good condition or well-equipped and that not all staff were well-trained to treat victims, adding that the ministry was looking into these problems.
Another thing the ministry is trying to fix is the lack of coordination, which leads to public confusion.
Only 11 ambulances in Klang Valley respond to the familiar "991" telephone number.
They include two from SJAM, four from University Malaya Medical Centre and five from Malaysian Red Crescent Society.
The remaining three ambulances are from the Civil Defence department, which answers 991 calls.
Saying this was an important issue, Dr Ismail revealed that the ministry was now working on co-ordinating the ambulance services in the country.
Among the efforts are an Ambulance Call Centre and a motorcycle ambulance squad to race to areas where ambulances would take longer to arrive.
"Our aim is to provide service within 10 minutes of getting a call for an ambulance."
In developed countries, ambulances aim to arrive within seven to eight minutes of any crisis.
In Malaysia, even the ambulance agencies themselves admit they cannot match that. Estimates range from 10 to 45 minutes.

Monday, September 25, 2006

Acid in 16 brands of bread within safe level

Star: PENANG: Safe. This is the result of tests carried out by the Health Ministry on 16 popular brands of bread.
The tests showed that the preservatives used in the bread were within the permissible level and safe for consumption.
Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said the ministry carried out random sampling and found the content of propionic acid within the permissible range.
“Bread in the market is safe for consumption,” he said after opening the Lions' Club health programme for senior citizens at the Caring Society Complex here yesterday.
The Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) had claimed last Wednesday that they found high levels of propionic acid in 46 of 50 samples of bread tested.
Said Lee: “We will check with CAP on their research and sampling methods,” he said, adding that he had also instructed health officers to carry out further checks.
CAP President S.M. Mohamed Idris had claimed that some of the bread bought from Kuala Lumpur and Penang had up to five times the permitted level of propionic acid.
The preservative is used to prevent the growth of mould and certain bacteria. It is usually used in cheese, bread and other bakery products to keep them fresh.
Idris had said that under the Food Regulations Act, propionic acid – which was known to cause migraine – should not exceed 2,000mg per kilogram of bread.
On the recent controversy over SK-II cosmetic products, Lee said tests based on random sampling found relatively low chromium and neodymium.
“We assume the products are safe. But one needs to be careful when using such products. It will not give adverse effects if used according to prescription,” he added.
The controversy arose when the Guangdong Centre for Inspection and Quarantine in China recently found that the products imported from Japan contained chromium and neodymium.
Manufacturer Procter & Gamble (M) Sdn Bhd yesterday placed a full-page advertisement that all SK-II products here complied with standards and regulations.
It said the amount of chromium from the use of the cosmetics was 100 times less than what the World Health Organisation considered as safe in the daily diet while the neodymium exposure was 1,000 times less than the safe level.

Mammogram Programme continues

Star: SUBSIDISED mammograms for the underprivileged are available again this year to women in Johor, Terengganu and Pahang.
The College of Radiology of Malaysia embarks on its sixth year of the Mammogram Programme, which has provided value-added mammograms to 4,500 financially needy women from 10 states in Malaysia since it started.
This programme is aimed at encouraging women who are above 40, at high risk of breast cancer (eg have immediate family history of breast cancer or previous breast cancer) or have symptoms and signs, to come forward for mammography.
Thanks to generous donations and grants from various sectors, eligible participants only have to pay RM30 for a mammogram, which is a fraction of the normal cost.
Participants have to pre-register for the programme and will be vetted for their eligibility on a first-come, first-served basis.
The programme is also open to men with breast symptoms and signs.
For Johor: Contact the Johor Bahru Breast Cancer Support Group (07-3357211) or the Segamat Breast Cancer Support Society (07-9325228).
For East Coast: Contact Hospital Kuala Terengganu (Puan Toh: 09-621 2121) or the International Islamic University Malaysia Breast Centre, Kuantan (09-516 3799).
You can also visit (under News & Events).

Down’s syndrome body brings hope

NST: ALOR STAR: Like any expectant mother, Juliny Abdul Rahman had hopes and dreams for her new baby.
When her son Izzat Thaqif Izahar was born with Down’s syndrome, the bottom fell out of her world for a while.
"When doctors gave me the news, I felt sad for a very long time. The thought of having a Down’s syndrome child never crosses anyone’s mind. That’s why this association has brought hope to many parents like me."
She was referring to the Kedah Down’s Syndrome Association. The 38-year-old homemaker is its deputy chairman.
Her paediatrician, Dr Razif Abdul Razak, who co-founded the association three years ago with a pair of cousins, Tunku Shahariah Tunku Yusoff and Tunku Zamharir Tunku Daud, told her about the body and its work.
After months of despair over her youngest child’s future, Juliny is now looking forward to the day the four-year-old will go to primary school.
"We teach the children to be self-reliant so that they can assimilate into society. Our long-term goal is to enrol them in regular primary schools.
"Who knows, maybe Thaqif may grow up to be a sportsman or something... Whatever it is, I’m sure he’ll be all right."
With 100 members, comprising parents of Down’s syndrome children, the association has been teaching children aged two to 12, and it plans to have classes for youngsters up to 18 within four years.
The Kedah Down’s Syndrome Association has been nominated in the Team Humanitarian category of the New Straits Times Press- PricewaterhouseCoopers Malaysian Humanitarian Awards.
Juliny said the association organises speech therapy and physiotherapy sessions.
Yusmaliza Mohd Yusof wishes society would be more accepting of children with Down’s Syndrome.
"Children with Down’s syndrome are very friendly. They are the first to start a conversation when meeting new people. Unfortunately, most people are afraid to approach adults or children with Down’s syndrome," said the 28-year-old. Her eldest child, five-year-old Farhan Daniel Mohd Jefri, attends classes organised by the association.

Truancy, stress among signs students might turn suicidal

Star: IPOH: Looking depressed, agitated or stressed out while in school or regularly missing classes – these are signs that a student might turn suicidal.
Yayasan Sosial Strategik executive director Datuk Dr Denison Jayasooria said teachers should look out for students with such behaviour as spotting them early could help prevent them from killing themselves.
He said the community, including leaders and hospital staff, could play a part in the early detection and intervention of would-be suicide cases.
Citing the example of a 17-year-old student in Batu Gajah who died of an overdose of medication, Dr Denison said the teenager took his own life because he could not get a scholarship despite scoring 7As in his SPM.
“Perhaps he felt that he had failed because he did not get enough As.
“But there is no problem so big that it cannot be solved,” he said at a forum on community response to suicide organised by Perak MIC.
Dr Jayasooria said the number of suicides in the Indian community in Perak was high. The Royal Medical College here carried out a study which showed that 52% of the suicides in the state last year were committed by Indians.
Perak MIC chairman Datuk G. Rajoo, who launched the event, said the aim of the forum was to educate community leaders about the problem and spread the word in their neighbourhoods.
He said one popular misconception was that only the poor and the uneducated committed suicide.
“Some people also take their own lives because of problems with loan sharks, but we at MIC could help them talk to the loan sharks,” he said.

Group needs funds to help HIV-positive children

Star: PENANG: The Malaysian AIDS Foundation needs RM500,000 a year to provide assistance for HIV-positive children under its Paediatric Aid Scheme.
Currently, it can only provide RM200,000 in transportation and additional allowances a year for 200 children from poor households, said its chairman Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman.
“Every year we receive new applications from poor households that have HIV positive children. But we have to turn some of them away because of financial constraints,'' she added.
She said the transportation for sending children for regular treatment and additional allowances would help ease the burden of the poor families.
Each child is given RM80 a month.
Dr Adeeba said this at the Dell Champion Road Run/Walk event here, which was flagged off by Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon.
Dell raised RM80,000 for the foundation. About 1,200 Dell employees and their families participated in the 5km run from the Esplanade to various streets in George Town.
Dell Asia-Pacific vice president Simon Wong said the donation drive was in aid of poor children who were HIV positive.
“We are committed to educate our employees and the community about HIV/AIDS,” he added.

SK-II Cosmetic May Stay On The Shelves In Malaysia

PENANG, Sept 24 (Bernama) -- Procter and Gamble Co., the largest United States consumer products maker, may not have to halt sale of the SK-II cosmetic in Malaysia after a government official said the product "should be safe" for consumers.
Parliamentary Secretary to the Health Ministry Datuk Lee Kah Choon told reporters here the Japanese-made SK-II cosmetic "should be safe if used according to instruction".
"(Our quality check) showed traces of chemical on SK-II but the amount is very small. I am not saying the product is safe or not safe but whatever it is consumers should always be careful when using any cosmetic product," he said.
Three days ago, Procter and Gamble Co. (P&G) halted sales of the SK-II cosmetic in China after health regulators said they found traces of chromium and neodymium in the cosmetic.
Chromium, a metallic element, is used in the production of stainless steel and in pigments to prevent tarnish and corrosion. Neodymium is a rare earth metal that is used for colouring glass and whitening.
Scientists have reportedly said that a small amount of these substances will not pose a health risk to cosmetic users.
SK-II is made and sold in Japan and exported to more than 10 countries worldwide, including the United States, the United Kingdom, Australia and Malaysia.

Sunday, September 24, 2006

Going under the knife to beat obesity

NST: CHERAS: Thazlin Ghouse walks with a lighter step these days — 64 kilogrammes less, in fact.
"My three children are probably the happiest. Since I lost weight after an operation, they’ve been overjoyed that I can spend more time with them.
"Before this, I couldn’t walk without getting out of breath. Now I can play and go out with my children more often," he said.
Thazlin, 43, once weighed a hefty 160kg.
All that has changed since he underwent a laparoscopic gastric bypass in February. The shop manager now weighs 96kg.
"I feel much better about myself. I look half the size I was before. Even my diabetes and hypertension are gone."
One of the surgical procedures used to treat obesity, a gastric bypass reduces the holding capacity of one’s stomach.
A "new" stomach is created by separating a small section from the rest of the patient’s stomach, connecting it directly to the small bowel, or jejunum.
Because he has a smaller stomach, the patient becomes full earlier, eventually leading to weight loss.
Thazlin, a former patient who attended a public forum on obesity at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital (HUKM) yesterday, has no regrets about the surgery. "The side effects are negligible," he said.
His views were echoed by a housewife who wanted to be known only as Wan. She underwent a procedure called laparoscopic gastric banding.
"Children are affected when they have an obese parent. I had no energy to cook for my family. I was too breathless to take them to the playground," said the woman who once weighed 140kg.
Things have changed since Wan lost 35kg. "I can enjoy my family more and I can now go up and down staircases like everyone else.
The forum was launched by HUKM director Prof Datuk Dr Mohammad Razak, who, in his opening speech said the problem of obesity was worse than the problem of famine.
"There are an estimated one billion obese people worldwide, compared to an estimated 800,000 living in starvation.
Obesity rises with development — the more advanced a country becomes, the more obese people it has," he said.

Malaysian children eat too much but exercise little

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: One out of every six pupils in the country is fat.
A study of more than 11,000 schoolchildren found that Malaysians are worse-off than children in other Asian countries, such as the Philippines where one out of every 20 pupils is overweight.
"The number of overweight schoolchildren in Malaysia is almost the same as Australia, which is a more developed country," according to Dr Mohd Ismail Noor who conducted the study.
Dr Ismail, professor of Human Nutrition at Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, carried out the survey of 11,264 schoolchildren between the ages of six and 12 in Peninsular Malaysia in 2002. It was funded by food manufacturer Nestle.
Ismail said Indian pupils were the heaviest. He said 11.7 per cent of Indians were overweight while 6.7 per cent were obese.
He said 10.1 per cent of Chinese were overweight and 4.7 per cent obese while 10.5 per cent of Malays were overweight and 6.2 per cent obese.
"When a child is in Year One, the weight is less but as one approaches puberty, they become fatter," said Dr Ismail, who is also the president of the Malaysian Association for the Study of Obesity.
Dr Ismail said more 10-year-old boys here were overweight than in the United Kingdom and the Netherlands.
Malaysian children, he said, ate too much and did not exercise enough.
"In which other country in the world can you eat practically anything 24 hours a day? You can even get hot nasi lemak at 3am. Our environment is so conducive and at the same time we’re sedentary.
"Genes too play an important part, with a child whose parents are both obese having an 80 per cent chance of being obese compared to 40 per cent for a child with one parent who is obese," he said.
Citing a fast food meal of a quarter-pound cheeseburger, large fries and soft drink as an example, he said it constituted 1,166 calories and provided two thirds of the nutrition requirements of a child per day while a plate of mee goreng could be as high as 600 calories.
"Our children are now being influenced by Western portions of food. Being overweight comes with serious health implications," he warned.

Too busy to be intimate

Star: PETALING JAYA: Busy careers are standing in the way of a happy marriage.
For a 63-year-old banker, who wanted to be known as Chan, this is true after he witnessed the failure of his son's marriage.
Chan said marriages fail when there was no more intimacy in a relationship.
“I have been happily married for 36 years but my 34-year-old son is recovering from a broken marriage,” he told The Star while attending the Enhancing Marital Relationship Through Intimacy forum yesterday.
He said his son and the wife had been so caught up with their careers that they had no time for each other.
“People should decide whether their family or work is more important,” he said.
A 43-year-old scientist from India said he suffered emotionally being away from his wife the past four years because of his work commitment here.
“I can’t imagine how some of my colleagues who see their wives only once every three years take it,” he said.
International Medical University consultant psychiatrist Dr Philip George, who opened the forum, challenged the 100-odd participants to be comfortable while talking about their sexual problems.
He said couples should not ignore their problems and hope they would go away.
“Many of you are embarrassed to seek help because as Malaysians, we have never received formal sex education.
“What we know are just bits and pieces of information which are usually untrue,” he said.
Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) consultant urologist Dr Zulkifli Zainuddin told the forum that 30% of Malaysian men were “vital sexual”, meaning that they cared about satisfying their partner sexually.
He said such males were reluctant to come forward with their problems because of their ego.
Pantai Medical Centre consultant gynaecologist Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar said couples should work to bring their sex life all the way into their golden years.

Saturday, September 23, 2006

Education key to curb rape, violence

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Many rapes are by repeat offenders.
And more than two thirds of rapes are by persons known to the victims.
Criminologist Dr. P. Sundramoothy said: "For every reported case, there will be four or five which go unreported.
"This is because almost 80 per cent of rapes are committed by person or persons known to the victim.
Sundramoothy, who is with Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Social Sciences, added: "A large number of rapes are committed by repeat offenders, and their victims are either too scared to report them or too ashamed."
An example of a person charged with several rapes was 23-year-old salesman Ismail Shah Abdul Wahab, who was hauled to the Sessions Court on Aug 30 to face a fifth rape charge.
Last year, he was charged with three counts of rape and granted bail of RM130,000. On Aug 21, while out on bail, he was again charged with rape, sodomy and wrongful confinement. The incidents occurred between Dec 9, 2004 and Aug 3, 2006.
Sundramoothy said: "If they’re caught, these men are thrown into prison and they will serve two-thirds of their sentence. They can be released on good behaviour and return to society to commit the crime again.
"We don’t have an effective rehabilitation programme for sex offenders. The Prisons Department has been conducting studies for the past 10 or 11 years on how to rehabilitate them, but little has come out of it."
He said the department offered religious programmes and counselling sessions, but these were not effective.
"Rape is not just about sexual gratification, it is also about power, control and aggression. Men are biologically more aggressive than women. They just have to know how to keep their aggression under control.
"What we have here is a failure to educate the society. Right now, we have young men arrested for statutory rape. They don’t even know what statutory rape is. They say ‘Oh, it was consensual, it’s not rape’ because they don’t realise that having sex with women under the age of 16 constitutes rape, even if it’s consensual."
Education was the key to curbing rape and violence against women, said Ivy Josiah, executive director of the Women’s Aid Organisation (WAO).
"The most powerful mode of preventing rape is educating young men. They need to be taught to respect women.
"Women must learn to respect themselves and learn ways to avoid being exposed to circumstances where they can be taken advantage of."
She agreed that sometimes the legal sanctions imposed were ineffective in dealing with sex offenders.
"The process of convicting these perpetrators takes too much time. For others, they may think that they can get away with it, but I notice that judges are handing out heavier penalties for sexual offences and are stricter on them.
"Sex education needs to be taught early. A five-year-old child should know what constitutes a ‘bad touch’. The fact is over 90 per cent of rape is committed by people the victims know. Only a small percentage of rape is committed by strangers."
She said women should realise that they were more exposed to sexual assault closer to home than anywhere else.

New lab for virus, disease research

Star: SUNGAI BULOH: Malaysia now has the facility and infrastructure to conduct advanced research in combating all kinds of viruses and diseases, including Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), the Nipah virus, avian flu, tuberculosis and anthrax.
The Biosafety Level 3 (BSL3) Complex, which opened yesterday, is the first of its kind in the Asia-Pacific region.
It is housed in the Health Ministry's National Public Health Laboratory here.
Level 1 represents common diseases and level 4 the most dangerous.
Before this, Malaysia had to rely on Australian experts, as the current labs in the Veterinarian Research Institute in Ipoh and the Institute of Medical Research in Kuala Lumpur were not capable of handling large-scale research, especially during the Nipah virus outbreak in 1999 and the SARS outbreak in 2001.
Built under the 8th Malaysia Plan in December 2004, the RM26.6mil complex is equipped with two BSL3 labs, one of which is enhanced with BSL4 equipment, supporting BSL2 labs, offices, general labs and seminar rooms.
Health Ministry’s Medical Development Department director Datuk Dr Noorimi Morad reminded Malaysians that “as society develops, so do diseases.”
“Age-old diseases such as cholera and typhoid are still around, and have evolved into more potent illnesses. But now, we are equipped to handle this,” Dr Noorimi said during the project's handover ceremony at the National Public Health Laboratory yesterday.
He added that the complex was developed entirely using local expertise.
Erla Technologies Sdn Bhd completed the project in July under the most stringent standards and has been certified by the National Association of Testing Authorities, Australia.
Its director, Shiraj Raja, said the country's top scientists would be enlisted to the facility when there was a potential outbreak of a disease, but that at any one time at least six scientists would be present to monitor diseases.

Donating organs only when dead sure

Star: NILAI: Some doctors are hesitant to remove the life support system of brain dead patients for organ procurement because the proposed amendment to the law, to include the concept of “brain dead,” has not been passed.
Universiti Malaya anaesthesiology and critical care Professor Emeritus Datuk Dr Alex Delilkan said a memorandum to the Health Ministry to include the concept of brain dead was submitted in 1998, but until now the amendment to the Human Tissues Act 1974 had not been passed.
He said the Act currently only stated that organs or tissues were allowed to be procured when “life is extinct,” which was vague.
As a result, some doctors were hesitant to remove the ventilator when a person was brain dead due to pressure from relatives who did not understand that the person was actually dead, he said in the forum, Organ Transplant: A Gift of Life, organised by the Students' Representative Council at the Nilai International College on Thursday.
“The issue is how do doctors handle a brain dead person in intensive care unit settings? Some doctors do not remove the life support system even after certifying the patient as brain dead,” he said.
Dr Delilkan said brain dead persons make the best donors and there was a need to define death.
The concept of brain dead had been accepted internationally since the 1980s, he added.
Court of Appeal retired judge Datuk Mahadev Shankar said it was sad that when putting up a law, unless it was political or to do with money, it would be in limbo for a long time.
The draft amendment to the Act was still at the Attorney-General's chamber, said Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon after launching Nilai International's Project Humans for Humans.
One reason for the delay was because stakeholders, doctors and lawyers could not agree on certain issues, he said, adding that when the Act was enacted, it referred to cadaveric donors, and there was a need to include living donors but some doctors felt this might lead to organ sale.
“We have to take viewpoints from all parties,” he said.
Currently, there is a mechanism to verify a patient is brain dead, where two specialists are required to confirm the death, he said.
Dr Delilkan said doctors not pulling the plug when a person was brain dead were against medical ethics. It also could cost patients thousands of ringgit daily.
Lee said the main issue in organ donation was not about brain death but about families not giving consent.
Besides enlarging the current 96,000 donor pledges, there is a need to educate donors to inform their family members.
“We may have a big number but the actual harvesting is small because families are not informed and could not make quick decisions,” he added.

Cosmetics firm clears air over product safety

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: SK-II cosmetics are safe for use and the products will continue to be available here, according to a statement issued by the local representative.
Procter & Gamble (M) Sdn Bhd said it wanted to clear the air in light of recent negative news reports on some of its products in China.
It said the controversy was triggered by a press release on Sept 14, stating that the Guangdong Centre for Inspection and Quarantine had found chromium and neodymium in nine SK-II products imported from Japan.
The company explained that chromium and neodymium were not used in making SK-II products.
“Trace elements of these ingredients exist naturally in the environment, and in food, water and cosmetic products.
“The trace levels of chromium in question are 100 times less than what the World Health Organisation considers safe in our everyday diet.
“Similarly, the level of neodymium exposure is at least 1,000 times less than what is considered to be safe,'' the statement read.
The company said the trace levels found in SK-II products were well within limits recognised as safe within the European Union, the United States and other countries.
“All SK-II products in Malaysia comply with standards and regulations, which we believe are in accordance with government rules and regulations around the world.
“The US Food and Drug Authority regulations recognise that unavoidable levels of trace elements like chromium and neodymium can be found in cosmetic products and do not pose a health or safety risk to consumers,” the statement added.
It said SK-II sales had only been temporarily suspended in China, adding that this was not the case in Malaysia and other Asian markets.

Study shows old cared for out of duty, not love

Star: PETALING JAYA: Caregivers for the elderly are doing it mainly out of obligation and most are faced with financial constraints, according to a recent study.
A Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) study, Factors and Challenges of Caregiving for Older Malaysians, revealed that 61.5% of the 367 caregivers questioned rated obligation as the main reason for choosing to remain in the career.
Love ranked a distant second at 14.3%, with religious belief at 7.2%.
Most of the caregivers, about 68%, were finding it hard to make ends meet.
Another study, Social Support to the Older Malaysian: Realities and Expectations, showed that most of the aged desired support from their children (64% of the 1,993 aged questioned).
Of this group, the need to be showered with love ranked lowest at 7.4%. Instead, most said they looked forward to visits (35.8%), with the need for financial support also ranking high (32.4%).
In revealing the outcome of these studies, Assoc Prof Dr Nurizan Yahaya, who is with UPM's Gerontology Institute, said 15 research studies on the aged costing over RM9mil were carried out by various institutions under the 8th Malaysia Plan (2000-2005).
“The studies concentrated more on health, social and economic aspects but lacked emphasis on job opportunities, human rights, transport, public amenities and environment.
“These areas need attention,” said Dr Nurizan, who was presenting her paper Ageing and Senior Citizens in Malaysia: Research Perspectives during the National Seminar on Senior Citizens and the 9th Malaysia Plan organised by Persatuan Kebajikan Usiamas Malaysia on Monday.
She hoped that policy makers and the public would use these findings to help the aged.
According to a United Nations estimate, Malaysia will become an ageing nation by 2035 with the number of aged reaching 15% of the population then.
A census in 2000 revealed that of the 23.27 million population, 1.45 million were senior citizens (age 60 and above).
“Perak, Selangor and Johor had the most number of senior citizens, about 38% of the ageing population,” she said.
The census showed that about 900,000 senior citizens lived alone, she added.
A study by Dr Nurizan and her team (Life Satisfaction of Poor Elderly in Peninsular Malaysia, 2005) showed that among poor senior citizens, widows and singles received an average of RM144 in monthly welfare aid.
Another study, Elderly Income Sources: Ethnic Comparison, shows that out of 1,981 senior citizens, 72% Malays, 61% Chinese and 71% Indians were poor, with less than RM529 as household income.

Friday, September 22, 2006

Nearly half of drug addicts are new users

Star: JOHOR BARU: More than 47% of drug addicts identified in the first half of the year are new users.
Department of Occupational Safety and Health director-general Zainuddin Abdullah, who described the figure as worrying, said the National Anti-Drug Agency reported that 13,058 drug addicts had been detected in the first six months.
“Since 1998, a total of 295,593 addicts have been identified, and this makes up about 1.1% of the national population,” he said yesterday at the Prevention of Drug, Alcohol and Substance Abuse in the Workplace seminar here.
According to him, 71% of the addicts were aged between 25 and 29, 89% were employed and 30% were women.
Zainuddin said such substance abuse would weaken a company’s management or administrative abilities, as they had to cope with absenteeism, which would lower productivity.
He added that organisations whose workers were prone to substance abuse would also face costs such as medical and compensation claims as well as a high staff turnover.
As such, he called on employers to adopt the Code of Practice for Prevention of Drug, Alcohol and Substance Abuse in the Workplace launched in May last year.
When asked if the adoption of the code had been effective in reducing drug abuse among workers, Zainuddin said it was too early to tell.
“We will know its effectiveness six months from now.”
On employers’ response in adopting the code, Zainuddin said it had been well received although some were not sure how to incorporate it into their occupational safety and health programme.

RM300m to train health staff

Star: KUALA TERENGGANU: The Health Ministry has been allocated RM300mil under the Ninth Malaysia Plan for in-house training for health services staff to develop human capital.
Secretary-general, Datuk Dr Mohamed Nasir Mohamed Ashraf, said yesterday that it could not be denied that human capital was important in the development of a country.
“This has been proven in developed countries where a nation's output depends almost totally on human capital,” he said at the convocation of the Nursing College and state-level Quality Day of the ministry here.
A total of 243 trainee nurses received their diplomas after completing a three-year course.
Dr Mohamed Nasir told the nurses that completing the course did not mean that their learning should stop because learning was a life-long process.
“Knowledge and skills must be enhanced through advanced courses,” he said.

Thursday, September 21, 2006

Govt Probes Claim Of High Level Of Propionic Acid In Bread

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 (Bernama) -- Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Shafie Apdal Thursday advised the people to remain calm while the government investigates a claim that bread of popular brands contains higher than permitted levels of the propionic acid preservative.
"Let us investigate. Don't accept it (the allegation) yet because there is no official statement from the government," he told reporters after officiating the opening of the Iran-Malaysia Exchange 2006 exhibition at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre (KLCC), here.
He said the relevant government authorities such as the Health Ministry were investigating a claim yesterday by the Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) that bread it had tested was found to contain excessive amounts of the preservative, even up to five times the permitted level.
CAP president S. M. Mohamed Idris said that under the Food Regulations 1985, bread was only allowed to contain propionic acid in amounts that did not exceed 2,000 mg per kg.
He also claimed that burger buns of two international fast food chains had also been found to contain excessive amounts of the preservative, up to 1.5 times and 3.6 times above the permitted level.

Setting Up Of Varsities Offering Medical Courses Frozen

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 21 (Bernama) -- The Cabinet yesterday decided to freeze the establishment of private institutions of higher learning (IPTS) for medical courses, said Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed.
He said the decision was made as the Cabinet felt that the 10 existing IPTS offering medical courses were sufficient.
At the same time, he said, the National Accreditation Board (LAN) and the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) would carry out an audit on local IPTS.
"We want to ensure that the quality of local IPTS offering medical studies is in line with the standards set by the government," he said when winding up the debate on the 2007 Budget for his ministry at the Dewan Rakyat Thursday.
Mustapa said his ministry would also grade local IPTS early next year to check on the standard of learning at these institutions.
"We will introduce grades A, B and C and IPTS which are given grade C will be issued a show-cause letter before being asked to close down," he added
The minister said the move to carry out the audit on IPTS was part of the effort to monitor their activities compared with public institutions of higher learning (IPTA) which were subjected to the Universities and University Colleges Act (AUKU).
On the suggestion that the AUKU be abolished, he said a study carried out by the ministry recently found that 90 per cent of parents wanted the Act to be maintained.

Warning on unsafe bread

Star: PENANG: Popular brands of bread have been found to contain a preservative called propionic acid in amounts of up to five times more than the permitted limit.
Consumers Association of Penang (CAP) president S. M. Mohamed Idris said out of the 50 samples gathered from a variety of breads bought here and in Kuala Lumpur, 46 were found to contain excessive amounts of the preservative.
“Under the Food Regulations 1985, bread is only allowed to contain propionic acid in amounts that must not exceed more than 2,000mg per kilogram.
“Burger buns from two popular international fast food chains have also been found to contain 1.5 and 3.6 times above the permitted limit,” he told a press conference yesterday.
Idris said studies had shown that propionates were linked with migraine.
“A 2002 Australian study found that calcium propionate was capable of causing aberrant behaviour in children.
“It is shocking that millions of Malaysians are consuming breads with such high levels of preservatives. They should refrain from eating bread until it is proven safe by the Health Ministry.
“The results of our findings will be submitted to the ministry over the next few days. The ministry should test all the breads in the market and ensure that those with excessive amounts of preservatives are withdrawn,” he said.
When contacted, Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said he would instruct his officers to conduct tests on breads following CAP’s recent findings.
“The ministry will not hesitate to haul up the bread makers who used excessive chemicals in their products. Such irresponsibility will not be tolerated as it involves the people’s health,” he added.
Propionic acid prevents the growth of mould and some bacteria and is usually used in cheese, breads and other baked goods to keep them fresh.

Wednesday, September 20, 2006

AIMST’s first batch in

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The new RM465mil permanent campus of the MIC-owned Asian Institute of Medicine, Science and Technology (AIMST) University in Semeling, Kedah, which will begin operations by the year's end, has already received its maiden batch of students.
The 650 students have entered its hostel, but will still have to attend lectures at the AIMST temporary campus in Bandar Amanjaya in Sungai Petani while awaiting the completion of the permanent campus next month.
MIC president Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said other students were putting up at temporary hostels in Bandar Laguna Merbok and also staying on their own in nearby housing estates.
He said these students were expected to move into the permanent campus’ hostel early next year.
There are about 4,500 students pursuing various courses in medicine, engineering, biotech and information technology courses at the AIMST temporary campus.
“By end of the year, we expect the permanent campus in Semeling to be fully operational,” he said.
He added that that the construction of the university’s permanent campus, which was 98% done, was expected to be completed by Oct 15.
The Works Minister, said the MIC would invite Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to officially declare open the AIMST permanent campus next January.
“January is an auspicious month for Hindus and we believe it is a good time,” he said.
Samy Vellu, who has been making regular inspection visits to the Semeling campus, said the project was progressing well but he had asked the contractors to speed things up.
He said enrolment was expected to increase to 7,500 within five years.
The Maju Institute of Educational Development (MIED), which is the party’s educational arm, manages the university.

Nursing college directed to close, fours others to buck up

Star: PETALING JAYA: One nursing college has been directed to close its programme and four others asked to improve theirs by the Higher Education Ministry after complaints from students and the public.
The Damai Service Hospital (Melawati) in Taman Melawati, which had enrolled 17 student nurses without registering its programme with the ministry and the Malaysian Nursing Association, has been given a show cause letter and directed to close its programme with immediate effect, said minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed in a press statement yesterday.
Four other errant colleges –Masterkill Nursing and Health College, Cheras; Windfield International College, Kuala Lumpur; Islamic Science and Technology College, Kelantan and Seri Manjung Nursing and Health Sciences College, Perak – have been asked to reform their student welfare and lecturer to student ratio.
The ministry will also hold a moratorium on the approval of nursing programmes and establishment of IPTS offering these programmes from today.
Under the Private Higher Education Act 1996, IPTS wanting to offer nursing programmes have to register with the Higher Education Ministry and the Malaysian Nursing Association and Health Ministry.

Educating Sikh women on personal health

NST: IPOH: Coffee powder and toothpaste to heal your child’s scraped knee?
Apparently these are some of the traditional "cures" used by Sikh women to treat minor injuries at home.
The Sikh Women’s Awareness Network (Swan) is hoping such practices would be a thing of the past by providing women with the proper knowledge.
"My mother used Colgate on my cuts when I was growing up," said Harbans Kaur, who is one of Swan’s 11 founding members.
The 45-year-old executive secretary also expressed her concern over the apparent use of coffee powder as a salve for injuries, adding that this would only infect the wound.
It is misconceptions such as these that Swan seeks to overcome as they embark on a mission to empower Sikh women.
With the motto "a healthy family is a happy family", Swan hopes to increase the women’s awareness of personal health and equip them with skills to earn money from their homes.
"We are just laying the foundation," said Harbans, noting that some women from Klang, Petaling Jaya, Malacca and Johor Baru who attended Swan’s awareness programmes were forming groups for yoga exercises and walks around their neighbourhood soon after the sessions.
Swan held a health and empowerment programme in Buntong yesterday and discovered that some 300 women who attended it had never had a health screening before.
"They are busy caring for their children, their husbands and their in-laws, that they aren’t caring for themselves," Harbans said.
By bringing the health screening services to their neighbourhood, Swan hopes to teach women that they should be healthy themselves to enable them to keep their families happy and healthy.
Swan had organised similar programmes in Taiping and Johor Baru, but yesterday’s programme offered the most comprehensive health screening, including bone density checks, pap smear, dental checks, eye and ear checks and breast cancer screening.
"This programme is very good. My aunt doesn’t usually go for a health check," said one of the women at the screening, Amarjit Kaur, 53, after learning that her aunt Puran Kaur, 83, had poor bone density.
National Population and Family Development Board, the Perak health department and the Kinta dental services department also lent support to the event.

A Regulation To Control Indoor Air Quality Wanted

PORT DICKSON, Sept 19 (Bernama) -- A survey, conducted by the Occupational Safety and Health Department last year, found that 62 per cent of its 2,000 respondents wanted a regulation to monitor indoor air quality be established.
Negeri Sembilan Environment, Human Resource and Public Complaints Action Committee Chairman Datuk Peter Lai Yit Fee said 22 per cent were happy with mere guidelines, while 16 per cent wanted a code of practice when it came to indoor air quality management.
Speaking at the Indoor Air Quality Seminar here Tuesday, he said the government wanted to ensure that those working indoors or inside commercial buildings were breathing quality air.
He said most individuals spent as high as 90 per cent a day in an indoor environment such as offices, homes and in their cars. Therefore, quality indoor environment was crucial to a person's health.
He said currently, only a code of practice was being implemented to monitor indoor air quality.
The Indoor Air Quality Code of Practice was established last year and issued by the Occupational Safety and Health Department in August 2005, he added.
"The code is a guideline on the minimum indoor air quality to ensure workers in a building are not exposed to polluted air that can influence their health and productivity," he said.
It focused on the pollution of five types of chemicals in non-industrial workplaces like offices, restaurants, education and training centres, commercial centres and entertainment centres, he added.
The chemicals were carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, respirable particulates, formaldehyde and total volatile organic compounds.
He said the code would be in implementation for two years before being reviewed.

Tuesday, September 19, 2006

No Certification Required For Private Dental Surgery Assistants

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 (Bernama) -- There is no regulation in most countries compelling dental surgery assistants at private clinics to have certificates or be certified, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad.
He said this was because their scope of work was restricted to receiving patients, getting the equipment ready and sterilising the utensils.
"They are normally trained on the job by dentists. They are not nurses but categorised as dental surgery assistants," he said when responding to a question from Datuk Razali Ismail (BN-Kuala Terengganu) who wanted to know the number of uncertified nurses especially private dental nurses at Dewan Rakyat here Tuesday.
Dr Abdul Latiff said there was no dental nurse working in the private sector except for in the public sector.
"They are diploma holders trained by the Health Ministry in Penang and undergo periodical training to upgrade their professionalism and we feel churning out 120 dental nurses a year is adequate," he said.
It is compulsory for dental nurses to register with the Malaysian Nursing Board, he said, adding that the ministry was facing a shortage of nurses.
"So far, we train about 3,000 nurses a year, but it is still not enough for we still need about 5,000 nurses to fulfil the quota 1:200 between nurses and patients. The efforts will be intensified by increasing the number of affiliated health science colleges," he said.

Why many Muslims are not organ donors

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Many Muslims are reluctant to become organ donors because they fear that their bodies would be mutilated.
This was the main reason given by more than half, or 56.3 per cent, of the respondents in a random survey carried out by the Institute of Islamic Understanding Malaysia (IKIM) last year.
The survey, which involved 500 Muslims in the Klang Valley, also found that religious factor only affected 5.2 per cent of the respondents.

It also revealed various misconceptions among those surveyed. Among them are that:
• family members of a donor would have to pay for the organs to be removed;
• doctors would be reluctant to save the life of a known donor;
• a recipient’s sin will have to be borne by a donor; and
• organs from Muslims must only be donated to another Muslim.

"It is ignorance which is deterring Muslims from becoming organ donors. What they do not realise is that a majority of those waiting for organs are Muslims," said an exasperated Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen Shaikh Mohd Salleh, IKIM’s former Senior Fellow (Centre for Science and Technology) who was in charge of the survey.
Their reluctance has resulted in the comparatively small number of Muslims who have pledged their organs for donation as compared to other races.
Between 1997 and now, only 10,193 Muslims have pledged their organs as compared with 60,876 Chinese and 22,565 Indians.
The misconceptions which contributed to their reluctance was surprising considering that more than 95 per cent of the respondents knew about organ donation, with most of them getting their information from the mass media.
The vote was, however, split on whether one should be a living donor or only donate the organs after death.
Perhaps an encouraging finding of the survey is that two-thirds of the respondents have said that they would allow their family members to become organ donors.
Most also have no problems about allowing organs from their loved ones to be removed if the person had pledged to be a donor.
However, a majority of the respondents said they would prefer to accept an organ from a fellow Muslim donor.
"What they do not understand is that in Malaysia, anyone, including Muslims, can donate and receive organs from anybody. Recipients will have to accept the organs they get," explained Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen, who is now the Executive Director of Yayasan Ilmuan.
In another indication of their ignorance, 46.8 per cent of the respondents said they would only accept tissues and organs from living donors.
Many do not realise that many critical organs such as the heart, liver, lungs, and corneas can only be obtained from a donor who is brain dead.
Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen said although the number of pledges have increased over the years, a lot still needed to be done to encourage Muslims to come forward.
He pointed out that the National Fatwa Council had stated in 1970 that organ donation was permissible in Islam.
"The reluctance on the part of many Muslims may be a result of the lack of information, lack of understanding or pure selfishness," he said, adding that many Muslim countries have sanctioned organ and tissue donation.
One of the earliest countries to do so was Egypt in 1952 when the Grand Mufti of Egypt, Sheikh Makhloof, issued a fatwa (decree) allowing corneal transplants.
"Many other fatwa have been issued by religious scholars and authorities around the world, including in Malaysia, allowing organ and tissue transplant," Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen said when met at an organ donation seminar in Sungai Buluh yesterday.
The role of religious leaders could not be underestimated as seen in Johor which has the highest number of Muslim donors — thanks to its supportive state Mufti who goes to the ground and talks about the importance of donating organs.
An encouraging development of late, said Shaikh Mohd Saifuddeen, was that more young Muslim men and women were coming forward to pledge and donate their organs.
However, to avoid any misunderstandings later, he urged them to inform their family members.
Many, he said, did not do so as they were afraid they would be scolded by their parents or other family members.

Chua leads delegates to WHO talks on new diseases

Star: PUTRAJAYA: With the emergence of new diseases in the Western Pacific region such as bird flu, the World Health Organisation is seeking the views of health experts and key government officials in the region on ways to fight the diseases.
Its Western Pacific Regional Office has gathered experts and officials to discuss the issues at its 57th annual meeting in Christchurch, New Zealand, which began yesterday and will end on Friday.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek is leading the Malaysian delegation to the regional forum that would discuss policies and strategies that had been decided on at the World Health Assembly in May.
They included prevention and control of emerging and non-communicable diseases, alcohol-related harm, tuberculosis and HIV/AIDS.
Among other topics are tobacco control, mental health and environmental health.
After the meeting, the Malaysian delegates would visit an Alternative Health Care clinic in Auckland to see how it integrates with mainstream medical care.
They would also visit a site in Christchurch that uses a bus system that doubles as a mobile operation theatre to provide healthcare services to rural areas.

Ways to detect ATS addicts being sought

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The Internal Security Ministry, the police and the Attorney-General’s Chambers are jointly working to find ways to detect and rehabilitate addicts hooked on designer drugs or amphetamine-type stimulants (ATS).
Ministry secretary-general Tan Sri Abdul Aziz Mohd Yusof said many ATS addicts escaped the law because it was difficult to detect the use of ATS.
“The drug cannot be traced in the urine after six hours and there are no visible signs on someone who had taken ATS, unlike morphine and heroine addicts who are visibly disorientated,” he said.
“Some of them are known to be only occasional drug users and not drug addicts.”
Abdul Aziz said the authorities were currently working towards finding a solution, including amending the Drug Addicts (Rehabilitation and Treatment) Act to ensure that addicts are rehabilitated for at least two years in rehabilitation centres.
“There are also more drug addicts, including those on designer drugs, within the community,” he said, adding that the ministry estimates that there are over 10,000 addicts outside compared with the 4,000 inmates in drug rehabilitation centres in the country.
Abdul Aziz said the designer drugs make addicts brave, violent, and merciless towards their victims unlike those on traditional drugs.
He was speaking to reporters after presenting contributions from various organisations totalling RM60,000 to the parents of the late Kons Mohd Fakharudin Zakaria, who was killed after struggling with two suspects in Kampung Baru Semenyih last week.
Also present at the event were Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan and Malaysia Crime Prevention Foundation executive council member Datuk Robert Phang.
Musa said that of the number of crimes that took place, about 40% of them involved drug addicts and that the number would continue to increase if a solution is not found to catch those on designer drugs.