Wednesday, January 31, 2007

One In Five Malaysians Believe Their Life Is Highly Stressful

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 (Bernama) -- One in five Malaysians believe their life is highly stressful and the difficulty in balancing life with work is making the situation worse, according to global market intelligence company, Synovate.
Its managing director (Malaysia) Steve Murphy said based on a survey carried out by the company on 10,000 Peninsular Malaysians, 28 per cent of the Chinese respondents said they had been feeling the strain compared to 22 per cent Indians and 18 per cent Malays.
"Despite the increased pressure, Malaysians feel that the sanctity of marriage still holds firm," he said in a statement issued here Tuesday.
"With with two-thirds of respondents agreeing that 'married life is better than being single', the survey shows that Malaysians value marriage and the sense of family it brings.
"Malaysia should be proud in being a country that nurtures family bond, with the inherent family unity to likely help maintain a strong foundation for the country and its people.
"However, although most Malaysians believe that being married is better than being single, more than one-third of them think a successful career and a happy family life are not compatible.
"And although Malaysians have strong family ties and believed in marriage, many are struggling to find a balance between their work and family life."
He said Malaysians were united in their view towards family values but were finding it increasingly difficult to incorporate these values into their busy, modern lives.
"Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) said they were interested in hearing their parents' opinion, and the majority believed strongly in the role of the family and building one of their own.
"However, with just under one-third (31 per cent) of Malaysians surveyed believing that 'you cannot have a successful career and a happy family life at the same time', it is clear that many are finding it difficult to maintain their family commitments alongside their demanding work obligations."
Murphy said the Chinese were the most independent group with 56 per cent ready to listen to their parents compared with 79 per cent Malays and 77 per cent Indians.
When it came to a successful union, the Malay (72 per cent) and Indian respondents (62 percent) were particularly wedded to the idea of a blissful marriage, while respondents over 30 years old (72 per cent) were convinced that "marriage is better than being single" compared with 48 per cent among the younger generation (15 to 19 years) and 57 per cent among those aged 20-24.
The survey, under the Synovate Media Atlas, a media consumption, lifestyle and attitude study conducted in Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand, was carried out via face-to-face and telephone interviews.

Sarawak To Set Up Mobile Eye Clinics

KUCHING, Jan 30 (Bernama) -- Sarawak is looking into the setting up of mobile eye clinics in collaboration with the Health Ministry and non governmental organisations to enable better access to public health care, especially in the remote and rural areas, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said Tuesday.
He said the State Health Department could consider utilising boats for such mobile units besides complementing the Flying Doctor Service as people in the rural areas, scattered over 5,000 settlements state-wide, had to travel great distances for basic eye screening and treatment.
"Based on the ministry's national eye survey, which shows that the population in Sarawak has the country's highest blindness prevalence of 0.33 per cent compared to the national level of 0.29 per cent, the need to create greater public awareness on its prevention and eradication through smart partnerships is acutely felt," he said the Orbis International Flying Eye Hospital at the Kuching International Airport here.
While 93 per cent of the people living in the peninsular had basic health care services within five km, Sarawak's eye care was particularly under resource with only one ophthalmologist or eye specialist for every 140,000 people in the state at present.
Later, Taib told a news conference that the state government was also looking into the possibility of setting up an eye bank here through concerted efforts with the ministry at the federal level.
He also said the government was also receptive to future smart partnerships with the Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital in establishing a satellite hospital here to act as the hub for the Sarawak and Sabah region.
Meanwhile Orbis International Flying Eye Doctor Service Director Drew Boshell said the world's only flying eye hospital, a converted DC-10 aircraft with state-of-the-art medical and academic facilities, was conducting its two-week programme for the first time here in East Malaysia from yesterday.
During the programme, about 70 free eye surgeries would be carried out with the participation of 60 ophthalmologists from Sarawak and other South East Asean countries besides 50 local nurses and local medical assistants, he said.
He said the non profit-making organisation, which would be flying to its next destination in Subic of the Philippines, had treated one million patients worldwide and conducted treatment and training programmes for over 90,000 eye care professional in 85 countries since 1982.
This is its fourth programme in Malaysia in efforts to achieve the World Health Organisation Vision 2020 goal of eliminating unnecessary blindness by 2020, he said.

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

IJN Performs Open-Heart Surgery Without Blood Transfusion

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 (Bernama) -- The National Heart Institute (IJN) recorded another success Monday when it conducted an open-heart surgery without blood transfusion on a 56-year-old retiree.
The four-hour aortic valve replacement operation on the man started at 8am. IJN had performed three similar operations before this -- the last one about 10 years ago.
Today's operation was conducted by a 10-member team led by IJN's consultant cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr Pau Kiew Kong.
The team comprised two surgeons, three anaesthetists, two perfusionists (persons who monitor the heart-lung machine), two staff nurses and one operation theatre technican.
Speaking to Bernama after the operation, Dr Pau said the patient, who suffered from aortic stenosis, had asked him to conduct the operation without blood transfusion due to certain reasons.
"He does not want any blood to be given to him. We respect his wish but he must fill up the "no blood" consent form before the surgery took place," he said, adding that such an operation would only be carried out on the patient's request.
Blood transfusion which is regarded as a safety net is always practised in major surgery. However, according to Dr Pau, heart surgery without blood transfusion was quite safe if carried out properly.
Dr Pau said prior to the surgery, certain measures would be taken such as maximising the patient's blood by using drugs.
The team must also minimise the patient's blood loss during the surgery.
The local cardiac surgeon said IJN had the expertise to carry out such an operation if requested by the patient.
"We can do cardiac surgery without blood transfusion, safely," he said.

Specialist Doctors Attempt To Cheat Private Hospitals Foiled

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 29 (Bernama) -- Attempts by two specialist doctors to cheat two private hospitals by claiming to possess false qualifications and working experience had been uncovered.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said their activities were traced after the two hospitals referred their credentials to the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).
He added implementation of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 last year made it easier for the ministry to cross-check academic qualifications and working experience of specialist doctors with MMC.
"The main condition for those vying to become doctors is three years experience upon graduation and for specialists at least five years after passing as specialists," he told reporters after receiving a cheque for RM50,000 from Pantai Holdings Berhad in aid of Johor flood victims, here Monday.
Earlier, Chua who had a dialogue session with private hospitals said if found guilty the specialist doctors could be fined a maximum RM300,000 or six months jail or both.
The Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 that became effective on May 1 last year compelled private hospitals to be responsible in ensuring that their specialists have the necessary qualifications.
The Act also listed the fees charged by doctors nationwide.
Chua said since enforcement of the Act, the ministry received 46 complaints on the quality of services by private hospitals last year with more expected this year.
He added this was because patients were aware of their rights and action to be taken by the ministry.
Most of the complaints were regarding the charges, poor services and inadequate facilities.

On aid to flood victims, Chua said non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that wished to help in health services should contact the ministry to facilitate aid work.
"For example there was an NGO that gave flu injections to 1,000 people while there were 200,000 people. This is something not needed as it led to dissatisfaction among flood victims," he added.
Chua said flu was not important as during flood it was necessary to ensure personal hygiene and that drinking water was boiled.

Set up visitors board in hospitals

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Private hospitals with 50 beds and above are required to set up a Board of Visitors, failing which their licences will not be renewed.
The Health Minister will choose the board members from among active and respectable members of the community.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the board would look into patients’ grievances and bring them to the attention of the hospital.
“We are finalising the terms before the members of the boards are selected,” he said, adding that such facilities were among the terms spelled out for the renewal of licences.
“It is part of private hospitals’ corporate social responsibility; other types of services to society can be in the form of offering discounts and free health screening.”
Dr Chua said the licence renewal was not automatic as the hospitals had to follow guidelines under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 which came into force last year.
“They must tell us their social responsibility programme, and it must be acceptable to us,” he said after attending a second dialogue with the management of private hospitals here yesterday.
Dr Chua, who said 46 complaints on inadequate facilities, bad services and high fees were received last year, reminded patients that they were entitled to itemised billing under the Act.
He noted that two doctors from separate private hospitals had submitted false curriculum vitae to the management while one hospital that was given ISO accreditation did not have a certificate of fitness.
He said investigations would be carried out on all complaints before licences for the affected hospitals were renewed.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Malays more prone to genetic form of eye cancer

NST: KOTA BARU: It is estimated that at least one in 15,000 children here are prone to develop a genetic form of eye cancer.
Most die by the time they are six years old because they are diagnosed too late, or not at all.
Retinablastoma is caused by an abnormality in the gene of the same name.
And the sad thing is that most of these deaths are preventable with a simple test at birth.
Many parents take their children to traditional healers when they start to show symptoms, so they are treated too late.
Researchers at Univeriti Sains Malaysia have also found that the rate of retinablastoma is higher in the Malay population.
USM Human Genome Centre director Dr Zilfalil Alwi said: "We discovered that the Malay genetic make-up is more prone to single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), an abnormality in the Retinablastoma gene which causes the disease."
This was discovered in a two-year research project involving 36 retinablastoma patients aged three months to seven years. Twenty-nine of them were Malay.
"The disease is easily detected after birth with a simple eye scan. But many of our hospitals are not told to do this.
"When the symptoms start appearing and the child’s eyes start to look strange, parents, especially in rural areas, take them to a bomoh instead of the hospital.
"By the time they bring these kids to the hospital, it’s too late," Zilfalil said.
Based on Western estimates, one in 15,000 Caucasian children are afflicted, but the figure is probably much higher here.
The genetic abnormality is more common in Malays, and there are few statistics because most cases go undiagnosed.
Zilfalil added that early detection could save lives. The disease can be treated with radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Children diagnosed in time have gone on to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
"All that is needed is for more rigorous screening of babies at birth.
"And the retinablastoma test is very simple. It can be performed by a general practitioner."

Cancer survivors provide empathy, strength to other patients

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: As she was being wheeled into the operating room for her second cancer surgery, Goh Siew Fan made a promise to God.
"I promised that if I am cured, I would quit my job to be a full-time volunteer working with cancer patients," she said in a strong voice, that belied her slight stature.
The former teacher was sharing her experiences as a cancer survivor during the National Cancer Council’s (Makna) annual volunteer appreciation get-together at the International Youth Centre.
The gutsy lady hopes to educate the public on the importance of early detection, and lend her ear to other cancer patients.
"Most patients don’t want sympathy, they want empathy and I can help them. I’ve been there myself, twice," she said.
Five years after she successfully battled ovarian cancer, she was diagnosed with cancer of the rectum.
She still has to wait one agonising year before her doctors declare her free of cancer.
"I hope by the end of this year, I’ll be given a clean bill of health. Then, I can really concentrate on helping people during my ‘bonus years’," she said.
Jacob P.C. Mathews said he didn’t see his cancer diagnosis as a death sentence. For him it was a wake-up call.
Months away from his retirement in 1998 he was diagnosed with Malignant Fibrous Histeocytoma, a cancer of the soft tissue, in his right leg.
"At first it was like the end of the world. I was very active and I didn’t see it coming," said the 63-year-old retired teacher. He has coached athletics and cricket since 1973.
Mathews said he became more and more mindful of others in the same situation.
In 2005 he became a volunteer after discovering that his children were contributing monthly to Makna.
"I felt as an ex-cancer patient that my words could encourage others to live on," he said.
Kamarulbahrain Shaharudin’s wife was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2004.
The 42-year-old factory technician gave up his job of 22 years to support and look after his wife.
"The doctor gave my wife a 30 per cent chance to live. I didn’t want to leave her alone with her thoughts," he said.
Every morning Kamarulbahrain, who now operates a bicycle shop in Kulim, Kedah, and his wife cycle 24 kilometres to keep her mind off her illness and build her strength.
Against all expectations Rosmawati Mohd Yusof is improving. Surprised doctors said her cancer is down to stage two.
"My wife is a model for other cancer patients," Kamarulbahrain said proudly.
During the event, Makna president Datuk Mohd Farid Ariffin presented certificates of appreciation to 44 volunteers, and awards to two outstanding volunteers.
The Volunteer Leadership award went to Mathews, who also got a Special Recognition Award along with Goh.

So what meat is safe?

NST: IPOH: Pigs are not the only farm animals fattened with banned growth boosters. Beef, mutton and duck meat have also been found to contain beta-agonist in tests conducted by the Universiti Sains Malaysia Doping Control Centre (DCC).
The Ministry of Health’s food control division has detected it in beef.
Random tests by the DCC confirm that cattle, goats and poultry have been fed with Salbutamol, the most commonly used beta-agonist.
DCC science officer Mohd Azman Ibrahim told the New Straits Times that about two per cent of over 100 samples received monthly by the laboratory had traces of Salbutamol.
Beef, mutton, and buffalo and duck meat make up 20 per cent of the monthly samples.
"This is worrying as the samples were taken at random. Many more would have gone undetected.
"Since the DCC was set up 10 years ago, things have taken a turn for the worse," he said.
"Even duck farmers use Salbutamol while those rearing chicken inject their livestock with banned cancer-causing antibiotics such as chloramphenicol and nitrofuran."
Only one spoonful of Salbutamol is needed for each tonne of animal feed, which made the growth enhancer economically attractive to livestock farmers, Azman said.
A kilogramme of the easily-available Salbutamol costs RM1,500.
"It is easy to smuggle Salbutamol into the country in powder form. It will be difficult for the Customs to restrict it."
Two other types of beta-agonist, Terbutaline and Clanbuterol, though more effective, were not as widely used due to their high prices, he said.
Although beta-agonist, a drug listed under the Poisons Schedule, was banned in 1996, the ministry acknowledges that farmers use it to produce more marketable lean meat and speed up the growth of pigs.
Dr Abdul Rahim Mohamad, director of the food control division in the Public Health Department, said beta agonist was detected in beef recently.
"Following the findings by the Doping Centre, we will act and start testing other meats sold in the market," he said.
Dr Rahim said although the ministry conducted random checks, it was crucial for the division to be informed of meat samples containing banned substances.
Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said the ministry had not received an official report on the use of beta-agonist in beef, mutton and duck meat, but he would instruct the ministry’s food division to immediately check on meats sold in the market.
The Veterinary Services Department will also step up inspections on cattle, goats and poultry in response to the DDC findings.
Director-general Datuk Dr Abd Aziz Jamaluddin said the same action taken against pig breeders would be started on other livestock farms.
"We will go hard on those found using the growth enhancer on animal feed," he added.
The lack of testing on meats, other than pork, worries the Perak Veterinary Services Department, whose deputy director (health) Dr N. Krishnan said it was time random checks were instituted for other animals apart from pigs.
"We have never monitored these farms but maybe something needs to be done," he said.
Beta-agonist is a bronchodilator traditionally used to dilate airways to relieve shortness of breath in patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Pigs fed with the substance mature 20 days earlier and produce an additional 4kg of lean meat.
In 2004, the Health Ministry said between 70 and 84 per cent of pork contained the drug and a recent check on 656 pig farms nationwide confirmed the figures.
Now, 31 pig farms are under quarantine after their animals were found to have high levels of beta-agonist.
The farmers in Malacca, Selangor, Perak and Penang can only slaughter pigs certified free of the growth enhancer.
So far only four farms, whose quarantine period expired on Jan 14, have applied to the Veterinary Services Department to test their pigs.
Azman warned of the long-term dangers of eating meat containing the banned substance, which includes heart-related diseases, headaches, dizziness, breathing difficulties and palpitations.
"Those who are weak can see their hands trembling shortly after eating tainted meat," he said.
Now, livestock breeders are only allowed to use ractopamine hydrochloride, known by its trade name Paylean.
Ractopamine hydrochloride is a pharmaceutical product that causes the pig’s metabolism to shift nutrients from fat to muscle growth.
In 1999, Paylean became the first beta-agonist approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in food-producing animals.
Azman said the biggest target in the government’s campaign against the use of beta-agonist remained illegal pig farms.
Dr Krishnan said the lack of punitive measures might be a reason for the rampant abuse of beta-agonist by pig farmers.

Enough Medical Schools In M'sia For Now

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 (Bernama) -- The eight public medical schools and nine private ones producing about 1,400 new doctors annually is enough for the country's needs for now, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA)'s Medical Education sub-committee chairman Datuk Dr N. Athimulam said.
"At the moment that is enough for the country's present 22 million population. Definitely we would need more (medical schools) in future, but let the growth be in tandem with future needs and availability of resources.
"There is also not enough big hospitals, logistical support, lecturers and other facilities to train more medical students now," he told reporters after attending Russia's Kursk State Medical University and Magaram Enterprise students briefing here Sunday.
He also advised students who wanted to pursue medicine overseas to check thoroughly the institutions' recognition status and reputation with the Malaysian Medical Council, Public Service Department and Higher Education Ministry in order to avoid being duped by fake agents.

Sunday, January 28, 2007

Home care eases burden on hospital beds

NST: Home nursing is getting popular as patients would rather leave the hospital earlier, writes ANNIE FREEDA CRUEZ.
CHINESE New Year is around the corner but it only brings painful memories for Susan Ngew. It was a terrible occasion for 49-year-old Susan last year when an accident left her with a fractured left leg and a badly smashed right leg.
"My legs were pinned to the bumper of a stationary vehicle when a car rammed into me in Sunway," said Susan, a kindergarten teacher.
"I was rushed to Universiti Hospital by ambulance and later transferred to a private hospital where emergency surgery was done on both my legs," she said.
If the seven-week hospital stay was painful, the mounting medical bill was another headache for Susan.
"I decided to seek home nursing care on the recommendation of my doctor," she said.
It’s not just the financial consideration that both patients and the hospitals, especially public hospitals, look at when they consider home care.
Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s Head of Medicine Department Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai said: "Discharging patients early from hospitals allows the beds to be used for more urgent cases."
The nurse who makes home visits can always refer to the doctor who treated the patient if there are any complications, added Dr Jeyaindran.
"Psychologically, patients also feel better when they are with their family members."
Susan’s decision to seek home care is not an isolated case that goes against the traditional view that patients should only leave hospital when they are completely cured, or that all treatment be given in hospital.
"There are certain treatments that can be done without admission and this will reduce the cost of healthcare," said Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, director-general of Health and chairman of the Nursing Board.
Dr Ismail announced recently that by 2010, some 70 per cent of nursing care would be given in homes.
"The trend now is also to promote ambulatory care (for patients who need no longer be confined to bed or who are able and strong enough to walk)."
The ministry, said Dr Ismail, will be introducing several types of home nursing care in stages.
While the authorities are promoting home care, Dr Jeyaindran warned against unscrupulous people, with profit uppermost on their minds, setting up companies to provide substandard services.
"We do not want unqualified people providing home nursing. It can be dangerous."
Dr Jeyaindran said patients who want home nursing must ensure they get qualified nurses and not retired hospital attendants, nursing aides and untrained personnel to give injections and medications, do dressing and provide other services.
"It must not be forgotten that old people who need home care could also be suffering from heart problems, hypertension, diabetes and other health complications.
"They need trained personnel to take care of them."
Consultant urologist Datuk Dr Tan Hui Meng, adjunct professor at University of Malaya’s Faculty of Medicine, said it is important for a patient seeking home nursing to discuss it with his doctor.
As home nursing is a "new" concept in Malaysia, Dr Tan said there should be more home nursing service providers.
"Patients and their families should be given the choice and they should consider factors like quality, reliability, cost and proximity."
Susan arranged for a nurse from the "Nurses At Home" service, operated by Sunmed@Home Sdn Bhd, to come three times a week to dress her wounds from April until last month.
She also visited her doctor during this period and had minor surgery done to her right leg.
An independent study conducted in Malaysia by Nurses At Home shows that as many as 40 per cent of patients in hospitals don’t really need to be there and don’t need the full range of costly and acute services that a hospital provides.
"We’re all aware of escalating healthcare costs and we need to explore ways of coping with this without compromising standards," said Simon Tan, a director at Nurses At Home.
This is care that can be delivered in the comfort of home by a state-registered nurse with a annual practising certificate.
And not all nurses can provide home nursing. For instance, said Tan, a nurse who had worked in the maternity ward may not be be able to deal with aged patients or dress complex diabetic wounds.
Tan, whose company charges between RM65 and RM100 a visit, said: "I must stress that home care does not replace the visits made by the patient’s doctor. We complement the treatment protocols prescribed by the doctor."
Tan said there is a broad range of conditions that can be treated at home but they generally fall under two categories: Rehabilitating patients who can be safely discharged from hospitals to receive home nursing care, and patients needing long-term care, including the aged.
He said one interesting development was that major insurance firms were a lot more receptive to covering home nursing expenses if there was a clear economic advantage and if the service is provided by a reputable firm.
"We have cases where the insurance firms covered home nursing costs beyond the limit stipulated in the policies, including some where no such benefit existed."

Psychiatric Treatment Ready, Where Are The Patients?

BATU PAHAT, Jan 27 (Bernama) -- While it is a known fact the majority of victims who suffer from natural disasters which ruin their homes or kill their loved ones, need psychiatric treatment but para medics on duty here are facing a different kind of problem.
Armed with the tools of trade, they are finding it hard to find patients who come forward to seek treatment for the psychological scar left behind by the devastating floods that lashed Johor twice in December and January, resulting in more than 100,000 people moved to flood relief centres set up by the government.
Though most of the evacuees have since return home, there are still about 10,000-odd victims in Sri Medan and Parit Sulong, the two small towns located about 30km from Batu Pahat, the only district in Johor still having flood victims at relief centres.
The high number of victims at relief centres here was due to slow receding of floodwaters though it has been more than two weeks since the distrct was hit by massive floods.
Houses of flood victims here were either washed away or still under two feet of water while the land they had worked on all their lives needs refarming. This mental trauma is enough for the weak-minded to require psychiatric help.
On Thursday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the authorities were worried of the psychological effects on the victims left behind by the second wave of floods.
The victims, after having lost their homes and belongings, have to put up in community and multipurpose halls and schools, which have been converted into relief centres, have little or no privacy at all.
A tough and arduous task now awaits the para medics from the Batu Pahat Hospital, Tampoi Permai Jaya Hospital and village health clinics here.
They have to travel from one relief centre to another to talk to the victims to see if they were mentally stable or needed professional help.
A Bernama check at Sri Medan and Parit Sulong showed though medical personnel were on standby at relief centres, they were treating victims for normal ailments like cough, cold and fever.
Abdul Hamid Abdul Osman, a para medic on duty at Dewan Sri Medan, one of the 22 relief centres in Sri Medan housing about 70 families, said detecting psychiatric cases was not easy as communication with the patient was an important criteria.
"We go to the relief centres to give motivation...we talk to them, this is very important. We give them counselling but the tough part is finding the patients," he said.
Another factor deterring patients from coming forward to seek treatment from psychiatric ailments like depression and anxiety was the social stigma that comes along with it.
Another health officer stationed at Parit Sulong, who declined to be named, said once word goes out that a particular person is getting psychiatric treatment, the society brands that person as "mad or kurang siuman (mentally unsound)" while this is not the case.
"Usually, these people are just depressed or face anxiety attacks. For example last night, it rained for three hours and we had cases of people getting scared by the downpour. Because they have gone through the floods, they fear that every time it rains, the floods are coming.
"It's like a driver who meets with a bad accident. He or she will naturally fear taking to the wheel again but with proper counselling and guidance, it will be all right.
"They need some form of treatment or this scar will stay on for a long time to come...some can even keep it for years and finally burst or even run amok thinking about the floods and the life they enjoyed before the disaster," she added.
While it is true psychiatric cases need urgent attention, these medical officers are having a tough time explaining to flood victims that not all who seek treatment were "mad" or "mentally deranged".
But first they have an uphill task ahead of identifying the victims.

Friday, January 26, 2007

13 dengue deaths this month

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Thirteen people have died from dengue fever so far this year.
Eleven of them were from Selangor and one each from Negri Sembilan and here.
Deputy Director-General of Health, Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat, said efforts were being made to prevent and contain the outbreak of dengue nationwide, especially in Selangor which has the highest number of deaths and cases.
"We have roped in health officers from Perlis, Kedah, Perak, Terengganu, Kelantan and Negri Sembilan to help combat the dengue outbreak in Selangor, especially in Subang, Shah Alam and Ampang Jaya," he added.
Last week, enforcement officers issued 254 notices and 434 compounds to those found breeding aedes mosquitoes and collected RM54,520 in fines.
Two construction sites in Selangor were also slapped with a stop-work order for breeding aedes mosquitoes.
Dr Ramlee said although the number of cases was declining compared to the first two weeks of the year, the ministry was still concerned, as between Jan 14 and 20, 1,423 suspected dengue cases were reported nationwide, compared to 1,506 the previous week.
In the third week, Selangor recorded 576 cases, followed by Kuala Lumpur (312), Penang (100), Johor (82), Perak (64), Sarawak (59), Pahang (55), Negri Sembilan (38), Kedah (37), Malacca (30), Kelantan (22), Sabah (19), Terengganu (14), Putrajaya (11), and Perlis (six).
Dr Ramlee said construction sites were the main culprits in the breeding of aedes mosquitos.
"We are distributing Temephos, an abate, free of charge to members of the public to kill aedes mosquitos," he added.
Temephos is a white, crystalline solid in its pure form.

Flood victims suffering from mental stress, says Chua

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Some 1,500 flood victims have been found to be suffering from severe mental stress due to the devastation, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
Comprising adults, students and children, they suffer from excessive fear and sadness as a result of the loss of property, he said.
Hospital Permai in Tampoi and several non-government organisations had sent experts to counsel the victims, he said in an interview over TV3’s Wanita Hari Ini programme.
Dr Chua said 70% of some 45,000 victims who received treatment suffered chronic health conditions such as diabetes and kidney failure, while 30% had infections of the throat, respiratory tract and eye.
“We sent some of those in Kota Tinggi to hospitals in Johor Baru by helicopter or army truck for haemodialysis treatment,” he said.
He added that flood victims were screened for dengue and leptospirosis besides water- and food-borne diseases.
He said the ministry had since carried out awareness campaigns on post-flood diseases, and advised the people to clean up not only their houses but also their surroundings. Health officers would help with fogging.
On the post-mortem conducted by a hospital attendant and supervised by a pathologist in the case of murder victim engineering student Mohd Hosni Fadzli Mohd Amin, Dr Chua said the initial opening of the abdomen or sawing of the chest was a standard procedure that could be done by a hospital assistant or a junior doctor, but a surgeon would conduct the internal investigation.

Only Surgeons And Specialists Can Conduct Post-Mortem

PETALING JAYA, Jan 25 (Bernama) -- Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said Thursday post-mortems in hospitals can only be done by surgeons and specialists and not by hospital assistants or attendants.
He said surgeons and specialists were responsible for conducting the internal part in any operation but it was normal practice for hospital assistants to do the initial opening of the abdomen.
"If you go to a surgical ward and see how patients are operated, the opening up of the abdomen can also be conducted by a junior doctor. But to say that the post-mortem is conducted by an attendant is not true," he told reporters after appearing on the "Wanita Hari Ini" programme over TV3.
Dr Chua was asked to comment on reports that hospital assistants or attendants were allowed to cut open corpses on the instruction of the pathologist as stated by a witness in the murder trial of a 21-year-old engineering student in Ipoh.
Ipoh High Court Judge Datuk V.T. Singham, in his remarks in Ipoh Wednesday, called into question the practice of instructing hospital assistants or attendants to carry out post-mortems in the presence of a pathologist.
The Ipoh High Court yesterday acquitted five men charged with murdering the student, Mohamed Hosni Fadzil Mohamed Amin, because the prosecution had "failed miserably" to prove a prima facie case against them.
Dr Chua also said that he would investigate a case in which eight HIV sufferers were alleged to have falsified the letters with the result of their screening for the disease to deceive the Islamic Religious Affairs Department into marrying them with their partners.
Thursday's papers reported that the scam was exposed after a medical officer of the Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital reported the matter to the Pasir Puteh district police.

Thursday, January 25, 2007

Taipei DOH orders coffee with Tongkat Ali taken off shelves

China Post: Taipei City's Department of Health (DOH) yesterday ordered six brands of coffee to be taken off store shelves after finding that the products contained illegal herbal extracts.
The Department of Health found that the coffee contained extracts of what is commonly known as Tongkat Ali, a plant found in Malaysia.
The department's Chiang Yu-mei said that it is not been confirmed whether the plant causes any side effects, adding that it has not yet been evaluated for safe use.
Meanwhile, distributors of the coffee have been ordered to destroy the defective beverages or return them to their manufacturers.
The distributors of the six brands of coffee have been fined NT$30,000 to NT$150,000.
Scientifically known as Eurycoma Longifolia, Tongkat Ali is believed by Malaysian locals to be an aphrodisiac.
After receiving a tip last year, officials from the Department of Health found the illegal products after looking through thirty-one markets, supermarkets, and drug stores.
The department also busted a company selling other products containing Tongkat Ali on the Internet.
Chiang said that the source, structure, and manufacturing process of Tongkat Ali is unlike any regular food and urged the public to read the labels whenever purchasing food items.
For further information on food additives, the public is encouraged to go the Department of Health's website

Highest Level Warning On Possibility Of Recurrence Of Bird Flu

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 24 (Bernama) -- The Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry Wednesday issued the highest level of warning on the possibility of a recurrence of bird flu in the country following the outbreak of the disease in several countries in the region.
Its minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said Malaysia was still free from the disease and the monitoring carried out had yet to find symptoms of the disease in the country.
Malaysia was declared free from bird flu or Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza (HPAI) on June 22 2006 after an outbreak in February and March 2006.
"Several preventive measures have been taken including banning the import of chicken, ducks and birds from countries actively and mildly affected by bird flu," he said in a statement Wednesday.
Muhyiddin said tight security had been imposed at the border checkpoints where chicken, ducks and birds as well as their products brought in illegally would be seized and destroyed.
The Veterinary Services Department headquarters in Putrajaya and the states have been activated since Monday on the possibility of the recurrence of bird flu while Fast Action Squad at veterinary laboratories are in a state of readiness.
Muhyiddin asked farmers and breeders to report as soon as possible on suspected HPAI or abnormal cases of chicken deaths to enable quick action to be taken.
Early inspection and sampling at poultry farms, pet shops, wet markets and slaughter and processing houses will be carried out.
Muhyiddin advised the people visiting countries affected by bird flu not to bring home chicken or ducks.

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

More than 70,000 down with HIV/AIDS last year

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: More than 70,000 Malaysians were HIV-positive as of last year, and more than 8,000 have died of AIDS.
What is more worrying is that ignorance and prejudice are continuing to fuel the spread of AIDS, says the Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF).
"People with HIV/AIDS are not just drug addicts and prostitutes. Housewives, children and mothers have the virus as well. We must get rid of the stigma associated with AIDS," said MAF trustee Datuk Mohd Zaman Khan.
He added the public should sympathise with HIV/AIDS sufferers and accept them into the community instead of avoiding them.
Mohd Zaman was speaking to newsmen at a cheque presentation ceremony for the Hope Campaign yesterday.
The campaign, with the slogan "Think not of charity, but of giving hope", was held by the Renaissance Group of Hotels from September to December last year. It raised RM45,000, which was presented to MAF yesterday.
Renaissance Kuala Lumpur Hotel general manager Robert Frager said besides collecting donations, the hotel also sold MAF merchandise to raise funds for the campaign.
"This is the second year we are supporting the MAF. We wanted to create awareness and spread the message to hotel guests and their associates to spare a thought for HIV/AIDS sufferers," he said.
Also present at the cheque presentation were MAF general manager Raj Kumar Balamanickam, Renaissance Kota Baru Hotel general manager Philip Chee, Renaissance Malacca Hotel general manager George Varughese and Miri Marriott Resort & Spa general manager Stefan Gruber.
Each year MAF dedicates an average of RM1.4 million to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, to support people living with HIV/AIDS in Malaysia and to create an environment free of stigma and discrimination.
The funds raised by the MAF are used to help meet nutritional, treatment and schooling needs of children with HIV/AIDS, providing anti-HIV drugs and medical tests, providing interest-free loans for sufferers, providing grants to facilitate HIV/AIDS programmes, advocacy as well as care and support.

Hospital assistant 'reopens' clinic

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: A hospital assistant who had been hauled up once for operating an illegal clinic, is back in business.
Calling himself Dr Shah Jahan, he ran a private clinic in Taman Sentosa, Klang.
The authorities sealed it early last month.
Following a tip-off, a health team conducted a surprise visit and found that the clinic was reopened, in mid-January.
Health Ministry medical practices director Dr Mohd Khairy Yaacob said: "We did not enter the premise as it was supposed to be sealed. The officers observed what was going on from outside and talked to patients."
A police report has been made at the Klang police headquarters.
The "doctor" faces six months jail and a RM2,000 fine for breaking the seal, aside from the charges he could face for illegally operating the clinic.
On Monday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said that six people had been caught playing doctor and running illegal clinics and maternity homes — a foreigner, two nurses, and hospital and medical assistants.
Two maternity homes run by a community nurse and an ex-army nurse were sealed in Johor, as well as four private clinics in Shah Alam, Seremban and two in Klang.
All six are soon to be charged under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 as none of their businesses were registered.

Tongkat Ali 'not harmful or toxic but beneficial'

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The authorities have denied a Taiwanese claim that the plant extract Tongkat Ali poses a health risk.
According to FRIM director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Razak Mohd Ali (picture), the Forest Research Institute Malaysia has been researching Tongkat Ali for 20 years and no toxic or harmful components have been found.
"In fact, Tongkat Ali has known medicinal properties. It also has aphrodisiac properties. It enhances the male libido," he said.
He was commenting on a German Press Agency report that Taiwan’s capital city Taipei has banned the sale of the popular Malaysian Tongkat Ali coffee.
In the report, a spokesperson for the city government’s Department of Health said it has not been tested, so they do not know whether it affects other ingredients in the coffee or causes side effects.
Dr Abdul Razak said Tongkat Ali has been used here for generations, and there have never been any complaints of side effects.
It is commonly used as treatment for dysentery, glandular swelling, fever, malaria and other ailments.
In the old days, the roots, found only in the jungles of Southeast Asia, had to be brewed for long hours to get a bitter extract.
Tongkat Ali now comes in pills or tea bags and is mixed with regular coffee or tea for an extra lift.
Tongkat Ali coffee and tea are widely sold at roadside hawker stalls, supermarkets and even eateries in posh hotels. It is also a popular drink in many other countries.
"There are no side effects for those who consume Tongkat Ali coffee," stressed Dr Abdul Razak.
The Health Ministry’s Public Health Department Food Quality Control division director Dr Abdul Rahim Mohamad said the amount of Tongkat Ali extract used in drinks and food is less than 20 per cent.
He said the ministry has had no complaints from consumers of any side effects after consuming Tongkat Ali.
"We will have to check with the Taiwan authorities on what grounds they have banned Tongkat Ali coffee and what side effects they have found," said Dr Rahim.

USM Scientists Say Periwinkle Flower Can Kill Cancer Cells

KEPALA BATAS, Jan 23 (Bernama) -- Studies by medical experts from Universiti Sains Malaysia's Advanced Medical and Dental Institute (USM-IPPT) have found that extracts from the humble Periwinkle flower (Bunga Kemuning Cina) can kill cancer cells.
IPPT (Clinical Services) Deputy Director, Dr Narazah Mohd Yusoff said the discovery prompted the team to test the Periwinkle flower extracts on animals.
"If our tests on animals proved effective, then we will test the Periwinkle extracts on humans and prove that they can kill cancer cells," she told reporters here Tuesday.
She added studies on the Periwinkle flowers have entered the third year and is led by IPPT Deputy Director of Research, Prof Madya Ishak Mat sponsored by MAKNA (National Cancer Council) which gave a RM300,000 grant.
"Tests on the Perinwinkle's effectiveness on humans will take five years and if found to be successful can be used as medicine to kill cancer cells when treating breast cancer,"
Dr Narazah said IPPT is also conducting several studies on cancer and has accepted 268 patients, three of them with breast cancer.
"Some have been placed in the Kepala Batas Hospital and are being treated by IPPT specialists," she added.
Earlier, IPPT Director Dr Ramli Saad urged the public to visit the medical centre for an examination as it is not only equipped with the latest equipment but also have a pool of specialists.
"Our services are also provided for free."
IPPT which is currently temporarily occupying a building will be moving into its own building complex in Bertam in three years.
When completed, IPPT will be equipped with laboratories, wards and equipment costing RM958 million.
Dr Ramli said when completed in 2010, IPPT will be able to conduct 150 types of research including Oncology, Cardiovascular, Integrated Medicine, Infectious Diseases, Neuro Science, Immunology, Oral Science, Nuclear Medicine, Clinical Toxicology and Poisoning.
"IPPT is the world's premier medical research centre as it has the three elements of disease research, creating cures, conducting of clinical tests and treating of patients," he added.
Studies conducted by medical experts showed that 80 percent of the world's natural pharmaceutical ingredients are found in Malaysia and Borneo.

All-in-one centre to boost biotech

Star: KEPALA BATAS: The new Advanced Medical and Dental Institute (AMDI) of Universiti Sains Malaysia here will expedite the biotechnology industry in the country, its director Dr Ramli Saad said.
The RM958mil institute will be the first in the country to house clinical, academic and research facilities under one roof.
Dr Ramli said the institute would be completed only in 2015, although operations would start in 2010.
He said AMDI would be running at half its capacity during its first year of operation.
“It will generate advanced research activities as well as utilise contemporary technology in medicine and dentistry,” he said at a press conference.
“AMDI will also generate novel discoveries and new insights in medicine and dentistry that will form the basis of future medical and dental practices,” he added.
He said AMDI would have the unique feature of “all-in-one” where it would plant herbs for the development of pharmaceutical products and rear animals for clinical tests.
“We would also have a centre where patients can be treated with new medicines and existing ones.”
AMDI is to have a staff force of 2,000 and hopes to attract 200 local and international postgraduate students.
A total of 1,200 test patients will be treated a day and an operational budget of RM250mil a year will be allocated.

Tuesday, January 23, 2007

Imported pig feed to be tested

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Pig feed imported by 16 companies will be tested for beta-agonist — a banned growth enhancer injurious to health.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said yesterday this would be carried out by his ministry’s pharmaceutical division.
"As we are going all out to ban the use of beta-agonist by pig farmers, it is also important to know whether the imported feed contains the banned growth enhancer," Dr Chua said.
He told reporters this after chairing a meeting with representatives from the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry, Customs, Veterinary Services Department, Health Ministry and its pharmaceutical division, Federation of Livestock Farmers’ Associations Malaysia and the Pork Sellers Association.
"We do not allow beta-agonist to be sold in the market in any form.
"It is being smuggled into the country and we must stop this by not using it in the animal feed," said Dr Chua.
China and India are among the countries exporting pig feed to Malaysia.
At present, 37 pig farms are placed under a one-month quarantine after their animals were found to have high levels of beta-agonist.
This followed a check on 656 farms nationwide.
Dr Chua said the farmers were allowed to send their pigs for slaughter after the quarantine period only upon receiving the green light from the Veterinary Services Department.
"Once the quarantine period is over, the farmers should inform the Veterinary Services Department which will then take samples from the pigs to ascertain whether they are free of beta agonist," he added.
Pig farms that do not notify the department will remain under quarantine.
Most of the errant farms are in Malacca, Selangor, Perak and Penang.
So far only four farms whose quarantine period expired on Jan 14, have applied to the Veterinary Services Department to test their pigs.
Pork tainted with beta-agonist can cause headache, dizziness, breathing difficulties and palpitations.
Dr Chua said it was now mandatory for all pig farmers to make a declaration that they will not use beta-agonist.
"Only farmers who have made the declaration and have got the Veterinary Services to give them a clean bill, are allowed to send their pigs for slaughter."
Pig sellers caught with tainted pork would be prosecuted unless they had documents showing where they got the meat.
Dr Chua said his ministry’s aim was to ensure that all pork sold in the market by Chinese New Year was free of beta-agonist.

Nurses who played doctor and ran maternity homes

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Two nurses — one from a rural clinic and another a former army medic — have, between them, delivered hundreds of babies while posing as doctors.
They were operating unregistered maternity homes in Johor for years before they were put out of business recently.
Their activities came to light when the Health Ministry’s Medical Practices Department enforcement unit went undercover at both premises.
Then, using the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1988, the enforcement unit moved in, sealed both premises and detained the women, aged 35 and 55, for investigations.
They had their statements recorded and are now awaiting further action by the authorities who are expected to charge them soon for operating unregistered maternity homes.
"The homes were not registered, but worse still, they were run by two nurses who played doctor," said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
Dr Chua said the two nurses were among six people who would be charged soon under the Act for running private health clinics and hospitals illegally.
They face fines up to RM300,000 and a maximum six years in prison if convicted.
The other four are a foreigner in Shah Alam and three medical assistants operating in Klang and Seremban.
Their clinics, all unregistered and situated in towns, have been sealed.
Dr Chua said one of the six was also running an ambulance service. None of them were qualified to run a private clinic, hospital or an ambulance service.
"They are playing with lives," Dr Chua said.
Dr Chua took a swipe at doctors at private clinics and hospitals who protested against the move by the ministry to register them under the Act.
"Many doctors protested and even accused us of treating them like criminals. They did not realise that there were many bogus doctors out there treating patients.
"There will be no let up. Many more will be arrested and charged," he said.
On the case of the traditional medicine man who was performing surgeries illegally at a clinic in Shah Alam, Dr Chua said: "If we cannot get the "doctor" we will charge the owner of the building for letting his premises be used for illegal activities."
He also urged those with information on these illegal practices to contact the Ministry’s Medical Practices Department in Putrajaya.

Woman first to be charged under Act

NST: SHAH ALAM: A businesswoman is facing a lengthy jail sentence and a hefty fine for allowing her husband to practise modern medicine illegally in a building owned by her.
Siti Ea’lla Amir Ghani, 52, made history yesterday when she became the first person to be charged with the offence under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998.
The Act was gazetted in May and enforced in November last year.
Siti, the owner of Ea’lla Enterprise, claimed trial after she was charged for allegedly allowing her husband to use her premises for an unlawful trade.
The husband is a registered traditional medical practitioner but is not licensed to practice modern medicine.
The alleged offence was committed at No. 3, Jalan Sejat 8/10, Section 8, here, at 1pm on Oct 11.
She faces a maximum fine of RM300,000 or six years’ jail, or both.
Magistrate Hafizah Abd Rajak fixed trial for March 5.
Deputy public prosecutor from the Health Ministry Salahudin Hidayat Shariff prosecuted, while Siti was represented by V. Kumaresan.
She was accompanied by a couple who shielded her from Press photographers after the proceedings at the magistrate’s court.
Siti, dressed in a blue baju kurung, ran out of the courtroom to her car.
While the man shielded her face with a newspaper, the woman prevented photographers from running after her.
The man also kept yelling at the photographers, accusing them of being inhumane.
Siti’s husband was in the news in October last year when Selangor health officers raided the clinic after receiving reports that he was practising modern medicine and also performing surgeries.
He was alleged to have removed kidney stones, tumours, ovarian cysts and other diseased body parts.
When the raiding party visited the clinic, they were surprised to see the "doctor" attending to patients in a hospital setting, surrounded by medical equipment, models of the human skeleton, posters and medical books.
Health Ministry officers raided the clinic the following month and seized surgical and other equipment. The "doctor" fled before the officers arrived.
He had been operating at the clinic for more than 10 years and his patients included foreigners.
Checks by the authorities also revealed that patients were charged between RM350 and RM4,000 by the "doctor" who also offered traditional cures.

Medical colleges under scrutiny

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The National Accreditation Board and the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) will investigate claims that two private medical colleges violated regulations pertaining to the training of students in the clinical phase of their studies.
They will look into Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek's claims that the ratio of lecturers to students did not meet the MMC's requirement.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said he had not received a report on the matter from the Health Ministry.
“Before any private medical university or college is set up, it has to meet the requirements set by the MMC,” he told reporters after delivering his New Year message to ministry officials.
Last week, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the ministry found the lecturer-student ratio to be 1:20 respectively when ideally it should not be higher than 1:8.
Health director-general Tan Sri Ismail Merican, who was also at the event yesterday, said there were no full-time lecturers at the colleges.
While Universiti Malaya is only capable of churning out about 200 students each year, these private colleges, which have been operating less than 10 years, have produced 300 students, he said.

More physios needed

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia requires over 19,000 physiotherapists by 2020 to be on par with other developed countries.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn said that as of December last year, Malaysia had 607 trained physiotherapists registered with the Malaysian Physiotherapist Association.
“In Malaysia, the field is relatively new and the problem of shortage of staff is a big one.
“With 450 in the public sector and another 157 in the private sector, there is a huge shortage,” he said when launching the Masterskill McMillan Physiotherapy Centre here yesterday.
Fong said most of the physiotherapists in the country were trained in countries like Britain, Australia, India and New Zealand.
“The role taken by Masterskill College of Nursing and Health is commendable and ought to be complimented, as it would ensure that our country would produce sufficient health workers, including physiotherapists,” he said.
“This is a very wide field where you can specialise in different areas like sports, women’s health and paediatrics,” he added.

Methadone Therapy Clinic Targets 100 Patients

KUALA TERENGGANU, Jan 22 (Bernama) -- Hardcore drug addicts in Terenggau who take heroin and morphine will be treated with Methadone, an effective synthetic drug that does not produce a withdrawal symptom.
The treatment will be provided by the Methadone Substitution Therapy Clinic of Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital (HSNZ) here.
Health, Unity, Consumer Affairs and Environment Committee Chairman Toh Chin Yaw said the Clinic was targeting 100 patients every three to five weeks until the end of this year.
"The first batch of addicts received the treatment on Dec 26," he told reporters after opening the clinic at the HSNZ here Monday.
Also present were state Health Director, Dr Nordiayah Hassan and the hospital Director Dr Abdul Rashid Che Ali.
Toh said Methadone was "cost effective" and could be taken orally.
He added the criteria for obtaining the treatment included hardcore addicts who voluntarily wished to be included in the treatment and were willing to abide by the programme rules.
He advised parents who had children with drug problems to bring them for treatment at the Clinic.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Health Ministry Detects Six Bogus Doctors

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 22 (Bernama) -- The government has sealed six private healthcare centres because they were run by bogus doctors, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said Monday.
He said the healthcare centres included a medical centre, a maternity centre and a 24-hour clinic located in Seremban, Klang and Johor Baharu.
"The six bogus doctors include a medical assistant, a community nurse, an ex-army nurse and a foreigner -- all operating like doctors and some even delivering babies," he told reporters here.
The six "doctors" would be charged under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 which carries a maximum fine of RM300,000 or six years' jail or both if convicted, he said.
"The ministry expects more of such clinics run by bogus doctors to be detected when a nationwide crackdown is launched soon with the immediate focus on the Federal Territories," he said.
Dr Chua said the move was possible with the introduction of the Act, which among others, made it compulsory for private doctors to be registered. The registration process ended last November.
He said the six cases did not include a case where a traditional medical practitioner in Shah Alam had given illegal treatment and was still at large since his clinic was raided last year.

Commenting on the much-delayed Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital in Alor Star, he said the ministry would only receive the hospital from the developer after the ministry was satisfied that all problems including technical and engineering had been rectified.
The RM565 million project should have been completed five years ago but had been extended five times.
"Not all Class A contractors can build hospitals as building a hospital is more complicated than building a hotel, a shopping complex or a house.
"The chosen contractor should have the expertise and good background and track record in building hospitals," he said.
He said no new date for the delivery had been fixed.

Speaking on other matters, Dr Chua said that pig breeders had agreed to sign a pledge of loyalty with the ministry by the end of this month that all pig farms in the country would be free from beta-agonist, an enhancement agent that can cause cancer, increase heart beat rate and in advance heart disease can cause sudden death.
"Their pigs will not be allowed to be sent to the slaughterhouse if they fail to sign the commitment," he added.
Dr Chua said beta-agonist was brought into the country through illegal means as the country's Poison Act did not allow the import of such agent in whatever form.

New strain of dengue worries Pahang

NST: KUANTAN: A possible outbreak of dengue fever has been detected here with at least two dozen cases reported so far this month.
Even worse, it is feared that a new strain could be responsible as most of the patients so far were children.
The authorities have yet to issue a general alert but checks at the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital revealed that preparations had been made for a possible increase in the number of dengue cases.
A health official, who requested anonymity, said several private hospitals here had also recorded a significant number of patients suffering from dengue fever.
"There have been no fatalities reported so far but we fear that the situation may worsen within the next few weeks," he said.
"What we are most worried about is that most of the cases recorded so far involved children, indicating a possible new strain of the disease."
It was learnt that cases of multiple infections in a single household had also been recorded.
Areas where dengue cases were reported over the past three weeks are Taman Cenderawasih Timur, Taman Sri Kuantan, Taman Setali Maju, Indera Mahkota 2 and Jalan Air Putih.
Other identified hotspots include Taman Tas, Sungai Isap and Bukit Sekilau.
The official said the sudden increase of dengue cases was believed to have been caused by the irregular weather pattern which had seen intermittent heavy rain.
"The resulting hot and humid weather, along with trapped clear rain water, is conducive for the breeding of aedes mosquitoes," he said.
Among the precautionary measures are clearing possible aedes breeding grounds and staying indoors during the early mornings and late evenings when the mosquitoes were most active.
The state health authorities were expected to start a massive anti-dengue operation within the next few days.

Eagle eye on sanctuary to prevent bird flu

NST: IPOH: Random testing on migratory birds at the Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary has been stepped up to prevent another bird flu outbreak in the country.
The state Veterinary Services Department has been working hard to obtain swab samples to ascertain if any of the birds at the sanctuary were carriers of the highly pathogenic H5N1 virus.
The monitoring started in August last year when the birds began their migration to the southern hemisphere.
"More than 2,000 random samples of saliva swabs have been taken from various species of migratory birds at the Kuala Gula Bird Sanctuary and so far, all have tested negative for the H5N1 bird flu virus," said state veterinary officer Dr Wan Mohd Kamil Wan Nik.
He told the New Straits Times that more samples were collected during the current migration cycle than in the past.
"We used to collect about 900 random samples during the nine- month period from August to April when they migrate from and back to the northern hemisphere.
"However, after the outbreak last year, we increased the number of samples from 100 each month to 500 now," he said, adding that outbreaks in several countries around the globe necessitated the collection of more samples.
Dr Wan Mohd Kamil said physical surveillance at the sanctuary to locate dead migratory birds had also been increased but none were found so far.
Migratory birds were suspected to have caused the outbreak in five areas around the country last year, with Perak being the worst hit by the disease which is also fatal to humans.
The H5N1 was first detected at Kampung Pasir, Wardieburn, Kuala Lumpur, on Feb 19. This was followed by Kampung Changkat Tualang in Gopeng and the Ecopark at the Bukit Laketown Resort, both in Perak, on March 16.
The third outbreak was reported in Kampung Permatang Bogak, Seberang Perai, on March 20, followed by Titi Gantung in Perak Tengah the next day.
Nearly 60,000 fowls were culled and more than 8,000 eggs destroyed in the five affected areas.

Landlord of quack clinic faces charge

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: For the first time, the owner of a building used by a quack clinic is to be charged under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998.
The traditional medical practitioner in Shah Alam had given illegal treatments and is still at large since his clinic was raided last year.
The owner, a businessman in his fifties, will be charged in the magistrate’s court in Shah Alam today for allowing the practitioner to use his premises for an unlawful trade.
Health Ministry medical practices director Dr Mohd Khairy Yaacob said investigations showed that the practitioner had been running his business without a licence.
If the owner pleads guilty, he is liable to a maximum fine of RM300,000 or six years’ jail, or both. If the owner pleads not guilty, the activities of the practitioner will be brought up during court proceedings.
It was reported in October last year that the practitioner removed kidney stones, tumours, ovarian cysts and other diseased body parts.
The man had been operating the clinic for more than 10 years, performing surgeries on the well-heeled and foreigners.
Upon receiving a complaint, Selangor health officers visited the clinic on Sept 27 last year and were shocked to see the "doctor" attending to patients in a hospital setting, surrounded by equipment, models of the human skeleton, posters and medical books.
Health Ministry officers raided the clinic on Oct 11 and seized surgical and other equipment. The practitioner fled before the officers arrived.
The "doctor" had charged his patients between RM350 and RM4,000. He also offered traditional cures. A man who had sought treatment from the "doctor" last September for stones in his kidney claimed that he did a competent job. The man paid RM4,000 for the operation.
He also said during the operation, he did not feel any pain although he was cut open. The "doctor" did not use anaesthetic.
He claimed that the incision was closed without stitching and the scar disappeared a few days later.
Director-general of health Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican had confirmed that the "doctor" was only a registered traditional medical practitioner.
He said the ministry had to act against an illegal practice and an offender who was not qualified to perform surgery.

Saturday, January 20, 2007

All geared to face bird flu

Star: Federation of Livestock Farmers’ Association of Malaysia (FLFAM) broiler unit chairman Yap Kim Hwah said farms in the country that operate under the open-house system are installed with netting that protect the poultry from contact with migrating birds.
“From our experience in the last two bird flu outbreaks in 2003 and 2004, we know that migrating birds are the main source of the disease,” he said.
Conditions in the broiler farms have been upgraded and disinfectant used regularly, he pointed out.
“Broiler farm operators are told to report to the relevant authorities should the mortality rate of their stock hit 1%.
“The normal mortality rate of livestock should only be 0.1%,” he said in an interview before attending a meeting with Seberang Prai broiler farm operators here yesterday.
There are some 5,000 broiler farms in the country, of which about 90% are operating under the open-house system while the others adopt the closed-house system.
There are 15 broiler associations in the country affiliated with FLFAM.
The deadly H5N1 strain of avian influenza has recently surfaced in Thailand and is spreading in Vietnam.
Hong Kong, South Korea, and Nigeria have reported diseased birds in the past months, while Indonesia, China, and Egypt have discovered new cases.

Eight Children Down With FMD, Selayang Hospital Nursery Closed

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 19 (Bernama) -- The Selayang Hospital's nursery has been closed since Wednesday after at least eight children from the nursery were infected with the foot and mouth disease (FMD).
Selangor Health director Dr Ang Kim Teng said the nursery, located within the hospital's premises, was used as a day-care centre for the staff's children.
"It only involves children of the hospital staff. The nursery has been closed for one week for the cleaning process which started on Wednesday," he told Bernama Friday.
Dr Ang did not give the exact number of children affected except to say that there were only a few mild cases and that they were treated as outpatients two days ago.
A hospital staff, who declined to be identified, said that at least eight children at the nursery were infected with the FMD.
According to Selangor Health Department statistics, there were 973 cases of FMD reported in the state in 2005 and 900 cases last year.
"FMD is endemic. So, from time to time, we will receive reports of such cases," Dr Ang said.

Friday, January 19, 2007

Prevent cancer, change your lifestyle

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: A diet high in processed foods and a sedentary lifestyle are among the main causes for the increase in cancer in this region.
As such, a change in lifestyle could well save your life.
"We estimate that as much as 70 per cent of cancers can be prevented by lifestyle changes. That would then allow health providers to concentrate on the remaining 30 per cent," said renowned cancer researcher Professor Sir David Lane.
The lifestyle changes, he said, could be as simple as quitting smoking, eating more fresh fruits and vegetables and exercising regularly.
He said the prevalence of cancer had little to do with race or genetics but more with the nature of one’s lifestyle.
"People are eating less fresh foods as it is easier to just pop a processed meal into the microwave, and they are too busy to exercise. Such lifestyles have shown an increase in cancers such as colorectal and breast cancer.
"If you can avoid the worst (aspects) of the Western lifestyle (such as frequently eating fast foods and highly processed foods), we can prevent or at least reduce our chances of getting cancer."
However, it’s not all gloom and doom as there are some encouraging signs.
"Many countries are seeing an actual decline in deaths from breast cancer and this is really attributed to new drugs and new screening methods.
"Sometimes, we get distracted by all this research and we forget how much we can do to prevent it by making some simple lifestyle changes," said Lane, who is the executive director of the Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology Singapore.
"For example, smoking has killed so many people. We estimate a hundred million people have died because of tobacco. It is something we can change. Tobacco alone accounts for about 30 per cent of cancers. We also know that diet plays an important part as can be seen by the changes in the types of cancers people are getting over the years."
Lane said certain infections that could lead to cancer, such as hepatitis B and human papillomavirus, the sexually transmitted virus that causes most cases of cervical cancer, may be prevented with vaccines.
Cervical cancer, which kills 250,000 women each year, is going to be eliminated by the successful introduction of the vaccine Cervarix. Also, research was being done to find cures for other cancers, especially breast cancer.
"It’s a very exciting time to be a cancer researcher. But the message I would like to convey is that this is something that society has to do together. We can’t just rely on the scientists in their laboratories to cure cancer. That’s not going to happen.
"We have to deal with this disease together — the way the public responds to health messages, the way doctors encourage their patients to look after their own health, and the way scientists develop better ways to screen for cancer."
He also stressed the need for patients diagnosed with cancer to get quality information of the disease from reliable sources as they could be easily misled by poor information or in accurate stories.
Lane, who has been active in cancer research for 28 years, is internationally recognised for his original discovery of the p53 protein, a human tumour suppressor gene.
He is in Malaysia at the invitation of the Academy of Sciences to give talks to cancer researchers and doctors.
He will also deliver a talk on "Curing Cancer" to the public at Hotel Singgahsana in Petaling Jaya today.

Probe on med colleges

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Two private medical colleges are under investigation by the Health Ministry for violating regulations pertaining to training of students in the clinical phase of their studies.
The colleges are believed to be taking in too many students and not providing adequate training for them, which is vital before they can be full-fledged doctors.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said that, after a six-month-probe, the ministry found the lecturer-student ratio to be 1:20 when ideally it should be one to between six and eight.
“While Universiti Malaya alone is churning out about 200 students each year, these private colleges, which have been operating less than 10 years and have produced 300 students,” he said.
“We are trying to find out if they have the capacity to absorb so many students and if the quality of the students is up to mark,” he told reporters after a dialogue session with some 400 final year medical students from Universiti Malaya, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and Universiti Putra Malaysia at the ministry here yesterday.
Dr Chua said such acts by the private colleges would tarnish the name of the country as a centre of excellence for education.
Health director-general Tan Sri Ismail Merican, who was also at the event, said initial investigations also found that there was no full-time lecturer at the colleges.
He said the ministry and the Malaysian Medical Council would send warning letters to the two colleges and their certification would not be renewed if they failed to heed the advice.
“We can even check on the quality of the clinical training overseas.”
Ismail, who is also the council chairman, however, said the students would not be affected when this happened as they would be enrolled in other colleges.
When Dr Chua was asked about the ministry's preparation to prevent a recurrence of bird flu, he said all precautions had been put in place.

Provide quality care, housemen told

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Medical graduates doing their housemanship are being accused of treating patients without care, lacking in dedication and commitment, and taking unapproved leave of up to 15 days.
Due to such complaints, every year, about 5% of the 1,400 housemen do not qualify to become medical officers and have had to extend their training by six months to a year.
Stressing that the quality of Malaysian doctors have to improve to be on par with international standards, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said there were cases of foreign doctors applying for jobs outside their countries being given nursing posts instead.
He stressed that he did not want the same thing to happen to local doctors.
“We want to see those from local universities having high quality and with the necessary soft skills, having commitment and willing to work as a team,” he said, adding that housemen must be prepared to work on call for 36 hours at a stretch.
“Doctors have to look into the welfare of patients before their own comfort. If not, they are not being fair to the patient.
“If you cannot work, don't be a doctor, look for another job.”
Dr Chua said in 10 years’ time, the number of housemen would increase to 2,400.
He said this after a dialogue session with over 400 final-year medical students from Universiti Malaya, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and Universiti Putra Malaysia at the ministry here yesterday.
Two students from UM who will be posted to Universiti Malaya Medical Centre for their housemanship, Fadzly Ramidi and How Soon Ping, both 24, said they were fully aware of their obligations to put in long hours during their internship.
Fadzly said they were trained to work long hours even during their final year in college.

New lease of life for cancer boy

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Teenage leukaemia patient Wong Kim Yau can now breathe a sigh of relief after successfully undergoing a bone marrow transplant from an unrelated donor, thanks in large to public donations.
Haematologist Dr Gan Gin Gin who headed the University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) team, said the teenager was responding positively following the operation last November and was being kept under observation.
Seventeen-year-old Kim Yau's plight was highlighted in the newspapers in the middle of last year after a matching non-related donor backed out at the last minute when a medium advised her against it.
Diagnosed with acute myeloid leukaemia since 2005, Kim Yau was in urgent need of a bone marrow transplant and needed money to find a donor and have the operation as soon as possible.
His father is an odd-job worker and his mother a housewife.
Donations totalling some RM200,000 poured in from all walks of life especially through a special fund set up by the MCA Public Service and Complaints Department and Sin Chew Daily.
UMMC director Dr Ikram Shah Ismail said this was the first time the hospital had conducted an adult “stem cell” transplant involving a non-related donor, which is an uncommon occurrence.
“Normally, the donor will be related to the patient, as there is a higher chance of finding a match. But in this case, there was no suitable family donor and luckily, there was a match from an unrelated donor,” he told a press conference here yesterday.
The unrelated donor was identified through Singapore's Bone Marrow Donor Programme after a search for an unrelated local donor proved futile.
Dr Gan said it was difficult to find an unrelated donor locally although there was a government donor registry as not many people were aware of it or had misconceptions about it.
Also present was MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong, who thanked all donors who helped make a difference and for saving Kim Yau's life.
“Having such an operation done in a local hospital goes to show that Malaysians need not go overseas to do it as it can be done here,” he said.
The cost for the operation at UMMC was about RM70,000.
Chong said what was left in the fund would be channelled to help other patients.

UM Creates History Conducting Unrelated Stem Cell Transplant

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 18 (Bernama) -- The Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) set another milestone in medical history when it conducted an unrelated allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation for the first time in the country last November.
It was done on a 17-year-old Chinese male from Perak who was diagnosed with leukaemia in March 2005.
Through allogeneic transplant, a patient receives stem cells from someone other than the parents or siblings.
UMMC medical officer Dr Gan Shiaw Sze told reporters Thursday that the patient received the blood infusion from an unrelated donor from Singapore on Nov 29.
The youth was admitted to the UMMC on Nov 16, she said without revealing more information on the patient.
"We have attempted to search for a donor but there was no match among his siblings.
"Fortunately, a compatible donor was found from the Singapore Bone Marrow Donor Programme for the blood infusion," she said Thursday.
She said that in view of the aggressive nature of the leukaemia, an unrelated allogeneic peripheral blood stem cell transplantation would be the only possible cure for the patient.
She said the patient remained well and had shown some improvement.
The transplantation cost between RM170,000 and RM200,000, she added.

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Seven ‘rat urine’ cases, one death

NST: KOTA TINGGI: Seven cases of leptospirosis, a disease spread through rat urine, have been reported in Johor since the state was hit by floods last month. One person has died.
On the whole, the health situation in the state is under control.
Five cases of leptospirosis have been reported in Johor Baru, one of them fatal. The others are in Segamat, the worst-hit area in the first wave of flooding on Dec 19.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the disease was under control but called for extra precautions to curb its spread.
He said rescue and voluntary workers had been vaccinated.
People should not play in the water or bathe in it because it is the main carrier of the disease.
All wounds should be treated as the disease entered the body via gaping wounds.
"I’m glad to say that in the past three days, there have been no reports of cholera or typhoid. But 2,000 cases of diarrhoea have been reported in relief centres in Johor," he said.
He clarified that based on blood samples, only one person had died of leptospirosis, not two as earlier reported by the Press.
Dr Chua said this after attending a briefing at the district hospital here yesterday. He added about 200 medical officers, nurses and attendants from Perak, Selangor and Negri Sembilan would be stationed in various district hospitals and clinics in Johor once the floods had subsided.
He anticipated a rise in the number of outpatients, especially those who had used up their medicines during the floods.

Symptoms of Leptospirosis
• High fever
• Headache
• Chill
• Muscle ache
• Conjunctivitis
• Diarrhoea
• Vomiting
• Kidney or liver problems
• Anaemia
• Rashes

Selangor tops list of dengue cases

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The total number of dengue cases in all states increased last week, with Selangor continuing to top the list of suspected new infections.
In the second week of the year, 656 cases were detected in Selangor followed by Kuala Lumpur, which had 323 cases.
Selangor and Kuala Lumpur had the highest number of cases in the first week of January, with 562 and 239 respectively.
The total number of cases in all states last week rose from 1,155 in the first week of the year to 1,506.
All the states in the country recorded a higher number of cases last week compared with the previous week except for Johor, Terengganu and Labuan.
Deputy director-general of health Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat said as of Jan 13, two deaths were reported, one each in Negri Sembilan and Kuala Lumpur.
He added that from the 1,506 suspected cases reported last week, 381 were confirmed to have the disease.
"A total of 168 notices and 251 compound fine notices adding up to RM34,200 were issued last week," he said in a statement yesterday.
The ministry is also providing free supplies of abate to the public.
There were 12,000 cases reported last year and 12,700 in 2005.
Symptoms of dengue fever include a sudden onset of high fever, severe headache, joint and muscle pain, nausea, vomiting and a rash that appears several days after the fever.
Most dengue infections result in relatively mild illness, but some can progress to dengue haemorrhagic fever, which can be fatal.

New Dengue Kit Soon

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 16 (Bernama) -- A new diagnostic kit that can detect dengue virus in a person's blood as early as the first day of contracting the disease will be marketed in Malaysia from the end of next month.
Tree Med Sdn Bhd managing director Khairul Anuar Danial said the kit had been tested at several government hospitals including the Sungai Buloh and Selayang hospitals as well as the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre and Johor Baharu Specialist Centre.
He said Tree Med would distribute the kit, known as "Platelia Dengue NS1 Ag", to hospitals and medical laboratories nationwide after it had been found effective unlike the present method which could only detect the virus after six days.
"The product is very specific in that it only detects the dengue virus although there are other viruses in the blood.
"It is also sensitive, which means it can detect the smallest amount of dengue virus in the patient's blood," he said when introducing the kit, here Tuesday.
The product is manufactured by Bio-Rad Laboratory with the cooperation of the Pasteur Institute in France.
Khairul Anuar said to detect the virus, the blood sample of a patient suspected of having dengue must be sent to the laboratory and the result would be known in 24 hours.
"The cost is reasonable and will not exceed that for a normal blood screening procedure," he said.

200 Hospital Staff Sent To Johor

KOTA TINGGI, Jan 16 (Bernama) -- About 200 hospital personnel from Perak, Selangor and Negeri Sembilan will be sent to Johor, Wednesday to help Health Ministry staff there to cope with an expected increase in the number of sick people due to the floods in the state.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. Chua Soi Lek said that as the floods in Johor affected both rural and urban areas, many private hospitals and clinics had to close.
"We expect that sick people will throng hospitals and clinics once the flood is over and that is why we decided to increase the number of staff at them," he told reporters after visiting the Kota Tinggi Hospital, here Tuesday.
He said that there were no reported cases of cholera, typhoid or other infectious diseases in the last three days.
However, about 2,000 cases of dysentery were reported during the last three days, mostly at evacuation centres, he said.
There were seven cases of leptospirosis with one death, he added.
Chua advised the public not to play in floodwaters to avoid diseases.
He said that patients with serious diseases at the Kota Tinggi Hospital had been transferred to the Johor Baharu Hospital.
He expected the Kota Tinggi Hospital to return to normal operations in two or three days if the weather improved.
He added that 21 clinics, including 15 in Johor were damaged due to the floods, resulting in RM6.7 million losses.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

More Doctors And Nurses Needed As Volunteers

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 15 (Bernama) -- More volunteers, especially doctors and nurses, are required to help victims affected by the second wave of floods in Johor.
Medic Asia head Datuk Ahmad A. Talib said there was urgent need for medical personnel in view of the deteriorating flood situation in the southern parts of the peninsula and the increasing number of evacuees.
"There are about 80 volunteers from Medic Asia and the Salam Foundation now in Johor. More volunteers are needed because this group will be replaced by a new group," he said when contacted by Bernama, here Monday.
Johor was hit by a second wave of floods, after the first on Dec 19, causing 109,831 people from 24,765 families to be evacuated to 344 relief centres until this morning.
Ahmad said besides trained doctors and nurses, Medic Asia would also welcome individuals with medical background.
Ahmad, who is also a member of the Salam Foundation board of directors also urged members of the public, including students on vacation, to become volunteers.
"Those with skills in cooking, carpentry and in other fields are needed, especially in rescue mission to help victims trapped in the floods," he added.
He thanked the corporate sector for their contributions in cash and kind including the use of their boats for the flood victims.
Those interested should contact the Salam Foundation office at 03-7958 4021 or e-mail to or

Chua Denies Army Has Taken Over Kota Tinggi Hospital

BATU PAHAT, Jan 15 (Bernama) -- Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek, Monday denied that the army has taken over the operation of the Kota Tinggi Hospital which is on the verge of being flooded.
He said the operation of the hospital was still under the ministry and the army had only sent a generator after the electricity supply at the hospital was disrupted.
"The army and Tenaga Nasional Berhad have restored electricity supply to the hospital with the use of the generator," he said.
Chua, who is the Member of Parliament for Labis, spoke to reporters after visiting flood victims in Yong Peng.
He said the outpatient department of the hospital had been closed and that there were 91 patients in the wards.
He also said that the hospital was cut off by road and that all critically ill patients had been transferred, with the help of rescue teams, to the Sultanah Aminah Hospital in Johor Baharu.
Chua praised the staff of the Kota Tinggi Hospital, saying they kept on going about their duty even when the hospital was almost flooded.
He also advised people who had symptoms such as flu and high fever to seek medical treatment immediately as two people had died of leptospirosis, a disease caused by water contaminated by rat urine.

Monday, January 15, 2007

Full steam ahead for medical degree

Star: MONASH University Malaysia’s medical course has received accreditation from the Australian Medical Council (AMC), making it the first medical course fully conducted in Malaysia to be accredited by the AMC offshore.
The Bachelor of Medicine/Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme is also the first medical course taught outside Australia and New Zealand to be accredited by the AMC.
Its graduates can practise in Australia without having to take an additional examination.
The accreditation, which will attract a significant number of students from the Asia Pacific and beyond, also adds to Malaysia’s attractiveness as a destination to study medicine.
“We are very proud of this recognition at Monash University Malaysia and thankful to the AMC for the trust that has been placed in us,” said Monash Malaysia’s pro vice-chancellor Prof Merilyn Liddell.
She said the AMC accreditation, which is effective till 2012, also marked another external recognition of Monash University’s success in ensuring that quality standards are the same at all its eight campuses in Australia, Malaysia and South Africa.
Monash University is part of Australia’s Group of Eight universities recognised for excellence in teaching, learning and research outcomes, and the university has also been ranked within the top 40 in the world by the recent Times Higher Education Supplements from 2004 to 2006.
“Operating campuses in other countries has been a challenge for Monash University and we’re proud to have been able to meet this challenge without compromising quality,” said Prof Merilyn.
“The accreditation is another boost for the School of Medical and Health Sciences,” said the school head Prof Datuk Dr Anuar Zaini.
He said the school would move into the new RM170mil campus in Semester 1.
The Clinical School in Johor Baru has also been completed for third and fourth year medical students to undergo their practical training at the city’s Sultanah Aminah General Hospital.
A number of research programmes will also begin in 2007 and a world-class Brain Research Institute led by renowned neuroscientist Prof Ishwar Parhar will be set up at the new campus in Bandar Sunway.
There are now 43 students who have completed Year One of the course and another 51 have completed Year Two of the MBBS programme. All are studying at the Monash University’s Clayton campus in Melbourne, Australia, pending the building of new facilities in Malaysia.
These students will proceed with their medical education at the Malaysian campus in February next year, when the second year students begin studies in Bandar Sunway and the third year students start their clinical training in Johor Baru.
The university expects to take in another 70 students next year, with intakes progressively increasing to a maximum of 160 students.
Among the key strengths noted by the AMC during its accreditation process was Monash University’s experience in the education sector in Malaysia.
The AMC also recognised Monash University’s processes and policies for the management of multi-campus operations and its high-calibre staff.

All’s well on the health front

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry’s machinery in Johor has been fully mobilised to help flood victims, with medical teams placed at every relief centre.
Parliamentary Secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said the ministry was more prepared this time around as were the other agencies its medical teams had to rely on.
“For example, we need boats to get to outlying areas to help victims who cannot make it to the relief centres, and this has been much easier with the better preparation of the other agencies,” he said.
He said the medical stock is enough to last up to six months.
He added that there had been no outbreak of any communicable diseases, but the ministry was definitely on the alert.
“The congregation of many people in a small place can give rise to a lot of health problems,” he said.
The medical teams, he noted, had been separated into two groups, with one providing medical aid and the other focusing on health education.
Lee said there was also a need to ensure that the environment was hygienic in areas where the floodwater had subsided.

Sunday, January 14, 2007

Don’t smoke, your kid’s in the car

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: In a move to further safeguard children from passive smoking, smokers will be prohibited from lighting up in cars when the young are present.
Even parents will not be exempted when they are sharing a car with their children.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said these were among the provisions looked into by the ministry under the proposed Tobacco Bill.
It is learnt that the Bill would be tabled in Parliament by year-end.
"We are going to be very stringent. The aim is not only to protect the non-smoking population but children as well," Dr Chua said.
Studies show that second-hand smoke in a vehicle is 23 times more toxic than in a house because of the confined space.
Several countries already have laws in place or are formulating laws towards this goal. These include Australia, New Zealand, Canada, Britain and several states in the United States.
The fines for a first-time offender will range from RM150 to RM400.
According to the British Medical Journal, babies and children exposed to environmental tobacco smoke (ETS or passive smoking) are at a higher risk of developing lung cancer as adults.
It said children exposed to passive smoking daily and for many hours were the most vulnerable.
They face over three times the risk compared with those growing up in smoke-free environment.
Children exposed to passive smoking a few times a week are almost 1.45 times more likely to develop lung cancer, and those exposed daily but not for many hours faced twice the risk.
In New Zealand, researchers said such laws were needed after a study found that being enclosed in a car with a smoker, even with the windows fully wound down, was equivalent to sitting in a smoky bar.
Child exposure to ETS also revealed a higher incidence of asthma cases, ear infections and sudden infant death syndrome in babies.
Dr Chua said under the proposed Tobacco Bill, more places would be gazetted as non-smoking areas.
He did not say whether this would include banning adults from smoking at home when children were present.
The tabling of the Bill had taken some time as the ministry had to consider many aspects for effective implementation.
"We want to have a set of laws that is really effective in preventing the young from smoking and safeguarding the rights of non-smokers."
Asked whether the reason for the introduction of tougher laws was because Malaysia was a signatory to the World Health Organisation initiated Framework Convention on Tobacco Control (FCTC), Dr Chua said: "We may be signatories to the framework but we cannot adopt all the measures to curb tobacco use.
"We have to ensure these suit local conditions."
The FCTC obligates parties to protect present and future generations from the health and economic consequences of tobacco consumption.
The Malaysian Medical Council’s Action on Smoking and Health Committee welcomed the move.
Committee chairman Dr Lekhraj Rampal said smokers should realise that cigarette tobacco contained more than 4,000 chemicals, out of which more than 40 were cancer- causing agents.
"Smoking in confined areas, such as cars, and in front of children is bad parenting. It poses risks to the children," said Dr Lekhraj.
Yong Check Yoon, the spokesman for National Poison Centre’s Clearing House for Tobacco Control, said it was time the authorities introduced laws to protect children from second-hand smoke.
"Since the space in a car is confined, the chemical residue from the tobacco smoke will get into the cushion and stick to other parts as well."