Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Device helps stroke patients finger their needs

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Fingers that talk. A small group of stroke victims has finally been able to indicate its needs using finger configurations on a device invented by four post-graduate students at University of Malaya.
All they have to do to show that they are, among others, hungry, want to pray, or have their bed lifted is to repeatedly place their fingers on different sensors on the device.
A small LCD screen above translates the configurations into English.
Group leader Ahmad Khirrullah Mansor, 25, said: "I came up with this device that can help victims ‘tell’ their care-givers and companions what they want.
"It is targeted at severe stroke victims where the patient’s movement is limited to a few fingers."
Ahmad Khirrullah, who is completing his final semester in master’s degree in engineering in telecommunications, said the device detected variations in the shape or form of the fingers placed on it.
The device, costing under RM500, is targeted at hospitals, nursing homes and patients at home.
Sharifah Nur Anthasha Syed Ahmad, 35, who lectures in the Faculty of Creative Multimedia, was the brains behind the device’s language.
The invention is on exhibition at the three-day Engineering Invention ’N Innovation Challenge (EINIC) 2007 at Dewan Tunku Canselor, University of Malaya.

Doctors need certification to test new drugs on patients

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Some doctors are testing new drugs on patients without getting Health Ministry certification.
Pleading ignorance would not save doctors from having to do so, said Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital (HUKM) medical research and ethics committee chairman Prof Dr Raymond Azman Ali.
Some doctors who wanted to do clinical trials were not aware they had to undergo a three-day course on Clinical Practice Guidelines (GCP), banking on their qualifications instead, he added.
Dr Raymond said two cases were detected in HUKM this year and one in 2005.
"But the patients were okay. No one died and no side effects were reported. In fact, in one situation, a patient’s life was saved," he told the New Straits Times.
Life-saving trial or not, HUKM now wants all its doctors to obtain GCP certification.
Doctors who don’t have the certification will have to stop their research immediately and sit for the GCP course before they can conduct another.
"Sometimes, when doctors come with research proposals, they don’t even know what a GCP certification is.
"More often than not, doctors plead ignorance, saying they did not know they needed a GCP certificate.
"But they can’t plead ignorance in court," he said.
The Health Ministry made it a requirement for all those doing research involving humans to have GCP certification seven years ago to ensure patient safety at all phases of a clinical trial.
Ministry statistics show there are nearly 300 GCP-trained clinicians in the country.
Last year, HUKM approved an average of one research proposal a day. Of this, between 15 and 20 per cent went through clinical trials.
"Recognising the importance of research, the ministry and the university are trying to get all doctors who conduct trials certified," he said.
HUKM conducted trials in medicine, including cardiology, neurology, nephrology, diabetes, dermatology, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics and cancer, he said.
Director-general of Health Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican said the ministry introduced GCP training to make sure the rights of patients were protected and to make sure credible and authentic data was produced.

Restaurants vow cleaner loos

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Restaurant associations have pledged to provide cleaner and better-serviced toilets for the comfort of customers and tourists.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said clean toilets in restaurants were like a “value added” service as customers not only want good food but also clean facilities.
The move, he added, was also timely for Visit Malaysia 2007.
However, local authorities would continue to enforce laws to ensure the cleanliness of restaurants, despite restaurant associations urging members to upgrade their toilets, he said.
“This is just an additional effort to ensure that the places are clean. Enforcement will continue,” Ong told reporters yesterday after witnessing a memorandum of co-operation signing ceremony by the Malaysia Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors Association, Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners General Association and Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association.
The three associations, with 20,000 members between them, urged members to carry out basic repairs as soon as possible to ensure toilets are in working order, clean, and equipped with tissue paper and soap at all times, without imposing any charge for usage.
“Sometimes when I go into a toilet, I find only a small scoop and a pail of water. You need to have a clean toilet,” Ong said.
The memorandum also requires restaurants to have staff to keep toilets clean.
It was signed in cooperation with the National Toilet Cleanliness Committee, Quality Restroom Association Malaysia and local authorities.
Ong also urged Malaysians to make it part of their culture to keep public toilets clean.
He added that the ministry intended to continue its awareness campaign instead of creating laws to punish those who soil public toilets.

Tainted peanut butter recalled

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has issued a directive to recall two brands of peanut butter allegedly contaminated by the salmonella bacteria that can cause food poisoning and fever.
North American-based ConAgra Foods Inc – manufacturer of the brands Peter Pan and Great Values – had last week found that its products were tainted.
The two brands, with the code number 2111 on top of the jar, had been blamed for getting 329 people in the United States sick.
The ministry’s food safety and quality division director Dr Abd Rahim Mohamad confirmed the recall.
“We immediately alerted our offices in every state to be on the lookout after we received information about the recall.
“We also have health officers going around stores and shopping complexes to check whether the contaminated peanut butter is still being sold,” he said.
“If we find any of these products on the shelves we will confiscate them,” he added, advising consumers to alert the nearest health office if they noticed these products.
“Our men cannot be everywhere all the time but if we have the public notifying us about these contaminated products we can reduce the risk of people being infected,” said Dr Abd Rahim.
“Fortunately, salmonella normally does not pose a very serious health condition. It usually causes diarrhoea, mild fever and abdominal pains,” he said, adding that there had been no reported outbreak.
Meanwhile, retailers Jusco and Carrefour confirmed that they had recalled all the tainted products.
Jusco merchandiser for nutritious food Harfiza Harun said they completed the process by Feb 16.
“We are well informed of this matter and all tainted peanut butter have been withdrawn,” she said, adding that they had not received any complaint from customers about the tainted items.

Slash the red tape to make Malaysia a research hub

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Millions in pharmaceutical industry money are bypassing Malaysia. And the reason is not hard to find - red tape.
Although Malaysia is ideal for clinical trials for new or improved drugs due to its diverse population, the big players are skirting the country.
They are spending their money in countries such as Singapore, India and China instead.
This year, clinical research on drugs and equipment in Asia is expected to be worth nearly half a billion ringgit.
Last year, the clinical trials industry was worth about RM25 million in Malaysia. The Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia estimates that this will grow by 20 to 30 per cent this year.
Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican said this was a very small amount compared with the total being spent by the industry in the region.
Dr Ismail said too many ministries and departments were involved in the approval process. There were too many officials to meet, too many forms to fill and a general sense of suspicion of the clinical trial methods.
Giving an example, he said a multinational company, which wanted to set up a research centre in Malaysia, went to Singapore after it was eyed with suspicion.
The company had faced great difficulty in obtaining approvals from various ministries.
"We should not frustrate such efforts. We have to look at the bigger picture. Everyone concerned should walk the extra mile if we want to promote Malaysia as a research hub," he told the New Straits Times.
On its part, he said, the Health Ministry last week decided to speed up approvals for conducting trials, cutting waiting time from four months to two.
It is also working to improve government hospitals and clinical research centres in the country, some of which have been found lacking in standard operating procedures, facilities and equipment.
This is to assure these firms that they could be certain of high standards and that the centres had been approved by the ministry.
The ministry also plans to make it compulsory for every trial to be registered with the Clinical Research Centre to give the pharmaceutical industry access to expert clinical researchers.
"The online register will contain information on researchers, the number of trials conducted and how many have been completed. If a drug company wants to use a particular researcher, all the necessary information will be available," he said.
Researchers will be monitored to ensure that funds, especially from the government, were properly utilised.
"Once a trial is registered, the ministry will check with the researchers every three or six months to ensure the trial is on track.
"Millions are spent, but nobody keeps track of the trials and many of these trials are not even published. I’ve always said that if you don’t publish, you perish."
There are four main phases to a clinical trial. These include testing the drug on a small group, on larger groups and the post-marketing evaluation.
Dr Ismail said the prestigious National Institutes of Health in the United States (NIH) wanted to join forces with Malaysia on cancer research.
"We told them that we were excited to work with them because cancer is high on our priority list. We are planning to visit some of these international centres’ exhibitions to tell them of our capabilities."
Dr Ismail has been in touch with several NIH directors, including the director of the Cancer Institute.
Meanwhile, Dr Sharmila Ramachandran, the medical director of a pharmaceutical giant, said Malaysia could attract more companies to conduct research and development projects in the medical field.
"Because of its capabilities as a developing country, it is able to cater to those who want to do state-of-the-art research and development."
Dr Sharmila said clinical trials in Malaysia had become more sophisticated over the last 10 years.

Marked Drop In Dengue Cases Last Week

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 (Bernama) -- Dengue cases in the country dropped by 20.9 per cent over a one-week period from last Saturday.
The Health Ministry's Diseases Control director Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said the drop was the result of concerted efforts by the government and various parties to check the menace.
He said that during the period (Feb 18-24), 783 suspected dengue cases were reported compared with 990 cases the preceding week, a drop of 207 cases or by 20.9 per cent.
"In the same period, there were two dengue-related deaths, one each in Selangor and the Federal Territory, bringing to 25 the total number of deaths due to dengue this year," he said in a statement issued here Tuesday.
Dr Hasan said that of the 783 cases, 729 cases or 93.1 per cent were suspected to be dengue fever while 54 cases or 6.9 per cent, dengue haemorrhagic fever.
He said lesser dengue cases were reported that week in all states except Penang and Terengganu and the Federal Territory of Putrajaya.

25 Per Cent Of Orang Asli Children In Kuala Kangsar Have Weight Problem

IPOH, Feb 27 (Bernama) -- The obesity problem which is often linked to modern lifestyles in big cities, seems to have spread to the Orang Asli communities due to progress and changing lifestyle.
A survey conducted on the diet of Orang Asli children aged below seven years in Kuala Kangsar, showed that 25 per cent of them were having weight problems and of those, two per cent were categorised as obese.
The finding was tabled by Habibullah Mohd Khatib of the Kuala Kangsar Health Office at the Second Perak Health Conference, here Tuesday.
He said the survey involved 1,263 Orang Asli children below seven years of age in 14 settlements in Kuala Kangsar, namely Pos Bawong, Bekor, Bukit Chermin, Chenein, Jong, Kajang, Kenang, Kuala Mu, Legap, Perwor, Piah, Poi, Sungai Pelantuk and Yum.
"Of the total, 637 children (50.4 per cent) were boys while 626 (49.6 per cent) were girls. The percentage of subjects categorised as normal was 37.9 while 62.1 per cent were categorised as stunted.
"The survey found that 41 per cent (514 children) had moderate body weight, 34 per cent (433) normal, 23 per cent (289) severe and two per cent (26) obese," he said.
He said the demographic data for the study was collected through questionnaires while the anthropometric and clinical data were through measurements using certain equipment and observations by the dieticians and nurses involved.
Habibullah said the study that was aimed at obtaining information on the diet of Orang Asli children aged below seven in Perak, showed that the subjects' routine diet consisted of rice, tapioca, fish or chicken (protein group) and tapioca shoots (vegetable group).
"The food was prepared by boiling or frying," he added.
He said the problem of malnutrition was still serious among the subjects and among the clinical signs often seen was their sparse and reddish-brown hair.
"The hair condition is a symptom of insuffient protein that is quite a serious public health problem in several developing countries, especially in areas of low socio-economic level," he said.
The three-day health conference began yesterday. It is attended by 350 participants from all over the country.
It was opened by Perak Health, Environment and Human Resources Committee chairman Datuk Tan Chin Meng. Also present was deputy director-general of Health Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat.

Tuesday, February 27, 2007

Sale Of "Kintop" Slimming Capsules Suspended Immediately

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 (Bernama) -- The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) has suspended the sale of slimming product "Kintop Capsules" until the Ministry of Health confirmed that it is safe for public consumption.
Its secretary-general Mohd Zain Mohd Dom said the ministry in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and local authorities would be checking and monitoring outlets nationwide to prevent its sale.
"The suspension and cancellation of this product is effective immediately," Mohd Zain said in a statement, here Monday.
The Health Ministry had cancelled registration of the same product in Aug last year for containing "Sibutramine", a poison that can give serious side-effects to the blood pressure and cardiovascular.
Possession of the product for sale is an offence under the Drug and Cosmetic Regulations 1984 and first offenders can be fined, jailed three years or both.
For subsequent offences, the fines could reach RM50,000 or five years jail or both.
Mohd Zain urged the public to cooperate by reporting to the ministry should they find shops selling the slimming product.
The report can be made by calling the toll free line 1-800-886-800 or made online at or at any ministry office.

Monday, February 26, 2007

Dengue fever cases still high

Star: PETALING JAYA: The number of dengue fever cases in the country is still at a worrying level and the situation should not be taken lightly, said the Health Ministry's deputy director-general Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat.
“Although the number of cases dropped to 990 last week from about 1,200 the previous week, it is still at a high level,” said Dr Ramlee yesterday.
Last week, three people – two from Kuala Lumpur and one from Johor – died of dengue fever.
This brought the total number of dengue-related deaths to 23.
Dr Ramlee said the drop in the number of cases was due to intensified efforts and more frequent community gotong-royong to help get rid of the mosquito's breeding grounds especially in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor which account for some 30% of total cases.
Of the 990 cases, 357 were in Selangor – the highest number of cases in the country – while 224 were in Kuala Lumpur.
Other states with a high number of cases were Johor (88 cases), Perak (79), Sarawak (45), Kelantan (45) and Pahang (30).
“We have intensified our efforts and there is community involvement but each individual must do their part especially when it rains.
“We need everyone's total commitment. Take a look around your garden and home and make sure that there is no stagnant water around especially in pots, drains and vases,” said Dr Ramlee.
He said fogging was still ongoing and authorities would continue to distribute free larvicide especially to schools and health clinics to reduce breeding grounds.
Dr Ramlee said the number of dengue cases was still high compared to last year over the same period.
“Although we are finally seeing a reduction in cases, it is still on the high side which is also due to heavy rain and floods we experienced recently,” he added.

Fomca: Ad hype has eclipsed healthy lifestyle drive

Star: PETALING JAYA: The hype involving fast food advertisements has overshadowed the Government’s efforts to promote a balanced diet as part of healthy living.
Fomca secretary-general Muhammad Shaani Abdullah said it was an irony that while the authorities were promoting wellness programmes, fast food adverts have become more widespread.
“Fiercer efforts by companies to advertise fast food has led to the failure of the authorities’ campaigns to promote a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle among Malaysians,” he said.
Muhammad Shaani said Fomca welcomed the Health Ministry’s proposal to ban fast food advertisements and also the Information Ministry’s willingness to ban such adverts, which provided “inappropriate education” to young consumers.
“Fast food does not provide a balanced diet and although their menu contain certain ingredients, it is not a proper meal.
“For instance, fast food such as fried chicken and burgers contain too much preservatives, colouring, salt and fat. The beverages contain a lot of sugar.
“Fast food intake occasionally will not be a problem but it can be harmful to workers in major towns and cities who consume fast food as main daily meals,” he added.
Muhammad Shaani said banning fast food adverts was timely in view of the rising number of Malaysians suffering from heart disease and high blood pressure.
“There are now fast food outlets along every street and lane. It shows the culture of Malaysians favouring fast food,” he added.
He called on fast food operators to be responsible in providing the nutritional content of their products. “Even after the Health Minister talked of the idea to ban fast food ads, there are still companies claiming their fast food products provide a proper main meal,” he said.

Locum not a real doctor

Star: JOHOR BARU: He is a medical assistant at a government hospital but on his days off, he moonlighted as a “doctor” making about RM40 an hour as a locum in private clinics.
The man, in his 30s, was always well attired and carried himself well when attending to his “patients” the past few years until an allegation that he molested a “patient” recently exposed his cover.
The man, whose wife is also a staff at the hospital, does not have any degree in Medicine and has been a medical assistant at the hospital the past 10 years.
He has been arrested for allegedly molesting a housewife at a private clinic in Ulu Tiram several days ago.
The incident happened when a young couple came to see the “doctor” for a medical examination and the husband was told to wait outside.
The “doctor” allegedly molested the woman during the examination.
Police who were doing a background check on the man found out that he was not a real doctor.
He was arrested within hours after a report was lodged.
Johor Baru South OCPD Asst Comm Shafie Ismail said investigation was being conducted.
A hospital official said there had been verbal complaints in the past about a medical assistant pretending to be a doctor.
“This is the first time that someone has been picked up by the police.”

Time For Study On Mental, Emotional Stress, Says Social Activist

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 25 (Bernama) -- Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said today it was time the government conducted a comprehensive study to identify the number of Malaysians suffering from emotional and mental stress, factors which contributed to the suicide cases in the country.
He said the last time such a study was done was in 1996 when it was found that 10.5 per cent of the adult population in the country was under mental stress.
He said that of late, there had been reports in the media on suicide cases or attempts among Malaysians, brought on by stress and extreme depression.
An example was the case where a couple forced their children to drink a detergent compound to end their lives before taking their own, apparently driven to that state by emotional stress caused by an agitating loanshark.
"We do not want this culture to spread, where the head of a family convinces his family members to commit suicide to solve any problem," Lee told Bernama here today. Lee also suggested that a counsellor be appointed at every housing estate in both rural and urban areas so that those with emotional problems could seek advice from a professional.
In this regard, he welcomed the One Family-One Counsellor programme, initiated by the Social Bureau of the Umno Supreme Council, that was launched by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi in Seremban early this month.
He considered the programme a proactive approach towards finding a solution for families whose members might be suffering from mental stress.
In addition, he said, counselling sessions should be held at the workplace for workers who have problems coping with the pressure there.
Lee said society must change its perception of people who seek help from psychiatrists, and avoid labelling them as being mental patients. "Such a phenomenon does not happen in developed countries like the United States, Australia and the United Kingdom where those with emotional problems are quickly referred to psychiatrists," he said.
Lee said Malaysian society must be more matured in handling emotionally-disturbed individuals, and refer them immediately to the experts.

RTM To Air Programmes To Enlighten Public On Fast Foods

KEMAMAN, Feb 26 (Bernama) -- Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) will air programmes to enlighten the public on fast foods through its Debat Perdana and current affairs slots on its TV1 channel.
Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin said this was necessary as the media was the best platform to increase people's awareness on the health aspects of fast foods.
"RTM wants to take the initiative in this and will invite fast food operators, advertisers, doctors and others to discuss this issue," he said.
He said this to reporters after opening the national-level Quran recital assembly at the Kampung Meraga Mosque in Kijal near here Sunday night.
Also present were State Housing and Local Government Committee chairman Datuk Ahmad Said and Foreign Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Ahmad Shabery Cheek.
Zainuddin said RTM could not immediately stop showing fastfood advertisements on its television channels because it was bound by contracts worth RM11 million.
He said that the discussion on the issue had already started on the RTM1 channel through the Selamat Pagi Malaysia talk show and after the Warta Perdana news bulletin.
"The discussions will dwell on the pros and cons relating to the issue because it involves many matters, including employment opportunities, trends and so on,' he said.
Earlier in his speech, Zainuddin called on Muslims not to be easily influenced by groups considered as outdated in their actions to that extent that they accused what other people did as unIslamic.
He said these groups held demonstrations when the government organised entertainment programmes but it was okay if they did so.

Sunday, February 25, 2007

Why is there prejudice?

NST: Two little boys are at the centre of a controversy in a primary school that brings home the difficulties faced by those living with HIV.
Both are HIV-positive, and their classmates’ parents want them removed from the school. They will know next month whether they are still welcome.
A parent raised the issue of the two boys from Rumah Solehah during the school’s annual general meeting last year.
"He said he knew the dos and don’ts of HIV, but if an accident were to happen, his son’s life was not replaceable," said Wan Hava Wan Husin, the supervisor of the home for HIV-positive children and single mothers with HIV.
Wan Hava said the parent suggested a separate building or school for HIV-positive children.
"I was surprised. I felt like fighting back, but I couldn’t do anything."
The state Education Department later ordered that Rumah Solehah station someone to watch over the two boys in school every day, a challenge as the shelter has nearly 50 kids to care for.
"The school has been very understanding, but I wish parents would open their eyes and see that my kids also have a right to an education," said Wan Hava.
She wondered why the medical term HIV seemed to create more fear than cancer and leukaemia.
"Why the prejudice?" she asked.
Standard Chartered managing director and chief executive officer Julian Wynter, who was at Rumah Solehah to present RM20,000 worth of aid to the home, echoed her thought.
He said companies could play a part by educating their employees about HIV/AIDS.
"All of us need to build a knowledge base about HIV. Companies can lead the way by providing funding, and volunteering at homes."
Standard Chartered has trained several employees to teach corporations about implementing HIV/AIDS policies in the workplace. Last year, they organised programmes at seven client companies.
"It’s not easy because it is not something people are comfortable with," Wynter said.

Shot in the arm for telehealth

Star: PETALING JAYA: The telehealth project under the Health Ministry is set to undergo a major revamp to enable Malaysians to get answers to their medical problems immediately via a call centre and expand the usage of kiosks to get information at major clinics in rural areas.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said yesterday that he was dissatisfied with current glitches such as the public only getting answers to their questions three days after using the ministry's call centre.
The project, he said, needed to be more focused and that changes would be completed during the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
“Nowadays, they put in the information about something like a headache and wait about three days to get a response. This is not good. So, we are going for realtime.”
To achieve this, Dr Ismail said the ministry hoped to recruit retired medical officers, nurses and medical assistants who were highly trained.
“They will be given specific times of the day to be on duty.”
With the move, he said individuals who called in will be told immediately whether the ailment such as a headache is dangerous or not and what medication or treatment to seek.
Dr Ismail said that teleprimary care would be expanded to rural areas where the ministry was working with the Energy, Water and Communications Ministry to provide USB ports to rural schoolchildren who would be able to access the Internet and get health information.
Several major health clinics in rural areas in Sarawak and Kepala Batas in Penang had been set up with kiosks where patients could obtain information on their ailments.
Other sections of telehealth such as teleconsultation, teleCPD (continuous professional development for doctors) and teleconferencing would also be improved on.

Saturday, February 24, 2007

Banning ads may not solve bad eating habits

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Banning fast food advertisements may not be the answer to bad eating habits, according to dieticians.
National Heart Institute Dietetics and Food Services senior manager Mary Easaw-John and Malaysian Dietitians’ Association president Tan Yoke Hwa said educating the public on right eating habits may be the better option.
Easaw-John said the Health Ministry should also look at stalls and hawker centres if the idea was to reduce fat consumption.
"Food sold there also have high calories and fat," she said.
Easaw-John said fast food meant ready-to-eat cooked food and not just burgers and fried chicken.
They were responding to Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek’s plan to table a paper to the Cabinet, banning fast food advertisements.
Dr Chua had said that Malaysians’ poor eating habits were contributing to more lifestyle-related diseases and that the obesity rate in the country had increased to 37 per cent, from 20 per cent a decade ago.
A fast food "sin tax" is also being considered as fast food is deemed to be a "silent killer".
According to the Nielsen Media Index fast food outlets seemed a favourite haunt of Malaysians aged 15 and above.
The survey between January and December 2006 found that 43 per cent had visited fast-food outlets in the preceding month.
Easaw-John recommends working with the fast food industry to come up with nutrition information on their food as well as lower fat choices for the nation.
"It must be a win-win situation, otherwise stop licensing them. It’s unfair to issue licences to operate and then ban them from advertising.
"What food is safe now after all? All our food now is subject to some sort of pollution. We just have to make informed choices.
"If the government wants to ban advertisements, they must then ban quite a few advertisements, including supplement advertisements, junk food advertisements and SMS advertisements and dating services."
Easaw-John said people eating in fast food joints should also make proper choices in selecting their meal.
"Take a single burger instead of a double or triple one and take a fruit juice. Don’t take fries and don’t go for offers. Be sensible. It’s like your bank deposits. If you are smart and save well, your retirement plans are good."
She said there was no such thing as good or bad food, just good and bad eating habits.
"Whether it’s fast food or local food, anything taken in excess will lead to chronic diseases. A burger is about 560 calories, while a small plate of nasi minyak with its accompaniments also has the same amount of calories. It has to be looked at objectively," said Easaw-John.
Tan said banning fast-food advertisements would not stop people from frequenting the outlets.
"The ministry cannot be the police for the public. The public needs to know why fast food is harmful in terms of its high calorie and fat content.
"They should know how much they are consuming and what their limits are."
However, Tan admitted there was a lack of professional manpower to disseminate information to the public.
She said the problem was more centred in urban areas where people tended to eat more than they should.
"It’s not necessarily fast food. Roti canai is not classified as fast food but it can have a lot of oil. The same goes for deep fried local dishes and dishes cooked with a lot of coconut milk.
"We have to look at the total picture," she said.

Centre for special kids needs volunteers and RM100,000

NST: GEORGE TOWN: A centre for children and adolescents with special needs here is short of funds and volunteers.
The centre called The 2-ways Centre, located in Jalan Kampung Jawa Baru, needs at least RM100,000 annually to run its programmes.
Consultant paediatrician and paediatric cardiologist Dr Sim Joo Seng, who is a volunteer at the centre, said the centre also welcomed volunteers, especially teachers, and social and medical workers.
Speaking during a Chinese New Year party for about 40 children with developmental delay and learning disabilities at the centre yesterday, he said about 5 per cent of children in this country needed special attention and treatment.
The centre’s special educator Silviana Bonadei said the centre helped 140 children.
"Last year, three educationists at the centre provided 1,089 sessions in Penang and 33 in Kulim, Kedah, as well as registering 186 new cases," she added.
The sessions at the centre are subsidised, with parents paying RM10 per session of 45 minutes.
Opened three years ago, the centre is a project of the Mental Health Association of Penang.
Also present at the party was state exco member Datuk Dr Teng Hock Nan.

Kidney patients awaiting transplants in bad shape

Star: MANY kidney patients awaiting transplants are in no condition to go for an operation and do not have long to live, Malaysia Nanban reported.
In the past 18 months, the number of patients waiting for kidney transplants had jumped from 5,000 to 15,000 people but in the last 10 years only 109 kidney transplants have been done.
About 1,300 people undergoing kidney dialysis die each year. The health of many undergoing dialysis and waiting for kidney transplants has been affected and many are in no condition to go for an operation.
Last year the National Transplant Resource Centre received 13 kidneys from donors while in 2005, they received only five kidneys. This year the number of patients has increased but the centre has received no kidneys so far.
National Kidney Foundation vice-president Datuk Dr Zaki Morad Mohd Zaher said that a lot of lives could be saved if the body organs of least 10% of the 6,000 deaths that occur annually due to road accidents are harvested.
He said that while a person undergoing kidney dialysis could live for more than 10 years, only a kidney transplant could guarantee a normal healthy life.
Mentakab residents and public organisations have submitted a memorandum to the Government regarding poor medical facilities in the town after the 80-year-old General Hospital was closed and turned into an outpatient clinic, Malaysia Nanban reported.
While the hospital is being renovated, a new hospital is being built about 25 km away on the route to Kuantan.
Residents needing hospital care have to spend RM60 just on the trip instead of the RM5 they used to spend.
Emergency treatment becomes a nightmare as patients have to wait for a long time for an ambulance to come from nearby towns.

Ministry wants to focus on wellness programmes

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry is not about to go around checking what Malaysians eat in its efforts to curb unhealthy eating habits – instead, it is focusing on a wellness programme.
Its director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said: “We are not going to go around checking what people eat. It is impractical. And putting a stop to fast food advertisements is to influence the younger set of Malaysians, the children.
“If we ban the advertisements early, then the children might not pick up the habit. But education of the masses is the key.”
Dr Ismail said that presently, the ministry’s programmes focused on promoting wellness rather than being illness-oriented.
“It is still the people’s choice. The consumer has to decide and for us, it is either scaring them enough into taking care of themselves or giving them enough information.
“We can try anything starting from the schools and we are getting feedback from various people like the NGOs to use new ways in educating people,” he said.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek had earlier proposed that fast food commercials be banned and that he would bring the issue concerning fast food, said to be a “silent killer”, before the Cabinet next week.
Meanwhile, Chan Chin Nam, 42, a father of three young children, is far more worried about the unregulated content of hawker food, noting that the unhealthy points of fast food had long been recognised.
“You don’t know what the chef is doing to your food, what he puts in it,” he said when met at a cafĂ© during lunch yesterday.
Businessman Lim Siang Boon, 45, said eating kuih, local desserts and junk food was considered “normal” as everyone ate them too when he was growing up.
He, however changed his habits after being diagnosed as a diabetic and now.

RTM Will Ban Fastfood Ads If Directed By Cabinet

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 (Bernama) -- Radio Televisyen Malaysia (RTM) will immediately ban fastfood advertisements on all its radio and television stations if it is directed by the Cabinet to do so, Information Minister Datuk Seri Zainuddin Maidin said.
He said a clarification was needed due to concerns among advertising and fastfood companies following his statement which was published in a local newspaper recently.
He said even if RTM were to immediately ban fastfood commercials on its channels, it would still honour the contracts entered into with the respective advertisers.
"I am aware that this issue would have a significant impact on the advertising industry in the country, as the fastfood sector contributes revenue by the hundreds of millions of ringgit each year.
"At the same time, the people's health is very important and if not protected, the quality of health will drop and the government has to spend millions of ringgit to tackle the problem," he said in a statement to Bernama here Friday.
Last year, revenue earnings from fastfood advertisements on RTM were worth more than RM11 million.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek had earlier proposed that fastfood commercials be banned in the media and he would bring the fastfood issue which was said to be a "silent killer", before the Cabinet next week.
Zainuddin said if studies showed that fastfood would adversely affect the people's health, then immediate action would be taken to protect the public.
He said the trend now was that fastfood had become part and parcel of people's lifestyle.
"But we should not use fastfood as a way out or a symbol of modern living. As Malaysians, we have many options so as not to make fastfood a staple diet."
Zainuddin said that besides the fastfood of large companies and those under franchise, the authorities would also have to monitor and enforce laws on fastfood ingredients that were detrimental to health, produced by small companies and unregistered businesses.
He said this was because instant 'roti canai', instant 'pau' and instant curry puffs that contain preservatives to make the food tastier and last longer, could be harmful to health.
"As such, the authorities should monitor the use of ingredients in fastfood, to ensure they comply with the permissible level.
"RTM is also prepared to give a slot for the Health Ministry to bring health and nutritional experts to inform and explain to the public on the adverse effects of such food and its contents on people's health," he said.

Fomca Calls On Health Ministry To Place Dieticians At Schools

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 23 (Bernama) -- The Federation of Malaysian Consumers' Associations (Fomca) Friday called on the Health Ministry to consider placing dieticians at schools to teach children about nutrition.
Its president, Marimuthu Nadason, said that in the wake of the ministry's proposal to ban fastfood advertisements in the electronic and print media, it should also think about having dieticians going around the schools, especially to ensure that healthy and nutritional food is served in the canteens.
He reasoned that this is because children are the most susceptible to fastfood advertisements, and one of the keys to overcoming the problem is educating them and creating awareness in them.
Commenting on the issue surrounding fastfood, which has been deemed unhealthy and the cause of many health hazards, Marimuthu said that despite the efforts to control the advertisements, a lot still depends on the customers themselves.
"In fact, it is not only fastfood that is bad, some items sold by hawkers can be too. The thing is we cannot suddenly become health-conscious people overnight. It comes with individual habits," he told Bernama.
Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) President Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin, when contacted, said the move to control fastfood advertisements should not be seen as banning fastfoods.
"We are only talking about the advertisements as they have influence on the young. We are not banning fastfood," he said.
"We are also not saying that all fastfood items are bad. We can pick and choose, like salads for instance, but most fastfoods are still high in fat and lacking in nutritional value," he added.
Commenting on Marimuthu's suggestion, Teoh said it would be a very good effort to send dieticians to promote nutrition in schools as such a move has been adopted by other countries.
"The famous Jamie Oliver (celebrity chef) of the Naked Chef series has done something like that in British schools," he said, adding that there is no reason why it could not be implemented here.
Meanwhile, Council Chairman of The Academy of Family Physicians in Malaysia Datuk Assoc. Prof D.M. Thuraiappah said that placing dieticians in schools is one way of curbing the fastfood trend, but related enforcement bodies should also control the quality of food served in schools, such as the amount of sugar content.
Thuraiappah, who is also a council member of the World Organisation of Family Doctors, explained that while most foods sold in shops and supermarkets are labelled, the same cannot be said about those in school canteens.
"We should have a regulation on that. It is also good if they could do random checks at the canteens," he added.
As for whether the banning of fastfood advertisements will stop the children from consuming them, Thuraiappah simply said: "Less advertisement means less motivation for them to eat fastfood."
He also gave an example that even though cigarette companies could no longer advertise on television and in the newspapers, they are still allowed to advertise at sporting tournaments and also in various food and drinks outlets.

Friday, February 23, 2007

Hawker fare can be bad too

Star: PETALING JAYA: Local hawker fare can be just as bad as fast food because of the high calorie and fat content.
Nutrition Society of Malaysia president Dr Tee E. Siong said when contacted yesterday that Malaysians should look at food from an overall perspective, paying attention to calories rather than whether it was fast food or hawker fare.
“Some local food can have very high calories like those which are fried or have a lot of coconut milk such as your curry mee. We do not encourage food which are high in saturated fats or are too salty.
“It is not just the Western fast food,” he said.
Dr Tee reiterated that Malaysians should eat according to their needs.
“If you need 1,600 calories a day but have a plate of fried rice or a double burger then that is already half of your needs.
“And that is not counting the soft drink that you might have. Or whether you exercise or not.
“It is a question of balancing your intake and outtake,” he said.
A check with the society’s website,, showed that fried rice with egg, chicken and vegetables had more than 600 calories and was categorised as having “very high calorie content.”
Among franchised fast food that it listed in the same category was fried chicken (either two or three pieces with coleslaw, mashed potatoes, french fries and a bun).
Among local food with high calorie content (between 401 and 600 calories) were curry mee, nasi briyani (rice only) and mee bandung while franchised fast food in the category included chicken sandwich with salad; five pieces of chicken nuggets and french fries; and two pieces of chicken pizza with pineapple.
Local favourites such as nasi lemak, a piece of roti canai, chicken rice and fried kuey teow had medium calorie content, which is between 101 and 400 calories. Franchised fast food in this category included cheeseburger, two pieces of vegetarian pizza and five sticks of satay (chicken, beef or mutton).
Dr Tee said there were Malaysians who were highly knowledgeable about what they consumed and that educating the public on food was essential in creating individuals who could make informed decisions.
He said one reason why people frequented Western franchised outlets was that these had a more conducive atmosphere where they could chat in air-conditioned comfort.
“But then you have shops which sell healthier stuff like fish porridge or soup noodles, which are very hot. Maybe, there should be an upgrade of these places so people will start going there,” he added.

Two colleges warned

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Two out of the 15 private and public colleges offering nursing courses have been found to be using substandard syllabus.
They also do not have enough lecturers and tutors.
“We have visited the two colleges and have given them a warning to buck up,” said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad.
“We will also carry out surprise checks on other colleges to ensure they offer proper nursing courses,” he told reporters after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the ministry and three colleges – Mara’s Poly-Tech Colleges, Universiti Kuala Lumpur’s Royal College of Medicine Perak and Universiti College Sedaya International – here yesterday.
The memorandum of agreement allows nursing students from the colleges to be trained at government hospitals and clinics.
Dr Abdul Latiff warned that substandard nursing colleges might face closure, as the ministry wanted only quality and dedicated nurses to serve the healthcare industry.
“This is crucial as the public would be affected if nurses are not properly trained and educated.
“It is our aim to produce quality staff for the medical and healthcare services for not only the country but also for the industry in other parts of the world,” he said.
Dr Abdul Latiff said 8,000 nurses would be trained over the next 10 years, adding that the aim was to reduce nurse-patient ratio from one nurse serving 600 patients to 1:200.
“We are also trying to encourage more men to take up the job,” he said, adding that there were now 200 to 300 male nurses.
“There is also a need to change the mindset that nursing is only confined to clinics and hospitals. The healthcare industry today is very diverse,” he added.
Regarding the agreement signed with the three colleges, Dr Abdul Latiff said it would help students gain invaluable experience as government hospitals provided a good training ground.

Doc loses right to practise

Star: PETALING JAYA: Penawar state assemblyman Dr Mohd Azam Rauzan has been struck off the Malaysian Medical Council register and is no longer allowed to practise medicine in Malaysia.
Council president and Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said in a statement yesterday that Dr Mohd Azam had admitted to “abusing his professional privilege as a registered practitioner by causing untrue information to be provided to the Registry of Births in reports certified and signed by him.”
Another doctor, Dr Albert Lim Kok Hooi, was suspended for six months from Oct 10, while one Dr Mohamed Padzil Daros was reprimanded for other reasons.
Dr Ismail said Dr Mohd Azam's offence concerned the supposed delivery of four babies at his clinic at No. 7, Jalan Padi Mahsuri 15, Bandar Baru Uda, 81200 Johor Baru, but records in the clinic did not show any such entry.
Dr Mohd Azam’s name was removed from the register with effect from Dec 28, after he contravened Section 2.1.4 of the council’s code of professional conduct.
His case was one of three decisions made by the council between October and December involving various offences.
Dr Ismail said cases of doctors being struck off the rolls was not rampant, adding that the council will continue to release names of errant practitioners to the public.
“We are coming down hard on errant practitioners. This is to protect the public and the profession,” he said.
Since the Medical Act was enacted in 1971, the names of five doctors have been struck off the register.
Dr Lim of the Gleneagles Oncology Centre in Jalan Ampang, Kuala Lumpur, had his licence suspended for six months from Oct 10, after being found guilty of “abusing his professional privilege and skills by engaging in an emotional relationship with the wife of the complainant” during the period when his mother was under the doctor's care.
Dr Lim, who breached Section 2.2.4 of the council's code, has appealed against the sentence at a High Court.
A reprimand was issued against Dr Mohamed Padzil of Klinik Famili Sri Damansara in Bandar Sri Damansara, Kuala Lumpur, after he was found guilty of “conduct considered derogatory to the reputation of the profession.”
He had admitted to displaying a signboard at his place of practice which had the words “Klinik & Farmasi” (Clinic & Pharmacy), indicating that he was selling drugs and other medical items not only in treating his patients but also over the counter to non-patients.
This was contrary to Section 3.4 of the code.
Jurisdiction of the council over professional conduct of its registered persons is governed by the Medical Act and the Medical Regulations. The council maintains a register of eligible medical practitioners and has regulatory and disciplinary powers for the profession.

Thursday, February 22, 2007

MMA all for move to ban fast food adverts

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has welcomed the Health Ministry's proposal to ban advertisements for fast food.
Its president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said the nutritional value of fast food was doubtful.
“The changing diet of 'civilised homo sapiens' is a contributing factor in the rise of lifestyle diseases like obesity, diabetes and hypertension.
“As such, the education and influence for proper dietary habits should be a continuous process in school and at home,” he said in a statement.
Dr Teoh added that rather than the outright banning of such advertisements, there should be a requirement that fast food companies bear a “social sin tax” to promote healthy living and eating.
“This would be more palatable to the advertising and media sector and a 'win-win' solution,” he added.
The Muslim Consumers Association of Malaysia project director Noor Nirwandy Mat Noordin said the Health Ministry should give fast food restaurants and products labels just like the danger labels on cigarette boxes.

It cuts costs and beats bird flu virus

NST: IPOH: A new way to disinfect people after visits to livestock farms could save the industry and the Veterinary Services Department millions of ringgit.
The Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), developed by the Perak Veterinary Services Department, uses less disinfectant and fewer people to operate it.
It also cuts down on the amount of money spent on protective clothing.
Assistant veterinary officer A. Muniandy, one of the two who developed the PPE, said the equipment could save up to RM6 million a year in disinfectant costs for the poultry industry.
Muniandy told the New Straits Times that the PPE was effective in preventing the spread of the bird flu virus between farms and from animals to humans.
"The PPE uses a shower mist system which disinfects from head to toe without excessively wetting the protective gear and clothing worn underneath. The old pump-and-spray method was not that effective."
Muniandy and fellow assistant veterinary officer Bakhtir Manap built the device in seven months for less than RM7,000.
The prototype has won praise from Singapore’s Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority. But the best news for the two came from the Standards and Industrial Research Institute of Malaysia, which told them their prototype was the first of its kind in the world.
Made up of stainless steel ducts, a motor and a two horse-power compressor, it took two veterinary workers less than two minutes to take the device apart and put it back together.
According to Muniandy, the department uses nine litres of disinfectant to carry out sampling at three poultry farms with the old method. But with the new equipment, the same amount can be used for eight farms.
The number of people on each team visiting the farms can also be reduced because they don’t need to carry cumbersome equipment and bottles of disinfectant.
At present, PPE is used by state veterinary officers when they visit the 37 duck farms accredited by the Singapore Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority to obtain samples for H5N1 testing.
Muniandy said the Veterinary Services Department had saved up to RM900 on each operation which involved visits to eight farms.
"With the mobile disinfectant unit, each operation costs the department RM100. It costs RM1,000 with the old method."

Hub for flying hospital

Star: TAIPING: Tekah airport, one of the country’s oldest having been built by the British in 1940, has been chosen as the hub for Global Flying Hospitals (GFH), an international body that brings humanitarian medical support to developing countries.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohd Tajol Rosli Ghazali said the flying hospital's local representatives had picked Tekah over a few shortlisted sites recently and a memorandum of understanding (MoU) is expected to be signed within a few months.
He said GFH plans to use the Tekah airport as its landing hub to cater for its A310A Airbus aircrafts, to fly in patients and supplies.
Tajol Rosli said Mercy Malaysia had recently signed an MoU with GFH, enabling the former to operate flying hospitals during emergency crises around the region.
(At the signing ceremony, GFH founder and chairman Neil Newton had said that the body intends to form a fleet of 10 large aircraft and supplementary helicopters and smaller planes to help Mercy create a broader footprint to meet the needs of the people in various regions in emergencies and disasters.)
Tajol Rosli said that the Tekah airport refurbishment was part of a RM3bil plan by the private sector, subject to Federal Government approval.
“The expansion of Tekah airport’s runway will entail the acquisition of 450ha of land and some (terraced) houses located around its fringes,” he said, adding that no terminal would be built other than a few small offices to house the Immigration and Customs Departments.

Wednesday, February 21, 2007

Health Ministry Puts Fast Food Under Close Scrutiny

BATU PAHAT, Feb 20 (Bernama) -- The Health Ministry will meet non-governmental organisation (NGO) representatives to work on a campaign to educate the public on the pros and cons of fast food.
Its Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the meeting will be held immediately after the Chinese New Year holiday as the ministry was concerned with the current lifestyle of Malaysians and their fast food eating habits.
He said the ministry welcomed the call made by the NGOs, particularly the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association and the Penang Consumers Association, to stop fast food advertisements in the local media.
"A meeting will be held to find the best method to educate the public to avoid fast food consumption at the early age," he told reporters after a Chinese New Year Celebration, organised by Batu Pahat MCA, here last night.
The Johor MCA chairman said it was time that the fast food eating habits and their advertisements be monitored to check the increasing cases of diseases like diabetes, cardiac arrests, high blood pressure and kidney failure among Malaysians.
He said cases of such diseases were increasing with diabetes cases among Malaysians expected to rise between 12 and 13 per cent by 2020 against nine per cent at present.
"To us, the fast food advertisements are as dangerous as the cigarette and liquor advertisements. If they are not curbed at the early stage, they will be silent killers," he said.
Dr Chua said currently children as young as one-year-old were frequenting fast food restaurants in Malaysia and without proper supervision, they will be exposed to the silent killers.
He noted that several food products manufacturers like Nestle and Dutch Lady had agreed to reduce salt, sugar and fat contents in their canned products six months from now to help the government in its efforts to promote healthy living among Malaysians.
The Health Ministry has also a set up a committee to study whether the reduction of these flavouring items can reduce the quality of the food products, he added.

Sunday, February 18, 2007

Two kindies closed on HFM fears

Star: SHAH ALAM: Two Community Development Department (Kemas)-run kindergartens were ordered closed temporarily after several children were suspected of having contracted the hand, foot and mouth disease.
The order to shut down the kindergartens at Section 8 here and in Padang Jawa was issued on Thursday, state executive councillor for health Datuk Dr Lim Thuang Seng said yesterday.
He said the kindergartens were shut down as a preventive measure although only two or three children at each of them had been found to have symptoms of the disease.
“Although the situation is not worrying, the shutdown will stop the disease from spreading and the kindergarten owners have been asked to clean up their premises as a precaution,” he told reporters.
The kindergartens would be allowed to resume operations only after they had been certified HFMD-free, he added.

Ministry to meet NS council on health checks

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry has agreed to meet the National Service Training Council to discuss health checks before training starts.
Council chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the council would meet Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek and ministry officials in two weeks to discuss its proposal for compulsory medical examination for trainees before their stint.
He added that the proposal had not been officially sent to the ministry but had been discussed at a joint committee meeting comprising ministry officials and council members who were in charge of health and hygiene at the training camps around the country.
“If all goes well and the proposal gets the nod, it could probably be introduced this year,” Lee said in an interview here yesterday.
“We want to ensure trainees are fit for the training,” he said.
When contacted, Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat said that the ministry welcomed the National Service Training Council's proposal but said the ministry needed to study its feasibility such as the additional manpower that would be needed and its cost-effectiveness.

One in four M’sians could get dreaded disease

Star: ACCORDING to statistics from the World Health Organisation (WHO), in 2000 there were 10.1 million new cases diagnosed, adding to the 22.4 million who were already living with cancer, and there were 6.2 million cancer-related deaths.
And in 2020, there could be almost a 50% increase in the number of cases, with 15.7 million newly diagnosed cases.
In Malaysia, according to the Malaysia National Cancer Registry (2002), in terms of risk, one in four Malaysians will get cancer in their lifetime. This means that out of the estimated 24,526,500 people in Malaysia, 6,131,625 are at risk of developing some sort of cancer during their lifetime (statistics from Rural Development Ministry, 2002).
As such, it is important that everyone, including children, understands and is informed about cancer.

Suzie’s proposed research aims to create such awareness, and so she has targeted her research to:
·investigate best practices and methods as employed by several reputable cancer centres and support mechanisms in the United Kingdom, the United States, Australia, Japan, India and Malaysia in providing children with information of their parent's cancer diagnosis;
·understand Malaysian children's information-seeking behaviour and devise a set of core and generic data according to context, type, scope, platform and method of dissemination that is sensitive to their demographic circumstances.
·develop a test for information solutions that would lead to a national cancer agenda in Malaysia, in particular the information strategies that can help children to become informed via appropriate channels.

To help kids deal with cancer

Star: WHEN Suzanie Adlina Mat Saat joined the National Cancer Society Malaysia (NCSM) as a marketing manager in 2004, she discovered that there were areas about coping with cancer that needed to be addressed.
This led her to embark upon a PhD on investigating the information needs of children of a patient with cancer.
“I resigned from my job in 2005 and with a loan from Mara, I left to do my research at the Loughborough University, London,” she relates.
Back in Kuala Lumpur now to do her research work Suzanie, or Suzie as she is better known, is looking for survey respondents for her research paper.
“I feel very strongly about this issue as I have two children (girls, one aged five years and the other five months) as well and I was wondering how I would pass the information down to them if this illness should affect us,” she explains.
Suzie, 31, has had personal experiences of cancer, as her two grandmothers died of throat cancer when she was younger.
“They both suffered throat cancer when they were in their 60s and the family only discovered it in the later stages of the disease,” she says.
Thus, she understands the importance not only of creating as much awareness of cancer as possible but also the need to know how to talk to family members, especially children, about it.
While working at the NCSM, Suzie noticed that many cancer patients who visited its Resource and Wellness Centre in Jalan Raja Muda Abdul Aziz, Kuala Lumpur would bring their children along.
The children would play together, and it was while watching them that Suzie wondered how much they knew about their parent’s condition.
It was from her research that Suzie found that children are often the least informed when it comes to sickness in the family, particularly when it is the parents that are afflicted.
Many parents are so concerned about their own health needs at the time that they unknowingly push their children aside, she says.
It was then that she realised the need to be more pro-active in helping people take the first step in creating awareness between parents and their children.
So Suzie decided that she would do her PhD studies on investigating the information needs of children of a parent with cancer.
Listening to Suzie as she explained the basis of her research, one could sense that she is very passionate about the cause and that it was not merely a paper chase for her.
“There is this syndrome called family protection syndrome that exists among people who want to shield or protect their loved ones from fear or hurt,” she says.
(Family protection syndrome is a term coined by Joan Hermann, the director of Social Work Services at the Fox Chase Cancer centre in Philadelphia, United States.)
“But what these people do not realise is that there is backlash from this so-called protection, which can be very harmful to the children.”
A host of misconceptions can arise, such as the children blaming themselves for what is happening to their parent, Suzie adds.
“They can be very angry or hurt that their parent does not talk to them about the illness, and they can even hate hospitals or authoritative figures such as doctors because they think these people are the cause of the sickness.”
Suzie's research has received favourable response, and she even won an award for her research proposal in a competition at Loughborough University last year.
She is using the Participatory Action Research (PAR) methodology to assess, understand and develop solutions to cultural issues that will hopefully result in information that is more complete and as accurate as possible.
This year, Suzie also managed to obtain a fellowship from Universiti Sains Malaysia under its Academic Staff Training Scheme (ASTS). She will be funded for a year under this programme.
What makes her work even more important is that information on how to help children understand and cope with their parent's cancer is not widespread even in other countries.
In the United States, the National Cancer Institute has published only a short paragraph on information needs of children of a patient with cancer, and that was in 2000.
Another book for children deals about breast cancer, which was published by in 2004.
There is also a graphic novel by comic artist Harvey Pekar and Joyce Brabner titled Our Cancer Year, which was published in 1994. The novel illustrates Pekar's fight with cancer.
“The illustrations make this book easy for children to read and understand,” says Suzie.
Unfortunately, this and the other publications are set in the Western context and thus do not have cultures and values that Malaysian children can relate with.
“We need to have a guide that's suitable for the Malaysian context,” says Suzie.
To ensure that her research will benefit cancer patients, children and the cancer fraternity in Malaysia, Suzie would like to get feedback from cancer patients who have children.
“I would like to have as much response as possible from individuals who have experienced cancer and who have children,” she says.
“I want them to contribute to the project so that the end result, which could be in a form of a comic, video or book, will be able to reach out to provide the much needed support for the children.”

Suzie can be reached at

Expert: Teach public about eating right

Star: PETALING JAYA: Educating the public on good nutrition is a better way to counter the rising interest in fast food.
Nutrition Society of Malaysia president Dr Tee E. Siong said he did not think a ban on fast-food advertisements would properly address the issue, as most fast-food lovers were unlikely to stay away from outlets offering such food.
The wise thing to do would be to educate the people, especially children and the young, on what constitutes good nutrition.
Dr Tee concurred with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek that it was very important to make wise food choices to remain healthy.
“We need to look at the bigger picture and not single out only fast food, as certain local foods are also unhealthy,” he said.
The Star reported yesterday that the Health Ministry was “seriously considering” a ban on fast-food advertisements.
Dr Chua had said that the move would also cover endorsements of events linked to fast food, as such meals were considered “silent killers.”
Dr Tee added that generally, Malaysians were more interested in filling their stomachs, without thinking of the long-term implications to their health.
Alternatively, Dr Tee said what the Government could do was to control such advertisements from being aired on channels watched by children.

Saturday, February 17, 2007

Government mulls over fast-food ad ban

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry is “seriously considering” a ban on fast food advertisements.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the move would also cover endorsements of events linked to fast food.
This was because such meals are considered “silent killers,” he told reporters here.
A fast food “sin tax” is also being pondered, added Chua.
He said the rationale for the proposal was motivated by the increasing number of Malaysians suffering from “affluent” diseases, such as diabetes and hypertension.
“There are a lot of lifestyle diseases because of rising affluence.
“Surveys consistently show that Malaysians don’t exercise enough and do not pay attention to the food they eat.
“This is the only country where people discuss over breakfast where and what to eat for lunch. And then over lunch, it will be what’s for supper,” he noted.
Dr Chua said obesity, which was the “root of all problems”, now affected 37% of the population, compared to 20% a decade ago.
About 12% of the population would suffer from diabetes by 2020 if nothing were to be done, he said.
Dr Chua, a medical doctor, said as far as his ministry is concerned, burgers and fries are just as bad as cigarettes and liquor.
Admitting that the move would be “revolutionary”, Dr Chua said the ministry welcomed feedback on its proposed action.
“We want to send a strong signal to consumers.
“We do not allow advertising for cigarettes and liquor.
“Fast food should be treated in the same way as alcohol. The time has come.”
Responding to the proposal, Association of Accredited Advertising Agents of Malaysia president Datuk Vincent Lee said a total ban on fast food ads would not be feasible.
He said advertising agencies and their clients were already exercising “self-control” on fast food advertising, such as not targeting children aged below seven.
“Even in the United States and Europe, there is no total ban on fast food advertising,” he said.
Revenue from fast food advertising on TV, newspapers and billboards totalled over RM100mil annually.
“So it will be quite detrimental to the media,” Lee said.

RM1,950 pay rise for 550 specialists

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Some 550 specialists in the government service will receive a windfall of almost RM20 million.
After four years, the government has agreed to a request from the Health Ministry to promote these "victims of circumstance" with a salary increment of RM1,950.
They are doctors who started their Master’s before the implementation of the Malaysian Remuneration System (SSM) on Nov 1, 2002.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the specialists, now in U41 with a take-home salary of RM5,352.81 including allowances, would now be promoted straight to U48 with a take-home pay of RM7,303.51.
"Those already gazetted as specialists and those waiting to be gazetted will be promoted," he said.
Of the 551 specialists, 183 completed their Master’s in 2004, another 281 finished in 2005 and the rest last year.
Dr Chua said despite the fact that they had completed their Master’s, and some had been gazetted as specialists, they were still receiving the salary of a medical officer who is in the U41 scale.
"They should have been promoted to U48 but they were caught in a limbo because of the move to SSM," said Dr Chua.
The salary rise will cost the government another RM19.032 million a year.
Dr Chua also announced that 18 dentists who did their Master’s before Nov 1, 2002, would also move directly from U41 to U48.
This will cost RM712,000 more per year in additional salaries and allowances.
The dentists would otherwise be stuck in U41 and have to sit for a Skills Competency Examination to be promoted to U44, and then to U48.
"The specialists have waited patiently for this good news," said Dr Chua, adding that the promotion exercise would help the ministry overcome the shortage of specialists.
There are 2,233 specialist posts in government hospitals, but only about 1,400 have been filled.
In addition, only 6,700 medical officers’ (clinicians) posts have been filled. There are 9,503 vacancies.
Dr Chua hoped that with the promotions, allowances and incentives, the specialists and doctors would remain in government service.

Deadly diet pills: Distributor to be charged

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The slimming pill believed to have caused the death of a woman was ordered off the shelves by the Health Ministry but this has been ignored.
The distributor of Kintop Slimming capsule will be charged under the Poisons Act 1953 and faces a fine of RM3,000 or a year’s jail or both.
The company in Subang was given several warnings to ensure the slimming pills were withdrawn from the market after the product was deregistered by the Health Ministry last August.
Health Ministry pharmaceutical services division director Datuk Mohd Zin Che Awang said the company was believed to have continued to supply the pills to retail outlets.
"Despite our directive and warning, the company continued to sell the banned slimming product," he said, adding that prosecution of its executives was imminent.
Housewife Normala Shahidan, 33, died at the Alor Star Hospital’s intensive care unit on Thursday from blood poisoning and kidney complications.
She had been taking the banned pills to reduce weight.
Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said the distributor of the slimming pill may face further court action if it was proven that Normala’s death was related to taking the product.
The Health Ministry is also trying to ascertain the number of people who may have been taking the product.
In Kedah, at least four people developed side-effects after taking Kintop slimming capsules.
Kedah Consumers Association president Datuk Yusof Ismail said the consumers in their 20s and 30s took the pills to get rid of excess pounds but ended up seeking medical treatment.
He said one of the complainants was hospitalised in the intensive care unit of the Alor Star Hospital for heart problems after taking the pills for five months.
He said the complainants bought the capsules from direct-selling agents for RM350 in the hope of shedding weight quickly.
Norizan Ahmad, 44, who sold the slimming pills and slimming tea to Normala claimed he was unaware of the adverse effects to health or that the product was banned.
"I became an agent after my wife reduced her weight from 70kg to 58kg within a short period of time.
"That was why I was confident in recommending it to other customers, including Normala," he said.
He said he had recruited about 100 other people to sell the product.
Mohd Zin advised Normala’s family to sue the company if it was proven that the pills had caused her death.
The pharmaceutical enforcement division has seized RM6 million worth of Kintop slimming capsules in Kuala Lumpur since last August.
Mohd Zin said the company registered its product as a herbal compound but when samples were sent for analysis, they were found to be adulterated with sibutramine.
Sibutramine, an agent for the treatment of obesity, is a controlled substance, which only doctors can prescribe.

Friday, February 16, 2007

Expect more suicides in future

NST: PUTRAJAYA: A lack of social networking support, stress, depression and frustration with no one to turn to for help — these are factors driving people to suicide.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said city folk led stressful lives.
They have become very impersonal and have less networking among people.
Dr Chua said when life did not meet with their expectations, they became stressed, unhappy and upset.
"When they are faced with problems and frustrations, they do not know who to turn to as many of them do not even know who their neighbours are."
The minister was commenting on the murder of two children by their father who later took his own life.
"He may have encountered problems and did not know who to turn to for help and guidance."
According to a study by the ministry, there is an average of seven suicides a day in the country.
The national average is estimated to be 13 suicides for every 100,000 people, compared with eight in the 1980s.
Dr Chua believes that in five to 10 years, suicide would be the country’s second biggest cause of death after cardiovascular diseases.
He said those with mental health problems, irrespective of what problems they faced, should seek professional help.
Some 3.9 million Malaysians are believed to be suffering from some form of mental health problems.

Woman loses life to banned slimming pills

NST: ALOR STAR: A 33-year-old housewife died from kidney complications yesterday and her husband says it was because she took a slimming capsule which has since been banned.
Normala Shahidan died at the Alor Star Hospital’s intensive care unit at 1.30pm yesterday from severe infection to her blood system.
Doctors recorded her death as due to "septicaemia secondary multiple abscess".
Normala’s husband Roslan Khamis, 39, claimed that it was because she had taken the Kintop slimming capsule, which was banned by the Health Ministry in August last year.
He said the mother of two boys and a girl had been suffering from an infected right kidney after starting on the slimming pill regime nine months ago.
Her condition worsened in November and she had been in and out of hospital until her death.
"We didn’t know about the banning of Kintop. I did not doubt its effectiveness because the packaging stated that it had been approved by the Health Ministry.
"I allowed her to take the pills. She persuaded me, saying that she wanted to lose weight," said Roslan.
Normala weighed 72kg before she took the pills nine months ago. Within six months she had lost 17kg.
"She lost weight but she became more and more sick."
Roslan said doctors wanted to remove Normala’s right kidney when she last sought treatment at the Alor Star Hospital on Tuesday.
Normala was buried near her family home at Kampung Gunung Keriang here.
Roslan said that he planned to take legal action against the makers of the pills.
The Health Ministry banned the Kintop slimming capsule after it was found to contain sibutramine, which is classified as a poison.

Give rural docs more

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The critical allowance for doctors serving in Sabah and Sarawak should be increased to encourage more doctors to serve in the rural areas, said the Malaysian Medical Association.
MMA president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said the present critical allowance of 10% of the base salary or RM500, whichever is more, given across-the-board should be revised for those in the two states.
Critical allowance is given to doctors in view of the critical need in the field.
“We are asking for an increase in critical allowance of 50% of the base salary for doctors in these two states,” he said in an interview.
“Incentives must be given to teachers and doctors to serve there to ensure equal and quality access to education and healthcare,” he said.
He said doctors in district hospitals worked longer hours because there were fewer doctors there and so they made more calls and handled complex cases, including conducting surgical operations under remote supervision (via the phone).
He said the monetary incentive could motivate doctors to serve in the rural areas.

Thursday, February 15, 2007

Way to have healthcare specialists

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry must put in place several measures to produce private practitioners who specialise in primary health care (PHC), says the Malaysian Medical Association.
President Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said the ministry should have a training curriculum specifically for PHC for doctors doing their three-year compulsory posting with the government after their housemanship.
Having such a curriculum and ensuring that the doctors were supervised would help the ministry achieve its goal of getting general practitioners who specialised in PHC.
"It’s difficult for private practitioners to pursue a specialised PHC course once in practice as their time is fully taken up with patients."
For those already in private practice, the ministry must make accredited continued professional development (CPD) courses available online, which can be easily accessed at their place of work.
Dr Teoh was commenting on Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican’s call to future private doctors to specialise in PHC to decrease the number of unnecessary referrals and admissions to hospitals.
The ministry wants the 7,000-odd private doctors nationwide to be active in programmes that add value to what they are doing. In this way, they can offer specialised care at the primary level.
It also wants general practitioners to be actively involved in the treatment of the elderly and those with chronic ailments. Referrals to larger medical institutions should only be for complicated cases that require hospitalisation for highly specialised care.
Dr Ismail had said the time had come for general practitioners to be fully involved in PHC rather than treat the usual coughs and colds.
In welcoming the proposal, Dr Teoh said: "MMA is fully aware that private practitioners’ skills in PHC is to complement what the ministry is doing. We support it because more than 50 per cent of those providing PHC are private practitioners."
He reiterated that the ministry must seriously look into making available accredited CPD courses for private doctors online besides structured courses for new doctors who were serving the government.
Every year, of the 1,500 doctors who graduated, about 500 sought to be specialists, 100 in family medicine and the rest private practitioners. So, it was better that those wanting to be private practitioners got their specialisation in PHC, especially now, given the public demand.
He agreed that doctors could choose family medicine as their primary specialisation, then take advanced diploma courses in primary care offered by The Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia.

New agency to check food quality

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will no longer carry out the quarantine of imported food when the Malaysian Quarantine and Inspection Services (Maqis) comes into force later this year.
The agency will act as the regulatory body to inspect the quality of agriculture and agro-based products and to assure their safety and standard. The quarantine will come under the Agriculture and Agro-based Ministry.
Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said, however, there were still some unresolved issues that needed to be looked into before Maqis was set up.
At the moment, he said, the Health Ministry carried out certain aspects of quarantine, such as the safety and quality of meat imported into the country.
“We have to work it out with the Health Ministry,” he told reporters here yesterday after launching a national seminar on enhancing the quality of agricultural products though grading, packaging and labelling.
Muhyiddin said the Cabinet had approved the setting up of Maqis, which was proposed last year.
“We hope the matter will be brought back to the Cabinet soon for endorsement,” he added.
“We have to see if there is a need for a special law to enforce the agency. It takes a little bit of time because we need to get agreement and coordination from the relevant ministries.”
Muhyiddin said the control of import and export activities under existing regulations caused delays.
“Importers and exporters have to go to various agencies and to fill up many forms. This is not in line with the Government's objective of improving its delivery system,” he added.
Asked when the proposed agency would be operational, Muhyiddin said: “We will not implement it immediately. We will do it in stages. I believe, before the end of the year, we will be fully operational.”
In his speech, Muhyiddin said the proposed agency would coordinate quarantine, inspection, certification and issuance of export and import documents by the Federal Agricultural Marketing Authority and the Agriculture Department and activities involving the fishing and farming sectors by the Fisheries Development Authority of Malaysia and the Veterinary Department.

Pig farmers agree to sign pledge

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The country’s 656 pig farmers have finally agreed to sign a loyalty pledge, before the Chinese New Year this weekend, not to use illegal substances, including beta agonist, on their livestock said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
He also announced that pig feed containing beta agonist was now a banned substance under the Customs Prohibited Order.
Dr Chua made these announcements yesterday after the national beta agonist action committee meeting.
The signing of the pledge has become an issue of contention between the authorities and farmers, with the authorities insisting that the pledge is necessary to facilitate enforcement and legal action. The farmers are unhappy with certain wordings, which they claim are “vague”.
Dr Chua said the farmers agreed not to use three illegal growth enhancers – beta agonist, nitofuran and chloramphenicol.
However, he added, butchers had asked for more time to discuss the matter and would come up with a decision in a months’ time.
“We feel it is necessary for the 120 butchers to also sign the loyalty pledge to further facilitate enforcement and monitoring,” he told a press conference.
On the banning of pig feed containing beta agonist, Dr Chua said samples were taken from 74 feed mills and 62 tested negative.
“This proves that claims by certain farmers that they have no knowledge about the use of the illegal substances because it came from the pig feed are untrue,” he said.
“We have also taken 78 pork samples from restaurants and markets between January and Feb 8, and only two tested positive for illegal substances.”
Dr Chua said the use of illegal substances had reduced significantly due to better enforcement and monitoring by the Health Ministry, Veterinary Services Department and also by the associations.
“We are aware that other farmers, apart from pig farmers, are also using beta agonist to stimulate livestock growth,” he added.
“However, the use of the substances are more prevalent among pig farmers, and we have to stop this.”

Three die as dengue cases keep on rising

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Three people died of dengue as the number of suspected cases rose by 32 to 1,212 in the week to Feb 10 compared with the previous week, Health Ministry disease control director Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat said yesterday.
One death each occurred in Selangor, Kelantan and Johor – bringing to 19 the total number of people who had died of the disease so far this year, he said.
Dr Ramlee said in a statement that of the 1,212 suspected cases, 335 were confirmed as dengue cases.
He also said that all states recorded a rise in the number of cases except Selangor, Johor, Sarawak, Perlis and Negri Sembilan, where there was a drop.
“Up to last Saturday, the cumulative cases for this year was 7,806,” Dr Ramlee said. Most of the aedes mosquito breeding grounds were detected at construction sites (25%), factories (6%) and schools (3.6%).
He said intensive preventive and control measures were being carried out, particularly in Selangor and the Federal Territory of Kuala Lumpur, where the number of cases was high.

Tuesday, February 13, 2007

IGP: Many accidents self-inflicted

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Don’t rubbish our efforts to keep the roads safe. This was the plea of Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Musa Hassan yesterday, as he urged motorists not to place themselves in danger through their carelessness.
Describing most accidents as the result of deliberate human actions, he said many were "self-inflicting" tragedies on themselves.
"Why are you endangering your own lives and that of other road users through your actions on the road?" he asked.
Musa was dismayed by the behaviour of errant motorists who were undermining efforts by the police to keep the roads safe for Malaysians.
He was commenting on the 25 deaths, among them 17 motorcyclists, out of 921 accidents nationwide on Sunday, the first day of Ops Sikap XII.
This was a drastic increase over the 14 deaths in 825 accidents recorded during Ops Sikap X over the same Gong Xi Fa Cai period last year.
A frustrated Musa said police had repeatedly advised motorists not to become another statistic during festive periods.
Of the 25 deaths, four were on expressways, five on federal roads, seven on state roads, eight on municipal roads and one on other roads. Federal Traffic chief Senior Assistant Commissioner II Datuk Nooryah Md Anvar said the statistics were worrying.
"The behaviour of inconsiderate road users is appalling. Don’t they think of their families, relatives and friends before they act?"
Nooryah said some motorists gave the impression that the authorities were out to "victimise" them.
"Actually, we are attempting to safeguard and protect them by enforcing traffic rules and regulations. We are not out to punish them without cause."

Meanwhile, several lawyers protested the Road Safety Department’s cash offer to the public for photographs of motorists allegedly committing offences.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy had announced RM150, RM100 and RM50 as the three top prizes daily.
"This can endanger the lives of motorists who attempt to use their mobile phones to photograph offenders. Such efforts should be out of social responsibility rather than seeking rewards," said Bar Council president Yeo Yang Poh.
Yeo urged the department to reconsider its offer in view of public safety and the legalities involved.
Malaysian Syariah Lawyers Association president Zainul Rijal Abu Bakar said the move could give rise to abuse.
"The authenticity of the photograph will be questionable. Also, one is not guilty unless proven otherwise in a court of law."
Former deputy public prosecutor Kamarul Hisham Kamaruddin said those victimised could take legal action against the Road Safety Department for posting the photographs on its website.
Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association president N. Marimuthu described the incentive as a bribe. "This is encouraging people to be money-minded. This should not be the way to educate society to be honest."
Prof Emeritus Datuk Dr Khoo Kay Kim suggested the department appoint station officers to record evidence at various locations.

Health checks may be redundant

Star: TELUK INTAN: Making national service (NS) trainees undergo mandatory health checks may be redundant as they may still contract illnesses during the training, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
“We do not want to give these trainees a false sense of security and comfort,” he told reporters yesterday after a working visit to several health clinics here, about 98km from Ipoh.
“These normal health checks may not identify the kind of illnesses they may contract during their training.”
Dr Chua said it was important to first determine if the checks would be the best way to help ensure “zero casualty” in the training camps.

M'sia On Red Alert In View Of Bird Flu Outbreak In East Asia

KEPALA BATAS, Feb 13 (Bernama) -- Malaysia has gone on "red" alert in a move to keep at bay the bird flu that has reared its head in eastern Asia this month.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the government has instructed all enforcement agencies to tighten controls to prevent smuggling of chicken and other birds into the country.
The Veterinary Services Department has issued strict protocol on the import of chicken, eggs and other poultry foodstuff, he told reporters after a visit to a padi seed factory in the Lahar Bubu Area Farmers Organisation (AFO), here.
Malaysia was declared free of bird flu on June 22 last year.
Meanwhile, the onset of dry weather from March is expected to be a blessing in disguise for poultry breeders because the bird flu virus only multiplies easily on in cold and damp weather.
"The H5N1 virus will be killed in the hot weather such as this," said Dr Kamaruddin Isa, acting director of the Epidemiology and Veterinary Medicine Division in the Health Ministry.

Monday, February 12, 2007

NS trainees have to get clean bill of health first

NST: GOPENG: The next batch of National Service trainees may have to pass a medical test.
"This is to ensure that there will be no more cases of sudden deaths among trainees due to health problems," said National Service Training Council chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye yesterday.
He said that Iliameera Azlan, 17, from the Ayer Keroh training camp, was the seventh trainee to die since the NS programme started three years ago.
She was among four trainees who died due to medical conditions while two others drowned and another trainee died after a fight, he said.
The new condition, subject to approval by the Health Ministry, was agreed to in principle by the council on Thursday, Lee said at an Open Day at the Taman Kepimpinan Gemilang NS training camp near here yesterday.
There were some 35,000 trainees for each batch, he said, adding that medical checks for all would have considerable implications in terms of costs and manpower.
While trainees were asked about their medical condition in their entry forms, problems arose when parents were unaware of their children’s health or when the trainees themselves were overwhelmed by fatigue.
Lee said that the training council had been transparent on fatalities, expressing regret over speculation that there had been cover-ups.
"We will not hide facts. Previous cases of deaths that occurred after the training is completed, such as road fatalities, should not be counted," he said.
Lee also said that the Open Day celebrations for those joining Group Two (March-June) and Group Three (June-September) would fall on May 4 and Aug 4 respectively.

Don’t sit too long on the throne

NST: IPOH: Spending long periods reading the newspaper while sitting on the toilet seat in the morning could lead to piles, said a colorectal surgery consultant.
"Instead of doing what usually takes three minutes to complete, you are spending 15 minutes," said Dr M. Sarkunnathas of a private hospital here.
While the causes of haemorrhoids, or swelling near the anus commonly known as "piles", are uncertain, toilet habits might be a factor.
"Squatting is good for the knees but sitting on the toilet is good for (not developing) piles. You take your pick," he said during a recent talk to raise awareness of the medical condition.
However, sitting too long was harmful if one were engrossed with reading and forgot one’s mission in the toilet, he added.
According to statistics, one of every two people or half a population would have piles to a certain degree at some stage of their life.
There were no differences among races or gender.
Due to embarrassment, many would diagnose the problem and find the solution themselves, allowing the condition to worsen to the point of needing surgery.
In the worst-case scenario, bleeding from the anus — a symptom associated with piles — might spark a belief it is cancer.
Thanks to technological advances, specifically a "circular stapler" invented by Italian surgeon Dr Antonio Longo, surgery is now a 15-minute procedure, which allows a patient to be on the feet and sitting comfortably the next day.
Over a million people underwent the Longo stapled haemorrhoidectomy or procedure for prolapse and haemorrhoids since its introduction in 1998, including some 12,000 Malaysians.
The procedure, using a non-recyclable stapler and titanium staples, cuts a circumferential core of the rectal wall and immediately staples the wall, causing minimal pain and leaving no wounds.

Panel Of Doctors For Prison Inmates

KAJANG, Feb 12 (Bernama) -- A special panel of doctors would be appointed to attend to prison inmates, said Deputy Minister of Internal Security, Datuk Fu Ah Kiow.
He said the move was the first such initiative to replace the present arrangement where sick convicts had to be taken to hospital for treatment.
"The prison must have special doctors because the department is deeply concerned about the problem of contagious diseases, and convicts who have health problems must be treated immediately," he told reporters here Monday.
In the initial stage, he said, the Finance Ministry had approved an allocation of RM3 million last week for the appointment of the first group of panel doctors to serve 10 prisons throughout the country.
"The number of doctors to be deployed at each prison depends of the number of prisoners being held at the prison concerned," he added.
Fu said Kajang Prison was among the first to enjoy such benefit with three doctors currently serving the convicts there.
He said the appointment of the panel doctors was made because the Prisons Department's request to the Health Ministry to assign special doctors to the prisons could not be met due to the shortage of doctors.
Meanwhile, commenting on the case where 16 warders at the Simpang Renggam Prison were reported by a local press last Friday to have smuggled in prohibited items including ganja and heroin, he said five of them had been identified and one had been detained.
"All of them would be investigated under the Dangerous Drugs Act (Special Preventive Measures) 1985," he said.
Fu also said that a special team known as the "Rapid Action Troop" had also been formed to carry out more thorough checks on convicts and prison staff to prevent smuggling of prohibited items.