Wednesday, May 30, 2007

Plans for dialysis units in rural clinics

Star: PANGKOR: The Health Ministry will set up haemodialysis units in rural clinics where there is an extensive demand for such treatment.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said, however, that the units would only be set up if the clinics were located close to district or state hospitals with high numbers of kidney patients.
“This is because before a kidney patient is sent for haemodialysis treatment, he or she has to first receive authorisation from the hospital’s specialist,” he said after opening the Pulau Pangkor Health Clinic haemodialysis unit yesterday.
The unit, operational since Jan 23 last year, is the first in the country to be run by a clinic instead of a district or state hospital.
If proven successful, he said future units would be based on the Pangkor model.
“For every one million Malaysians, 100 suffer from kidney problems, which is the highest in the world,” Dr Chua said.
“In fact, we estimate the 15,000 patients we have now will exceed 20,000 by 2010.”
He added that the Government had spent more than RM20mil last year to help those seeking haemodialysis treatments.
“We subsidised RM50 for each treatment sought by patients at the haemodialysis centres run by NGOs and given direct grants in the form of dialysis machines to qualified NGOs,” Dr Chua said.
He added that his ministry would be seeking more funds for this purpose.
On another matter, he said his ministry had approved RM100,000 to upgrade medical equipment onboard the island’s only ferry ambulance here.
“This will go towards a special bed which will also enable pregnant women to give birth onboard, an oxygen tank, trolley and other equipment to handle accident-related emergencies,” he added.
The ferry has been transporting patients from here to Manjung Hospital since 1999.

Media underused in AIDS/HIV fight

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Information on AIDS and HIV must spread faster than the disease.
This was the conclusion of the 100-odd delegates who attended the Asia Media Summit 2007 here during the discussion on global media strategies on AIDS and HIV.
The delegates said the media was under-utilised when it came to spreading awareness on the disease.
They also said the issue was not covered in a continuous basis.
Among the speakers at the discussion session on Monday was South African Broadcasting Corporation chief executive officer Advocate Dali Mpofu, who said the lack of knowledge, stigmatisation and discrimination on the disease made it even more difficult for AIDS patients to face the world.
“While the media is a powerful tool, it is not doing enough to connect with young people and educate them.
“Many know about AIDS and HIV but exactly how much they know and understand is a completely different matter.
“The media has the responsibility to connect and speak the language of young people for they are the ones most susceptible,” he said.
Institute of Strategic and International Studies Malaysia (ISIS) chairman and chief executive officer Datuk Mohamed Jawhar Hassan cited a recent report of Malaysia’s situation bordering on an HIV epidemic.
Released by the World Health Organisation, the report stated that in 2006, more than 81,000 Malaysians were found to be HIV positive or had AIDS.
“The rate of infection is staggering and seeing as we have many cultural constraints, the media’s role in creating awareness here is limited.
“Networking among media partners, long-term programmes and powerful media campaigns are needed if we are to improve,” he said when met at the summit.

Tuesday, May 29, 2007

E-MEDICINE'S HERE: Now you can fall sick anywhere in Malaysia

NST: 38 hospitals across the country are linked by digitised telecommunications under an RM27 million programme. The system not only helps patients get the best treatment without having to physically see a specialist, but also saves time, travel, cost and bed use.

KUALA LUMPUR: The idea of a patient being "examined" by a doctor in a hospital hundreds of kilometres away is no longer in the realm of science fiction.
It has become a reality under a RM27 million tele-medicine system that uses digitised telecommunications to link 38 hospitals across the country.
Doctors and specialists receive online access to the diagnosis and medical history of patients whom they may never see in person.
A pilot project has proven successful in, among others, using radiographs, ECGs, laboratory results, echocardiograms and coronary arteriograms to determine the health of patients.
It also allows for second opinions, exchange of views among doctors treating a patient and referrals to be made from any of the 38 locations.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said the move would not only help patients get the best treatment without having to physically see a specialist but also save on time, travel, cost and bed use.
For a start, teleconsultation, one of the major applications of telemedicine, is being used for five disciplines — radiology, cardiology, dermatology, accident and traumatology and neurosurgery.
Put in place by WorldCare Health (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd, it also allows for peer-to-peer transmission of film-based radiological images as well as scanned paper documents, voice annotations, digital images and ECG scans.
Dr Abdul Latiff said teleradiology enabled physicians to seek primary and secondary diagnosis of radiological images, such as X-ray films, computed tomography (CT), magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans and ultrasound imaging.
"If the patient is at the Grik Hospital, the doctor will transmit it to the radiologist in Ipoh Hospital who will then interpret and provide a diagnosis and appropriate patient management and treatment strategies.
"If a second opinion is needed to refer a patient for treatment, it would also be given," he told the New Straits Times.
Dr Abdul Latiff said patients could be treated faster and more effectively without the need to be sent by an ambulance to where the specialist concerned was located.
"If a patient needs to be referred immediately for surgery or examination, then it can be done without delay."
He said specialists and doctors in hospitals had already started using the system.
"If the programme proves a success without hitches, it will be extended to other hospitals nationwide.
"We want to optimise the programme with the co-operation of doctors and specialists who also have to make IT part of their working life," Dr Abdul Latiff said.

WorldCare senior manager Yusmar Yahaya said the teleconsultation services were designed to be user-friendly around the clock.
Responses can be expected between 30 minutes and 24 hours of a request being made. "The services can be transmitted over ordinary telephone lines," he added.
The government launched the teleconsultation pilot project with WorldCare managing and operating it from April 2000 to October 2002 under a RM20 million allocation.
The service was continued until July 2003 when it was temporarily disrupted. It was reactivated in June 2005 with an allocation of RM6.3 million for maintenance, upgrading of equipment and telecommunications services.
The first seven months of the pilot project were used for implementation and network commissioning with the Malaysian Teleconsultation Network fully operational in November 2000.
Malaysia’s Teleconsultation Network is powered by the US FDA approved OpenMed™ Manager switching matrix, while OpenMed™ Capture serves as the platform for capture and acquisition of medical modalities.
Viewing and reporting of teleconsultations is done through the web-based OpenMed™ Viewer, allowing for geographical barriers to be broken.
Yusmar said high-resolution X-rays, MRIs and CT scans were sent through the industry standard DICOM protocols to the OpenMed™ Radiology application for viewing on high-resolution diagnostic work stations.
Health Ministry Telehealth Division assistant director Dr Vijayan Kannan said a doctor who wanted to do teledermatology could use high-resolution digital cameras to acquire images of focal skin lesions or rashes.
These can then be transmitted to a dermatologist for interpretation.
He added that at a resolution of 3.5 megapixels to 5 megapixels, the size of images could range between 640x480 pixels and 1024x768 pixels.
"Similar technology is used in other disciplines. The idea is to deliver patient focus health services to the public.
"People in rural areas no longer have to come to the city or towns for referrals or to see a specialist."
Dr Vijayan said the introduction of teleconsultation had helped save ambulances for emergency cases.
"This can also save time besides costs in terms of ferrying patients to hospitals."
Dr Vijayan said referrals had been reduced by 50 per cent after the system was introduced.

Ceiling panel collapse: Loose hooks likely cause

NST: SUNGAI PETANI: The collapsed ceiling panels at the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital might have been caused by hooks holding the aluminium supports getting dislodged.
This is one possibility being investigated to determine the reasons why more than 20 ceiling panels came crashing down in three areas at the RM450 million hospital on Saturday and Sunday.
State Works Committee chairman Datuk Nawawi Ahmad said another possible reason was that too few hooks had been used to hold the aluminium supports.
"We are still investigating the causes but these are the preliminary findings of the state Public Works Department," he said yesterday when commenting on the incidents at the hospital, which opened last December.
On Saturday, 12 ceiling panels, each measuring about 0.6m by 1.4m, fell in the men’s ward. However, no one was injured. Later that day, eight panels collapsed in the pantry of the children’s nursery and intensive care unit, slightly injuring a doctor.
On Sunday, another eight panels collapsed along the corridor near the lobby on the ground floor, but no one was injured.
Nawawi said state PWD engineers found that some of the hooks, bolted to the concrete beams, had been dislodged.
"The aluminium supports could not sustain the weight of the ceiling panels, which led to its collapse.
"We believe this incident could have been prevented if more hooks were used to hold the supports."
Nawawi said the contractor responsible had carried out repairs and was also instructed to check on all ceilings supporting structures.
"I have also instructed the contractor of the Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital in Alor Star to carry out similar checks before it is opened later this year."
The joint contractors of the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital, Bina Darulaman Bhd and TH Universal Builders Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary of Tabung Haji, could not be reached for comments.

Media Vital To Combat HIV/Aids

KUALA LUMPUR, May 28 (Bernama) -- The media's role is vital in fighting HIV/Aids which up to last year infected about 39.5 million people globally, said the Health Ministry's director-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican.
In a special address at the Global Media Strategies on HIV and Aids conference here today, Dr Ismail said in this context, the media must be understanding, dedicated and creative.
"The media is an essential partner in fighting HIV and Aids...without the media all our efforts cannot be successful," he said at the event organised in conjunction with the Asia Media Summit 2007 which begins here on Tuesday.
"In fact, the media is such a powerful tool that it has the ability to reverse the HIV/Aids scenario globally."
On the HIV/Aids situation in Malaysia, he said that up to the end of 2006 there were 76,389 reported HIV/Aids cases in the country compared to only four cases in 1986.
In 2006, 5,830 new cases were reported or an average of 16 cases per day.
Dr Ismail said the government was supportive in various efforts and programmes to combat the disease, with the Cabinet Committee on Aids being chaired by the Deputy Prime Minister.
Among the strategies to tackle HIV/Aids in Malaysia were through training and capacity enhancement, he added.
For instance, a pilot project called "Harm Reduction Programme" for intravenous drug users was introduced to reduce high-risk behaviour among them like sharing contaminated needles and having unprotected sex.

It’s okay to talk to children about sex and drugs, parents told

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: It is not wrong for parents to talk about safe sex and drug addiction to their children.
Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, who said this, added that children needed to be educated on those issues, especially on how HIV/AIDS is spread.
“There has to be education from the community and schools and it should start early. More parents should be talking about safe sex.
“At least get them involved in other interesting activities,” he added.
Dr Ismail said parents should themselves be “educated and comfortable enough” to delve on such issues.
“They have to have a level of understanding themselves. It is not just talking about sex. They can talk about HIV/AIDS and clean needles or safe sexual practices,” he added.
He suggested that such discourse begin when the children entered secondary school.
“It may be more difficult once they are in college or university. There is also too much exposure in the media and Internet about such topics,” he added.
Dr Ismail had earlier delivered a special address at the Global Strategies on HIV and AIDS ahead of the Asia Media Summit 2007, which starts today.
According to Health Ministry statistics, there are 76,000 HIV/AIDS cases with more than 6,000 new ones diagnosed as of December last year.

AMO recalls contact lens care solution

Star: PETALING JAYA: Contact lens wearers who use Advanced Medical Optics Inc's (AMO) Complete MoisturePlus solution should stop using it immediately.
According to a press release issued by the company yesterday, any consumer who is concerned about an eye condition should contact their eye-care practitioner first.
AMO, it said, was also voluntarily recalling the product from the market, although it emphasised that there was no evidence that the move was related to a product contamination issue.
“This does not impact any of AMO's other contact lens care products including our family of hydrogen peroxide disinfecting solutions,” it added.
The recall was because of information from the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) about eye infections from Acanthamoeba, a naturally occurring water-borne organism that can contribute to serious corneal infections.
The CDC had interviewed 46 patients who had developed Acanthamoeba keratitis since January 2005 and 39 of these patients were soft contact lens wearers and 21 reported using Complete MoisturePlus products.
Acanthamoeba keratitis can produce corneal ulceration and cause severe loss of vision and even blindness. The symptoms include persistent redness and pain in the eye.
The CDC estimated those who used the solution had seven times greater risk than those who did not.
For details, call the consumer information hotline at 03-7710 6311 from Monday through Friday (9am to 6pm) or log on to

Negri makes pre-marital HIV test a must for Muslims

Star: SEREMBAN: From Friday, all Muslim couples getting married will have to undergo HIV tests in government clinics, Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said.
“We want the couples to be free of any problem that can affect their family relationship,” he said.
He said HIV and AIDS were among the top five diseases reported in the state, with 109 new cases reported last year but many cases went unreported because the victims had not gone for health checks.
Mohamad said 80% of the 1,300 Muslim couples who attended pre-marital courses last year were supportive of the tests to stem the spread of HIV/AIDS.
“This shows that prospective brides and grooms accept the idea and are conscious of their health,” he said when contacted.
Johor was the first to implement the ruling in 2001 before other states followed suit.
“We will offer counselling and advice to those with HIV/AIDS to make them change their lifestyle,” he said.
Mohamad said that in the Millennium Development Goals (MDG) report, it was stated that Malaysia had achieved all development targets except that of overcoming the HIV/AIDS issue.
“Malaysia is among the countries which are not free from HIV and AIDS due to the problems of drug misuse and the practice of free sex,” he said.
Mohamad said statistics from the Health Ministry’s AIDS and Sexually Transmitted Diseases division showed that 70,559 HIV cases were reported between 1986 and December 2005.
Some 10,663 patients had developed AIDS, of which 8,179 died.

Monday, May 28, 2007

Cement mixer used to make fake Viagra

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Imagine taking painkillers to dull the pain but ending up with kidney failure or consuming Viagra and ending up with the urge to dance all night long.
Pfizer Inc, which produces Viagra, has expressed concern about the booming trade in counterfeit medicines in the Asia-Pacific region.
Its global security senior regional director, Donald Shruhan, said 3.5 million counterfeit Viagra tablets were seized in 2005, a seven-fold increase from 500,000 in 2003.
"Tests on counterfeit Ponstan tablets revealed that although it looks similar to the original, the imitation contains boric acid, which can cause kidney failure and even death. A fake Viagra pill was found to contain the same ingredients as Ecstasy," he added.
Those who consume counterfeit drugs are at risk because it will be ineffective, are produced in unhygienic conditions and have not been tested or approved.
"The counterfeit pharmaceutical products that consumers purchase may also contain toxic or unlisted ingredients, which may prove detrimental to their health."
In Egypt, a cement mixer was used to mix several different ingredients to make fake Viagra tablets.
"Counterfeiters are more concerned with the appearance of their product rather than the efficacy," Shruhan said.
Studies have shown that counterfeit medicines account for nearly 10 per cent or US$22 billion (RM74.8 billion) of the global supply of medicine.

New hospital’s ceiling panels fall off

NST: SUNGAI PETANI: The ceiling in three areas of the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital, which started operations last October, collapsed yesterday and the day before.
In both the incidents,28 ceiling panels came crashing down but no one was injured.
On Saturday, 12 pieces collapsed at the men’s ward, about 1.45pm.
Fortunately, the panels did not hit the four patients in the ward, recovering from post-surgery.
The same day, eight panels fell at the lobby.
At noon yesterday, eight panels fell into the pantry of the children’s nursery and intensive care unit.
The pantry was vacant when the incident happened.
This is the latest in a series of mishaps which have occurred in new government buildings — such as burst pipes, cracks on walls, malfunctioning air-conditioning system and a power outage, affecting the Immigration headquarters in Putrajaya, a hall in another building there and the new court complex in Jalan Duta, Kuala Lumpur.
Preliminary checks by the hospital maintenance division showed that the panels fell after the aluminium supports gave way.
State Health director Dr Hasnah Ismail confirmed the incidents. She said the contractor of the RM450 million hospital had started repairs and had been directed to check the ceiling of the whole hospital.
Dr Hasnah said the state Public Works Department had been informed of the incidents.
Meanwhile, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid expressed shock and said: "This is very serious. I have asked for a full report."

Chong sounds warning on crooked mediums

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: People who are ill should see a certified doctor first instead of seeking a supernatural cure, said MCA Public Services Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong.
He was appealing to the Chinese community in particular, saying that many chose to see mediums to heal them of their ailments, but later found themselves at the mercy of some “crooked mediums”.
“If you want to go see a medium, we cannot stop you. “But please go see a doctor first,” he told a press conference at his office here yesterday.
He told the story of a woman who had been suffering from breast cancer since August last year.
“The medium told her not to worry as he could cure her of her illness using magic, and she believed him.
“It was only recently that her family members finally managed to persuade her to go to a doctor, but the cancer has already spread to other parts of her body,” he said, adding that the woman had been seeing this medium for years, but had kept it a secret from her family.
The woman’s brother, who did not want to be named, said he found out about the medium a few weeks ago and how the quack healer would punish his sister by making her kneel under the hot sun for hours for failing to greet him properly.
“He would say that she has angered the spiritual grandmaster.
“This is an abuse of women and it is not acceptable,” he said.
Chong said he had received more than six cases of “crooked mediums” who took money from their victims and some who even demanded to have sex with their “patients”.
“When their victims declined to have sex with them, these mediums then threatened to hurt them and their family members.
“I want to urge victims not to be afraid. They should lodge a police report against these mediums. Please come forward, we will help you,” he said.

Have right attitude, docs urged

Star: PENANG: Do some soul searching. This is the advice of the Health Ministry to doctors who decline rural postings for selfish reasons.
Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said many such doctors were born and bred in urban areas and usually cited further education and family problems as excuses not to be posted to rural hospitals.
“Doctors must have the right spirit and attitude. The profession is all about practising medicine and helping the sick,” Lee said after opening a hepatitis health awareness campaign at the Caring Society Complex here yesterday.
He was commenting on newspaper reports that some doctors and their parents were seeking the help of elected representatives to decline postings in rural areas.
Lee said doctors should know they were liable to be transferred anywhere during their three-year compulsory service with the Government.
He said those posted to rural areas and outskirts would be given extra points, adding that it would be advantageous for them when applying for scholarships to further their studies.
Lee said the ministry had drawn up programmes to create awareness among schoolchildren aspiring to be doctors.
“We want them (the schoolchildren) to understand what being a doctor is really about. They must understand the nature of the job,” he added.
Lee said the current doctor-to-population ratio was 1:1,200 in the peninsula and 1:2,000 in Sarawak and Sabah.
“Our target is to achieve the ratio of 1:600 by 2020,” he added.
The campaign was organised by the Senior Citizens' Association of Penang, Penang Adventist Hospital and the Association of Medical Doctors of Asia.

Govt Wants Varsities To Raise Intake Of Medical Students

PENANG, May 27 (Bernama) -- The Health Ministry will ask institutions of higher learning to increase their intake of medical students.
The Health Ministry's Parliamentary Secretary, Datuk Lee Kah Choon said the intake should be increased without affecting the quality of education.
The government, he added, was still experiencing a shortage of doctors, especially in the rural areas.
The ratio of doctors to patients in the peninsula is 1:1,300 while in Sabah and Sarawak it is 1:3,000.
"We want the ratio to be 1:600 which is the level in advanced countries," he said to reporters here today.
Lee said the government now wants medical students to go through orientation at hospitals or emergency wards to groom them to become good doctors.
Efforts were also made to draw doctors to work in the rural areas by offering various incentives.

Sunday, May 27, 2007

One in five Malaysian smokers below 15

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Despite repeated warnings about the dangers of smoking, children as young as 14 are lighting up.
A Health Ministry survey found that the average age of new smokers has been dropping steadily over the years.
"In 1986, the average age at which Malaysians started smoking was 19. Ten years later, the average age was 18. Last year, it was 14," said Federal Territory Health Department deputy health director Dr Sallehudin Abu Bakar.
At least 20 per cent of the country’s smokers are believed to be below the age of 15.
Three million male smokers and 200,000 female smokers aged 15 and above make up the other 80 per cent.
"Surveys by the ministry found that the majority of young smokers, about 40 per cent, started smoking because of peer pressure.
"Only 10 per cent said they were influenced by advertisements," said Dr Sallehudin, who was speaking in his capacity as a facilitator of the ministry’s "Quit Smoking" programme.
He said a ban on smoking would not serve any purpose if neighbouring countries did not follow suit.
"Drugs are banned but you still get drugs in the country. Tobacco will just go underground and when that happens, it will be very difficult to control.
"There will be a lot of smuggling and some people will get very rich."
He said it made more sense for the government to use regulatory measures to discourage smoking.
In fact, he added, the government is mulling over the possibility of introducing a special licence for cigarette vendors.
Associate professor Dr Mohamad Haniki Nik Mohamad, who heads the Pharmacy Practice Department of the International Islamic University of Malaysia in Kuantan, agreed that this was the right approach to take.
He said the government should regulate tobacco as a poison under the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Dr Haniki also suggested that the price of cigarettes be increased by imposing a 60 per cent tax.
Cigarette packets, he said, should carry graphic health warnings about the dangers of smoking.
"Eliminate kiddie-packs. Only 20-stick packs should be allowed. And smoking in all public places should be banned," he stressed.
Dr Haniki said while the ban on cigarette advertising had been helpful, there were legal loopholes which allowed indirect advertising by cigarette companies.
Dr Sallehudin urged smokers to seek help at "Quit Smoking" clinics run by the Health Ministry which had helped about 1,000 smokers kick the habit.
The ministry began setting up "Quit Smoking" clinics in 1998. There are now some 250 "Quit Smoking" clinics in the country.
Most of them are based at government polyclinics and managed by family medicine specialists. There are also clinics at outpatient departments of government hospitals.
"Eighty per cent of smokers who show up for treatment at the "Quit Smoking" clinics are male. About 60 per cent of them don’t complete the programme.
"The figure is even higher for female smokers," Dr Sallehudin said, adding that the definition of quitting successfully was total abstinence for six months.

Chua suggests exam for all foreign medical graduates

NST: MALACCA: It would be more cost effective to set a competency examination for foreign medical graduates rather than recognising individual medical schools overseas.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said his ministry was discussing the possibility of setting such an exam with the Malaysian Medical Council.
"In the long term, it is simply not cost effective for the Health Ministry to grant recognition to one foreign medical school after another. So this system may be a better way to judge the standard of a medical graduate," said Dr Chua.
Currently, 344 medical schools worldwide are recognised, and the ministry "cannot go on providing recognition to more universities in order to increase the number of doctors in the country".
"When a university is recognised by the ministry, its standards need to be evaluated from time to time. We simply can’t afford to travel to each foreign university every so often," he said.
With a competency exam, medical graduates can be accepted into the profession regardless of which university they graduate from.
"It doesn’t matter whether your medical school is recognised or not. As long as you are good, have a medical degree and can pass the qualifying exam, you can practise here," said the health minister.
Chua was commenting on the suggestion that Malaysia recognise more Taiwanese medical schools, made by Taiwan University Graduates Alumni Confederation president Law Yang Ket.
In his speech at the opening of the confederation’s annual general meeting here yesterday, Law said the government only recognised eight of the more than 20 medical schools in Taiwan, and the shortage of doctors could be overcome if more medical schools were recognised.
Dr Chua also said there could be no compromise on quality even though there was a shortage of doctors.
"You are dealing with people’s lives when you are a doctor."
The standard of medical students had dropped after a recent attempt to increase the number of doctors because "they just don’t have the right attitude and commitment", he added.
He said the ministry organised a five-day programme in several hospitals last year to show aspiring doctors with excellent SPM and STPM results what being in the medical profession involved.
"Ten per cent changed their minds about being a doctor after attending the programme. This shows that students don’t get enough guidance and counselling before deciding on a career path.
"Just because they have achieved 12 or 13 As in their exams, they decide to become a doctor without knowing what it takes to become one," he said, adding that the programme would be lengthened to 10 days this year.
"One needs commitment, discipline and passion to be a doctor."

Qualifying exam for doctors

Star: MALACCA: Medical graduates who studied overseas may have to sit for a unified medical examination and, whether their university is recognised or not, a pass in the examination would allow them to practise in Malaysia.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said this would ensure these graduates had the required standard and quality to practise medicine in the country.
He said the ministry was discussing the matter with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), adding that Malaysia recognises 344 universities for medical studies.
“We cannot continue giving recognition to more and more universities because we have to evaluate and monitor their standards from time to time.
“We are also not capable of doing so as there are more than 300 universities,” he told reporters after opening the 17th annual general meeting of the Federation of Alumni Associations of Taiwan Universities here yesterday.
Dr Chua said the local unified medical examination had to be introduced as a long-term solution.
“We want to maintain the quality and standard of our doctors.
“It would be disappointing if, one day, Malaysians lose confidence in their own doctors.
“So we should not focus on quantity. The standard is more important,” he said, adding that there had lately been a drop in the quality of doctors.
Among the causes was the medical students' lack of commitment. Many took up the course not because they were interested in medicine, he said.
Dr Chua said these students only believed they had to be doctors because of their excellent results in the SPM and STPM examinations.
“We have implemented a programme where we try to get them accustomed to a hospital environment for five days.
“At the end of it, we see about 10% of them pulling out of the course.
“What we want is commitment and passion which is lacking,” said Dr Chua, adding that the ministry would increase the number of course days to between seven and 10 next year.
He said that so far, the Government recognised eight Taiwanese universities and 250 of the graduates had registered to become doctors, 120 as dentists and 57 as pharmacists.

The Malaysian Medical Association said that although a unified medical examination for overseas graduates was good, it had to be well thought out.
Association president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said the examination could be conducted in three parts, comprising practical, written and viva voce.
“The plan will not work with the candidate sitting for just one paper. It could take between two and three days,” he said when contacted yesterday.
MMC president Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said the examination would remove the problem of varying standards as a result of graduates coming from different universities.
The move would also see the MMC not being taxed with issues such as paperwork and conducting inspections on medical schools, which are time-consuming.

Chua: No need to review NS decision

Star: MUAR: There is no need to review the decision not to make it compulsory for national service (NS) trainees to undergo medical examinations, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
He said the Cabinet had agreed on the matter on Wednesday based on the findings of a technical committee comprising medical experts from the ministry and the Armed Forces.
Based on the 12 fatal incidents among NS trainees to date, most were accidental or due to diseases contracted during training, he said after attending a charity dinner at SRJK Pei Yang here on Friday.
Dr Chua said the deaths could not be prevented but the ministry agreed for all NS camps to have medical assistants and trained nurses to be on duty round the clock.
He said it was also necessary for the camps that were located more than 10km from the nearest hospital or clinic to have an ambulance service on standby.

Saturday, May 26, 2007

Training for doctors, nurses

NST: DOCTORS and nurses in Selangor, Terengganu, Perak, Johor and Sarawak are being trained to identify autistic children.
This follows data collected in 2004 from government hospitals and clinics nationwide which showed that 50 per cent of children diagnosed with autism were below 7.
Health Ministry principal assistant director of public health Dr Aminah Bee Mohd Kassim said the pilot project has been implemented in some government clinics in the five states.
Under the project, doctors and nurses provide a checklist called the "Modified Checklist for Autism in Toddlers" to parents.
"Parents are required to fill up the checklist of 23 questions so that doctors can ascertain if the child concerned has symptoms of autism."
She said there were plans to implement compulsory health checks at clinics for children who are 18 months old.
Malaysian Paediatric Association president Dr Zulkifli Ismail was positive about the pilot project.
"We do have a shortage of expertise and the ministry’s action is a positive step forward.
"Although there is no cure for autism, it can be managed if detected early."
"The earlier it is detected, the better it is because children can be sent for speech therapy which can help them improve."
National Autism Society of Malaysia (Nascom) executive director Liew Yoon Loy said 14 children from the centre run by the organisation had been enrolled at SK Setapak.
She said this was possible because of the dedication and support the children received from their parents and teachers.

Play therapy for the autistic

NST: For years, few knew how to deal with children with emotional or mental health problems. But a new method — play therapy — has been devised to allow children, including the autistic, to express their feelings, write SHAMINI DARSHNI and MALINA JEYA PALAN
Play therapy, a new concept to Malaysia, uses play techniques in a therapeutic manner to help children deal with problems.
TOYS, music, art, movement and even story-telling are being used to help children with excessive emotional behaviour or mental health problems.
Play therapy, a new concept to Malaysia, uses play techniques in a therapeutic manner to help children deal with problems.
Play Therapy International (PTI) president Monika Jephcott said it was used to help children with abuse, anger, autism, attachment, communication, delayed development and withdrawn personality issues.
It also helps children with separated or divorced parents, poor school attendance and Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder (ADHD).
"The unique aspect of play therapy is that it encourages children to heal themselves in their own time," she said.
Jephcott said it was all about children communicating with people.
"We don’t ask questions. It’s an opportunity for them to play out their feelings and problems."
According to statistics from the United Kingdom, one in five children have mental, behavioural or psychological problems, while one in 10 have mental health problems.
Play therapists in Britain work with children in schools, hospitals, foster homes and in other social services.
Experts are excited as statistics show that children who have undergone play therapy improve by 70 per cent.
This is why a local non-governmental organisation, Protect and Save The Children (P. S. The Children) is collaborating with PTI to train play therapists here.
To date, 70 Health Ministry officials, nurses, sexual assault police, counsellors, university lecturers, psychologists and teachers are undergoing the certificate in therapeutic skills course (play therapy).
Of this, 40 will complete their course by November.
The recently-formed Play Therapy Malaysia will govern the standards of play therapy in Malaysia.
According to PTI statistics, of the children who manifest mental, emotional and behavioural problems, two-thirds are boys, who also seem to suffer the most effects.
Protect and Save the Children director Madeleine Yong, who is initiating Play Therapy Malaysia, hoped to see trained local play therapists in schools and shelter homes.

MMC: We can act against fly-by-night doctors

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) can act against foreign fly-by-night doctors who carry out cosmetic surgery without a valid temporary practising certificate.
“Action can be taken,” said its president Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican on Thursday.
“There are doctors coming in and in cohorts with some who are providing the treatment. They are the fly-by-night doctors who come in quietly and do the job. They are not registered with the MMC.”
He said that doctors were supposed to register with the MMC if they wanted to come to Malaysia to carry out procedures.
Dr Ismail, who is also Health Ministry director-general, added that the Cosmetology Bill, which was expected to be tabled by early next year, would enable the ministry to make sure that premises adhered to guidelines drawn up for them.
“Right now, they can plead ignorance. We will be in a better position to carry out enforcement,” he said, adding that the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Bill would keep traditional medicine practitioners in check.
Dr Ismail said that there were between 8,000 and 10,000 outlets which carried out unapproved cosmetic surgeries, such as beauty shops, which were not allowed to do procedures which included ingestion or injections.
He also encouraged those who had fallen victim to botched procedures to lodge complaints with the ministry so that it would be able to carry out raids.
Malaysian Association of Plastic, Aesthetic and Craniomaxillofacial Surgeons (Mapacs) president Dr Peter Wong T.L. advised the public to seek treatment at clinics or hospitals run by registered doctors or plastic surgeons.

Friday, May 25, 2007

Eye doctor with a big heart

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Every Sunday at 5am, he would leave his Bukit Tunku home to treat poor patients in rural areas. He was determined that if he could save someone’s sight, he would do it.
Datuk Dr Keshmahinder Singh was known for his compassion and his big heart.
He did not charge the elderly and those who could not afford to pay for treatment.
Dr Keshmahinder died on Wednesday. He was 85 years old.
He was one of the country’s foremost opthamologists and left a lasting impression on both those who worked with him and his former patients.
The former executive director of the Malaysian Association for the Blind, Winnie Ng, remembered him for his sincerity in helping the poor.
"He would travel in his mobile clinic to reach out to the marginalised.
"He was a very caring and compassionate person, especially to the poor. He had a great volunteer spirit."
Mabel Marbeck, a former patient, said Dr Keshmahinder did not charge the poor and elderly patients she brought to his Jalan Dang Wangi clinic.
He was soft-spoken but strict when it came to work, said William Brohier, who had known Dr Keshmahinder professionally for the past 40 years.
"He was a man of integrity, a no-nonsense man," he said.
He was one of the movers in the setting up of the Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital in 1986, and donated all his equipment to the hospital when he closed his clinic.
He served as its executive director after his retirement in 1988, leaving the eye hospital in 1990.
Among the many important contributions he made to the development of eye care here was to mine his international contacts to bring top opthamologists from all over the world to share their knowledge.
He was also a sociable man and his home was often filled with laughter as he offered hospitality to his family and many friends.
"Although he was busy with his work, he still had time for his family, relatives and friends" said his daughter and only child, Jaspreet Gill.
With no grandchildren of his own, Dr Keshmahinder delighted in spending time with his great-nephews and nieces.
He was admitted to Pantai Medical Centre three weeks ago where he died of natural causes.
Though ill health had prevented him from seeing many of his old friends for a number of years, they came to his home yesterday in the hundreds to pay their last respects.
He is survived by his wife, Datin Balbir, and Jaspreet.

Perak ruler tells doctors to put patients first

NST: IPOH: The integrity of medical services will be tainted if practitioners forget their priorities in pursuit of wealth.
The Sultan of Perak Sultan Azlan Shah said this would eventually lead to doctors neglecting services to the people, especially the poor.
At the opening of Universiti Kuala Lumpur-Royal College of Medicine Perak’s (UniKL-RCMP) eighth campus here he reminded institutions of higher learning on the need to instil ethical and humanitarian values in undergraduates.
"The philosophy behind medical services must be instilled in the minds, and humanitarian values nurtured in the hearts of all medical practitioners," he said.
Stressing that modern medical services were now a daily necessity, Sultan Azlan Shah said a patient’s comfort and peace of mind should always be the priority.
"The patient and family members need assurance, and medical practitioners must display a high level of compassion."
He said as a college that had been accorded the "royal" status, RCMP had to be intelligent in instilling such values so that its graduates were well rounded and balanced.
"This college would have to push hard to prove that its academic and research performances befit that of a college with royal status."
RCMP started out as Perak Medical College in February 1999 with an enrolment of 27 and a single programme.
In 2005, Majlis Amanah Rakyat (Mara) took over PMC, a move which enabled the college to upgrade its status to become a campus of UniKL in June last year.
Now, with an enrolment of nearly 900, there are four programmes — medicine and surgery, nursing, pharmacy and radiology.

Chua: Gullible women attracting the quacks

NST: PUTRAJAYA:Women are so gullible when it comes to cosmetic surgeries that some even have it done in hotels.
And this has attracted droves of foreign quacks.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said at least nine out of 10 botched jobs went unreported.
"I am really surprised that women are so gullible here. No wonder these quacks can survive in Malaysia," he said in response to the recent spate of media reports on botched work done by beauticians and people claiming to be aesthetic surgeons, mainly from Taiwan and China.
Yesterday, the New Straits Times highlighted a case where the work done by an unqualified person landed a 29-year-old housewife with breast cancer.
The woman, from Ulu Tiram, Johor, referred to as Tan, had gone to the so-called doctor, a foreigner, in December 2005 for breast enlargement.
She paid RM6,400 for a four-hour surgery in a hotel room in Johor.
Lumps appeared in her breasts six months later and she was in pain.
The woman consulted a doctor in Johor Baru last month and was diagnosed with cancer. The man who performed the surgery has disappeared.
Dr Chua said many women had undergone plastic surgeries under the hands of unqualified people and this was occurring very frequently.
And most of this is done by "fly-by-night" operators in an unsterilised setting.
"They must be aware that they cannot do an operation or surgery in a hotel. This is the 21st century and people should know that no surgery can be performed in a hotel room," Dr Chua said.
He advised people seeking such treatments to check with the Malaysian Medical Council if they had any doubts.

Doc denies botch allegation

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: A doctor has denied that he botched the breast enlargement procedure of a woman.
He said this to the press through his lawyers Ho Kam Phaw and Priscilla Lau at the MCA Public Services Complaints Department here yesterday.
The doctor and his two lawyers had earlier met with department head Datuk Michael Chong to explain his side of the story.
The doctor, on reading in the papers yesterday the allegation made by the 31-year-old woman called Tay, went to see Chong with his two lawyers.
Chong said both parties have decided to settle the matter out of court.

Compulsory HIV screening

Star: SEREMBAN: Effective June 1, all Muslim couples in Negri Sembilan are required to undergo HIV screening at designated government clinics before getting married.
Mentri Besar Datuk Seri Mohamad Hasan said that this was in line with the outcome of the special Cabinet committee on HIV/AIDS meeting last year which recommended compulsory screening for Muslims intending to tie the knot.
He said a study was conducted by the Negri Sembilan health and religious authorities last year before a decision was made to implement the programme.

Stars join cancer fight

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Seven local women celebrities are all geared up for a special promotional event – spreading awareness about cervical cancer.
The “Take Action” awareness and educational campaign was launched yesterday to help educate women about the disease, said to be the second most common cancer affecting them, and the second leading cause of cancer death in women.
Leading the effort are actress Ida Nerina, fashion guru Gillian Hung, TV personalities Bernie Chan and Celina Khor, deejay Marion Caunter, stage presence coach Fatimah Abu Bakar, and former Miss Malaysia Kavita Kaur.
The campaign, a follow-up from last year's “Tell Someone” cervical cancer awareness campaign, is a direct call to women to act upon the knowledge they have about the disease and Human Papillomavirus-related diseases.
National Cancer Society of Malaysia executive director Dr Saunthari Somasundaram said the aim was to “reach out to and educate young women to be on guard against the disease.
“Last year's campaign was significant as a start was made. This year, we believe we can do better to help prevent this form of cancer,” she said at the launch here yesterday.
Speaking in support of the campaign, Obstetrical & Gynaecological Society of Malaysia president Dr Abdul Aziz Yahya said women must understand the severity of cervical cancer and Human Papillomavirus-related diseases, and “how a simple visit to their doctors can help prevent it.”
“Protection is always better than treatment and cervical cancer is a preventable disease. So, go for your pap smear test,” he said.
There will be roadshows, interactive gatherings, seminars and role-play sessions at colleges throughout the campaign period.
For details, visit

Firm allays fears over usage of diabetic drug

Star: PETALING JAYA: Diabetics taking the drug Avandia should continue with their treatment and seek advice from their physician, said GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical Sdn Bhd medical affairs director Dr Sharmila Ramachandran.
She said the company received many enquiries from patients who were on the drug prescribed for Type II diabetics after a study was published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week which stated that there was an increased risk of cardiac-related deaths and heart attacks.
The study showed that there was a 43% increase in heart attack risk and a 64% increase in heart attack death in patients who were on thiazolidinedione drugs. These are Avandia and Actos made by Takeda.
Dr Sharmila also said the company “strongly disagreed” with the conclusions of the article, questioning the methodology used by the author Dr Steve Nissen, Cleveland Clinic chief cardiologist.
A statement by the firm said that it had commissioned three surveys.
One of them, the Adopt trial done recently, showed only a small increase of myocardial infarction for Avandia users at 1.65%.

NS Dept to meet Health Ministry over medical staff deployment

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The National Service Training Department will meet the Health Ministry to discuss the deployment of medical staff at all NS camps.
Department director-general Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil, who is happy with the decision, said that previously, each camp had only two paramedics who were on standby 24 hours.
“We will hold discussions as soon as possible with the Health Ministry on the exact number of medical people to be seconded to the camps.
“We have about 80 NS camps which may need 240 more hospital assistants and 190 nurses,” he said.
“Parents will be assured that their children’s healthcare will be managed well and more effectively during their training period,” he said after attending the presentation of excellent service awards to Defence Ministry staff here yesterday.
Abdul Hadi said 30,500 NS trainees would report for the third series on June 16.
On another matter, he advised parents to fill the medical assessment forms before their children attend training or if they want their children to be exempted for medical reasons.
He said that while it was not necessary for the trainees to undergo medical check-ups, they should make a declaration of their health status.
The parents should sign the forms and get confirmation from doctors on their children’s health status, he added.
Abdul Hadi said this procedure would help the camp management to check the health background of the trainees.
“Those reporting for training on June 16 should complete the forms truthfully, and the camp management can bring them to the nearest hospital or clinic if a medical check is needed.
“Trainees who want to postpone their stint because of health reasons should also complete the forms after getting their doctor’s approval,” he added.

Company Launches Portal On Patients' Medical Records

PETALING JAYA, May 23 (Bernama) -- PLS Hitech (M) Sdn Bhd Wednesday night launched a RM3 million portal which enables any health centres worldwide access to a patient's medical record online.
The aim was to make it easier for the patient to get immediate and effective treatment anywhere in the world, PLS Hitech chief executive officer Rahu Pallier said here.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad who launched the portal,, said the government welcomed the initiative because it would be useful to doctors, patients and insurance companies.
"The problem is the public are concerned with the confidentiality of their health information," he told reporters.
He said the portal would be used by private clinics and hospitals and if necessary, government doctors would also have access to it.
The public who are interested can register themselves for free with the company and hand over their medical records to be uploaded into the portal.

Malaysia To Produce Own Vaccine In Three Years' Time

PUTRAJAYA, May 24 (Bernama) -- Malaysia plans to set up its own vaccine production centre in three years' time, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
"Currently, Malaysia is dependent on the import of vaccine, and that is why we are trying to develop our own vaccine production," he said.
"It will cost about RM800 million to RM1 billion to set up a vaccine production centre, including the hi-tech and research centre. We want to do a vaccine centre together with a research centre," he told reporters after launching the Kuala Lumpur OIC (Organisation of the Islamic Conference) Health Ministerial Conference 2007 web page here Thursday.
Dr Chua said Malaysia used to produce vaccine but somehow or rather it was closed down.
"That was many years ago and now we better restart all over again. We hope in three years time, (if) God is willing," he said.
The minister said the government expenditure on vaccines was between RM80 million to RM100 million annually.
He said it appeared that Malaysia imported the vaccines from the western countries.
This was because all these vaccines needed to have some pre-qualification requirement stipulated by the World health Organisation (WHO) and could not be simply purchased from anywhere.
When asked on the status of immunization programme in Malaysia, Dr Chua said: "It is the same as those in advanced countries. If you talk about basic immunization, I would say we have achieved nearly 100 percent."
"In Malaysia, we are lucky in the sense that we make it compulsory because firstly, there is political commitment and secondly, we have excellent physical health facilities which enable the people easy access," he said.
In the peninsula, he said 90 percent of the people were living within five kilometres from the health facilities.
To date there are 130 hospitals and 4,000 clinics including the mobile ones.
"So a simple programme like this needs commitment and accessibility to the health facilities," he said.
Dr Chua pointed out that because of the good immunization program in the country, Malaysia was able to bring down its mortality rate among children.
"The infant mortality rate when we achieved independence was 75 per 1,000 children. Today, we have reduced it to 5.1 per 1,000 children.
"The mortality rate of children less than five years old used to be 57 per 1,000, (but) today it has been reduced to 8.8 per 1,000," he said adding that these figures were comparable to a lot of the developed countries' figures.

Thursday, May 24, 2007

Safety panel must for work places with 40 or more

Daily Express: Kota Kinabalu: Any workplace with 40 or more employees must establish a Safety and Health Committee under the Occupational Safety and Health Act (Act) 1994.
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) Malaysia Chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye, who disclosed this, said this is provided for under Section 15(2)(a) of OSH.
"The provision requires employers the 'provision and maintenance of plant and systems of work that are, so far is practicable, safe and without risks to health'.
"This clearly places the burden of responsibility to provide a safe and healthy working environment on the employer. They are also legally bound to provide information, instruction, training and supervision to ensure the safety and health of employees," Lee said.
He said this at the launching of the Niosh Sabah Regional Office here and opening of a seminar on Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) for Media Personnel, here, Monday.
The seminar was aimed at assisting media personnel on recognising and controlling some general safety concerns associated with the media industry.
In general, it sought to enhance awareness on safe and healthy working conditions among media members ranging from journalists, photographers, editors and graphic designers to workers who are involved in the printing and distribution process.
Also present were Niosh Malaysia Executive Director, Ir Amir Haji Yahya, Niosh Sabah Branch Manager, Azman Sah Sabali, and Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH) Sabah Branch Director, Ir. Mohd Anuar bin Embi.
Under the Act, Lee said, any employer who fails to abide by the provision is liable to pay a fine of up to RM5,000 or six months' jail, or both, upon conviction.
"Employees should give their full cooperation to management for their joint formulation of safety and health committees. In this way, both parties can fulfil their mutual obligation to provide safe and healthier workplaces," he said.
He said OSH management is needed for all workplace environments in respect of all industries to ensure high standards of safety and health at work.
"Industries and employers must realise that four fundamental factors justify OSH management and these are corporate responsibility, social and moral obligation, good business sense and legal obligation.
"Effective OSH management not only reduces the risk to safety and health but also ensures high returns to the companies and increased productivity," he said.
In this respect, Lee said employers must be prepared to invest in occupational and safety while employees must practise it at the workplaces.
In addition, he said companies must allocate a yearly budget for safety training to help prevent work-related accidents.

Boob job gone wrong

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Believing that big is beautiful, a 31-year-old woman went for a boob job. The result devastated her.
The woman, who wants to be known only as Tay, said she went for plastic surgery to enlarge her breasts in November 2005 at the advice of a beautician.
After a month, she felt an excruciating pain where the so-called surgeon had injected her.
She had paid RM6,400 to beautify her assets and received half the money back after she went back to the Taiwanese surgeon to complain about her condition.
He promised to refer her to a “specialist,'' saying that the other surgeon would remove whatever substance was causing the pain in her breasts.
The doctor, who claimed to have dozens of certificates from all over the world, went missing after six months and the “specialist” he promised never surfaced.
Repeated attempts to reach the Taiwanese “doctor” have failed and the beautician who introduced him to her has also denied she had anything to do with the botched surgery.
Tay has now brought her problem to MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong, who said he would bring up her case – and other similar cases – with the Health Ministry.
Relating the events at Chong’s office yesterday, Tay told reporters that she wanted the breast enlargement to please her husband.
She said she trusted her beautician, who brought her to a hotel in Johor Baru where the four-hour surgery was done.
She told her husband about it a month later when she felt the pain.
“After confronting the Taiwanese doctor in Kuala Lumpur about the pain, he refunded me RM3,200 and said that he would find another specialist to remove the substance from my body,” Tay said.
“Until today I have not heard from him again,” she added.
The substance that was injected into Tay was later identified as something only to be used on the face.
“The beautician later denied everything about the surgery and the employment of the Taiwanese doctor.
“In March, I felt several lumps on my breasts, and after consulting a medical doctor he told me that I need to have both my breasts removed as the lumps were cancerous,” said Tay.
Chong said he would bring the matter up with the Health Ministry regarding “quack doctors” running businesses here.
“It is not wrong for women to go for plastic surgeries but please consult the many qualified surgeons throughout Malaysia,” he added.

NS trainees to have access to three medical assistants and two nurses

Star: PUTRAJAYA: All national service camps will have at least three medical assistants and two nurses to ensure that trainees have access to medical attention always.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said this was among several recommendations by a technical committee which the Cabinet agreed to yesterday.

The other improvements are:
> Allocating ambulances for camps far away from hospitals or health clinics;
> Carrying out weekly health checks at camps either by the Health Ministry or the Armed Forces;
> Upgrading medical equipment such as stretchers, oxygen tanks and medication;
> Improving the quality of food at camps; and
> Carrying out physical training according to the health status of trainees.

With these improvements, Dr Chua said, there would be no need for trainees to undergo compulsory medical examinations before they start their training stint.
He said the improvements would be implemented immediately and the Government had allocated RM20mil for the additional equipment and staff.
He was speaking to reporters at his ministry here after the weekly Cabinet meeting.
The technical committee, headed by Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat, was formed about two months ago to look into various problems afflicting the NS programme.
The committee members include the NS Training Department director-general and deputy director-general, three medical specialists and a nutritionist.
There have been 12 deaths involving NS trainees since the programme started in 2004, seven of them health-related.
Dr Chua said additional staff might be seconded from the ministry and the Armed Forces to be posted at the camps.
He also said there was a shortage of personnel for the weekly checks.
“We are discussing with the Armed Forces on how we can take turns to visit the camps,” he said.
Dr Chua said the compulsory medical examinations would not be necessary if trainees fill in the medical assessment forms truthfully.
He said it was found that for every 1,000 medical assessment forms filled in by trainees declaring that they had health problems, only five were genuine.
On the scheduling of the physical training module according to the health status of the trainee, Dr Chua said those who were unhealthy could get exemptions.
“We might even have different physical modules for male and female trainees,” he said.

Ministry Denies Handing Over Programme To NGOs

PUTRAJAYA, May 23 (Bernama) -- The Health Ministry has denied handing over a health hazard reduction programme to non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
"All health hazard reduction programmes are under the Health Ministry and the ministry is still the main agency in leading the programmes," Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek told reporters at his office here today.
He was commenting on a local English daily report which said that the government had handed over the programme to give out condoms and syringes to prostitutes and drug addicts to NGOs including the Malaysian Aids Council in the fight against the spread of HIV/Aids.
The newspaper also quoted the Health Ministry's deputy director of disease control Dr Jalal Halil Khalil as saying that the move was because Malaysia, as an Islamic country, could not be seen as an agent advocating the use of condoms.
The report was not true and inaccurate, Dr Chua said but admitted that NGOs were involved in the programme.
"We are aware of the sensitivity involved. The government, through the Health Ministry, will do all it can to reduce HIV/AIDS infection," he said.
He said the government had allocated RM300 million for the programme and also to educate the public from this year till 2010.
Through the health hazard reduction programme, the ministry also gave out methadone to addicts so that they take drugs orally instead of intravenously, he said.
He said the government hoped the spread of HIV/Aids through intravenous injections could be reduced by 25 per cent by 2010.
Presently, 70 per cent of about 75,000 people with HIV/Aids in the country are addicts who take drugs intravenously.

Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Husband mulls legal action against hospital

NST: JOHOR BARU: A woman, whose pregnancy was due, was left bleeding for more than two hours at a hospital emergency ward in Kulai before the doctor decided she should be referred to another hospital.
And because of a series of unfortunate events, her unborn son was pronounced dead on arrival at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital (HSA) here.
It started when Nurulhudah Othman, 29, who was suffering from pregnancy induced hypertension, or pre-eclampsia, was admitted to the Temenggong Ibrahim Hospital (HTI) in Kulai on May 7.
Two days later, she was allowed home but about 11.30am on May 9, Nurulhudah’s water burst and she started bleeding profusely.
She was rushed to HTI in an ambulance.
The HTI doctor, after cheking her, decided that it was not time yet for her to deliver and made her wait.
When the bleeding did not subside after two hours, the doctor in charge said they did not have enough blood at HTI to perform a Caesarean on Nurulhudah and decided that she should be referred to HSA.
She was bundled into an ambulance but halfway along the journey, one of the medical personnel realised that they had forgotten Nurulhudah’s medical records.
The ambulance was then forced to make a U-turn back to HTI which is about 40km away from HSA.
When they arrived at HSA at about 4pm, the unborn baby was pronounced dead.
Nurulhudah’s husband, Mohd Fetri A Razak, 30, a technician, who was with his wife throughout the ordeal was devastated and regretted the way HTI handled the situation.
"We can accept the death of our unborn son, but the way the hospital handled the emergency situation is unacceptable," he said when met at his home in Taman Desa, Kulai here.
He said the doctor at HSA explained that the placenta was already detached from the womb, thus cutting off the oxygen supply to the baby.
Mohd Fetri said he is considering legal action against HTI for negligence, adding that this is not the first time they had encountered problems with the hospital.
He claimed that when Nurulhudah delivered their first daughter six years ago, she suffered a retained placenta in her womb after a nurse failed to completely remove it after birth.

Anti-smoking campaign better option

Sun2Surf: KUALA LUMPUR (May 21, 2007): The government is focusing on educating the public to refrain from smoking rather than imposing a total ban because a ban comes with certain challenges, Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said today.
Answering a supplementary question from Datuk Syed Ali Syed Abbas Alhabbshee, he said the proposal to ban smoking nationwide would raise certain challenges. He did not elaborate on what these challenges were.
"To ban smoking is an easy suggestion. But it is not easy to be implemented. Now, we are more focused on education so that the people will understand the harm of smoking.
"If I am not mistaken, there are not many countries in the world that have totally banned smoking," he said.
To another question from Senator Datuk Soon Tian Sze, who questioned the effectiveness of the "Tak Nak" campaign in curbing smoking, Lee said the campaign was well received by the people.
"From our research, more than 70% of the people knew about the 'Tak Nak' campaign. But we have to be clear that the campaign is to create awareness and not to reduce the number of smokers," he said.
"Next, we will carry a grassroot campaign to reduce demand for cigarettes."
Lee said the move to impose high tax and price control on cigarettes was one of the most important strategies to curb smoking.
"According to a report by World Bank, if the price of cigarettes were to increase by about 10%, it will cut down the use of cigarettes by between 4% and 8%," he said.
He said the World Health Organisation also suggested that the tax imposed on cigarettes be 65% higher than the retail price.
"In Malaysia, the tax imposed on one box of 20-stick cigarettes is about RM3 or 40% of the retail price," he said, adding that the government had fixed the minimum price to prevent cheap sale of cigarettes in the market.

Monday, May 21, 2007

New dialysis centre for the poor

NST: SEREMBAN: Kidney patients from lower-income groups have been given a lifeline with the setting up of a new dialysis centre for the poor here.
The RM2 million centre, to be managed by the Seremban Hindu Mayana Sangam and Koperasi Serbaguna Negri Sembilan Berhad, is expected to begin operations in September.
Koperasi Serbaguna director M. Muthuraman said the centre in Jalan Rasah would have 10 dialysis machines, including four donated by the state government.
The number of machines will be increased to 24 in the future.
"Our services will be cheaper as we want to help the poor," Muthuraman said at a fund-raising dinner at Tafe college here on Saturday night.
Present were state executive councillor Datuk Zakaria Nor-din and Koperasi Serbaguna and Sangam chairman Datuk M. Muthuppalaniappan.
All profits would be channelled to the centre, including buying more dialysis machines at a cost of RM40,000 a unit.
"There are many kidney patients who can’t afford dialysis treatment, even at a subsidised rate. As a result, many end up without any treatment," Muthuraman said.
Individuals and organisations are urged to donate so that more patients would be able to benefit from the centre’s services.

Tough task of promoting condom use goes to NGOs

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The debate on whether the government will lead the campaign to promote the use of condoms to fight HIV/AIDS may be over.
Health Ministry deputy director Dr Jalal Halil Khalil said the job had been handed over to non-governmental organisations like the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) through its 37 affiliates.
He said the government could not be seen to be the agent advocating the use of condoms as this could be misinterpreted.
"We realise that we are an Islamic country and we have to do things carefully," he told a press conference yesterday in conjunction with the International AIDS Memorial Day (IAMD).
"That is why we have given this duty to non-governmental organisations like the Malaysian AIDS Council."
Dr Jalal, of the AIDS/STD unit, said the ministry and the government were concerned about the rising number of people being infected every year.
"Of course, we are worried. If not, we would not be working hard. We will not give up. We will continue to educate."
Seventy per cent of the nearly 75,000 people with HIV/AIDS are Injecting Drug Users (IDUs).
Existing efforts to combat the spread of HIV/AIDS has so far been targeted at IDUs, sex workers and homosexuals.
However, the steady rise of HIV/AIDS among sexually-active heterosexuals, not only among marginalised communities but also among the public, is worrying the government and NGOs.
Dr Jalal said the government understood that condoms were the answer to preventing HIV transmission among marginal- ised groups like sex workers, IDUs and the public.
Citing the needle and syringe exchange programme (NSEP) introduced last year, Dr Jalal said needles and syringes were also handed out through NGOs.
The NSEP falls under the National Strategic Plan on the Control and Prevention of HIV/AIDS, on which the ministry has spent RM27 million.
"The important thing is to prevent HIV/AIDS from spreading. We have to give enough information to all levels of society. But changing knowledge to behaviour is not easy."
Malaysian AIDS Foundation trustee Datuk Zaman Khan, while agreeing the use of condoms was the best method of controlling HIV and other sexually transmitted diseases, said abstinence was still the best option.
"There are so many taboos in this country. Not a single religion on earth encourages people to have intercourse before marriage but in reality, it happens.
"I am not trying to encourage heterosexual practices but the truth is one way to stop HIV from spreading is by the use of condoms. The problem we have is about how to promote their use."
MAC president Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said promoting the use of condoms had been a challenge over the past 20 years.
"Delaying sexual practices and having monogamous relationships are ideals but these do not necessarily happen in real life. We have to match that with pragmatism."
Surveys, she said, had shown that Malaysians were having sex at a young age but many were not protecting themselves.
Asked how the taboo associated with condoms could be broken, she said: "I wish I knew a simple way, but there isn’t one.
"We know what works and we have to get people to realise that they have to protect themselves. For those who are against condom promotion, it’s about protecting public health and educating the young.
"It does not mean that with condom promotion we are going to stand at every street corner and shout ‘condoms’ or have a condom parade.
"Those things are not in keeping with our culture, but it does mean that we have to educate people about risks."
IAMD is observed worldwide on the third Sunday in May to remember those who lost their lives to AIDS.
Earlier, HIV-positive persons and representatives from margi- nalised communities, NGOs and the government, released 21 doves to represent the 21 years HIV/AIDS has been in the country.

Harder to prevent HIV spread

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Preventing the spread of HIV in Malaysia may have hit a snag with the Health Ministry being unable to openly promote the use of condoms.
Health Ministry deputy director of disease control (AIDS/STD) Dr Jalal Halil Khalil said this could lead to prevention programmes being less effective.
“It may slow down the effectiveness of prevention. It is difficult to promote the open usage of condoms,” he said after attending a Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) International AIDS Memorial Day function.
“The ministry likes to promote it but not openly. We let the NGOs (non-governmental organisations) do the work. It is not to say that we advertise the use of condoms on TV but we use different ways of communicating it or else people will think we are promoting promiscuity.”
As of December 2006, there were 76,000 HIV/AIDS cases in Malaysia with more than 6,000 new cases diagnosed last year.
The main method of HIV transmission in the country is still through the sharing of needles, which accounts for 75% of the cases.
There is, however, an increase of infection through heterosexual relationships where the number of women infected with HIV has increased 10 times from 1.2% in 1990 to 12% in 2005.
Dr Jalal Halil said that while Malaysians were aware of AIDS and how to prevent it from spreading, the knowledge had yet to translate into action.
MAC president Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said that while the Government wanted to work with NGOs on condom usage, there were still “difficult laws” in which marginalised groups who worked in brothels could be charged under anti-vice laws if they were found with condoms.
She said that when it came to the general public, the question was not only about condoms but that individuals did not realise the high risk of having casual sex.
“When we ask, most people are more conscious about condoms preventing pregnancies rather than HIV.”

More dengue deaths

Star: PENANG: Forty-four people died of dengue haemorrhagic fever nationwide in the first four months of this year compared to 21 in the same period last year, said Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon.
“The bulk of deaths were in Selangor and Kuala Lumpur. More than 1,600 suspected dengue cases were reported in the country over the past two weeks,” he said, adding that about 50 suspected cases were reported weekly in Penang, which he said was a manageable level.
“The present weather is conducive for mosquitoes to breed. So, the people must take steps to ensure that their surroundings are free of rubbish at all times.
“The health department in all states are monitoring the situation to ensure there is no outbreak.
“Fogging is done in areas with a high dengue rate,” Lee told reporters after opening a free medical check-up camp at the Taman Sri Damai flats in Lebuhraya Batu Lancang here yesterday.

Sunday, May 20, 2007

Ensuring quality nursing colleges

Star: THE Higher Education Ministry has recently completed an audit of all 24 nursing colleges in the country to ensure standards are maintained.
Its minister, Datuk Mustapa Mohamed, said the audit found that there were two main problems among some of the nursing colleges.
“One problem is that several colleges take in more students than the allowed quota according to the lecturer-students ratio.
“We have to be strict about this as we are dealing with life and death situations,” he told reporters after opening PNC International College of Nursing and Health Sciences' new campus at Kota Seriemas in Nilai on Tuesday.
The audit also found that one college had taken in unqualified students for its nursing diploma programme, he added.
Any student who wants to complete a diploma in nursing must have five Sijil Pelajaran Malaysia credits in Bahasa Malaysia, English, Mathematics, Science and one more subject.
Mustapa said his ministry worked closely with the Nursing Board Malaysia to ensure the quality of the nursing colleges.
KPJ Healthcare Bhd managing director and PNC International College of Nursing and Health Sciences adviser Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah Sheikh Bakir said the new campus would provide quality nursing and allied health training services for both local and international students.
“PNC, a wholly owned subsidiary of KPJ, which is a core division of Johor Corporation, began in 1991 with the simple vision of training local nurses for our group's hospitals,” she said.
She said there were now 17 local hospitals under KPJ with more than 2,000 beds and 5,500 employees.

Health Ministry issues wheat gluten alert

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: There has been no report of melamine-tainted wheat gluten entering the human food chain, but the Health Ministry is not taking any chances.
A circular was issued last week to all health state directors and some 35 entry points for imported food products to be on the alert for any wheat gluten entering the country.
Wheat gluten, besides being used in the production of pet food, is also used as an alternative to soy-based meat substitutes, such as tofu.
Some types are said to taste more like meat than tofu because of its chewy and stringy texture.
The ministry’s Food Safety and Quality Division director, Dr Abdul Rahim Mohamad, said the circular contained information about melamine, the toxicity of the chemical, and how it has been found in wheat gluten from China."
With the alert, our health officers manning the entry points will be extra careful when wheat gluten is brought into the country.
"If an imported product has wheat gluten, they will take a sample for testing," said Dr Rahim.
If it is tested positive, health officers will direct the importer to destroy the goods — a standard procedure for any contaminated food product.
He said the alert was necessary, even though melamine-tainted wheat gluten had only affected pets.
"We must ensure that it doesn’t enter the human food chain. However, the first line of check is still the Veterinary Services (department)."
Under the Food Act 1983, anyone selling products that are not fit for human consumption can be fined up to RM30,000 and jailed not more than five years.

Over 40% of M’sians have hypertension

Star: KOTA BARU: For every patient in the country diagnosed as having hypertension, two others are not detected because the condition has no symptoms.
In most cases, they only realise they have the chronic ailment after suffering a stroke or a heart attack, said the Malaysian Society of Hypertension.
Describing it as a silent killer, society vice-president Dr Azani Mohamed Daud lamented that by the time the person suffers a stroke or heart attack, it could be too late to treat the ailment.
“At times, it is already fatal,” he added in his address at the national-level World Hypertension Day event at the Sultan Ismail Petra Jubilee Perak Hall here.
The Tengku Mahkota of Kelantan, Tengku Muhammad Faris Petra, opened the one-day programme.
Dr Azani, the resident cardiologist at the Gleneagles Intan Medical centre, said since sufferers do not display symptoms, it was best for everyone aged 30 and above to check if they have it.
Hypertension is usually associated with an increase in blood pressure, brought on by a combination of risk factors from smoking, stress, obesity and lack of exercise.
The society estimates that over 41% of the country’s 26 million population have hypertension.
Dr Azani said there was an increasingly worrying trend of people below 30 linked to hypertension.
“As it is chronic, with no cure currently available, the best medical measures are to control its effects and prevention.
“It is a difficult ailment as there is an increasing level of affliction based on stress which cannot be measured.
“What is stressful for you may not be for me,” he added.

Saturday, May 19, 2007

Nurses From Malaysia Among Participants At Multiple Sclerosis Forum

SINGAPORE, May 18 (Bernama) -- Nurses from several Asia Pacific countries, including Malaysia, are converging here for the inaugural Pan-Asian Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Nurses Forum aimed at promoting a greater level of care towards MS patients.
Event sponsor, Bayer Schering Pharma, said that the two-day forum, which began Friday, would highlight the importance of early treatment and staying on treatment to slow disease progression, stave off disability and give people with MS a better quality of life.
Other issues include the crucial role that MS nurses play in supporting people with MS in treatment, the company said in a statement. MS is a life-long and disabling disease of the central nervous system.
Malaysian MS Society president, Padma Panikker, who was diagnosed with MS at the age of 28, said she was devastated when she was diagnosed with the disease and nearly gave up treatment halfway through.
"But I'm thankful to my nurses for encouraging me to continue with the treatment," she said.
Bayer Schering Pharma said that people with MS might experience fatigue, reduced vision, leg weakness, numbness or tingling in the face, arms, legs or torso, slurred speech and loss of bladder control.
"If left untreated, some may eventually develop severe and irreversible disabilities causing them to becoming totally paralysed, wheelchair-bound and even blind".
The company said new findings showed that immediate treatment of people with early MS, using the disease-modifying therapy "Betaferon", could significantly delay permanent disability.

30 protest over ambulance blunder

Star: SEREMBAN: Some 30 people staged a peaceful demonstration during the funeral of technician Chen Mun Seng in Port Dickson to show their anger with the Health Ministry.
They held placards urging the ministry to carry out an investigation on the Pontian district hospital.
Mun Seng, 35, was rushed to the hospital at 2.30am on May 4 after an accident in Pekan Nenas.
His brother, Boon Yee, said Mun Seng was conscious and had called his friend to tell him about the accident.
“My brother broke his right hand and had injured his intestines. We heard his condition worsened due to the internal injuries but the hospital could not send him to Sultan Aminah Hospital in Johor Baru because the ambulance was out of fuel,” he said.
The ambulance driver only managed to put in some fuel at 6.30am before taking Mun Seng to Johor Baru, he claimed.
“However, after 10 minutes, the ambulance returned to the district hospital to replace the oxygen tank which had been depleted before starting the journey all over again,” Boon Yee said.
“He was placed at the Sultan Aminah Hospital's intensive care unit and underwent four operations but died at 10.30pm on May 15 without regaining consciousness,” he said.
Boon Yee said his brother could have been saved if the ambulance had not run out of petrol.
“Their carelessness cost the life of an innocent victim,” a tearful Boon Yee said.
Employer Shigehiro Miyamae, who attended the funeral, said Mun Seng was a dedicated worker at Ishii Power.
Deputy Johor health director Dr Arbain Lani said an internal inquiry into the matter had begun.
“An ambulance should be ready at all times. We are investigating the matter,” he said.

Friday, May 18, 2007

Penan kids now get measles jabs at six months

Star: KUCHING: Following an outbreak that killed 18 Penan children two years ago, the state health authorities now give measles immunisation to Penan infants when they are six months old.
This is three months earlier than for other children, said state Assistant Public Health Minister Dr Soon Choon Teck.
He added that most cases occurred in communities with low immunisation coverage.
“Besides, these Penans live in cramped and unsanitary conditions with neither proper latrines nor piped water,” he told Liwan Lagang (BN – Belaga) during question time.
Dr Soon said 75% of Penan children below seven years had been immunised against measles, considered a severe disease among very young and malnourished children.
He said that in the outbreak two years ago, one death was recorded at the Bintulu Hospital while the others occurred at Penan settlements in Long Urun, Long Menapa and Long Singu in the Murum and Asap areas.
Of 161 children admitted to the Bintulu Hospital, 154 were Penans. The others were Kayans, Kenyahs and Ibans.
Dr Soon said that after the outbreak, medical teams carried out mass immunisation for all Penan children and all school children in Belaga, Kapit and Bintulu.
Assistant Urban Development and Tourism Minister Hamden Ahmad told Violet Yong (DAP – Pending) that the state government had approved RM23.6mil and the federal government RM8.2mil for subsistence payments to the poor and needy statewide this year.
He said more than 12,000 public assistance recipients would receive over RM25mil while financial aid worth RM1.1mil would be given out to children, RM4.8mil to the aged and RM500,000 to disabled workers.

Smokers stub out habit, thanks to clinic

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Government officer Zari Effendi Ruzali, who used to be a smoker, will now proudly say “Tak Nak!” when offered a cigarette.
Zari is among 54 people who have quit smoking for a year after signing up for the “Quit Smoking Clinic” at the Tanglin Community Polyclinic here last year. A total of 151 people had signed up for the programme.
“When I was 13, I was curious about smoking and got addicted. After a decade of smoking, I constantly felt tired, weak and sometimes had difficulty breathing,” said Zari, adding that he now felt healthier.
Kuala Lumpur public health deputy director Dr Sallehudin Abu Bakar said the clinic exposed smokers to various nicotine replacement therapy methods such as nicotine gum, inhaler and nicotine patches. They were also given a lot of moral support to quit their habit.
Certificates were handed out to those who had quit smoking at a ceremony held in conjunction with World No Tobacco Day on May 31.

Thursday, May 17, 2007

PNC Nursing College Into 2nd Phase Of Development

NILAI, May 16 (Bernama) -- The PNC International College of Nursing and Health Sciences (PNC) is into its second phase of development on a 3.8ha adjacent land and expected to be completed by 2008.
PNC is a subsidiary of KPJ Healthcare Bhd, one of Malaysia's largest healthcare service providers listed on the main board of Bursa Malaysia. The third phase covering 10ha will be completed by 2010.
KPJ Healthcare Bhd managing director Datin Paduka Siti Sa'diah Sheikh Bakir said by that time, PNC expected to train more than 8,000 students at any one time in various healthcare-related disciplines, from throughout the country and the region.
"With this sound growth and having applied to the Ministry of Higher Education, PNC also aspires to be upgraded to university college status and be named KPJ Healthcare University College before the year-end," she said after the launching of its new campus by Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed in Kota Seriemas here.
Also present was Johor Corporation chief executive and KPJ Healthcare Bhd chairman Tan Sri Muhammad Ali Hashim.
PNC's purpose-built new campus, is a fruition of the smart partnership between Island & Peninsula and PNC to provide quality nursing and allied health training in line with the government's aspiration to make Malaysia a hub for healthcare and educational excellence.
The college has 30 experienced teaching staff and is equipped with lecture theatres and auditoriums, tutorial rooms ,laboratories, a spacious library, cafeteria and full student residential facilities on a 2.6ha site. It can now accommodate more than 1,000 students.
Siti Sa'diah said with expansion, PNC hoped to have at least 20 per cent of its student population comprising international students by 2011.
She said this year, PNC also planned to open its branch campus in Johor Baharu to meet the increasing demand for nurses and allied health professionals in the rapidly developing southern region.
"With the commitment and support of KPJ's 17 local hospitals with more than 500 medical consultants and over 5,500 staff, PNC has a strong competitive edge in providing comprehensive clinical education and practical experience to students," she added.
To date, PNC has produced more than 1,800 graduates in both basic and post-basic programmes, while 1,100 students are undergoing its courses at the moment.

Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Malaysia taking steps to meet health issues

Star: GENEVA: Investing in human capital development and the capabilities of Malaysia’s laboratories are among the steps being taken to meet challenges posed by infectious diseases and disasters, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
He said training and infrastructure development were key areas to be addressed in meeting the challenges.
This, he said, included equipping the ministry’s Crisis Preparedness and Response Command Centre with teleconferencing to facilitate local, regional and international communication if the need arose.
“Vaccine procurement and development are also areas that we are paying attention to,” he said in his speech at the 60th World Health Organisation Assembly here yesterday.
“Malaysia has and will continue to play its role to further strengthen international health security.”
Dr Chua said the world faced many challenges in health security with emerging and re-emerging infections, natural and man-made disasters, as well as human conflicts.
He said the world would continue to see devastation caused by tsunamis, earthquakes and floods and their impact on the health of those affected.
Other issues of concern were biological, chemical and radiological toxic wastes, their unsafe use and disposal.
Dr Chua also said that rapid modes of transport, increased travel and trade and increasing international migration of people contributed to the spread of diseases such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and avian flu.
Stating that Malaysia had contributed US$1mil (RM3.4mil) for global polio eradication, he reiterated the country’s commitment to working with the WHO in strengthening health security.
Malaysia, he said, had and would continue to take steps to enforce the International Health Regulations such as introducing new legislation to regulate the import and export of human remains, human tissues and pathogenic organisms and substances.

Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Children are not picky about food, just not that hungry

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: You may think your child is a picky eater, but is he really? And if she is a picky eater, why?
Children need different amounts of food at different stages of their growth.
And with the best intentions in the world, we often try to feed our children too much.
When they refuse, we think they are being picky, but actually they’re just not hungry, says an American paediatrics professor.
"Many parents run to the paediatrician complaining that their children are picky eaters because they don’t eat as much as they did when they were infants or toddlers," said Ohio State University clinical professor of paediatrics Dr William MacLean.
But if everyone ate as much as they did at infancy, everyone would be ridiculously obese, he added.
He also said working mothers did not always realise how much food their children were actually eating.
"Babysitters, maids, grandmothers and even fathers give them snacks. Sometimes, they have a late, heavy lunch.
"So when mum comes home from work and her child doesn’t want any dinner, she thinks he’s not eating enough. She shouldn’t panic. She should ask how much the child has eaten," Dr MacLean said at a media briefing entitled Picky Eating; A Growing Concern that Cannot be Ignored.
He said certain medical conditions could lead to picky eating and should be investigated but often the parents were just trying too hard to get their child to eat.
Let the child eat by herself at her own speed, even if she does make a mess.
If the child is still too young to eat by herself, give him a time out and wait for a while if she refuses to eat.
He said it was important for the child to have a pleasant eating experience so that she wouldn’t associate mealtimes with bad things.
He also stressed that parents should be practical when it came to their children’s growth.
"Some children are skinnier than others, while others are shorter than the rest.
"Most don’t have trouble gaining weight over time. Some children come from parents who are shorter than other parents.
"Growth depends a lot on genetic potential," he said, adding that supplements could not replace nutritionally-balanced meals.
He said parents should keep track and measure the child’s weight and height to see if it was normal for her age.
If a problem arises, the measurements can help doctors determine whether or not the child could have an eating disorder.
MacLean has been a nutritional consultant for the United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation in Rome and is the Scientific Advisory Board member for the Nutrition Research Institute of Peru.
The briefing was organised by Abbott Nutrition.

Paying tribute to Florence Nightingales

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: "Once a nurse, forever a nurse". This has been the guiding principle of retired matron Zubaidah Mohd Said, throughout her 33-year nursing career.
Today, at the golden age of 70 and walking with some difficulty, she is still a picture of calmness and inspiration as she received an award in the service category in conjunction with the International Nurses Day 2007 yesterday.
Zubaidah’s illustrious career began in 1960 when she was a staff nurse at the General Hospital in Kuala Lumpur.
She rose through the ranks to become a nursing sister and worked in district hospitals in Klang and Taiping before her posting to the Kuala Lumpur General Hospital.
Prior to her retirement in 1989, she was the assistant principal matron of the nursing division in the Ministry of Health.
Instead of enjoying a quiet retirement, she served as a consultant under Perunding Alam Bina for the Malacca Hospital for three years before becoming the director of nursing at the Subang Medical Centre until 1994.
To Zubaidah, the award was the best birthday present as she turns 71, in August.
"It is also the best present for Mothers Day and, of course, International Nurses Day," she said.
She reminded nurses not to be too absorbed in technology to the extent that they lose the human touch.
Lee Siew Hoon, 72, meanwhile, is a shining example of the importance of lifelong learning.
The winner in the education category stressed that nurses needed to be innovative to progress in their careers.
"They should not remain static. At the age of 67, I decided to pursue my Master’s in Public Health and graduated in 2002."
Lee, who is now the deputy chairman of the Malaysian Nursing Foundation, had initiated the formation of the Malaysian Nurses Association.
She had also served as the secretary and vice-president of the association in the past.
This sprightly Florence Nightingale is still involved in research in the nursing field through the Malaysian Nursing Foundation.
The third award recipient was 59-year-old matron Mariam Madhar Ali who was recognised for her outstanding service to the community.
She is a counsellor at shelters for abused women and children in Negri Sembilan.
"My greatest satisfaction was when I was working in the rural and remote areas in the ’70s and ’80s. The women were reluctant to go to the hospitals to deliver their babies.
"When we managed to get them to the hospitals and delivered their babies safely, it was immensely satisfying."
She does not recall any unhappy moments in her career.
"I wanted to do my job well as a nurse and that in itself was satisfying."
Mariam also paid tribute to her husband Abdul Razak Yaacob, a retired human resource manager, whom she said had always supported her where her career was concerned.
"When I had to work in the remote areas, he took care of the kids and this would go on for days.
"He also encouraged me to improve myself and because of him I furthered my studies," she said.