Saturday, June 30, 2007

More men taking up nursing now

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Don’t be surprised when the next time you are in a hospital and you call for a nurse, a man shows up instead.
This is because more men have joined the traditionally female-dominated profession.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said more men were beginning to take up nursing as a career and that it was untrue that the profession was monopolised by women.
Dr Abdul Latiff said that from the yearly intake of some 3,000 trainee nurses, about 10% were males.
“These figures are from the ministry and there are a lot more male nurses who go for private training.
“There is a need for more male nurses in certain aspects of the services,” he told a press conference after launching the 1st International Nursing Congress 2007 at a hotel here yesterday.
The theme of the three-day congress organised by the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre is Innovations in Nursing: Trends, Issues and Strategies.
Dr Abdul Latiff said more nurses should pursue higher education and aim for Masters or PhD qualifications in the field and not just stop at diploma level.
“It is better to have mature and responsible nurses,'' he said.
He added that most countries around the world faced a shortage of nurses and Malaysia was no exception, as many trained nurses hopped over to the private sector or went overseas due to better salaries.

New bat virus detected

Star: MALACCA: Malaysian scientists have discovered a new bat virus, called the Melaka Virus, which causes respiratory illness in humans.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said that a team of scientists from the ministry, led by Dr Chua Kaw Bing, had discovered the virus through study and research.
Kaw Bing said the virus was first spotted when a 39-year-old man living in the suburban area near Bemban complained of high fever, cough, sore throat and runny nose in May last year.
“The disease then spread to his two children and wife.
“At the moment, these are the four known patients who were infected. With medication and treatment, however, they have since recovered.
“We then found out that the family had been exposed to a bat which flew into the house about a week before the man started falling ill, and we believe that the bat could have been the cause of the disease,” said Kaw Bing.
The disease was spread through water droplets, he added.
The symptoms of the disease, Kaw Bing said, were high fever for about four days, a temperature of up to 41°C, cough, runny nose, fatigue and a swollen throat that makes swallowing painful.
“Analysis indicated a close genetic relationship between the Melaka Virus and the Pulau Virus, which was isolated in 1999 from fruit bats in Pulau Tioman.
“Screening collected from human volunteers on the island revealed that 14 out of 109 people (13%) tested were positive for both Pulau and Melaka viruses,” said Kaw Bing.
The minister said that a joint research on the virus would be conducted by the Institute for Medical Research, the National Public Health Laboratory and the Australian Animal Health Laboratory to develop laboratory diagnostics, surveillance and viral pathogenesis.
“In Malaysia we are always monitoring contagious diseases because we pay attention to the World Health Organisation’s (WHO) warning that there is a possibility of a new virus appearing each year.
“Therefore, surveillance and monitoring through our chain of clinics are very important,” he told newsmen after launching the Know Your Medicine campaign at Dataran Pahlawan Mega Mall here yesterday.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Tough task against VIP smokers

Star: SUNGAI SIPUT: Please Yang Berhormat, this is a no-smoking zone.
Health officers are finding it an uphill task to enforce the ruling on VIPs, including elected representatives, found smoking in smoke-free areas.
“We want to respect them by not issuing summonses against them. But if we don’t do that, we'll be seen as not doing our duty,” Perak Health Department director Datuk Dr Ahmad Razin Ahmad Mahir said.
He said this after the opening of the state-level joint celebration of TB (tuberculosis) Day and a Week Without Tobacco campaign.
Dr Ahmad Razin declined to elaborate when asked how many of such “difficult situations” his enforcement officers had come across.
He noted that several measures had been taken to ensure public places were smoke-free.
Among them were ensuring that indoor public places and work places be gazetted 100% smoke-free, he added.
Earlier, state Health, Human Resources and Environment Committee chairman Datuk Tan Chin Meng said statistics last year showed that one out of two men aged between 25 and 64 were smokers.
“This group represents 2.9 million (or 93.5%) of the 3.1 million smokers in the country,” he said.

High blood pressure tops list of ailments

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: High blood pressure tops the list of ailments suffered by Malaysians, according to a health survey.
The Reader’s Digest Asian health survey indicates that 61.6% of Malaysian respondents are affected by high blood pressure followed by high cholesterol (48.2%), obesity (40.7%) and diabetes (36.6%).
The survey also indicated that sight problems affected 35.3% of the respondents, arthritis (23.4%), insomnia (20.8%), osteoporosis (15.5%), depression (12.9%) and cancer (9.8%).
A statement by Reader’s Digest yesterday said 60.8% of Malaysian respondents indicated that they were in good health, the highest in Asia, 9.7% revealed excellent health and only 2.1% said they were of poor health.
“Though they rate their health as healthy, 40.7% are actually affected by weight and obesity problems,” the statement added.
The survey also indicated that 63.3% of Malaysian respondents knew quite a lot about awareness of health conditions and treatment available whereby 40% would consider going overseas for medical treatment.
The survey that cut across seven nations in Asia – Hong Kong, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Taiwan, Thailand and the Philippines – attracted more than 24,000 respondents from across the region.
Urbanites in these markets were asked a total of 26 questions pertaining to their health and ailments as well as the use of medicine and remedies.

Chua welcomes MMA proposal

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek welcomed the proposal to set up a one-stop centre for the public to send information on bogus doctors.
“It’s a good idea. We need to study the details about the matter first,” he told newsmen at the Parliament lobby yesterday.
Dr Chua was commenting on the Malaysian Medical Association’s proposal that the Health Ministry provide a call centre and an SMS number which will help the public to lodge complaints on suspicious treatment or bogus doctors.

Round-the-clock medics from August

Star: MALACCA: Medical personnel will be stationed round the clock in national service camps nationwide from August as an extra measure to look into the welfare of trainees.
National Service Training Council chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said there would be three medical assistants and two nurses working in shifts in each of the 80 camps.
The Health Ministry, he said, would deploy the 240 medical assistants and 190 nurses required for the time being.
The NS Department would apply for the posts to be filled by the Public Services Department in September
“The Government has allocated RM20mil for this purpose. Parents need not worry because the trainees’ health and welfare will be our highest priority,” said Lee when launching the year's third NS training session at the Kem Hutan Rekreasi Ayer Keroh here yesterday.
Lee also urged camp commandants and trainers to ensure that training sessions were accident-free by showing higher commitment in carrying out their duties.
“In the second session, there were no accidents or deaths reported, and that can be considered an achievement.
“I hope that this batch too, will be accident-free.
“But if something does happen, the trainees’ welfare will be looked into as they are covered by insurance,” he said.

Thursday, June 28, 2007

MMA: Set up centre for public to send SMSes

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has proposed the setting up of a “one-stop call centre” for the public to send SMSes on suspicious treatment and bogus doctors.
Its immediate past president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said that an SMS number, which was easy to remember, would benefit the public which was still confused over which agency to lodge complaints to.
“They still get mixed up and they call up MMA to complain. So, we refer them to the correct numbers. There should be an easier way,” he said.
He was commenting on a statement by Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican that an additional 69 officers had been requested for to conduct raids nationwide on bogus doctors.
Dr Teoh said that while certified doctors should always display their annual practising certificate, locum doctors could face a problem if they do a last-minute stand-in.
Subsequently, he said that it was the responsibility of the “incumbent” doctors of the clinics to ensure that their locums already had the APC.
He suggested that it be sufficient for MMA members to carry their membership cards as proof.

Addiction that’s not to be sniffed at

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: More children and teenagers are getting addicted, so let’s expedite the process of making glue-sniffing an offence, said National Association for the Prevention of Drug Abuse (Pemadam).
“Glue is a substance which is cheap and easy to buy, making it popular for the young to get “high” on.
“We all know this phenomenon is nothing new and the number of glue addicts is increasing,” Pemadam secretary-general Datuk Kamilia Ibrahim said.
She noted the difficulty in completely banning glue, which is commonly used in many businesses such as in bicycle shops.
“Continuous use of glue leads to brain damage and even failure of the kidneys and liver,” she said at the pre-launch of the Anti-Glue Sniffing Campaign.
The campaign is held in conjunction with the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking 2007.
“The sad fact is that children have died from it.
“Last year, three teenagers in Cheras were found dead as a result of continuous glue-sniffing,” she said.
Less than two months ago, two street kids, aged seven and nine, were found slumped among paper boxes near a rubbish dump next to a shopping complex in Miri. Cans of tyre glue were found near them.
Kamilia said social problems and stress were the main causes of children and even adults adopting glue-sniffing.
Asked on the number of addicts in the country, she said it was hard to determine as many cases went unreported and that glue-sniffing is not considered an illegal act.
She said 75 cases were detected between 2000 and 2005.

Pathology Laboratory Act To Adopt International Standards

KUALA LUMPUR, June 27 (Bernama) -- Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek today tabled for second reading in the Dewan Rakyat the Pathology Laboratory Bill 2007 which seeks to adopt international standards in the supervision and control of 200 private pathology laboratories and 90 pathology laboratories in private hospitals.
He told reporters afterwards that the pathology laboratories, classified under anatomy, chemical, medical microbiology and haemotology, would provide accurate and reliable laboratory results.
"At the moment, there is no legislation on the control of pathology laboratories, resulting in anyone being able to set up such a laboratory," he said.
The new act will provide for the supervision and control of pathology laboratories set up by individuals, partnerships, companies and statutory bodies.
A pathology laboratory is a facility that tests human tissues or fluids with the aim of prevention, diagnosis or treatment of diseases.

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Cop's wife becomes first dengue fatality in Penang

NST: GEORGE TOWN: A policeman’s wife has become the first dengue fatality in Penang this year.
State Health Committee chairman P.K. Subbaiyah said the victim, a 40-year old housewife, died at the Penang Hospital late last month.
Following the death, the authorities have beefed up cleanliness at a police barrack where the victim stayed and its surrounding neighbourhood.
Subbaiyah said he had a meeting with the state Health Department and the police chief of the affected area and told them to clean up the place.
Declining to state where it was, Subbaiyah said the area had been identified as an Aedes breeding ground for quite some time.
"They have cleaned up the whole area and it is no longer an outbreak area now," he said yesterday.
He said several dengue hot spots had been identified, namely Taman Lip Sin, Cangkat Minden and Sungai Ara on the island and Taman Pelangi on mainland Prai.

Sarawak on bird flu alert

NST: KUCHING: Sarawak is on high alert after a "very serious" case of bird flu was detected in Kalimantan, Indonesia.
Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said yesterday that all poultry products brought in from Kalimantan would be confiscated at the border.
Dr Chan said the police and army would be called in to mount roadblocks to check the smuggling of poultry and its products across the border.
"The smugglers will be charged in court," he said, adding that a fine of RM50,000 or two years’ jail, or both, await anyone convicted of smuggling poultry under the Public Health Ordinance 1999.
Dr Chan, the state Disaster and Relief Management Committee chairman, said the stringent measures were necessary as poultry in Sarawak was not vaccinated against bird flu, unlike in Kalimantan.
He said the veterinary department had placed its rapid action teams on standby in the event of a bird flu outbreak. They would be sent out immediately if a case was reported.
He warned poultry farmers to report to the Veterinary Department if three per cent of their poultry die from bird flu.
"The government also wants those who rear kampung chickens to report to the authorities if any of their birds die of suspected flu."
He said they risk being fined RM500 if they fail to report bird flu deaths.

Hospital: Yes, baby hurt during operation

NST: SEREMBAN: The Tuanku Jaafar Hospital has acknowledged that three-month-old Nur Alya Sabrina Ruzaimi’s head was cut during a Caesarian section.
But, it said, the baby’s father Ruzaimi Mahadi was immediately informed and the wound was and continues to be treated.
In a statement yesterday, state health director Dr Azman Abu Bakar said "a superficial laceration, about 2cm in length", was found at the back of Nur Alya Sabrina’s head while the baby was in the special care nursery. She was admitted because her 27-year-old mother Nurazian Yaacob was diabetic.
He said a dermatologist dismissed the initial diagnosis of a congenital skin defect, and a diagnosis of a "traumatic laceration wound following the Caesarian section" was then made. The surgeon and dermatologist decided to treat the wound with antibiotics and daily dressing as there was no active bleeding.
"A full explanation about the lesion and the cause was immediately given to the father," Dr Azman said.
Nur Alya Sabrina was discharged on March 12 but she was re-admitted on March 14 for fever and jaundice.
"She was discharged two weeks later, and the parents were told to bring her for a review of her jaundice on April 9. She was found to be in good condition and the wound was healing well," Dr Azman said.
He said during a check of the wound on April 16, the attending doctor noted that it was gaping and the baby was referred to a surgeon.
An operation was done on June 12 on Nur Alya Sabrina, and the parents discharged her a few hours later against medical advice.
He said six days later, the surgeon noticed that Nur Alya Sabrina’s wound was infected so the stitches were removed and the wound dressed.
"Nur Alya Sabrina came in for a check-up on June 22 and the wound appeared clean."

Move to weed out bogus docs

Star: PETALING JAYA: Bogus doctors beware. The Health Ministry will have more eyes to weed out the impostors and ensure that they do not cheat the public.
Its director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said an additional 69 officers have been requested for next year to beef up the present squad, which conducts raids nationwide on bogus doctors.
The strength of enforcement officers for clinics currently stands at 60 with 52 posts already filled up.
“The number of officers has been beefed up ever since the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act came into force. They have an additional role now,” Dr Ismail told The Star.
“We have done much more in the last year when it comes to action being taken against bogus doctors.”
Dr Ismail said that although surprise checks were conducted on clinics, the officers were also sent out based on public complaints.
“Of course, we do not bombard the clinics but raids are also based on tip-offs,” he added.
The public, he stressed, could play their part by reporting doctors to the ministry if they suspected something amiss besides helping the ministry to pinpoint those who could be guilty.
Dr Ismail said that among the signs they could look out for are: if the doctor seems hesitant to order an investigation to be done for a certain condition or seems uneasy to make a diagnosis.
“They can always demand for a doctor to produce their APC (annual practising certificate) and if the doctor cannot do that, they should be on the alert,” he added.
One of the most recent raids was on a clinic in Johor Baru, where a doctor who was believed to be unregistered and sold sleeping pills to drug users, was instead found to be holding a baby “hostage” after her parents failed to pay a RM985 bill.

Fast-food firms get more time over content display

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Fast-food companies are being given more time before they have to display the nutritional content of their food in large print on wrappers and on displays in their outlets.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said yesterday that the companies were being given leeway of between four and six months to inform customers of the content of the food they sold.
“We have to give them (the fast-food operators) time for the labelling because we have to verify the content. It is not easy to calculate the content of burgers,” he told reporters yesterday after attending the presentation of excellence service awards at his ministry.
“We hope it will be done between four and six months. This is education and in the end, the consumer will have to choose. We have nothing against fast food. We only want Malaysians to be educated and not just because the food is nice, we keep on eating without caring about our needs.”
Last week, the Cabinet decided that fast-food companies would be banned from sponsoring television shows for children or advertising on children’s programmes and made it compulsory for all fast-food companies to disclose the cholesterol, fat and sugar content of the food they sell on their product labels.
Dr Chua added that the ministry would continue to educate Malaysians about such food through its public health education programme and hoped that non-governmental organisations and the public would support the effort.
“Public health education is a continuous process,” he added.
On the ban, he said that relevant agencies including the Association of Accredited Advertising Agencies Malaysia and fast-food companies would discuss its implementation with the ministry’s Food Safety and Quality Division.

Samy: We have asked for GH maintenance service

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Works Ministry had proposed more than a year ago for a “facility management” service to maintain 14 general hospitals.
However, this did not come about due to the unwillingness of certain agencies, minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu alleged.
“They seemed unwilling and kept saying they had enough staff to handle it.
“So, it has been 13 months and there is still no go-ahead from them,” he told reporters yesterday.
Samy Vellu said the Finance Ministry had given its approval for the Public Works Department to carry out the facility management at the hospitals.
Clarifying points raised by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek regarding the Pekan Hospital in Pahang, he said the PWD received a fax from the hospital on June 14 about a leak from the water tank.
However, checks by health workers, hospital representatives and the hospital’s support service found no leak.
Samy Vellu said drips occurred because rainwater had settled below the water tank, which was placed on top of an open roof.
“The time the water had remained there caused it to seep through the ceiling at the stairs, near the tank’s location.
“Seepage did not occur in any other area and it definitely did not leak in the men’s ward, as was reported in the newspapers.”
Samy Vellu said that during Dr Chua’s visit to the hospital (on Friday), the wall had not been painted over yet as it was damp.
Regarding complaints about the oxygen gas pipes, he said a problem arose because the contractor was in the midst of talks with the oxygen supplier, Gas Pantai Timur.
He said that following a June 15 meeting, it was decided that the hospital would use oxygen cylinders until the main oxygen tanks were ready.
Regarding medical equipment which was not supplied, he said the producer had stopped production for specifications ordered by the hospital.

No Leakage, Only Seepage Of Rain Water, Says Samy Vellu

KUALA LUMPUR, June 26 (Bernama) -- There is no leakage at the male ward of the Pekan Hospital, what had happened was that a pool of rain water had collected below a water tank atop the ward, which later had seeped down the staircase located near it, said Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu.
Clarifying the matter Tuesday, he said two engineers from the ministry's Occupational Health Division together with representatives from the contractor involved and Radicare (the government hospitals support services company), made the findings after conducting thorough checks there on June 15.
"Three days after that, the contractor's workers cleared up the water pool and the seepage stopped," he told reporters after witnessing the concession signing agreement for the Eastern Dispersal Link (EDL) in Johor Baharu between his ministry and Malaysian Resources Corporation Berhad (MRCB), here.
On Friday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek when making a visit to the new hospital had expressed his dissatisfaction that such a problem had occurred.
Samy Vellu said that when Chua made the visit, the water marks were still on the walls because they had yet to be re-painted owing to they being damp.
"The surfaces of the walls affected must be really dry to ensure quality paintwork," he said.
On problems with the oxygen supply system at the hospital, Samy Vellu said the system had been fully completed and certified by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health (DOSH).
"The actual situation is that the contractor is still in the process of sourcing the oxygen for the hospital from Syarikat Gas Pantai Timur, which is the sole supplier of gases for all government hospitals in the country," he said.
He said the hospital's management had been informed about this on June 15 and that filling of the oxygen tanks at it would be done within two weeks from the date.
"The management had also agreed to use oxygen supplied in cylinders in the interim," he said.
Samy Vellu further said that discussions were ongoing with the project consultants, suppliers and the hospital's management on the new specifications for certain equipment and spares needed for it and that this matter should be resolved in about a month.
"Equipment not supplied yet are support equipment for the hospital's laboratory. The hospital also knows the manufacturer has ceased making them as per the specifications required," he said,
The minister added that the Public Works Department (PWD) would continue monitoring the hospital to ensure it is an a good state and address any complaints received quickly as it is still under the warranty period.
Construction of the Pekan Hospital began in 2001 and should have been completed in 2003 but after a number of postponements, it was finally delivered to the Health Ministry by the PWD on March 27 this year.
It commenced operations on May 1.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Prevention, control key to dengue war

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: A two-pronged approach based on prevention and control can effectively stem the dengue scourge in the country.
Health Ministry deputy director of disease control (vector) Dr Azmi Hashim said among others, preventing the Aedes mosquito, which is the primary conduit of dengue, from breeding and avoiding being bitten were good preventive measures.
Control, on the other hand, involves curbing the spread of the disease.
"One way to control the disease is by restricting an infected person’s movements to prevent the Aedes mosquito from biting him or her. An Aedes mosquito can only spread dengue when it bites someone who is already infected with the disease."
Dr Azmi said prevention was the best way to combat the disease because it would save time and money spent to treat victims.

Some methods of prevention include:
• Keeping one’s surroundings clean and free from containers that could hold water and become breeding places for the Aedes mosquito;
• Wearing long-sleeve shirts and long pants to avoid being bitten;
• Avoiding outdoor activities during peak feeding hours for Aedes mosquitoes (6am to 8am and 5pm to 8pm);
• Using insecticide spray in the house to kill adult mosquitoes; and,
• Using larvicide (chemical used to kill mosquito larvae) in ponds, water tanks or any other water containers in the house.
Active case detection measures should also be carried out, where health officials would visit those living in the same area as a dengue patient to ascertain whether they were exhibiting symptoms of dengue.

Trace patients who defaulted on bills, hospitals told

Star: MUAR: The Health Ministry wants hospitals to trace patients who defaulted on paying their bills after being discharged.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said this was important because some patients needed follow-up treatment after they are released.
He said about 10% of hospital bills, amounting to between RM15mil and RM20mil, are not paid by defaulter patients every year. He urged hospitals to send officers to track them.
His remarks followed an incident at the Alor Star Hospital, where a patient left with a stent tube inside her in November 2004.
Rusinah Yatim had to undergo surgery recently to remove the tube.
Dr Chua said that if there had been some tracking, the hospital would not have faced the problem.
Clarifying events that led to the patient’s complication, he said that according to the Kedah health department and the hospital director, she left the ward two days after the operation.
“I believe the reports, as the patient did not take along her discharge slip and her follow-up treatment schedules. She had also not paid the hospital bill,” he said.
Dr Chua added that the hospital had tried to contact the patient by phone and via SMS but to no avail.

Monday, June 25, 2007

Parents mull legal action over cut on infant's head

NST: SEREMBAN: A mother’s joy at giving birth to a baby daughter turned into horror when her husband discovered a deep cut on the back of the infant’s head.
Norazian Yaacob, a 27-year-old housewife, claimed her baby had suffered the cut during a Caesarean section.
The wound on the back of Nur Alya Sabrina’s head has now become larger as it is now infected.
"As I am a diabetic and had a problem during the delivery of my second child, I had requested a Caesarean section," said Norazian at her house in Taman Desa Chembong near here.
She said she underwent the surgery on the night of March 8 and the next day, she was told by her husband, Ruzaimi Mahadi, 28, that there was a cut at the back of their daughter’s head.
"When my husband met the doctor who performed the surgery, she told my husband that the cut could have happened while the baby was still in the womb," Norazian said.
However, her husband, who is self-employed, told the doctor that was not possible as the cut looked like it was caused by a sharp object.
"Only later did the doctor say that she was not sure how the cut could have happened and that it was possible that it had happened during the Caesarean section," Norazian said.
She said Nur Alya Sabrina was discharged from the hospital a few days later but the baby would not stop crying.
"When we took her for a medical check-up at the Rembau health clinic on March 14, we were told that the cut was infected. We were also told to take her to the hospital, which we did on the same day," said Norazian.
When they got to the hospital, Norazian and her husband met three doctors — the doctor who had performed the Caesarean section, an obstetrician and a paediatrician.
All three allegedly told them that there was no need for the cut to be sutured as it would heal on its own.
"Our baby was warded for two weeks before she was allowed to go home," said Norazian, adding that she and her husband had also lodged a police report.
She said when she took Nur Alya Sabrina for a follow-up treatment last month, the doctor told her that the wound now needed to be sutured as excess flesh had formed around it.
"The procedure was set for later that month but it was postponed until June 12. However, a week after the procedure, the stitches were infected and had to be removed and cleaned," said Norazian, adding that now, the wound had to be cleaned every day.
She said she and her husband had written a letter of complaint to the director of the hospital.
"We received a reply, which was signed by the director, in which he apologised and said the doctor who performed the Caesarean section had been reprimanded," Norazian said.
The couple is now considering legal action against the hospital.

House owners to blame for dengue

NST: KUALA LUMPUR, Mon : House owners, not developers, are the biggest culprits responsible for creating mosquito-breeding grounds.
In the past six months, the Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) health directorate has issued more than 300 compounds amounting to about RM31,000 in fines to offenders.
"Almost 90 per cent of the compounds were issued to house owners and only a handful of the offenders were developers," said MPSJ president Adnan Md Ikhsan at the launch of the Ridsect anti-dengue campaign in Seri Kembangan yesterday.
Also present were Seri Kembangan state assemblyman Datuk Liew Kuen Yeong, Sara Lee Malaysia and Singapore president Shashank Sinha and MPSJ health director Dr Abdul Rahim Ahmad.
Adnan said home owners were fined RM100 for each mosquito breeding ground detected on their premises.
Developers and contractors can be fined RM500 for each mosquito breeding ground found at construction sites.
The Aedes mosquito is the carrier of the dengue virus.
In the first week of this year, Adnan said 159 suspected dengue cases were recorded in areas under MPSJ and 95 of them tested positive for dengue.
"Last week, we only recorded 19 suspected dengue cases, with 11 of them confirmed positive.
"Many measures are being taken to check the spread of dengue including cleaning-up exercises and fogging," he said.
Earlier, Liew urged Seri Kembangan residents to work together to curb dengue.
"We hope Seri Kembangan can achieve zero dengue status by the end of the year with the help and commitment of the residents."
Sara Lee, the marketer of Ridsect, has trained five Ridsect rangers in Seri Kembangan who are volunteer anti-dengue leaders in their communities.
The rangers were given information on the dengue virus and its dangers. They were also given training to help them spot potential mosquito breeding grounds, use pesticide products effectively and conduct gotong-royong activities.
Under the Ridsect anti-dengue campaign, more than 500 homes in five neighbourhoods, including Taman Serdang Jaya and Taman Universiti Indah, will be inspected and judged based on their cleanliness and their adherence to zero tolerance of the dengue threat.
The cleanest neighbourhood will receive RM4,000, the second-placed winner will get RM2,000, third-placed winner will bag RM1,000 and the fourth and fifth-placed winners RM500 each.
According to the World Health Organisation, some 50 million dengue cases are recorded worldwide each year.

Looming ‘threat’ of defensive medicine

NST: KUALA LUMPUR, Mon: It is frightening to imagine a time when doctors will not perform high-risk surgery due to the possibility of legal action.
But this may not be as far off in Malaysia as one may think with more doctors preferring to be "safe than sorry".
A significant minority of doctors are understood to be watching their backs when it comes to diagnoses, tests and therapeutics — to avoid being sued.
Consultant cardiologist Dr David K.L. Quek said "defensive medicine is a deviation from good medical practice".
"Ultimately, patients would be shortchanged and be on the losing end as doctors may be overly cautious. For example, a doctor may not want to perform risky surgery that a patient needs."
He felt that there was a real possibility of this happening in Malaysia with the landmark decision in February by the Federal Court in the case of Foo Fio Na v Dr Soo Fook Mun and Assunta Hospital.
The judge ruled that the doctor had a duty to explain any and all risks and information concerning any medical decision or therapeutic option no matter how remote they could be.
(Foo underwent unsuccessful surgery which resulted in the loss of use of her limbs).
Dr Quek said the implication of the judgment was that defensive medicine might become the standard practice with doctors unwilling to treat serious diseases for fear of litigation.
He was a speaker at the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM) International Healthcare Conference 2007 at the Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, which ended yesterday.
"The cost of professional indemnity may escalate and medical experts’ opinions may be more difficult to produce or substantiate to the standards required or acceptable to the courts.
"The cost of health care will escalate, with more back-up tests being performed."
Dr Quek said that if defensive medicine continued, research and experimental therapies would be increasingly difficult to embark upon as specialists might want to avoid risks.
A study among doctors in the United States found that 93 per cent who were in high-risk specialties practised defensive medicine while 43 per cent reported using imaging technology although it was unnecessary. He said that although most local doctors may never experience medico-legal problems, the litigation climate had changed.
"More complaints and cases are being tested for negligence or medical accidents. I would think to the tune of affecting about 500 out of 17,000 doctors per year."
In some cases, patients could be looking for "blood money" or retributive compensation.
"But sometimes, bad things just happen. It is good if every doctor is confident that his or her practice is always safe and conscientiously and dutifully performed ... but unforeseen circumstances do occur," he said.
On the issue of the patient’s consent, Dr Quek said patients had a right to information about their condition and treatment options that were available.
"Before major procedures, patients must be told the possible complications that could occur after the surgery so that there are no surprises particularly since eventualities such as intensive care could be expensive and long-drawn," he said.
Lawyer Darryl Goon said doctors should itemise treatments and risks to minimise legal suits.
They should have a witness present when the patient is signing a consent form and ensure that patients understood them.

Patient did not settle hospital bills

NST: ALOR STAR, Mon: The Alor Star Hospital said a patient, who claimed doctors had left a plastic tube in her abdomen after surgery in 2004, discharged herself and did not settle the bills.
Hospital staff tried to contact Rusinah Yatim as she was supposed to have had the tube removed two weeks after undergoing the surgery, but failed.
In a statement yesterday, Kedah Health Department director Dr Hasnah Ismail said a nurse contacted the patient’s mobile phone and also sent an SMS.
"The hospital called to give her the discharge slip and appointment card but there was no reply."
Dr Hasnah said Rusinah left the hospital on Nov 30, 2004, two days after undergoing surgery to remove renal stones.
Doctors placed a plastic tube,known as a Double J Stent, into her left ureter to ensure the passageway was constantly open and not clogged.
Dr Hasnah said the stent should remain not more than three months after the surgery.
The mother of four claimed doctors had been negligent in failing to remove the tube, causing her great pain.
She underwent another surgery on Thursday to remove the tube after her problem was diagnosed by the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital in Sungai Petani.
Rusinah is mulling taking legal action against the Alor Star Hospital.
Dr Hasnah said when Rusinah could not be contacted, the discharge slip and appointment card was posted the same night to her house in Taman Seri Aman, Bedong.
She said the patient also did not make any attempt to contact the doctor who treated her or seek follow-up treatment at the hospital.
Rusinah’s husband Zamil Ibrahim, 40, denied receiving any letter or telephone call from the hospital after the 2004 surgery.
He said his wife had not changed her mobile phone number and they had not shifted house.
On the claim of unsettled hospital bills, he said: "That’s preposterous. We left calmly and we did not run away."
Zamil said his wife would have gone back to the hospital if she had been informed of the need to do so.

Country free of bird flu, says ministry

NST: PENANG, Mon: The Health Ministry has declared the country free of bird flu.
Its parliamentary secretary, Datuk Lee Kah Choon, said there had been no new bird flu cases in the last few days.
"Nobody in the country had been infected with the H5N1 virus in the past two weeks," he said after opening a Nur Sejahtera programme at Sunshine Square in Bayan Baru yesterday.
Earlier, Lee said there were 40,000 cancer cases reported in government hospitals each year.
"Cancer cases are on the rise and 31 per cent of the cases are breast cancer.
"Breast cancer is the number one disease afflicting women."
He said cancer was the third highest reported disease in government hospitals.
Yet, many women still did not go for breast cancer screening.
"There is a need for more awareness among women to go for screening. There is nothing to be ashamed of and early detection may save lives."
He said the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry had started a RM50 subsidy programme for women to undergo breast cancer screening at hospitals in the country.
"We hope that more women will take the initiative to undergo breast cancer screening."

Sunday, June 24, 2007

Tube in abdomen shock for housewife

NST: ALOR STAR: She had been experiencing pain since a surgery three years ago but put up with it.
But when the pain became unbearable last month, Rusinah Yatim sought treatment at the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital in Sungai Petani.
To her horror, X-rays of her abdomen showed the presence of a foreign object.
Doctors referred her to Alor Star Hospital as it was the one that had conducted the surgery.
She underwent another surgery there last Thursday and found out that the foreign object was a 32cm-long plastic tube.
Rusinah, 40, claimed the tube was left behind during the 2004 surgery at the hospital to remove renal stones.
The mother of four is now mulling legal action against the hospital for negligence.
Her husband, Zamil Ibrahim, 40, claimed Rusinah experienced severe abdominal pain several months after the first surgery.
"At first, we thought the pain was due to some leftover renal stones. But it became worst during the middle of last year. It affected her housework terribly," said Zamil, adding that Rusinah had also complained that her urine contained blood.
"I tried to get an explanation from Alor Star Hospital but they refused to co-operate," he said.
Alor Star Hospital director Dr Che Pah Ahmad said Rusinah was supposed to have had the plastic tube removed two weeks after undergoing the first surgery.
But she did not turn up for her appointment, she said.
"A doctor has explained the matter to the couple. I believe it is a misunderstanding."
On Zamil’s claim that the hospital refused to co-operate when he sought an explanation, Dr Che Pah said Zamil did not approach her.
Asked whether the hospital contacted patients who failed to turn up for their appointments, she said: "I’m not sure whether the hospital tried to contact her again."

Biodegradable device allows surgeons to repair heart valves in babies

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: A biodegradable ring, which comes in a variety of sizes smaller than the 26mm conventional ring, has enabled cardiac surgeons to repair heart valves in children as young as six months old.
The National Heart Institute (IJN), the first institute in the Asia Pacific region to use the Kalangos Ring (since last February), has conducted about 40 operations using such rings, in which 37 of them were done on children.
Datuk Dr Mohd Azhari Yakub, chief cardiothoracic surgeon at IJN, said that one of the patients was a six-month-old baby.
Prior to this, the conventional ring used to repair heart valves was 26mm and surgeons would have to modify the ring for children, or defer operations to repair heart valves for children until they were older.
The Kalangos Ring, made from synthetic polydioxanone polymer, with its smallest size at 16mm, dissolves within the heart tissue, and as such, does not require the use of anti-coagulation drugs.
It was designed by Prof Afksendiyos Kalangos who lectures on cardiothoracic surgery at University Hospital of Geneva, Switzerland. He said that he first implanted the innovative ring to stabilise the repaired valve on a patient in 1994 in Geneva.
He then experimented with the device for 10 years before creating the biodegradable ring.
Prof Kalangos said that he has personally used the ring on more than 300 patients, in which 70% of the cases were children. In addition, other doctors who have adopted the ring have performed similar operations on 700 more patients.
Both Prof Kalangos and Dr Mohd Azhari spoke at the First Advanced Valve Repair in Children Symposium held at IJN on Friday and Saturday, to promote understanding in the surgical management of valve repair in children.
Dr Mohd Azhari said that the Kalangos Ring provided predictable and durable repair, while the conventional ring was only a temporary solution for patients who would eventually need valve replacement.
He said that from 1993 up to September last year, IJN had performed valve repair surgery on 837 patients.

One in 10 young girls are prone to eating disorders

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Walk into any urban campus and there will be hordes of young girls who are slim and dressed in clothes that reveal their figure. Being thin is in and many are dying to be thin. They want to emulate weight-conscious celebrities like Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan.
And this is one of the reasons for a rising problem among young females - eating disorder. About 70% of them are not satisfied with the shape - and size - of their bodies.
In a study conducted by chartered psychologist Dr Hera Lukman, it was revealed that about one in 10 young urban female college students is prone to eating disorders in their quest for a perfect body shape.
Dr Lukman, a senior lecturer at the Faculty of Medicine at the International Medical University’s (IMU) Community Medicine and Behavioural Sciences Section, conducted the recent survey among 578 female college students aged between 18 and 25 in the Klang Valley.
Although there are signs that this problem is on the rise, there has been no study to determine the number, as those suffering from the problem rarely seek help voluntarily.
Nevertheless, Dr Lukman said studies have shown that the prevalence of eating disorders in Asian countries was comparable to that in the West, where between 1% and 4% of girls aged between 14 and 18 have an eating disorder.
In Singapore, a National University of Singapore’s (NUS) study of 4,400 female students in 2005 also showed that 7% of them were found to be at high risk of disorders like anorexia and bulimia.
Penang Hospital’s child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr Lai Fong Hwa said there was a six-fold increase in the incidence of eating disorders in Singapore in the last 10 years.
On her survey, Dr Lukman said those affected were usually terrified of gaining weight though they were underweight or emaciated.
“The students in my survey had, among others, displayed behaviour, attitude and thoughts which were associated with eating disorders. Only 28% of them were satisfied with the shape of their bodies,” she said in an interview.
The two most common eating disorders are anorexia nervosa (when one engages in self-induced food restrictions and excessive exercise although underweight) and bulimia nervosa (uncontrollable overeating or bingeing, followed by self-induced vomiting and purging via the use of laxatives). The medical fraternity usually terms them as a “complex psychological problem” with “possible indirect links” with the environment.
Dr Lukman said interviews with some of the respondents revealed that they would induce vomiting after eating. Some of them would feel guilty about eating and subsequently resort to eating in isolation or “secretive eating”.
Dr Lukman added that eating disorders were chronic conditions with devastating physical, psychological and social consequences when not given immediate attention and multi-disciplinary approach treatment by experts like physicians, psychiatrists, dieticians and family therapists.
The dangers of eating disorders usually make headlines when a celebrity or prominent figure dies from it. In November last year, Brazilian model Ana Carolina Reston, 21, was reported to have died of anorexia nervosa. She was 1.74m tall and weighed only 40kg when she died. Many Tinseltown celebrities like Nicole Richie and Mary-Kate Olsen are constantly under the media glare for losing weight and looking unhealthily thin.
On treatment for eating disorders, Dr Lukman said Malaysia has yet to have a centre for such patients and she had to refer her patients for treatment overseas, with the nearest centre in Singapore. There was dire need for such a centre to provide proper and affordable treatment for eating disorders and conduct more in-depth research on the problem.
She said patients could not seek treatment overseas due to the high costs incurred.
Dr Lai said it costs about RM1,000 a day for an eating disorder patient to get treatment in Singapore. The high cost of treatment was because of the number of professionals involved in the care.
“If Malaysia were to set up an eating disorder centre, treatment would still cost a few hundred ringgit a day, although patients who seek help at government hospitals at the moment are treated free,” he said.
“The problem in Malaysia may not be as serious (compared to Singapore), but I am seeing and hearing of more such cases these days,” he said.
She said it was also difficult to identify a person with eating disorders, especially Asians, because the females tend to be thinner and have a smaller frame.
Countries where eating disorders are common include Japan, South Korea, Thailand, China, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, India, Pakistan, Egypt and Israel, she added.
Dr Lukman said eating disorders are more common among females than males. For every 10 to 20 females with eating disorders, there would be one male with similar problem.

Saturday, June 23, 2007

Another 'sick' new hospital

NST: PEKAN: After a four-year delay, the RM90 million Pekan Hospital has been finally completed but with defects which have infuriated many, including Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
Dr Chua, who was given a briefing on the problems faced by the hospital during a visit yesterday, said he was frustrated to see the building plagued with the shortcomings.
"We regret that this new building has defects, especially leaking pipes. A new hospital like this should not have these kind of problems," he said after the visit.
Dr Chua said it was time the ministry and the public were informed about the causes of the problems.
"We want to know whether it was caused by the design of the pipe system, the type of pipe used or shoddy workmanship," said Dr Chua, who looked visibly upset.
Defects have also been reported at several other new hospitals in the country.
Dr Chua said he was baffled as to why some of the equipment and facilities were not installed, including the oxygen piping system.
"This is unacceptable. As this project is under the Public Works Department, I hope it can help resolve the problems."
Dr Chua said the ministry’s engineering division would also help determine the problems. It will ask the contractor to solve them within a month.
The Pekan Hospital was initially scheduled for completion in 2003 at a cost of RM80 million. It was finally handed over to the Health Ministry on March 27.
During the briefing, its director, Dr Marhani Awang, said that among the defects detected were leaking pipes and problems with the main water tank.
The defects have affected many areas of the hospital, including the administration office and men’s wards. Several staff claimed that the ceiling panels in the X-ray room and wards had collapsed.

Dialysis treatment at spa-like home

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Stepping into the spa-like house, one cannot help but wonder if it really is a place for the sick.
The beautiful interior of the YKN Dialysis Bangsar is nothing like a dialysis centre.
It also offers family members of patients a chance to unwind and relax while their loved ones undergo treatment.
The centre is a project of Yayasan Kebajikan Negara (YKN) under the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry. It plans to open 19 such home-based centres across the nation.
At the official opening yesterday, minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil, who also chairs YKN, said poor patients also deserve to be in a comfortable environment.
She said since YKN came under her ministry three years ago, a total of RM46.7 million had been spent to help 117,798 people who needed medicine or disaster aid.
Of this, she said, RM11.67 million had been spent on 2,302 kidney patients.
Shahrizat said training would also be provided at these dialysis centres for those wishing to look after patients.
Treatment is free for YKN-referred patients but walk-in patients have to pay RM160 per session.

Fast Food Ads On Children's TV Programmes Banned

SHAH ALAM, June 22 (Bernama) -- The Cabinet has decided to ban fast food commercials on children's television programmes, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
He said fast food companies would also be banned from sponsoring such programmes.
"The decision was made because the Cabinet feels it is its responsibility to see that children below 12 years of age are instilled with good eating habits," he added after launching the national-level World Health Day 2007 celebration here Friday.
"Besides that, Malaysia has also ratified the United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child which stipulates that children have the right to nutritious food."
Asked when the decision would be enforced, Dr Chua said his officers would first discuss the matter with the Information and Energy, Water and Communications ministries as some of the fast food companies might have already signed contracts with the television stations.
He said the ban was not a biased decision as many of the fast food companies were multinationals, while the government was focusing only on those companies that aggressively promoted fast food via the electronic media.
Chua said the ban did not apply to the print media as the Cabinet felt that children under 12 preferred to watch television than read the newspapers.
He said many countries like India, China, Norway and Sweden had also banned fast food advertisements on television.
He added that the ban was also imposed because many non-contagious but chronic illnesses like heart disease, high blood pressure, diabetes and kidney problems were related to poor eating habits.
"As such, parents are urged to cooperate by educating their children on the importance of a balanced diet which includes complex carbohydrate, more fruits and vegetables and less fat and sugar."
He hoped that fast food companies would engage in self-monitoring of its food products to help promote a healthly lifestyle.
Dr Chua said to enable consumers to know the calorie content of fast food, the Cabinet also decided to make it compulsory for the producers to provide information on the protein, fat, sugar and carbohydrate content of their food for sale, on the wrappers, boxes or labels.
"This is another education process to help the public choose their food wisely and the amount they should consume."
He said his ministry could not determine when the ruling could be enforced but fast food companies would be given a suitable time-frame to comply.
He also gave the defintion of fast food which became polemic recently: "It is food prepared in large quantities using a standard procedure and served at restaurants, and promoted through advertisements over television and in the print media.
"This definition is important so as not to be confused with roti canai, teh tarik, fried mee or mee rebus which are not categorised as fast food and available at eateries which do not advertise their food."
He said both decisions were reached at the Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Mobile Healthcare Clinic For Refugees In Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, June 22 (Bernama) -- Beginning next month, about 1,000 refugees, mostly in the Klang Valley, will be able to enjoy free mobile healthcare service.
The project is jointly organised by the Czech Republic embassy in Kuala Lumpur, United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR) and Malaysian Medical Relief Society (Mercy Malaysia).
UNHCR representative to Malaysia Dr Volker Turk said the service would be held once a month at selected community halls and its regularity would be reviewed based on assessment by the Mercy Malaysia team of doctors and nurses.
"This is basically to compliment the healthcare services provided by the government," he told reporters after signing a memorandum of understanding with representatives of the embassy and Mercy Malaysia on the nine-month project at his office here.
The Czech Republic was represented by its ambassador to Malaysia Dana Hunatova and Mercy Malaysia by its honorary treasurer Ir Amran Mahzan.
Dr Turk said the Klang Valley was chosen for the launching of the project since it had the biggest number of refugees in the country.
"They include the Myanmar Muslims, the Rohingyas, and other ethnic minorities," he added.
He said the mobile clinic project would enable healthcare services "to reach the refugees where they are", adding that the most common medical complaints among them were diabetes and hypertension.
"Access to healthcare services is sometimes limited for refugees and asylum-seekers due to various factors such as the cost of medical care, language barrier and difficulty in physically accessing hospitals and clinics."
Meanwhile, Hunatova said her country was providing an initial sum of US$20,000 (RM72,000) for the medicines under the project.

Friday, June 22, 2007

Warning symptoms of TB

Star: PENANG: Those who cough persistently for more than two weeks and have thick mucus may be contracting active tuberculosis (TB).
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek warned people to seek immediate medical assistance if they encountered such problems.
“Such patients would have to undergo a screening or X-ray to ensure they have a clean bill of health,” he said.
“It is also our active detection exercise to tackle this infectious disease which showed an increase compared with previous years,” he told reporters at a durian party hosted by the Balik Pulau MCA division at Choo Kar Chong Kar Khoon Physical Culture Institute in Sungai Pinang, Balik Pulau, yesterday.
Dr Chua said that of the 16,665 TB cases detected last year, about 20% involved foreign workers.
He said foreign workers were among those who contributed to the rise of TB cases in the country.
He added that states like Sarawak, Sabah, Selangor and Johor registered a high number of TB cases because of the presence of many foreign workers.
The rising number of people with HIV was another reason for the increasing number of TB cases, he said.
“HIV and TB have a close connection. Patients infected with HIV are more vulnerable to TB because of their weakened immune systems,” he added.
Of the 16,665 TB patients, about 1,488, or 9%, were AIDS victims, Dr Chua said.
He said he was also concerned about the emergence of multi-drug resistant TB, which had increased from 17 cases in 2005 to 43 last year.
He said that this form of TB was resistant to two or more of the primary drugs used for treatment.

Expect More Health Problems From Global Warming

PUTRAJAYA, June 21 (Bernama) -- Malaysians be warned! The current trend of global warming due to the greenhouse effect and changes in the global climate caused by rapid industrialisation will result in a wide range of negative health impact, effecting the health of many Malaysians, a medical expert said.
Dr Rozlan Ishak, the Health Ministry's Disease Control Division senior principal assistant director, said it is believed that global warming and global climatic changes would also result in the depletion of resources such as water and food, loss of territory following the rise in sea-level, changes in sanitary and hygiene situations in many populations, rise in vector and pest breeding areas, deterioration of air quality and increasing frequencies and intensities from extreme weather events.
"With such scenarios, without any appropriate mitigation measures and adaptablity programmes planned and implemented, we would expect a higher incidence of mortality and morbidity from vector borne diseases, infant and maternal mortality, cardio-respiratory related diseases in the next 50 years," he said.
He said this in a paper at the National Seminar On Socio-economic Impact of Extreme Weather and Climate Change here Thursday.
On another note, he said in 1961, Malaysia had reported some 490,000 cases of malaria when every part of the nation was under the spell of the deadly disease.
"With proper planning, appropriate strategies and preventive work, and medical treatment, we managed to gradually reduce the incidence of malaria to the current level of 5,569 cases a year in 2006. Within 50 years, Malaria is not a problem in many parts of the country," he added.
Similarly, he said Malaysia had improved the supply of safe and portable drinking water for both urban and rural population.
"The quality of safe and portable water had helped improve the health status of Malaysians and this translated in a huge reduction of diarrhea diseases, typhiod, cholera, dysentry, worm infestation and other food and water borne diseases.
"We also see a marked reduction of infant mortality and maternal morbidity contributed by improved water supply and personal hygiene," Dr Rozaln added.

Qualified And Recognised Traditional Medicine Practitioners To Be Recruited

KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 (Bernama) -- Only qualified and internationally recognised traditional medicine practitioners from China will be recruited for government hospitals.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad told the Dewan Rakyat here Thursday that their degree components comprised 30-40 per cent modern medicine and 60-70 per cent Chinese traditional medicine to enable them to treat patients accordingly.
"They not only can understand the condition of patients who have been treated by the modern doctors, but also the clinical reports like the blood tests and imaging," he said.
He was replying to Datuk Raja Ahmad Zainuddin Raja Omar (BN-Larut) who had asked on the rationale of recruiting traditional healers from China for government hospitals which would each have a traditional and complementary medicine unit.
Dr Abdul Latiff said discussions would be held between these practitioners and local doctors to obtain information on the learning process in the field in China for the exchange of technology.

Prescribers Of Avandia Advised To Adhere To Restrictions

KUALA LUMPUR, June 21 (Bernama) -- The Ministry of Health Thursday reminded prescribers of rosiglitazone (marketed as Avandia) to adhere to the restrictions for use in patients with cardiac disease as stated in the product information leaflet.
In a statement issued here today, its director of Pharmaceutical Services Datuk Che Mohd Zin Che Awang advised patients not to stop treatment with rosiglitazone, and to discuss the medication with their doctors.
A recently published article in the New England Journal of Medicine has raised concern over increased risk of myocardial infarction and cardiovascular death in patients with Type Two diabetes treated with Avandia.
However, Che Mohd Zin said the risk degree of Avandia related to ischaemic cardiovascular incidents was not yet positively confirmed because some of the studies in the journal included patients who were not treated for the indication approved in the European Union and Malaysia.
The Drug Control Authority (DCA) would continue to monitor the safety of rosiglitazone and any action taken by other regulatory agencies worldwide on this matter, he said.
The DCA will also review the labelling of Avandia and strengthen the warning section so that the risk of congestive heart failure associated with the use of this drug is prominently displayed.
Recently, the United States Food and Drug Administration (USFDA) has issued letters to the manufacturers of Avandia and other drugs in the same therapeutic class, requesting them to include a boxed warning.
Meanwhile, the USFDA has identified 14 brands of toothpaste from China containing diethylene glycol, which is used in antifreeze and as a solvent.
Che Mohd Zin said toiletries including toothpaste had to be registered with the DCA.
He advised consumers to ensure that the products they buy are safe by looking for the registration number on the packs of the products.

Wednesday, June 20, 2007

Health Ministry D-G tells docs to stop flirting with dubious practices

Star: PETALING JAYA: Stop questionable medical practices, be more human and constantly update your knowledge.
These were among the reminders Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican issued to the medical profession yesterday.
He said there were some doctors who indulged in direct selling of non-evidence based treatment that could mar the profession.
“You do not have to go around and do any kind of business other than that of healing,” he said.
Dr Ismail said it was disappointing that some doctors flirted with unproven methods and used their professional status to carry out the activities.
He added that there were reports that some doctors even displayed such products in their waiting areas or at the front portion of their clinics.
Dr Ismail said that while doctors could recommend supplements, they should not promote certain brands at their clinics.
“The surreptitious recommendation of products of doubtful pharmaceutical benefits to trusting patients must stop,” he said.
He also noted that doctors today were increasingly being perceived as cold and impersonal, even “machine-like” in dealing with patients.
“Having new technology does not help. New doctors depend more on the machines than their clinical acumen,” he added.
“The machine remains a machine. We are humans and we have attributes that help us make intelligent diagnosis. The over-reliance on new technology can be our undoing.”
Dr Ismail also said that doctors must “listen well” to their patients, who had a right to access their healthcare records and to a second opinion.
“Remember, before patients pour their hearts out to you, they must be assured that you have a heart in the first place, to listen and understand their apprehensions. Your non-verbal message is as important as your verbal message,” he said.
He said that doctors also needed to keep in touch with current clinical developments as many patients nowadays were “armed” with information from the Internet or from previous consultations, adding that such information had now become a necessity rather than a luxury.
Dr Ismail said that, alternatively, doctors should not be trapped into doing what the patient wants or demands.
The medical profession, he said, needed self-regulation, and the Malaysian Medical Association should educate its members about updating clinical knowledge, continuous professional development and maintaining strict practice standards, and emphasise the need to work ethically.

Stop direct selling of health supplements, doctors told

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Doctors have been warned not to dispense unproven medicine to their patients or do direct selling, mainly of health supplements, in their clinics.
Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said doctors who tarnished the dignity and integrity of the profession would be severely dealt with, including being hauled to court.
He said doctors who indulged in questionable medical practices would be no better than people in pasar malam peddling snake oil or fake Viagra.
"The surreptitious recommendations of products of doubtful pharmaceutical benefits to patients must stop.
"I will not allow the prestige of medicine and the profession be denigrated during my watch as Director-General of Health," he said in an interview.
Dr Ismail is also concerned about doctors conducting direct selling in their clinics.
"Some even display products in the waiting areas and at the front of their clinics.
"As doctors, we must constantly be reminded of what we can and cannot do to safeguard the dignity of the profession," he said.
He said his ministry is now revising old laws and drawing up new ones to curb such activities.
The legislation include the Medical Act 1971, the Pathology Bill, the Traditional/Complementary Medicine Bill, the Medical Devices Act and the Cosmetology Bill.
He said the Malaysian Medical Council would also be revamped to give it more powers to conduct investigations and carry out enforcement.
This will ensure swift response to public complaints against doctors.
Dr Ismail advised doctors to depend more on their clinical acumen than on new technology.
He said the over-reliance on new technology had partly been the cause of delays in providing definitive treatment to patients, especially in emergency situations.
"I still hold the view that we must not abandon what we have been systematically taught in our medical schools," he said.
"The machine remains a machine. We are humans and are endowed with attributes that will help us make an intelligent diagnosis and plan the management strategy in a comprehensive manner, given the circumstances of each case."

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

Kempas hospital to have halfway homes for patients

NST: Halfway homes will be built for the mentally ill to live with their families while being treated at Hospital Permai’s new RM600 million premises in Kempas.
The concept of halfway homes is being extended to Hospital Permai after being introduced at Hospital Bahagia in Tanjung Rambutan, Perak, about 18 months ago.
"The results have been encouraging," said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
"The programme better prepares patients and their family members through the transition period before going back to society."
About 200 quarters would be allocated as halfway homes, he said.
Under the concept, patients live with family members and interact in a more community-based environment.
They could take up light jobs in the hospital compound while under their family’s care. Doctors would visit at intervals to evaluate their conditions.
The hospital yesterday held the ground-breaking for its new compound in Kempas, which will be completed in 2010. Menteri Besar Datuk Abdul Ghani Othman and Hospital Permai director Benjamin Chan were present.
Part of the current hospital’s operations in Tampoi would be relocated to the 61ha compound in Kempas, which is equipped with 724 beds.
Some of the Tampoi facility’s buildings will remain in use, and others, which pre-date Merdeka, would be retained for their historical value.
Chua said mental illness was the second highest health problem among Malaysians after heart attacks, according to a 2004 study and only one in five sought treatment.

Beware of quacks at 24-hour clinics

NST: The seven appeared to be bona fide doctors, fluent in medical jargon and completely at ease when dispensing drugs.
Nothing was too difficult for them with one even performing surgery to remove tumours, kidney stones and ovarian cysts. Few of their patients suspected that there was more to these "doctors" than met the eye.
But over the past eight months, they have been exposed for what they are: Laymen masquerading as medical practitioners.
They comprised a bomoh, an ex-army medical assistant, a foreigner who claimed to have medical experience, a medical assistant and two nurses. The last on the list was a man in Chemor, Perak, who did not have an annual practicing licence. Two each were picked up in Klang and Johor and one each in Shah Alam, Seremban and Perak.
Health Ministry Medical Practice director Dr Mohd Khairi Yakub said bogus doctors posed a danger to the public as they were not qualified to treat patients. He said many worked at 24-hour clinics visited by people facing emergencies.
"These unqualified people cannot handle emergencies and are extremely dangerous in such situations," he told the New Straits Times.
Dr Khairi, who launched a nationwide enforcement operation in August last year to nab bogus doctors, said it was crucial that the public know the background of doctors.
"If they have the slightest suspicion as to whether they are registered doctors, they should check with the Malaysian Medical Council."
He added that the public could also get in touch with the Medical Practice division’s complaints unit at 03-88831484/88831485.
The first of seven, nabbed in Shah Alam in October last year, had been performing surgeries at his clinic for more than 10 years. He charged patients between RM350 and RM4,000, depending on treatment and type of surgery.
Dr Khairi said tip-offs from the public and medical practitioners led to the arrest of the bogus doctors. Under the Private Healthcare and Facilities Act and Regulation, those found guilty of impersonating a doctor face a RM300,000 fine and jail of up to six years.
He said illegal clinics run by these "doctors" were sealed pending them being charged. Those caught breaking the seal face a six months’ jail sentence and RM2,000 fine.
It is learnt that an estate medical assistant pleaded guilty in the Klang magistrates court to posing as a bogus doctor and will be sentenced in August. He will also be sentenced next month on a separate charge of breaking the clinic seal.
Dr Khairi said the division was aware of doctors who had not registered their clinics with the ministry.
"Some who have yet to register are in rural and remote areas, including in Sabah and Sarawak. We will be taking action against them soon."
Asked about "unqualified doctors" performing plastic surgery and treatment in places such as hotels, he said the ministry was aware of such activities. He said hotel owners could be fined RM300,000 or sentenced to a maximum of six years’ jail for allowing their premises to be used as a private healthcare facility.

Monday, June 18, 2007

Family the rock in his HIV crisis

NST: SUNGAI SIPUT: When he tested positive for HIV, Muhammad Zulkifli Maulana dreaded telling his family.
HIV-positive friends had told him of the stigma — of their own families forcing them to use separate utensils at meals and being made to wash and rewash their clothes.
Fearing rejection, it took a year before the former drug addict, 28, told his elder sister, Suraya.
"How wrong I was," he said.
She took the news calmly, and was very understanding.
"She even kept the secret to herself, allowing me time and space to breathe, before breaking the bad news to the rest of my family."
A guest speaker at the Perak Red Ribbon AIDS Day Remembrance here yesterday, Zulkifli now works full time as a clinical staff at Rumah Pengasih, Kuala Lumpur.
The home is owned by Pengasih, an association of former drug addicts. It helps addicts to clean up and provides support to recovering addicts and rehabilitation programmes.
The event was launched by Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali. Works Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu, who is the patron of the event, was also present.
Zulkifli urged people to learn about HIV/AIDS, and not to fear those who had it.
"I want to tell everyone that the HIV virus will not spread from using the same plate, or through handshakes, or hugs.
"Some people (still) think the HIV virus can be spread through mosquito bites!"
Zulkifli was 13 when he began smoking cannabis in Balik Pulau, Penang. Then he began shooting heroin.
"I was influenced by my peers. It is at this particular age that you seek an identity, from the way you dress to the things you do. You just crave attention.
"And this is when family support is most important."
He wised up at 16, and turned to Pengasih. He stayed with its programmes until he turned 18. After leaving Pengasih, he opened a motorcycle workshop.
In 2003, he relapsed, but found his way back to Pengasih once more.
That was the year he took the blood test. HIV had never crossed his mind, he said, so the doctor’s announcement came like a bombshell.
"I had already been stigmatised as a drug addict. Adding being HIV-positive to it was devastating."
He even considered just carrying on with drugs until he died.
Pengasih saw him through those dark days, teaching him that he needed to take responsibility for his actions.
"It was with their strong support that I finally decided to come clean."
Zulkifli urged parents to reach out to their children, especially those in their tumultuous teenage years who showed signs of being troubled. Smoking, drugs and drinking were just symptoms of a deeper problem, he said.

Smoking ban to be extended

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will ban smoking at more places once the “no smoking” rule at 19 designated areas is fully enforced.
Health Ministry disease control division director Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said that at present, many still broke the law on no smoking in designated areas.
The 19 areas include hospitals/clinics, public lifts and toilets, air-conditioned restaurants, public transport, government premises, educational institutions, petrol stations, Internet cafes and shopping complexes.
Speaking after launching the national-level Tobacco-Free Day 2007 celebration, Dr Hasan said the ministry was aware that even some MPs smoked inside Parliament House, a non-smoking government premises.
However, he said, no MPs had so far been issued compounds for doing so.
Still, he warned that the ministry was tough on such offenders, adding that last year, 506 people were brought to court for failing to pay compounds issued to them for smoking offences.
Out of this, 117 people were fined a total of RM25,000 by the court, while two were sent to jail.
Dr Hasan also said the Tak Nak campaign would be stepped up although people had questioned its effectiveness.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek, whose speech was read by Dr Hasan, said that the theme of Tobacco-Free Day celebration which was “100% Smoke-Free Environment” was aimed at galvanising countries to take action to protect people from second-hand smoke.
Dr Chua said that a 2006 study by the disease control division showed that the number of Malaysian smokers would rise from 3.1 million last year to 3.8 million in 2015 and over four million in 2020.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Government to continue monitoring avian flu situation

Star: PETALING JAYA: The immediate threat of the avian flu outbreak in Kampung Paya Jaras Hilir may have passed, but the Government is taking no chances and will continue monitoring the area.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said there have been no reports of residents falling ill or showing any symptoms of coughing or fever for the past two days.
"This is definitely a very good sign but we are not resting on our laurels. We will continue to monitor the area, especially within a 300-metre radius of the point of the virus' origin.
"But in the meantime, all culling and case detection activities (door to door interviewing) has been ceased," he said.
Speaking at a press conference after opening the 64th Malaysian Dental Association Annual General Meeting on Friday, Dr Chua said it was important now to instead focus on the well being of officials who had been based in the village for the past week.
He said there were more than 70 officials from the Health Ministry and Veterinary Services Department who had worked tirelessly and bravely during the outbreak.
"Now that the situation has become better, we must also ensure that the officials themselves are safe and sound.
"Even as we speak, they are undergoing medical checks to ensure they have a clean bill of health," said Chua, adding that the residents themselves should seek immediate medical attention if they begin to feel feverish or have bad coughs.
The Minister said that given in two weeks time there were no other reports of the avian flu, a report would be submitted to the World Health Organisation (WHO) to declare the nation as H5N1 virus-free.
"However, it is still up to WHO to process the report and scrutinize its findings before we can be truly considered H5N1 virus-free," he said.

Health Minister calls for better patient-doctor communication

Star: PETALING JAYA: Lack of patient-doctor communication is one of the common basis of complaints received from patients and their loved ones, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
The Health Minister said he had received many complaints from the public of frontliners in hospitals, clinics and other medical institutions not providing enough information about the condition of their loved ones.
"At least 75% of complaints from the public point to the frontliners of medical institutions, while the remaining complaints are a result of doctors not communicating effectively with their patients.
"For example, when an emergency patient is being warded or resuscitated, their loved ones wait anxiously outside the ward without being briefed or told about what is happening.
"A simple act of updating them would give much needed assurance and relief," he said.
Dr Chua urged for medical practitioners and frontliners to identify communication as an important prerequisite.
He added that this would also provide a patients with the opportunity to express their concerns and needs.
"First and foremost, a doctor must understand their patient's condition, and the best way to do that is to communicate.
"The patient needs to be put as the centre of control, where the doctor will organise a system around the patient, rather than organising the system around themselves," said Dr Chua after opening the 64th Malaysian Dental Association Annual General Meeting here on Friday.
In his speech, Dr Chua said the country had made great strides in the field of dentistry in the past 50 years, in terms of technology and with more than 2,900 registered dental practitioners in the country.
He added that Government dental facilities had also increased tremendously over the years, equipped with more than 3,000 dental units which have brought oral health services to 95.5% of primary schools and 76% of secondary schools.
"In the face of such myriad advances in dental technology, knowledge and skills, dentists need to choose technologies that are best suited to the type of patients they're seeing.
"Good oral health should no longer be the privilege of a few, but a right for all," he said.
He also stressed the need for the nation to produce more dentists to fulfil the ideal ratio of one dentist to four thousand patients.
The ratio now is at one dentist to nine thousand patients.
The Minister however, was confident that this number would be met in a span of five years.
"Under the Ninth Malaysia Plan (9MP), the Government has allocated a budget of RM165mil to the construction of mobile dental clinics and upgrading of dental clinics.
"Right now, with all these facilities in place, what the nation really needs is to produce more capable and qualified dentists," he said.

Horror tales drive mums-to-be away from public hospitals

NST: SOME expectant mothers are willing to fork out RM5,000 to RM9,000 to deliver their babies in private hospitals.
There was a time when delivering babies at private hospitals was a luxury for many. But ’push’ factors at government hospitals, including overworked nurses, appear to be sending more expectant mothers to private establishments — and higher bills. ARMAN AHMAD and MINDERJEET KAUR explore the phenomenon.

Crude language that would make old wives blush, generally poor treatment and a shocking lack of sympathy are driving more expectant mothers to private hospitals these days.
More are paying through their nose to have peace of mind and a conducive environment at delivery.
Some would rather borrow to pay the RM5,000 to RM9,000 sum asked by private hospitals than settle the bill of RM100 or thereabouts at public hospitals.
Horror stories like that told by Haslinda Hassan, 32, are almost unimaginable.
She was in pain and anxious as it was her first delivery and, as fate would have it, got a nurse from hell.
"Another patient and I were in pain. One of us called the nurse for assistance, hoping for some words of encouragement.
"Instead, the nurse snapped, ‘When you were making the baby, you enjoyed it but when it’s time to deliver, you cannot bear it. Just bear it’."
Such insensitive words at a most vulnerable time shocked Haslinda. This was not how she had imagined her first delivery to be.
The experience left such a lasting impression that she advised a cousin to opt for a private hospital.
"I didn’t want my cousin to go through the same agony as what the other lady and I went through," she said.
Her cousin spent RM9,000 — 90 times more than she would at a government hospital — for a hassle-free delivery.
In another case, first-time mother Fazliana Ahmad, 27, decided to have the best of both worlds by scheduling her delivery at the University Malaya Medical Centre, a semi-government hospital.
She had contractions from 9pm until 5am the next day.
"All was fine and the nurses and doctors were helpful. But the post-delivery care was terrible as the medical assistants were rough while stitching and cleaning me up.
"I was feeling very weak and told them to be gentle but there were no changes," she said.
Another first-time mother, Fazlina Suhaimi, said everything went wrong at her hospital before her delivery.
She had to walk all the way from her car to the registration counter although being close to delivery as the nurses had miscalculated her contractions.
"I had gone earlier but they said it wasn’t time yet. When I came back, my cervix was already open and I was about to give birth. Yet, I walked from the car park to the hospital counter."
But her troubles were far from over as she had to endure several minutes of torture at the registration counter.
"I kept telling the nurses there that I could not stand the pain. Only after some time did they relent and take me into the delivery room," she said.
For Zurina Abdullah, what distressed her most at the government hospital she went to was the general air of indifference to women about to deliver.
"When I asked if my husband could be with me before I went into delivery, the response I got from a nurse was ‘everyone feels the same kind of pain when they deliver’ and that was that," she said.
The 28-year-old hypermarket employee said there was a world of difference between service at government and private hospitals.
She said most of her friends dare not go to government hospitals for delivery because of the horror stories they had heard about the services.
"Most of them are willing to go into debt to deliver in private hospitals."
She said she and her husband could not afford to go to a private hospital and "I suppose you get what you pay for".
"But I will try to make sure that my next baby will be born in a private hospital," she said.

Choose reliable, credible private maternity centres

NST: MORE people are going to private hospitals as they think they offer better services than government hospitals, MCA Public Services and Complaints Department head Datuk Michael Chong say.
"They feel the level of service will not be as good in government hospitals."
He said those wanting to use private hospitals should chose establishments that had credibility.
"Choose a hospital that is well established," Chong said, adding that it was always safe to go to a government hospital in the event of complications.
Chong said this was because some private hospitals eventually referred complicated cases to government hospitals.
He said the cost of giving birth had increased over the years with a normal delivery costing between RM5,000 and RM6,000.
This could double if there were complications.
"Even delivering your child in a semi-government hospital can be very expensive," he said.

Too many deliveries take a toll on nurses

NST: WHY do some government maternity nurses fly off the handle for the slightest reason?
Blame it on stress associated with delivering numerous babies a day, said Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital (HUKM) Associate Prof Dr Harlina Halizah Siraj.
She said overworked nurses who could not handle stress sometimes took it out on patients.
"This should not happen at all. But sometimes such incidents are caused by nurses under tremendous stress. They tend to say the wrong things to patients who seek too much attention."
She said HUKM was in the process of training staff in better body language, expressions, and manners to make patients more comfortable.
The hospital, with 120 maternity nurses, delivers nearly 6,500 babies a year.
A Kuala Lumpur Hospital official concurred, saying that delivering 60 babies a day would definitely take a toll on nurses at the maternity section. This works out to nearly 1,800 babies every month or 21,600 babies annually.
"The sheer number of deliveries at the hospital makes their job very stressful," she said.
The official, who declined to be identified, said the nurses might not be able to handle such pressure and sometimes took it out on patients.
She said one reason why the hospital and other government hospitals received so many patients was because they catered largely to those from the middle- and lower-income groups.
"About 10 per cent are foreigners from Indonesia and Bangladesh. Many government servants choose to deliver here as their fee is fully subsidised by the government," she said.
University Malaya Medical Centre associate professor Dr Paul Tay Yee Siang said government hospitals had a long way to go before they could match working conditions at private hospitals.
The specialist in obstetrics and gynaecology said this should, however, not be used to excuse poor treatment of patients, including expectant mothers.
"No one should undergo any form of abuse or poor treatment in a government hospital."
He said those who had been mistreated by nurses, doctors or other staff should lodge a complaint with the hospitals.
"This is to ensure that such problems do not recur," he said, adding that UMMC was constantly trying to improve services at its maternity section.

Friday, June 15, 2007

Just a sting away from pain relief

NST: JOHOR BARU: Most of us duck and run when it comes to bees, but there are people who look forward to a sting or two, or three, or more.
These people are undergoing bee venom therapy, which has become a popular alternative to acupuncture for a host of painful conditions including arthritis, rheumatism and gout, asthma and pre-menstrual tension.
Some proponents claim the therapy also relieves male impotence, the symptoms of psoriasis, epilepsy and depression, and the pain of cancer.
Some are confident enough to catch bees and let them sting the afflicted area themselves. But it is wiser to have the therapy under the supervision of experts, a service some bee farms offer.
The owner of one bee farm says it is important for clients to be tested first to check the reaction to the venom. A allergic reaction can be fatal.
Yazid Mohamad, who has had arthritis for years, goes to a bee farm for treatment.
"I read about bee venom therapy and tried it on my own. It works for me, and I have introduced it to many of my friends," he said.
"The stings are much less painful than a jab. The venom injected into my knees and finger joints relieves my pain within 15 minutes and lasts for at least a day."
Bee venom contains more than 40 active substances, including the protein melittin, which stimulates cortisol production by the adrenal glands, which is a natural anti-inflammatory.
The venom also contains "Peptide 401" which is believed to be 100 times more powerful than synthetic cortico-steroids.
A gout patient, Zaidi Ramli, said he was sceptical about the therapy but felt great relief after trying two bee stings on each of his knees.
"The pain of the bee stings is nothing compared to the pain from my gout. I now regularly have three stings on each knee, and I believe the venom has neutralised the uric acid in my knees," he said.
A pincer is used to catch caged bees, which are then applied to the painful area. Once the bee has stung, it dies and the stinger is removed.
The venom provokes an immune response. The red, swollen weal draws blood to the site of the stings and activates the body’s healing process. After 30 seconds or so the pain recedes, followed by a warm feeling.

Chickens didn’t die of flu

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Bird flu is not the cause of death of chickens in four states.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the deaths reported at Kampung Padang (Alor Star), Seberang Takir (Kuala Terengganu), PKNS Flats in Datuk Keramat (Kuala Lumpur) and Kampung Seri Pajar (Kuantan) tested negative for the killer H5N1 virus.
Chua said the operation to detect bird flu cases at Kampung Paya Jaras Hilir in Sungai Buloh has been called off because of the absence of new cases.
"However, monitoring of the health conditions of the personnel involved in the prevention and control measures will continue for two weeks," he said in a statement.
Health deputy director-general Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat said 22 patients who were admitted to hospitals with bird flu symptoms have been declared free from the virus.
He said an 11-year-old boy in Sungai Buloh and two brothers in Kuantan were also verified clear from the H5N1 virus.
Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said the Veterinary Services Department will come out with a comprehensive action plan on poultry farming.
This involved streamlining guidelines between federal and state governments to prevent bird flu outbreaks.
He said the plan would be discussed at the menteris besar and chief ministers conference for approval.
"This action plan does not just cover contingency measures if there is another outbreak but will also include all types of actions on how to avoid its spread," he said at a press conference after attending a dialogue session with participants of the National Feedlot Programme here yesterday.
Muhyiddin said the bird flu action plan was discussed at the last cabinet meeting and it was agreed that the plan was necessary to fight avian influenza.

Ministry wants pack of smokes to be RM5

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry will recommend that the minimum cigarette price for a pack of 20 be set at RM5 to discourage a price war and smoking.
This comes as the ministry discovered through its anti-smoking Jom Tak Nak campaign that 12-year-olds have taken up smoking.
Parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said some tobacco firms were selling certain brands of cigarettes below cost to attract teenagers.
“While tax on a pack of 20 is currently at RM3, some are selling them at RM3.50 or RM3.80.
“This is too low. We are going to recommend this minimum price (RM5) so that tobacco manufacturers are not using artificial means to reduce the price of their cigarette packs,” he told reporters after launching the ministry’s Healthy Lifestyle campaign.
There are some three million smokers in the country, 30% of whom are between 16 and 18.
Asked if the minimum price was too low, Lee said the ministry did not want the tobacco companies to reap too much profit.
“Another fear is that too high a minimum price will lead to cigarette smuggling into the country,” he said, adding that the ministry was studying the possibility of asking for another tax increase on cigarettes for the coming Budget.
Lee said that the ministry was concerned that youths were continuously being exposed to subtle forms of cigarette advertising.
“This includes watching their favourite actors or actresses smoking in movies as well as the message that it will help keep their bodies slim,” he said.
For the Healthy Lifestyle campaign this year, Lee said the main focus would be anti-smoking, the encouragement for businesses, particularly restaurants, to adopt smoke-free premises, and the launching of the telephone infoline 03-8883 4400.

Chua Calls For Defence Against New Health Threats

KUALA LUMPUR, June 14 (Bernama) -- Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek Thursday spoke of the need to have mechanisms and processes in place to reverse the trend of infectious diseases and to prepare for and overcome the looming threats of the newer ones.
He said many infectious diseases once thought to be controlled were now emerging and the people were now also confronted with newer health threats, ranging from diseases attributed to affluent lifestyle and modern-day living to mental stress, cancers and diseases resulting from the environment.
Unfortunately, there were no high-technology and quick-fix solutions and the foundation for the solutions was rigorous scientific proof derived from research, he said in his opening speech at the Kuala Lumpur-OIC Health Ministerial Conference 2007 at Bandar Sunway near here.
The four-day conference was officiated by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi. Also present was OIC Secretary-General Prof Dr Ekmeleddin Ihsanoglu.
Chua said the dramatic changes in society, technology and the environment, with the diminished effectiveness of certain approaches to disease control, had ushered in an era where the spectrum of infectious diseases was expanding.
Infectious diseases now remained the second leading cause of deaths worldwide, he said, adding that besides the natural ambient factors like climate, terrain and genetic makeup, man himself had also contributed to the spread of many infective agents.
He said these health problems not only contributed significantly to the burden of ill health in the population but also resulted in substantial costs to the health care system.
Health was a shared responsibility of individuals, families, communities, health care providers, health and health-related industries, non-governmental organisations and the government, he said.
As such, he said, collective action such as combining changes in individual lifestyles that emphasise fitness and health promotion with disease-prevention measures aimed at social, environmental and occupational causes were required to achieve and maintain the best possible health for all.