Sunday, September 30, 2007

Heart-stopping news for women

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Contrary to popular belief, heart disease occurs equally among men and women, albeit at an older age in women.
In 2005, statistics from the Health Ministry indicated that 22.5% of women died of cardiovascular disease, and this is an increase of 135% compared with 1990.
“Most men and women still think that it is a man’s disease,” states Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin, Malaysian Medical Association president and Yayasan Jantung Malaysia director.
“In a way, that is true, as oestrogen provides some protection from heart disease.
“What women don’t realise is, those who have diabetes may lose this protection, and also, the risk of having heart attacks increases to the same rate as men for women over 62.”
“Most women have their heart attacks after menopause, especially 10 years after menopause due to the decline of oestrogen in the body,” Dr Khoo said.
This is a timely reminder to women, especially since it’s World Heart Day today.
World Heart Day was initiated by the World Heart Federation (WHF) and created by WHO and Unesco in 2000 to create public awareness of risk factors for heart disease and stroke and to promote preventive measures.
This year’s World Heart Day theme, Team Up For Healthy Hearts, highlights the importance of fighting heart disease together as a community.
“Worldwide, an average of more than 16 women per minute die of cardiovascular disease, including heart attack and stroke,” the WHF states in its website.
Other factors can also predispose women to heart disease.
Women who have hypertension, high cholesterol levels, metabolic syndromes, smoke, had their ovaries removed or have a family history of heart disease were also prone to developing the disease, said Dr Khoo.
World Heart Day is held on Sept 30 worldwide.
For more information, log on to the WHF website, or the Yayasan Jantung Malaysia website,

Saturday, September 29, 2007

Malaysians can now study medicine in Poland

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians have more options to study medicine abroad with three Polish universities gaining accreditation here for their medical degree programmes.
The institutions are the Medical University of Warsaw, Medical University of Lodz, and Jagiellonian University Medical College in Krakow.
A Higher Education Ministry team visited Poland in 2005 to vet the country’s medical programmes.
Polish Ambassador Eugeniusz Sawicki said ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Zulkefli A. Hassan relayed the news to him when they met with Polish education officials who were here for the recent European Higher Education Fair.
The Public Services Department, in a letter to the envoy, confirmed that minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed had made the decision in a meeting on Aug 9.
“It’s a breakthrough for us as this is the first time Poland’s medical programmes are recognised by Malaysia.
“The cost of pursuing a medical degree in Poland is much lower compared to other European countries.
“For example, you pay ?12,000 euros (RM60,000) a year in Poland, compared to about ?30,000 (RM150,000) in Britain,” the envoy said in an interview.
Sawicki, who has been working hard to promote bilateral educational co-operation, is feeling optimistic in tapping his country’s developing education market from here.
Last week, he sent off the first private Malaysian student to pursue medicine at the Medical University of Warsaw. Thirty government-sponsored students will enrol at the university later. The medical course is conducted in English.
The envoy said education networking between Poland and Malaysia was gaining further strides with co-operation extended to the technical field as well.
Four UiTM Skudai students will study Optics in Science and Technology at the Warsaw University of Technology under a technical co-operation programme.

Friday, September 28, 2007

Sarawak to have disease test, treatment centre

Star: KUCHING: Malaysia will be able to conduct early phase testing of new disease treatments when its first dedicated facility is operational at the Sarawak Hospital here in two years' time.
Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said there was now no such facility in the country for pharmaceutical companies or researchers to conduct early phase clinical trials.
The proposed state-of-the-art facility, to be housed in the new clinical research centre (CRC) in the hospital’s extension block, will be equipped to support both in-patient and out-patient treatments.
Dr Ismail, who laid the foundation stone for the proposed RM29mil facility yesterday, said Sarawak was spearheading the drive to promote Malaysia as a regional clinical hub.
He said the country did not want to lose out to Singapore and Thailand in attracting international experts.
He said the CRC, headed by the hospital’s head of cardiology Dr Sim Kui Hian, would focus on cardiology research.
He said similar dedicated facilities had been planned for Penang, Johor and Sabah.

Private hospitals, clinics can refer civil servants to IJN

Star: SEREMBAN: Civil servants and pensioners will be able to get referrals from private practitioners and hospitals to the National Heart Institute (IJN) from Oct 1.
Public Services Department director-general Tan Sri Ismail Adam said their spouses and certain family members would also qualify for the free treatment at IJN.
Presently, civil servants and pensioners can only be referred to IJN by doctors from government hospitals or clinics.
He said this in a circular dated Sept 25.
Cuepacs president Omar Osman said the Government’s move reflected efforts to improve the public delivery system.
“Government employees, particularly retirees, will not have to queue up at public hospitals or clinics and wait even longer to get treatment at the IJN,” he said when contacted.
Omar said the Government should also bear the cost for government servants and retirees who seek treatment at private hospitals and clinics.
“Guarantee letters should be issued on the spot or electronically. You cannot expect them to pay first and claim later as they may not have cash with them,” he added.

Non-profit hospital out to raise funds

Star: SEREMBAN: Close to RM3mil has been raised so far for the redevelopment of the Negri Sembilan Chinese Maternity Hospital, the only non-profit medical entity in the state.
Project fund-raising committee chairman Datuk Peter Lai said response from the public was encouraging, adding that RM20mil had to be raised.
“We hope more will step forward to help,” he said, adding that RM15mil will be spent for the redevelopment and the rest on equipment.
Hospital president Datuk Dr Nellie Tan-Wong said the 105-bed hospital would be the biggest in the state.
“We will be a non-profit hospital and patients need pay only RM10 for outpatient treatment,” she said, adding that the hospital, established 75 years ago, now had 70 beds.
There are also plans to set up a nursing school at the hospital, under a tie-up with Nilai International University College.
Dr Tan-Wong said the hospital planned to woo medical tourists from Sumatra, adding that six doctors had visited Dumai in Indonesia last month for the purpose.
She said the hospital was also negotiating with India’s Aashwasan Life Enhancement Services Pvt Ltd chief executive officer Rashmi Aiyappa to open a counselling clinic at the hospital.
A fund-raising dinner, to be attended by MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, will be held at Allson Klana Resort on Oct 6.

Wednesday, September 26, 2007

Bodies slam eKesihatan fiasco

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Various non-governmental organisations have lambasted the Road Transport Department (RTD) over the eKesihatan fiasco.
The NGOs held a press conference yesterday to voice their dissatisfaction over the way the matter was handled and said they would be handing a memorandum to the prime minister.
The groups that attended the press conference, organised by the Social Action Initiative Foundation, included Transparency International, Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations (Fomca), Private Care Doctors Organisation Malaysia (PCDOM), Pan Malaysian Lorry Owners Association and the Taxi, Limousine and Rented Car Owners and Operators Association.
Also present was former special adviser to the United Nations Secretary-General on Ethics, Tunku Abdul Aziz.
Social Action Initiative Foundation executive deputy chairman Tan Sri Robert Phang said the Anti-Corruption Agency should probe the transport ministry secretary-general and the RTD director-general, deputy director-general and enforcement director.
He said RTD deputy director-general Solah Mat Hassan should be given a showcause letter asking him to explain certain comments he had made in the press.
“He (Solah) had said that he had secured the necessary co-operation from the Ministry of Health and the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) before implementing the eKesihatan scheme.
“This is a big lie because the ministry and the MMA both said they didn't know anything about it.
“Until today, has anybody heard the RTD apologising about the matter? Why haven't they? Are they being big-headed?
Phang said it was not just two or three NGOs complaining about the matter, but the public themselves who were up in arms over this issue.
He also re-issued his earlier challenge to the RTD to a debate on the matter and said it was in the absolute interest of the public to have some accountability about what had gone wrong.
Tunku Abdul Aziz said the RTD must do more to fight corruption.
“There is no law that we don't have.
“What we lack is enforcement.
“We have this tutup sebelah mata culture and the RTD is not enforcing the laws of the government,” he said.
Fomca director Darshan Singh said the end victim of such problems was the consumer.
“Something seriously needs to be done here.
“Our country lacks ethics and enforcement and we hope the people at large are protected from such malpractice because our lives are at stake.”
Taxi, Limousine and Rented Car Owners and Operators Association deputy president Mohd Syahrir Abdul Aziz said the eKesihatan initiative was good if it had been carried out properly.

KL Hospital to get RM1.5bil facelift

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) will be redeveloped under a RM1.5bil facelift programme to transform it to the country’s best medical and healthcare facility.
The redevelopment – slated under the Ninth Malaysia Plan – would focus on specific specialised medical and health disciplines, said hospital director Datuk Dr Zaininah Mohd Zain.
Under the plan, the number of hospital beds would be halved to 1,200 from the current 2,400 to allocate more funds to specialised expertise and professional services.
Dr Zaininah said that basically, the hospital would have a spanking new premises without having to relocate to another place.
She said the facelift would be implemented in stages.
Speaking to reporters after receiving Raya goodies from the Federal Territory Islamic Religious Council yesterday, Dr Zaininah said the hospital treated about a million patients last year, of whom 380,000 were outpatients.
Meanwhile, the council has allocated more than RM2mil this year to provide medical equipment and financial aid to patients at HKL, University Malaya Medical Centre and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital in Cheras.
Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Abdullah Md Zin said the council extended the aid during Ramadan every year.
Abdullah, who is the council’s chairman, handed RM250,000 to the HKL Hospital Welfare Fund and medical equipment worth about RM96,300.

Survey: 62% lead exciting sex lives

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Four in five Malaysians have sex on a weekly basis, and 35% actually “do it” three times or more.
With those figures, Malaysia is already head and shoulders above the rest of the world when it comes to frequency, as globally, only 67% make love every week while a measly 10% actually “do it” three times a week or more.
But despite the lead, Malaysians are obviously more randy judging by the results of the latest part of the Durex Sexual Wellbeing Global Survey, aptly called “In The Bedroom.”
More than half (54%) of the respondents actually want to have sex more often, just slightly lower than the global average of 62%.
And for every three out of five Malaysians, it is no holds barred for them as 60% of the respondents actually admitted to being uninhibited when it comes to sex.
At the other end however, as many as 31% still felt uncomfortable telling their partners what they want.
On a more ironic note, almost two-thirds (62%) of Malaysians claim to lead exciting love lives, quite a contrast when compared with the result of the survey's first part released in April that reported only 38% being satisfied with their sex lives.
Globally, only half the respondents said they led exciting love lives, with 43% of Thais and 32% of the survey takers from Hong Kong responding similarly.
And despite being pretty much world-renowned for their kinkiness, only 10% of the Japanese confessed to leading exciting love lives.
The survey also revealed that a relaxing massage was important to two thirds (67%) of Malaysians while 45% confess to having a thing for wearing sexy underwear.
When asked what would improve their love lives, Malaysians rated “more romance” (74%) as their top pick, followed by better communication with their partner (66%) and more fun (64%).
Apart from that, the survey also revealed that 62% of Malaysians expect their partners to become more experimental in their love lives and are optimistic that it would happen within 10 years.
More than 26,000 people from 26 countries took part in the online survey conducted in August and September last year.
Durex is publishing the data over a period of 18 months to take an in-depth look at a variety of topics, including sexual experimentation, physical pleasure, emotional aspects of sex, first sex and education.

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Empowering them with hope

NST: MY Journal is a practical, easy-to-use guide for patients diagnosed and living with cancer which complements treatment and offers support to cancer patients to deal with challenges.
The book is divided into nine parts which includes a patient's medical history, definitions on the types of testing, treatments for cancer, managing side effects, personal experiences and contact resources.
Patients are empowered with hope and information as it defines cancer phases and records treatment, like stages of chemotherapy, which allows doctors to refer and track progress of the patients.
It lists a resource centre which offers tips on side effects.
It also educates the patients' family and caregivers on how to care for the patients and precautions needed.
The book is offered free-of-charge at the oncology clinic at University Malaya Medical Centre.

A book that helps patients deal better with cancer

NST: PETALING JAYA: "My Journal has helped me deal with the trauma of having cancer, and it has helped me to reduce stress. The guide helps me to be proactive with my treatment and it has improved my quality of life."
Forty-seven-year-old Budi Kartini was diagnosed with cancer of the oesophagus in April. She was among the first to receive My Journal from the oncology clinic at Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC). And she says the guidebook for cancer patients has helped her immensely, especially in dealing with the side effects of her seven sessions of chemotherapy.
Since April, 300 cancer patients at UMMC have received the free book, and another 100 copies have been donated to Kuala Lumpur Hospital.
Datuk Lim Boon Kuang, 65, who was diagnosed with oral cancer in January, said: "My Journal is a personal, informative diary that tells me of the progress of my treatment.
"It's been a relief because I've been undergoing chemotherapy for more than six months."
Officially launching My Journal yesterday, UMMC director Professor Dr Ikram Shah Ismail said, "For the first time, patients are better informed and have a base of support that will ease the burden of cancer on both the patients and caregivers."
The person behind My Journal, consultant medical oncologist Dr Cristina Ng Van Tze, said the response to the English version had been good and there were plans to translate it into Malay, Chinese and Tamil.
My Journal was developed with a grant of RM37,000 from Roche (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd.
Sanofi Avantis (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd gave RM11,000 for the first-ever colorectal cancer kit that comes with the guide.
Dr Ng said there were also plans to establish a Patient Advocacy Programme that will support patients and their caregivers through a core team.

Monday, September 24, 2007

More doctors to get specialist training

NST: KOTA BARU: The government will increase the number of doctors sent for specialist training from 450 to 600 annually.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Mustapa Mohamed said this was to cope with the shortage of specialists in the country.
"The decision to raise the number was made about two weeks ago following a recommendation by the Health Ministry to train them at local universities.
"We will discuss with the ministry on how to fill the places. Local universities have the capability to train them but we may have to build new facilities."
Mustapa was speaking after giving away Hari Raya hampers to 105 patients at the Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia paediatrics ward yesterday. Present was his wife Datin Khamarzan Ahmad Meah.
Postgraduate studies in medicine are now available at Universiti Sains Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia and Universiti Malaya.
"We will add several more universities to the list soon."
On another development, Mustapa said there was no need for Kelantan to have new higher education institutions despite plans for it to become a centre of human capital development and educational excellence under the East Coast Economic Region.
He said there were enough public and private institutions in the state and all it needed was to strengthen them further.

Infectious diseases up in Klang

NST: KLANG: There has been an alarming surge in tuberculosis (TB) and hand, foot and mouth (HFM) infections here.
Klang member of parliament Datin Paduka Dr Tan Yee Kew said more than 500 cases of HFM disease were detected in the first six months of the year compared with 300 last year.
"Three kindergartens in Taman Eng Ann, Bukit Tinggi and Taman Pendamar Indah were closed to contain the spread of the disease," she said at a health clinic organised by Wanita MIC at SMK Pandamaran Jaya.
The kindergartens have since reopened.
HFM disease is a viral illness that causes rashes, sores and fever. It is contagious but rarely fatal and mainly affects children.
Tan said more cases were reported this year because authorities were slow to react to the outbreak compared with last year when warnings were promptly issued and steps taken to contain the disease.
"Kindergartens and schools should be on the lookout for signs of the disease and take steps to isolate those infected."
More alarming is the increase in TB cases among the locals here in the past one-and-a-half years.
"TB is no longer a disease that plagues foreign workers," Tan said.
She added that 471 TB cases were reported in Klang last year, of which 404 cases or 86 per cent involved locals.
"There were 20 people who died, of which 13 were HIV patients who were more susceptible to the infection."
More than 350 TB cases were reported here between January and June.
However, no deaths were recorded.
Tan said the higher number of TB infection among locals could be due to the mingling of local and foreign factory workers.

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Traditional Chinese medicine degree in accreditation process

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is considering the recognition of several universities in China so that Malaysian students can pursue degree programmes in traditional Chinese medicine.
MCA president Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, who is also Housing and Local Government Minister, said a Malaysian delegation had recently visited the universities in Beijing, Shanghai and Nanking on a fact-finding mission.
The delegation comprised officials from the Higher Education and Health ministries, including the Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek.
"We will forward the proposals to the government for consideration and evaluation. This is part of MCA's efforts in promoting the life-long learning culture," said Ong at the launch of the "Small and Medium Enterprises 2007" seminar at the Putra World Trade Centre.
The seminar was organised by the ING Insurance Agency Force Association Malaysia.
Ong said traditional Chinese medicine was making waves, given the large number of pharmaceutical companies and medical halls being set up here.
The government is also permitting some hospitals to provide traditional treatment and medicine alongside conventional medicine to Malaysia's increasingly health-conscious populace.
Chinese traditional medicine comes in an assortment of herbs, wines, roots, birds' nests, cordyceps and ginseng supplements that are known to enhance stamina in men and prevent diseases in women.
Additionally, traditional Chinese medicine is compatible with herbal and dietary therapy, acupuncture and massage.
Last May, Malaysia expressed keen interest in China's traditional strength in alternative medicine, while attempting to promote the biotechnology industry.
The International Trade and Industry Ministry has already embarked on an aggressive move to catapult bilateral trade with China, realising the potent mix of the two industries.
Malaysian biotechnology companies are being urged to join hands with research centres in China that specialise in developing agricultural and herb-based medicines.

Saturday, September 22, 2007

Only 2 experts to serve state with most respiratory patients

NST: KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has only two respiratory physicians to cater to the needs of the state, nearly the size of Peninsular Malaysia with a population of 2.7 million.
The situation is said to be caused by the reluctance of respiratory physicians or specialists from the peninsula to serve in the state.
Some claimed that the facilities were inadequate while others thought the state too remote, said Dr Jamalul Azizi Abdul Rahman, Department Head of Respiratory Medicine at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) here.
He is one of the two respiratory physicians in Sabah, who are both based at the QEH.
The need for more such physicians is compounded by the state having the highest number of cases of lung-related diseases, especially tuberculosis (TB).
About 4,000 TB cases are referred to hospitals in Sabah every year, also the highest in the country.
Illustrating the severity of the problem, Dr Jamalul said an average of 200 patients sought treatment at the QEH respiratory clinic every week and respiratory wards with a capacity of 40 beds were always full.
"This does not include cases referred from other hospitals," he said, adding that at least two more respiratory physicians were needed at the QEH.
Dr Jamalul also initiated the first National Interventional Bronchoscopy Course at the QEH recently with the objective of attracting more respiratory physicians to work in Sabah.
"The course was organised so that specialists from the peninsula would know what the hospitals in Sabah are capable of doing."
The course attracted 33 doctors, consisting of general physicians, respiratory physicians, university lecturers and cardiothoracic surgeons.
Two prominent international experts in intervention bronchoscopy - Dr Pyng Lee from Singapore and Dr Hidetoshi Honda from Japan - were invited to speak at the course.
Dr Jamalul also plans to initiate the formation of a Malaysian Association for Bronchology.

New twist in eKesihatan saga

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: There is more to the eKesihatan saga than meets the eye.
A company that bid for the project in February last year was rejected with the excuse that the project had already been awarded.
But Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd, whose director is a former Road Transport Department (RTD) director, only signed the contract this month, 20 months after the bid by the Primary Care Doctors' Organisation Malaysia.
The letter that PCDOM submitted to the then RTD director-general Datuk Emran Kadir on Feb 24 last year contained a detailed outline of the suggested PrimaCare system.
The system is an award-winning electronic medical record and clinic management software that can be used under the eKesihatan programme.
PCDOM conducted a presentation for the RTD a month later but did not hear from them again.
A follow-up letter to the Transport Ministry on March 10 this year saw a reply a month later where they were told that another company had been chosen.
PCDOM president Dr Molly Cheah Bee Li said her organisation had not only created a computer-based version of the RTD health form, but had also come up with a new form based on a similar model used in the United Kingdom.
"All this was provided free of charge for RTD use," she said, adding that the system would have been made available to all clinics free of charge as there were no licensing fees.
"The only cost would have been the cost of deployment, training, support and maintenance, which the doctors themselves would be reponsible for.
"Patients would have only had to pay RM5, for gateway charges and processing fees, on top of whatever medical fee the clinic charged.
"They just ignored us after the presentation. When we wrote a follow-up letter a year later, we received a reply telling us that the contract had been given to somebody else even before we had made our presentation," she said.
When contacted, RTD director-general Datuk Ahmad Mustapha Abdul Rashid said the process of selecting a company to run the eKesihatan project had been ongoing since the late 1990s.
"The decision to award it to Supremme Systems was made earlier this year," he said.
He was at a loss to explain why PCDOM had been brushed off with such a lame excuse.
"I don't know about it. I'm new," he said. He also refused to clarify the basis on which PCDOM's proposal was rejected.
"I don't want to answer that," he said.
It is believed that another proposal, submitted by Koperasi Doktor Malaysia (KDM), was also rejected by RTD.
When contacted, Supremme Systems executive director Datuk Nordin Yahaya said his company only signed the contract with the RTD on Sept 3 this year.
Nordin said another Supremme Systems director, Datuk Kamaluddin Yusoff, was Federal Territory RTD director in the 1980s.
He said that if government clinics were to register under Supremme Systems, those who underwent the checks would only have to pay RM13 instead of the RM80 charged by private clinics.
He also said that an earlier report claiming Supremme Systems would make a profit of some RM400 million was not true.
"This is a gross misrepresentation. We would only retain an average of RM10 out of the fees of RM80. This RM10 is our gross income and not gross profit.
"Gross profit is income less expenses. Assuming there are 500,000 drivers, our annual income will be more like RM5 million and not RM400 million as alleged by certain quarters."

Thursday, September 20, 2007

e-Kesihatan postponed

Sun2Surf: PETALING JAYA: Hit by a fierce chorus of protests from doctors and drivers, the health screening scheme called e-Kesihatan to build a database on the health status of commercial vehicle drivers has been shelved indefinitely.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said yesterday that the cabinet decided that the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) should coordinate its implementation.
“The cabinet has decided that in the best interest of this programme, it should be temporarily postponed as this kind of privatisation project should be referred to the EPU.
“The EPU will then coordinate the implementation (of the programme) with the various government agencies, including the Ministry of Health, for the screening of commercial vehicle drivers,” he told Bernama.
Earlier, Road Transport Department directorgeneral Datuk Ahmad Mustapha Abdul Rashid said in a statement the government had postponed the programme which was to start on Oct 1.
The scheme had created controversy after Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd got the contract from RTD on Sept 3. theSun front-paged the issue on Sept 11 (see flashback), questioning the decision to have an intermediary to handle the scheme.
The RTD had announced that all commercial vehicle drivers who wish to apply or renew their public service vehicle licence and goods-vehicle driving licence must undergo compulsory medical examination and urine test at 611 panel clinics through e-Kesihatan.
However, the ruling which also requires the estimated 800,000 commercial vehicle drivers to pay RM80 each at the post office, faced strongobjection from various quarters. The Malaysian Medical Association said the appointment of panel clinics contravened the Medical Act.
Supremme Systems was also criticised for imposing a high fee. The company retorted that it would get only RM8 from the RM80, with the lion’s share going to doctors and laboratories.
Primary Care Doctors’ Organisation Malaysia (PCDOM) president Dr Molly Cheah was delighted with news of the postponement.
“The RTD should not have tried to implement it in the fi rst place – trying to control doctors ... it does not fall in their domain,” she said, recommending that the RTD work with the Health Ministry instead of giving it to a third party without the expertise to operate the scheme.
Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr Khoo Kay Lin welcomed the postponement but hoped that it would not be indefinitely.
“Indefinitely is not very good news. There should be a reasonable deadline. The RTD should work with the experts, but it must not take too long because we would be risking the population,” he said.
He said among the medical examination approaches to work on are checks for diabetes, high blood pressure and thorough examinations for elderly commercial drivers, besides detection of alcohol and drug abuse.
Among the concerns over Supremme Systemmanaging the scheme was that it could conduct
surprise checks on panel clinics.
Responding to theSun’s report yesterday, PCDOM’s Cheah said: “I’d like to ask (Supremme Systems executive director) Datuk Nordin (Yahaya) how he has authority to do that, under what Act and what law?”
Under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act, enforced last year, general inspections on private clinics can be conducted by only a designated Health Ministry officer.
“This (Supremme Systems’ claim of authority to conduct inspections) is the problem with dealing with a third party involving a ministry that is not even responsible for healthcare. If this is allowed, any Tom, Dick and Harry can walk into the clinic (to conduct inspection),” Cheah said.
Nordin had said inspections would be legal as long as the clinics were on the e-Kesihatan panel.
Cheah said that doctors felt compelled to submit to the scheme because they feared being blacklisted, and because there was no mechanism to protect the profession.
She said PCDOM – an organisation set up to address issues faced by primary care doctors – proposed last year a similar scheme to the RTD but there was no response. Cheah claimed that e-Kesihatan was a project that had been “hijacked by people who are not doctors and who are dictating to doctors how to do their job”.

Cabinet postpones eKesihatan scheme

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The cabinet has stepped in to postpone the controversial eKesihatan scheme.
The programme of mandatory medical check-ups for all commercial vehicle drivers was slated to be implemented on Oct 1.
Road Transport Department director-general Datuk Ahmad Mustapha Abdul Rashid said he received the directive from the Transport Ministry yesterday but he did not know the reason for the postponement.
"I was only told that the implementation of the system has been postponed to a date which the government will decide later."
Under the eKesihatan system, all commercial vehicle drivers have to undergo a comprehensive medical check-up, including urine tests, at appointed panel clinics. It was announced last Saturday by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy.
Several parties - including taxi drivers, the Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Lorry Operators Association and the Malaysian Medical Council - have strongly objected to the programme.
They were not convinced by the claims of Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd, the company contracted to run the system and appoint the panel clinics, that it would benefit commercial drivers.
Supremme Systems executive director Datuk Nordin Yahaya also failed to address why there was a need for a middleman to run the system and the high price of the check-ups, which at RM80 a time would burden the drivers, many of whom have low, unsteady incomes.
Even if they opted to go to a government clinic where they can get a medical examination for RM1, they would still have to pay the full fee.
"Government clinics will have to go through us as we will keep the database.
"It is in our contract with the RTD that we are the main gatekeeper for medical tests for commercial drivers," he said.
He claimed that RM80 was a reasonable fee and that his company would only make RM10 off each driver.
But it was pointed out that the sums don't quite add up.
The panel clinics will charge between RM35 and RM45 per driver, while between RM25 and RM30 will be paid to the laboratories for urine and other tests.
He also denied newspaper reports that the company stands to make profits of RM400 million over 15 years. He said the estimated gross profit was more like RM5 million.
The scheme was introduced after a spate of fatal bus crashes blamed on the drivers.
At least one million taxi, stage bus and express bus drivers will be affected by the scheme.

Cabinet shelves eKesihatan, wants EPU to coordinate

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet has decided to shelve the eKesihatan health screening to enable the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) to coordinate the implementation of the programme, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
“The Cabinet has decided that in the best interest of the programme, it should be temporarily postponed as this kind of privatisation project should be referred to the EPU.
“The EPU will then coordinate the implementation (of the programme) with the various government agencies, including the Health Ministry, for the screening of commercial vehicle drivers,” he said.
Road Transport Department (JPJ) director-general Datuk Ahmad Mustapha Abdul Rashid had said in a statement earlier that the Cabinet had decided to postpone the programme, which was scheduled to kick off on Oct 1.
“I do not know the details (of the decision). The Minister (Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy) is not around, so I don’t know the details apart from the statement that I have been asked to make,” he said.
On Sept 10, JPJ announced the implementation of eKesihatan, whereby commercial vehicle drivers were to be tested for drug abuse under a medical check-up scheme when they renewed their licence or applied for a new one.
The move would have affected more than 700,000 holders of public services vehicle, goods driving and conductor licences.
The scheme was aimed to ensure that only medically fit drivers were behind the wheel of commercial vehicles.
Under the scheme, the results would be electronically transmitted to JPJ via a government-appointed gateway provider, Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd, while payment and registration for the tests would have to be done at post offices before a driver proceeded to the appointed panel clinic.
Those applying or renewing their licences were to pay RM80 for the test.
However, the scheme drew protests from doctors, the Malaysian Medical Council, and owners and drivers of commercial vehicles nationwide.
They claimed the fees were exorbitant and questioned the appointment of Supremme Systems as they felt that such a scheme did not need a third party to operate.
Chan, who is Transport Minister, is in Canada to help Malaysia get elected as a council member of the International Civil Aviation Organisation.

Wednesday, September 19, 2007

e-Kesihatan: Supremme Systems can inspect clinics of doctors in its panel

Sun2Surf: PETALING JAYA (Sept 18, 2007): Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd, the company operating the Road Transport Department (RTD)'s e-Kesihatan scheme to conduct health checks on commercial vehicle drivers, has been given the authority to inspect the clinics of doctors under its panel.
"Supremme Systems with the RTD can conduct surprise checks on doctors registered under e-Kesihatan," said company executive director Datuk Nordin Yahaya.
He said the checks can only be conducted with the RTD or with the written consent of the department.
Nordin said it was perfectly legal for them to do so as at the end of the day, they are e-Kesihatan panel doctors.
Supremme Systems had approached theSun to respond to the questions and criticisms against it and the government for farming out the health checks on commercial vehicle drivers for application and renewing of licences to a private company. The scheme takes effect Oct 1.
He stressed that all doctors are welcome to register as long as they are certified by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).
He explained that the initial 611 doctors registered on e-Kesihatan last week were invited due to the time factor.
"We signed the agreement on Sept 3 and the launch of e-Kesihatan was on Sept 17. With only two weeks, we obtained the list of doctors from available databases, including from the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
"Now that the launch has been pushed to Oct 1, we have more time to get doctors to register," he said, adding that there were hundreds of new applicants since advertisements were published in the papers last week.
Nordin said Supremme Systems could do for taxpayers what the RTD was unable to -- operate an integrated fool-proof system to ensure only commercial drivers who are healthy and drug-free are allowed to ferry passengers.
He said with doctors and labs working separately from each other and payments being made to Supremme Systems via 670 post offices, there was lesser risk of fraudulent diagnosis as Supremme Systems pays the doctors and labs.
"Under the old system, there was a physical form for doctors to fill. It was prone to fraud and abuse," said Nordin.
"Under e-Kesihatan, the RTD will not rely on physical observation alone. The doctor does the physical checks, the lab does the rest and the results are posted to e-Kesihatan," he said, adding that the RM80 fee is reasonable.
"This is about perception. Commercial operators have said they can get the tests done for between RM10-20. They must ask themselves, what sort of checks are they? And if they are comprehensive and trustworthy."
Nordin said e-Kesihatan checks for seven drugs, including morphine, cannabis and amphetamines, as well as a regular health check-up.
He said of the RM80, the company gets RM8 and Pos Malaysia RM2, while RM10 is for operating costs, RM35 go to the doctors and RM25 to laboratories.
"Commercial labs will charge between RM68 and RM81. We can charge less due to volume."
Nordin said Supremme Systems shoulders a huge liability as, if a bogus doctor is registered on its panel, it faces a fine of RM50,000, while the penalty for negligent misdiagnosis is 10 times Supremme Systems' fee per case. This penalty also applies if a driver cannot be certified within five working days.
"For systems breakdown, the penalty is RM150,000!" said Nordin.
He said the contract with the RTD is for five years and the company has no rights over the database which will eventually cover over one million drivers.
He added that while doctors who wish to be part of the scheme must have professional indemnity insurance, it does not mean Supremme Systems could not be vicariously liable in any lawsuit that is a result of an accident due to a misdiagnosed driver.
He admits e-Kesihatan is a work in progress.
"However concrete a system, there will still be some who slip through the cracks. We are working with the RTD to tighten these areas such as requiring follow-up checks on some drivers and tightening the chain of custody of samples at labs."

It only costs RM7 for lab test, claims doctor

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The laboratory tests for the eKesihatan screening cost less than RM7, and not between RM25 and RM35 as claimed earlier by the company appointed as the gateway provider.
Koperasi Doktor Malaysia Bhd chairman Dr J.S. Deo disputed the higher figure quoted by Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd executive director Datuk Nordin Yahaya at a press conference recently.
Dr Deo claimed that the tests, to detect the presence of morphine, marijuana, amphetamines, methamphetamine and phencycledine, could be performed by a laboratory for a fee of RM5.90.
"This is the quote for a minimum order of 1,000 units. With larger volumes, the company can get a better price."
Two other tests, Dr Deo said, would cost an additional RM1, bringing the total to RM6.90 per screening.
"Assuming that it (the company) paid the lab RM10 and doctors RM40, they would still enjoy a profit of RM30."
On Monday, Nordin had denied trying to milk the Road Transport Department scheme and had provided a cost breakdown of the test.
He had said that the RM80 fee imposed on drivers under the scheme was justified because doctors would be paid between RM35 and RM45, while laboratories would receive between RM25 and RM35 for the tests.
He also claimed that the company would only make a profit of between RM8 and RM10 per screening and this would cover the cost of monitoring and maintenance of the database server and infrastructure.
"The appointment of Supremme Systems as the gateway provider raises a lot of questions on the transparency of the selection process because Nordin is a former RTD officer," Dr Deo said.
Under the new scheme, holders of public service vehicle licences, goods vehicle driving licences and conductor licences would have to undergo a mandatory health check by a panel of doctors appointed by Supremme Systems and endorsed by the RTD.
The scheme was introduced following fatal bus crashes which were blamed on the drivers.
At least one million taxi, bus and express bus drivers nationwide would be affected by the scheme, which is scheduled to be implemented on Oct 1.

New private hospital for Kepala Batas

Star: INDIA’S Manipal Health Systems and Sri Arunanesh Sdn Bhd have agreed to set up a hospital in Kepala Batas, Penang.
Malaysia Nanban reported that the 200-bed hospital, which is expected to start operations by 2009, would be located near Kepala Batas town.
The hospital will offer a range of services, including general medicine, general surgery, obstetrics, gynaecology and paediatrics, cardiology and cardiothoracic surgery.
Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr Koh Tsu Koon said the hospital would also help to promote health tourism.
Manipal Education and Medical Group managing director Dr Ranjan Rai said the group had been educating doctors for the past 50 years.
He said they had access to a large pool of doctors working in some of the finest hospitals in the world.

Colleges to be paid more

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Fees paid to private sector nursing colleges which train them for the Health Ministry will be increased by between 10% and 40% by the end of the year.
Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said the ministry was currently paying RM24,000 for a three-year programme for each nurse.
The current market rate for nursing programmes in the private sector ranges from RM40,000 to RM60,000 for a three-year programme.
“It is not fair that other students are paying full fees while we pay about half the cost, yet all students are being given the same treatment,” said the deputy minister after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of agreement between the ministry, the Nursing Board of Malaysia and six nursing colleges yesterday on the provision of training.
Dr Abdul Latiff said the actual quantum of increase, to range from 10% to 40%, would be decided by the end of the year.
The ministry started outsourcing the training of nurses under the Public Services Department in 2004 and there are currently 2,000 students being trained at 15 private institutions. A total of 5,000 students are trained as nurses every year.
Dr Abdul Latiff said the ministry would continue to increase the number of students being trained annually because 15% of its nurses undergo compulsory retirement each year.
“At present, our ratio is one nurse to 600 people but we are trying to achieve the ratio of one nurse to 200 people,” he said.
He added that the ministry was very careful about the standard and quality of the institutions that students were sent to.
“If the quality is not good, we will stop sending students there,” he said.

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

Scrap eKesihatan, say lorry operators

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Lorry operators want the Road Transport Department’s eKesihatan system, to be implemented on Oct 1, to be shelved.
Selangor and Kuala Lumpur Lorry Operators Association secretary-general Alvin Choong said association members felt that the system would not be successful without the participation of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).
"The whole scheme is nothing more than a money-spinner for selected parties," Choong said.
He added that in the absence of the MMA and MMC, Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd — the company given the contract to handle the system — would not be able to monitor and supervise the conduct and integrity of participating clinics under its panel.
"The Health Ministry can easily assist the RTD to set up a database on commercial drivers with the assistance of MMA and MMC at their respective clinics or government clinics."
Choong described the RM80 charge imposed on drivers under the scheme as a "financial burden".
"Why should drivers pay such a high price when they can get similar treatment at a fraction of that sum?"
He also questioned the appointment of Supremme Systems, charging that the company had no "known medical background or acumen".
The eKesihatan system has caused a furore among many parties. Despite this, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy has ordered that it be implemented from Oct 1.
Under the new system, holders of public service vehicle licences, goods vehicle driving licences and conductor licences will have to undergo a mandatory health check by a panel of doctors appointed by Suprem-me Systems and endorsed by the RTD. This follows fatal crashes blaming drivers.

Monday, September 17, 2007

Ministry ‘knew about eKesihatan’

NST: PUTRAJAYA: The Road Transport Department has dismissed claims that it did not consult the Health Ministry before implementing its eKesihatan system.
RTD deputy director-general Solah Mat Hassan said every aspect of the scheme had been referred to and discussed with ministry officials.
He said the department did not act alone in drawing up the system. "For instance, we had agreed that the monitoring of 611 clinics appointed under the system would be done by the ministry."
He was responding to claims by the Malaysian Medical Council president and director-general of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican that the Health Ministry was not consulted by the RTD about the system.
Dr Ismail had said that the RTD should have also consulted professional bodies.
As the custodian of medical practice, he said the council was concerned over any move to place restrictions or conditions on the practice of any registered practitioner.
The eKesihatan system, which will come into effect on Oct 1, has caused a furore among many parties.
Under it, holders of all public service vehicle licences (PSV), goods driving licences (GDL) and conductor licences will have to undergo a mandatory health check by a panel of doctors appointed by the RTD.
Solah said Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd, the company awarded the contract to handle the system, including appointing panel clinics, planned to appoint the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) as its technical adviser.
"As far as the RTD is concerned, we have referred the matter to the Health Ministry and professional bodies like MMA for advice."
He said the system would benefit not only commercial vehicle drivers but also the public.
"If drivers are not fit, they can endanger the safety of passengers they are ferrying," he said.
On the claim that the RM80 fee was too steep, he said it was the opposite as drivers would get a complete medical check-up.
Solah said the public supported the scheme, especially after the Bukit Gantang express bus crash that claimed the lives of 22 people.

Firm denies milking JPJ scheme

Star: PETALING JAYA: A bulk of the RM80 eKesihatan fee paid by commercial vehicle drivers to ensure they were drug-free and medically fit to drive will go back to the doctors and laboratories that conducted the medical tests.
Doctors performing the tests would be paid between RM35 and RM45 while the laboratories would receive between RM25 and RM35 for the seven tests, Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd executive director Datuk Nordin Yahaya said yesterday.
He added that RM2 of the RM80 will cover postal fees while Supremme Systems, which runs the programme, will get between RM8 and RM10 (about 12%) to cover its monitoring, database server and infrastructure maintenance costs.
“We are not making RM400mil as reported. How is that possible when we are only charging between RM8 and RM10 for our costs, which include our staff salary and maintenance costs?” he asked.
Nordin said this yesterday at a press conference held to clarify reports and criticisms from various parties, including taxi and bus operators, over the RM80 fee and claims that the company would be making RM35 from this amount.
On Friday, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said the eKesihatan scheme, which begins on Oct 1, would plug loopholes in the current system such as chits being falsified, resulting in drug addicts and unfit people driving commercial vehicles, including express buses.
Nordin said the system would ensure all necessary tests would be carried out by a certified laboratory.
“The eKesihatan provides a comprehensive online medical history and database of commercial vehicle drivers for the Road Transport Department (JPJ), which is especially useful when renewing licences or when an accident happens. This was non-existent previously,” he added.
“Our aim is to work with JPJ to ensure road users’ safety. If the doctors are willing to reduce their price, we will be more than happy to do so as it goes back to them anyway.”
Government clinics, he said, could also be involved in the scheme as long as they had the proper facilities, including printers and Internet connection to be linked to the system.
“If the clinics are involved, then the price to be paid to the doctors and labs will be according to the government price, which can make the total fee much lower than RM80. But that is up to the Health Ministry to decide,” he said.
Nordin also clarified that they were not out to register doctors as previously claimed by various associations and reports.
On the Malaysian Medical Association’s claim that they were not consulted, Nordin said they approached them in August 2005 and again this month after they signed the agreement with the Government but had not heard from them.

Sunday, September 16, 2007

Council hopes NS camps will get medics by December

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The National Service Training Council hopes that the hiring of medical assistants and nurses for NS camps will be done by December, its chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said.
He said this would enable each camp to have three medical assistants and two nurses for next year’s first training session.
“I have met with Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek to help ensure that the positions are filled and that the best people are placed for the jobs,” Lee said.
He was speaking to reporters after handing over 300 sets of chairs and tables worth RM22,500 for SKJ(C) On Pong in Ampang near here by the SP Setia Foundation on Friday.
In April, the Government announced that three medical assistants and two nurses would be placed in every NS camp. This would require 249 new medical assistant and 166 new nurse posts to be created and filled. The RM20mil allocation for the NS programme would be used for the purpose.
Lee said he had met Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Najib Tun Razak over the matter and he had said that he was looking forward to the implementation of the new system.
“At the moment, the armed forces paramedic team attends to the trainees but we hope that after the medical assistants and nurses are hired, the team can be sent back to the Defence Ministry,” he said.

Helping young to fight cancer

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Young cancer patients have been urged never to give up hope.
"Sometimes it is very hard for them to deal with the fact that they are suffering from cancer.
"Being in the prime of life but robbed of their aspirations is a terrible thing to endure," said Cancerlink Foundation board of trustees chairperson Joanne V. Fernandez.
In support of youth afflicted with cancer, the Cancerlink Foundation and the Federal Territory Girl Guides Association are launching a fund-raising campaign for the annual Seri Endon Victory Ventures Camp.
The camp, organised by the foundation, is an ongoing support programme for young cancer patients.
"For the past three years, we have been taking 60 to 80 participants to a location that can accommodate the programme.
"The four-day, three-night camp is filled with activities such as water sports, arts and music.
"Each programme is designed to help the youth overcome the debilitating and, at times, traumatic effects of cancer.
"The holistic programme helps the youth to develop the necessary skills to overcome their fears, anger and pain.
"They need to know that cancer is not a death sentence.
"They need to know that they can still live their lives to the fullest," said Fernandez.
In July, the camp was held at the Outward Bound School in Lumut, Perak, and was a success.
"The programme also includes counselling sessions where former participants and cancer survivors get to share their experiences, offering hope and support to others."
Yesterday, more than 300 donation tins were distributed to various Girl Guide troops from schools in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor to help collect funds.
Next year’s event will be held in May.
Also present were the Federal Territory Girl Guides Association patron Datin Nor Zan Mohd Adnan, its president Datuk Yeoh Soo Keng and state commissioner Junie Simon.

eKesihatan system online by Oct 1

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The Road Transport Department’s (RTD) eKesihatan system will be online by Oct 1.
The announcement was made by Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy despite the hue and cry over its ethical and legal ramifications.
Chan said the fee of RM80 was not exorbitant, adding that the biggest portion of the fees would go to the clinics, as well as for lab tests.
"A small portion of it is management fees," he said following complaints that the management fee was too high.
He said the new system was needed because the present one was open to abuse.
"Some commercial drivers are forging medical sheets.
"Some express bus drivers are not medically fit and even drug addicts are being allowed to drive."
The current system, he said, did not include a blood test, but was just a general check-up by the doctor.
Chan also brushed aside allegations that the RTD was overstepping its authority.
In response to a statement by director-general of health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican that the RTD should not be allowed to dictate which medical practitioner could examine drivers, Chan said: "They (RTD) are not registering clinics. All clinics fulfilling the needs will be approved.
"Government clinics will, of course, be included. After all, they are the most secure," he said.
Chan claimed he did not know which company had been awarded the contract as the gateway provider for the programme.
The RTD had proposed the eKesihatan scheme to increase public service vehicle safety in the wake of the Bukit Gantang express bus crash.
Under the scheme, holders of all public service vehicle (PSV) licences, goods driving licences (GDL) and conductor licence will have to undergo a mandatory health check by doctors on the panel.
The scheme has caused a furore among many parties affected by it, including lorry, express bus and taxi drivers who have to renew their PSV and GDL licences annually.
The scheme also raised eyebrows in the medical fraternity. The Malaysian Medical Association questioned the selection process for the company operating the system and called on its members not to accept the appointment as panel clinic for the eKesihatan programme until further discussions with the RTD.
On the coming festive season, Chan said the Commercial Vehicle Licensing Board had approved additional permits for buses in view of a shortage of buses.
However, certain requirements needed to be observed by the buses, including checks by Puspakom.
The buses also cannot be more than 10 years old.
"The driver cannot drive for more than four hours or 300km straight, or exceed eight hours of driving a day," Chan said.
The buses must also have log books on board.
"The police and the RTD will be conducting joint enforcement under Ops Bersih and Ops Sikap," he said after closing World Vision’s 30-hour famine camp at Stadium Putra in Bukit Jalil.
Some 5,500 participants fasted for 30 hours to raise RM1.2 million for charity.

eKesihatan to stop cheating, says Kong Choy

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The new eKesihatan scheme was introduced to plug loopholes in the current system, Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy said.
He said the system, which would be phased out by the end of this month, had many leakages including chits being falsified.
“A lot of commercial vehicle drivers, including express bus drivers, are unfit to drive and even drug addicts are able to drive due to weaknesses in the current system,” he said.
He was speaking to reporters after launching the 10th World Vision 30-Hour Famine Camp here yesterday.
On the negative reaction from various parties on the scheme, Chan said the Road Transport Department (JPJ) has been asked to hold dialogues and meetings with those involved.
Asked why JPJ wanted the doctors involved in the scheme to register with a private company, Chan said: “I don’t think they are registering the doctors.”
He said what was required was for clinics to become part of the panel.
On the third party company being given the right to operate the new system, Chan said: “I don’t have the details.”
A total of 5,500 participants from all walks of life took part in the camp, where they had to forego solid food for 30 hours.
They were required to invite family, friends and colleagues to sponsor their fast.
The money collected will be channelled to help World Vision in bringing emergency relief and longer-term development for children and families in need in Malaysia and other countries.

MMC: Scheme introduced too hastily

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) is the latest medical body to voice concern about the legitimacy of the eKesihatan scheme, saying that it had been introduced too hastily and raised various ethical issues.
Its president Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said yesterday that proper consultation with the Health Ministry and other medically relevant professional bodies should have been done.
This was because the new scheme seemed to place restrictions on the duties and responsibilities of a medical practitioner by dictating who a vehicle driver could consult and whose findings would not be accepted by the Road Transport Department (JPJ).
In a strongly worded statement, he said the MMC had the exclusive right to register medical practitioners in the country under the Medical Act.
Once registered and possessing the annual practising certificate, the practitioner had the “sole prerogative” to examine, diagnose, investigate and treat within the parameters of his training and legal framework.
Any certificate, notification, report or document signed by the practitioner was evidence that he actually examined the person, he said.
“As the custodian of medical practice in this country, the council is very concerned with any move to place any restrictions or conditions on the practice of any registered practitioner,” he said.

Friday, September 14, 2007

RTD defends e-Kesihatan scheme

Sun2Surf: PUTRAJAYA (Sept 13, 2007): The Road Transport Department today defended its e-Kesihatan scheme, saying it creates a much-needed database of commercial drivers and uses the same paperless concept as e-Insurance and e-Ownership scheme.
The department’s deputy director-general Solah Mat Hassan said the scheme makes data collection more efficient by using only one channel to deliver the data, unlike previously when the data came from multiple channels.
Currently, all commercial vehicle drivers have to undergo annual health checks to renew their licences. Under the new system, they continue to do this, but with panel clinics registered by an appointed company, Supremme System Sdn Bhd, which functions as a gateway provider to prepare the online infrastructure to collect the health data of the drivers for the RTD.
Solah said the RTD had consulted the Health Ministry before implementing the scheme and the company was appointed by the Transport Ministry.
"I am not happy with news reports saying the company is not legit. (By implementing the scheme) we just want to ensure the safety of the passengers and road users is protected. We have a set of criteria for clinics that want to participate under the scheme and we will ensure that the clinics meet the requirement," he said in a press conference today.
The criteria required doctors to have an annual practicing certificate, a registered certificate with the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998, a clinic with computers, printer and internet facilities, a professional indemnity insurance, clinic that operates eight hours a day and five days a week, sign the service agreement and abide by the health check procedure of e-Kesihatan, and paid (one-off) RM100 to the company for registration and agreement stamp duty.
Solah also said the scheme has standardised the health check fee at RM80, which includes RM25-RM30 for seven lab tests, RM35-RM45 for doctor fees, RM8 for the company and RM2 for postal fees.
He said so far, 611 clinics have registered under the scheme. Registration is still open.
On the Malaysian Medical Association's opposition to the scheme, Solah said the department had held a discussion with MMA in 2005 to appoint the association as the scheme’s technical adviser. But the scheme was put on hold and is only being implemented now.
"We wrote to the MMA on Sept 11, a day after we made the announcement, that we were willing to work with them on the scheme," he said.
Solah said the scheme will start on Oct 1 and Form L8 for the drivers’ health check will no longer be used.
The MMA had also fiercly opposed the Fomema scheme which also registered panel doctors to conduct medical tests on foreign workers entering the country. "However it was too late to make amends as it was already at the late stages when we found out about it," said MMA chairperson for private practitioners sector Dr S.R. Manalan.
"We had learnt from this and from the numerous problems posed by the Fomema scheme," he said. There should be more transparency and MMA should be consulted, he added.
MMA has called upon all doctors, members and non-members, not to register under the new scheme. It's president Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin said the association was not against e-Kesihatan is opposing the manner in which it is being conducted.
Manalan said there are many ethical issues which need to be considered among a host of other problems that can crop up.
Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association (PMBOA) said while it supported the idea of a streamlined monitoring system for public vehicle drivers, drivers will now have to fork out more than eight times more for medical checks under the new scheme. Drivers currently pay RM10 for their medical tests.

JPJ: Screening under eKesihatan to go as planned

Star: PUTRAJAYA: More private clinics can be appointed to conduct tests on commercial vehicle drivers under the eKesihatan programme, said Road Transport Department (JPJ) deputy director-general Solah Mat Hassan.
“As long as the clinics comply with the legal requirements and have computers with Internet facilities they can be an eKesihatan panel clinic by paying a lifetime registration fee of RM100,” he said.
Solah said Supremme Systems was one of four companies shortlisted by the Transport Ministry to be a systems provider for the Government’s eKesihatan initiative.
“This is how we have implemented all our other initiatives like eKhidmat; eInsuran and ehakmilik,” he said.
The routine screening of commercial vehicle drivers and conductors via eKesihatan clinics will go on as scheduled from Oct 1 despite strong objections from doctors.
Solah said that the main objective of introducing the eKesihatan was to enable JPJ to retrieve medical records of all 700,000 commercial vehicle drivers and conductors via a secure online database system maintained by Supremme Systems.
Meanwhile, Primary Care Doctors Organisation Malaysia (PCDOM) president Dr Molly Cheah said her organisation had earlier offered JPJ a similar online programme at no cost before Supremme Systems was appointed.
“So why are we having a third party? On what basis did JPJ pick Supremme Systems?
“Why should private clinics be registered with Supremme Systems? Our members are extremely upset with the Government for appointing a third party without even consulting the doctors’ groups,” said Dr Cheah.
On Wednesday, the MMA questioned the selection of Supremme Systems as the gateway provider, and called on its members not to accept the appointment as panel clinics for the eKesihatan programme until further discussions with the JPJ.

Thursday, September 13, 2007

Teenagers attend seminar on reproductive health

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: There was an equal number of embarrassed and interested looks among the young audience when they were shown photos of the human genitalia at a seminar on Monday.
But it was all done for a good cause as the aim was to teach the 250 secondary school students on the subject of sexually-transmitted diseases (STD) and the human reproduction system.
The Teenagers Reproduction Health seminar was held at Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia in Bandar Tun Razak here.
SMK Sri Mulia Form Two student Mohd Qayyum Muhaimin Abdullah shyly admitted that he closed his eyes when the photos were shown.
“I felt embarrassed as there are both male and female students here. I think the subject is important, but it is not often discussed openly.”
Nur Zuraida Mawardi, 17, of SMK Sinar Bintang, Segambut, described the seminar as an eye-opener and that it had improved her understanding of the subject.
“We learnt the dangers of STDs are and how our reproductive system works,” she said.
Teacher Rabiah Muda from SMK Taman Sri Rampai, Wangsa Maju, said students should be exposed to sex education although some might find it sensitive.
“Teenagers, especially in urban areas, are more exposed to social ills.
It is better that we provide them with the correct information rather then for them to find out elsewhere, without proper guidance.”
Malaysian Association of Maternal and Neonatal Health president Prof Dr Zaleha Abdullah Mahdy said as lifestyle patterns were changing, youngsters must know about reproductive health.
“They need to learn from the right sources, especially sex-related issues."
The seminar, attended by students from 20 schools in the Klang Valley, was opened by UKM Medical Faculty Dean Prof Datuk Dr Lokman Saim.

Emergency service revamp

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Emergency care services are set for a major overhaul early next year, Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said.
The measures include training ambulance drivers on basic emergency care, procurement of new vehicles and equipment, and centralised call centres in every state hospital.
Dr Ismail said the first phase of the drivers’ training module, already sent out to each state, included educating them on their role and job functions, how to inspect their vehicle, adherence to traffic rules, ethics, effective communication and driving techniques.
The second module, he said, would teach them basic emergency care like cardiopulmonary resuscitation, how to carry a stretcher and use a wheelchair, treat wounds and immobilise patients correctly.
“We accept that ambulance services can be better,” Dr Ismail told reporters yesterday.
“We cannot have the driver just being a driver. He has to be multi-skilled.
“The driver himself must be part of the management team in order to carry the stretcher and provide help.”
A future plan includes training medical assistants to drive ambulances, he added.
Dr Ismail said it was the responsibility of directors from state health departments, hospitals and clinics to ensure that training was carried out.
“This includes making sure ambulances and equipment are inspected every morning and maintained regularly,” he said.
“Life would be much easier if they adhered to standard operating procedures.”
He added that emergency phone calls to a centralised centre would be channelled to the 24-hour call centre in a particular state and subsequently help would be sent out.
At the moment, there were such call centres in four locations: Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Johor and Klang.
Dr Ismail said that in cases where “not much” technical expertise was required, St John’s Ambulance vehicles would be used as a temporary measure.
There are more than 1,000 ambulances in the country.
In cities like Kuala Lumpur, motorcycles fitted with proper equipment are also used to reach emergency scenes.
Dr Ismail said the ministry was striving to ensure that help arrived within 15 minutes.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007

Docs give thumbs down to JPJ scheme

Star: PETALING JAYA: Lack of consultation, unreasonable fees and possible abuse of privacy were some of the reasons various parties gave for their reservations on the Road Transport Department’s eKesihatan scheme.
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) expressed surprise that JPJ managed to come out with a compulsory medical examination scheme for commercial vehicle drivers in such a short time.
Its president Datuk Dr Khoo Kah Lin, in a statement, said the MMA was “not sure if the procedure has been thought out well enough.”
“There may have been unscrupulous touts who have forged signatures and fake clinic stamps, but still this should not be the reason to impose another additional surcharge,” he said.
Those applying or renewing their goods driving, passenger service vehicle and conductor licences have to pay RM80 for the test. Previously they paid RM50 for new applications and RM10 for renewals.
Dr Khoo added that the appointment of a third party, namely gateway provider Supremme System Sdn Bhd, might have a “negative impact on public road safety while increasing cost.”
As all doctors in the country were registered with the Malaysian Medical Council, Dr Khoo said there was no need for a middle person to handle the re-registering of the doctors and to create a panel for this.
Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Associations Malaysia president Dr Steven Chow said doctors were not in favour of the scheme.
“The system restricts the accessibility of patients to medical care of their choice,” he said.
Dr Chow said that under the old system, general practitioners usually would charge RM50 for this examination and report, and there were no middleman charges at all.
“The company makes RM35 for every examination of a licence a year. In addition, the company makes extra income by charging doctors RM100 just to be registered with this service provider,” he said.
Primary Care Doctors Organisation representative Dr Mahendran Markandoo said what the medical profession needed was a gateway that was fully handled by medical practitioners.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007

Keeping tabs on medical products

NST: SOME pharmaceutical companies have been putting banned ingredients in their products after these were registered with the Health Ministry.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said as a result the ministry would continue to check medical products even after they were certified safe for use.
"Such medication will not show any immediate side-effects, although it is dangerous to the liver and kidneys," he said in reply to a question by Datuk Dr Mohamad Shahrum Osman (BN-Lipis) yesterday.
Earlier, replying to Tan Sri Hew See Tong (BN-Kampar), he said pharmaceutical companies were required to label their products on the efficacy and possible complications that could arise from overuse or unmonitored use.
He said last year, unregistered medicine and cosmetics worth RM7.83 million had been confiscated by the ministry. As of June this year, products worth RM13.77 million had been seized.
The public can verify the authenticity of medical products at
Registered products are also labelled with Meditag holograms.

Malaysia free from bird flu

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia has been declared free from bird flu after passing the requisite three-month period without any new outbreak since the last epidemic began in June.
Veterinary authorities have spent the last three months conducting surveillance on fowl in and around Kampung Paya Jaras Hilir in Sungai Buloh, Selangor, where there was an outbreak on June 5.
A total of 4,266 free-range chickens, ducks and other fowl were culled within five days from the outbreak, costing the government nearly RM40,000 in compensation to their owners.
Coops were destroyed and premises within the infected zone were disinfected.
Two rounds of surveillance were conducted up to a 10km radius from the infection zone, during which swab samples were taken from more birds.
Over the three months, 24,246 swab samples were taken from various fowl within the affected area and also nationwide to check if the H5N1 virus had spread. Test results for the virus have been negative.
"We are now free of avian influenza as we have successfully conducted the stamping-out policy to ensure there is no spread of the virus, and have followed all measures in accordance with guidelines by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE)," Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said yesterday.
Also present at the press conference was Veterinary Services Department director-general Datuk Dr Abdul Aziz Jamaluddin.
The ministry’s final report to the OIE was submitted on Sunday, in which it was confirmed to the world body that Malaysia was free of the virus.
Muhyiddin added that the OIE and the World Health Organisation had praised Malaysia for its handling of the bird flu outbreaks.
He hoped that with the declaration, countries which had stopped importing poultry from Malaysia would resume their imports.
Muhyiddin lamented that state governments were slow in gazetting state enactments on rearing of free-range chickens.
The ministry had given each state a draft legislation on this matter for their adoption, but to date none had enforced the rules, which carry penalties for rearing chickens in urban areas and for allowing chickens to roam free.
"Perhaps the states do not see this as important but we can’t afford to have a lackadaisical attitude," he said.
Malaysia has successfully fought three avian flu outbreaks since 2004, spending RM10 million in compensation for culled birds.
Muhyiddin also said that Malaysia must continue to be vigilant as avian flu was still prevalent in several neighbouring countries.
All Asean countries, with the exception of Singapore, the Philippines, Brunei, and now Malaysia, still had bird flu.
Poorer Asean members lacked the resources to conduct comprehensive stamping-out programmes which involved culling of fowl, compensation for breeders and owners, and surveillance checks.

Another ambulance involved in accident

Star: ALOR STAR: Barely a day after the Auditor-General's report on ambulances being involved in road accidents was made public, a Civil Defence Department ambulance carrying six people was involved in a collision here.
All escaped unhurt in the 10.50pm incident on Sunday at the Jalan Lencongan Barat-Lebuhraya Sultan Abdul Halim junction here.
The ambulance was on its was to send Ku Saad Ku Senawi, 71, from Kampung Selarong Batak, Yan, to Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital here when the incident occurred.
Driver Mohd Som Mohd Said, 43, said he was driving along Lebuhraya Sultan Abdul Halim with the siren on when a car suddenly came out of Jalan Lencong Barat.
He said he hit the right side of the car causing it to swerve and stop in the middle of the junction.
It is learnt that three people in the car suffered minor injuries.
All of them were rushed to the hospital in two other ambulances.
Only Ku Saad and the three victims from the car were warded.
They are reported to be in stable condition.
Kota Star OCPD Asst Comm Frederick Liso Senap confirmed the incident.

Ministry replacing old ambulances

Star: THE Health Ministry has taken steps to avoid accidents involving ambulances and is replacing old vehicles in stages, the Treasury said.
“Among the steps is to provide training to drivers according to the fixed module, monitoring the maintenance of ambulances by concessionaires and replacing old ambulances in stages according to new specifications,” said the Treasury in its report, when responding to findings in the Auditor-General’s report.
According to the report, 112 ambulances were involved in 120 road accidents from 2005 until September last year, causing two deaths and 29 injuries.
The accidents had also caused a decrease in the number of ambulances that could be used at any one time as repair works took a long time, the A-G’s report said.
On findings that some ambulances had basic medical equipment that were either not functioning well or non-existent, the Treasury said the ministry would ensure all ambulances were properly equipped.
“Repairs on non-functioning equipment had been carried out and a beyond economic repair (BER) certificate issued for ‘ailing’ vehicles,” the Treasury said.
On the RM514,439 fine, which had yet to be imposed on a contractor who was late in delivering 106 ambulances, the Treasury said the ministry would fine the supplier.
The A-G’s report also stated that ambulance service control centres at seven hospitals were not fully operational due to various reasons, including lack of communication tools, inadequate manpower or paramedic aid and the lack of expertise in handling the equipment.
The Treasury said the ministry was taking steps to improve its ambulance service, including upgrading its call centre radio communication at five hospitals at RM115,000 each.
For 2007, the ministry had spent RM3mil to upgrade call centres at all state and specialists hospitals, to install transmitter units and to ensure that vacancies were being filled, the Treasury said.

Conduct tests at JPJ offices for medical plan to succeed

Star: PETALING JAYA: Drivers will still be able to falsify medical test results under the Road Transport Department if it handles the checks themselves, said Transport Workers Union secretary-general Datuk Zainal Rampak said.
Commenting on JPJ’s new eKesihatan system, he said more needed to be done to weed out drivers with drug or alcohol problems.
“Sad to say, I feel that the integrity of panel clinics can still be questioned,” he said yesterday.
He said if the JPJ was serious about ensuring that all commercial vehicle drivers were free of drugs and alcohol, they should appoint doctors to conduct health checks in a special place within the premises of JPJ offices.
Pan Malaysian Lorry Owners Association Er Sui See hoped the system would eradicate the possibility of forging medical reports.
“I’ve pointed out before that doctors on many occasions simply gave their signatures or stamped health check documents without even seeing the patient,” he said.
Pan Malaysian Bus Operators Association president Datuk Ashfar Ali said he was supportive of the move but wished it could have been set up earlier.
He also urged the Government to have annual refresher courses for drivers.

Major health screening for commercial vehicle drivers

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Commercial vehicle drivers will be tested for drugs under a medical check-up scheme when they renew or apply for new licences.
The new scheme, which will come into effect on Oct 1, will also see them being checked for other problems like alcoholism, drug addiction and cardiovascular and mental illnesses.
The move by the Road Transport Department (JPJ) is expected to affect more than 500,000 public service vehicle (PSV) licence, goods driving licence (GDL) and conductor licence (KON) holders.
JPJ deputy director-general Solah Mat Hassan said the scheme, called eKesihatan, aims to ensure that only medically-fit drivers are behind the wheel of commercial vehicles.
“The medical test that they have to go through is very comprehensive and from Oct 1, all drivers will be subjected to urine tests for drug abuse,” he told a press conference at the department headquarters here yesterday.
He said that under the scheme, the results would be electronically transmitted to JPJ via a government-appointed gateway provider, Supremme System Sdn Bhd, while payments and registration for the tests would have to be done at post offices before a driver proceeded to the appointed panel clinic.
“It ensures that the verification of the health status of the licence holders is not only based on the report of the medical practitioner but also on the report of a laboratory test by a third party.
“This will create a situation which is fair, and with checks and balance,” he said.
Supremme System would also be maintaining an up-to-date database of the health status of all commercial vehicle licence holders for the department.
Solah said 611 panel clinics nationwide had been appointed under the new programme.
Those applying or renewing their goods driving, passenger service vehicle and conductors licences have to pay RM80 for the test.
Previously they paid RM50 for new applications and RM10 for renewals.
Asked about the increase, Solah said the tests were more comprehensive and even those who wanted to renew their vocational licences had to undergo the same type of medical tests.
“The new medical screening will also test for designer drug abuse by drivers and conductors,” he said.
He said the Cabinet had approved the implementation of eKesihatan to improve the delivery system and protect the integrity of the screening process.
Supremme executive director Datuk Kamaludin Yusoff, who was also present at the press conference, said those who failed the tests could reapply using the same process if they felt that their health condition had improved.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Massage for bigger manhood ‘dangerous’

NST: KOTA BARU: Fisherman Wan Mat (not his real name) is worried stiff.
The 54-year-old from Bachok, who recently underwent a traditional massage for penile enlargement, is finding out that one should not believe all that is advertised on the matter.
"The masseur told me that by enlarging my penis, I could rejuvenate my sex life. But the thing is, nothing has changed since then. I don’t even feel a tingle.
"I am worried that I might not be able to perform in bed any more," he said.
The father of four said he had thought that the treatment would help the erectile dysfunction he had been suffering for two months.
"I have been avoiding sex with my wife. I thought that by enlarging my penis I could solve my woes," he said.
Wan Mat is among many in Kelantan who seek the help of traditional masseurs to improve their sexual health instead of going to doctors.
They are wooed by advertisements placed on trees lining roads that promise to increase the girth and length of the penis for conjugal bliss.
Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital Family Health Clinic specialist, Professor Dr Shaiful Bahari Ismail said massage of the penis and testicles might prove dangerous for people suffering from erectile dysfuncton.
He said the only proven method of treating the problem was through modern methods, including medicines, surgery and vacuum pumps.
"There is a perception that massage can help improve sexual performance. However, it is believed to be either dangerous, ineffective, or both.
"Although there is no scientific research on the effect of massage of the private parts, massaging techniques carried out directly on the penis and testicles may damage blood vessels, the nerve system and even the skin," he said.
Dr Shaiful said many had visited his clinic complaining of ineffective traditional treatment of the problem.
He said most suffering from the problem were above 50 and usually diabetic, suffering from heart disease or high blood pressure.
"They only seek modern treatment after noticing that the traditional treatment, which they underwent to cure impotency, was ineffective. After diagnosing their problem, we treat them with medicines," he said.
Traditional masseur Mohd Zafri Harun, 35, who has been in the business for 15 years, claimed a success rate of 70 per cent.
He even claimed that vacuum pumps were hazardous "as they could cause cancer".
"So far, most of my clients are satisfied with my service. They are happy with the size achieved after treatment," he said, adding that he had learned the techniques from his father. And it doesn’t come cheap either.
Zafri said a "standard package" was priced at between RM200 and RM300.

Danger of Malaysia losing out in medical tourism

NST: GEORGE TOWN: Lack of co-ordination between the agencies involved could derail efforts to promote Penang as a medical tourism hub.
Penang Adventist Hospital chief executive officer and president Datuk Teddric John Mohr said while there had been an increase in the number of medical tourists, the hospital faced a problem as the Road Transport Department did not allow hospital vans to pick up tourists from the airport.
Mohr, who is also vice-president of the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia, said taxi drivers at the airport were reluctant to ferry sick tourists.
The country was losing medical tourists to Singapore, Thailand, India and Hong Kong, he added.
He said there had been "a few" occasions when Penang Adventist Hospital vans were stopped and booked by RTD officers, although he understood the officers were just doing their job.
"I understand various quarters are working hard to find a solution.
"We really need to move a little faster in changing the rules, otherwise we could lose these medical tourists over-night."
Mohr said it was not only imperative to provide first-class medicine but also provide a first-rate response.
The reason foreign medical tourists were attracted to Penang was because the state provided medical services of international quality, he added.
"We have to stay ahead. Other countries are providing courtesy vans for medical tourists at the airport — at no charge. If we do not compete, we will lose out to these countries," he said, adding that his hospital had been providing the airport pick-up service for 10 years.
Mohr said medical tourists to Penang could bring in a revenue of up to RM400 million a year. If these patients spent RM200 million on medical bills, they may spend an equal amount on hotels, food and shopping.
Mohr felt medical tourism could help hospitals buy the latest equipment which they would otherwise not be able to afford.
Penang Adventist Hospital has some 66,000 medical tourists spending RM49 million there each year.

Lee: Make premarital HIV/AIDS tests compulsory

Star: PENANG: The country should explore the possibility of introducing compulsory premarital HIV/AIDS tests in bid to reduce the spread of the disease, said Health Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon.
He said there was currently no law to force anyone, even those suspected to be HIV-positive, to undergo AIDS screening and treatment.
However, Lee said the true “grey area” did not lie in the shortcomings of the existing law but the public’s perception.
He said the move to impose the tests relied much on the public’s readiness in accepting such a law.
“We must first convince the public before we can implement it,” he told a press conference after opening the MAY@COM.MY workshop on Saturday.
The workshop was attended by 28 participants from the Balik Pulau Family Health Development Unit, Me and You (May) support group and various district health departments.
“We are trying to strike a balance between human rights and protecting society from the transmission of the disease,” he said.
Lee said in certain states, Muslims had to tender a HIV-free certificate before they could get their marriage certified.
“I am hoping that this could be widened to everyone,” he added.

MCA helping to create awareness of Alzheimer

Star: IPOH: Businesswoman Estee Yong had no idea her mother was suffering from Alzheimer’s Disease when the woman started forgetting her own birthday or whether she had eaten breakfast.
Yong later found out why Chong Choon, 83, had a habit of constantly misplacing her wallet or calling her grandchildren by the wrong names.
The cheerful octogenarian, however, had no problems recalling how she came to Malaya from China at the age of 14 to work in a rubber estate.
“She used to play mahjong with her friends but now they don’t play because she tends to forget things,” Yong said.
“It’s sad but I hope she can recover. She’s always such a bubbly person and she and my father remain a very loving couple to this day,” she added.
Chong was one of two patients whom Datin Seri Wendy Ong and the wives of state assemblymen and members of the Alzheimer’s Disease Foundation of Malaysia visited yesterday.
Wendy, wife of Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting, told reporters that the purpose of the visit was to raise awareness of the little-known disease among people at small towns and villages.
“Our aim is to go beyond Kuala Lumpur to spread the message. We also want to speak to the family members because some of them feel that they should stay away or not mention the disease.
“Some of these caretakers feel helpless because they don’t know where to go or what to do about the disease,” said Wendy, who is the patron of the foundation.
“As a result, the family members and even the patient resort to arguing out of frustration and fear,” she added.
So far, the foundation members have visited patients in Johor, Penang and Singapore. They hope to visit Malacca at the end of the year.
As part of the campaign, the foundation and MCA are organising a public forum with health screening on the disease at Syuen Hotel here on Sept 22 from 1pm to 6pm.
For details, call Jimmy at 012 2910059.

Ambulance dis-service

Star: PETALING JAYA: Ambulances – vehicles meant to save lives – have instead brought about injury and death, due to a multitude of reasons.
Ambulances were also used to transport staff or food while about half of the 141 paramedics interviewed in the Auditor-General’s (AG) report said equipment such as vital-sign monitors, cardiac monitors and portable ventilators did not work in ambulances acquired before 2002.
The report said that between 2005 and September last year, 112 ambulances were involved in 120 accidents around the country, causing two people to die and injuring 29 others.
“There were also ambulances involved in multiple accidents. Perak registered the most accidents involving ambulances, with 19.
“The accidents also resulted in a decrease in the number of ambulances that could be used at any one time because repair works had to be done.”
The report said factors that caused the accidents included:
> Wrong-sized tyres being used by the ambulance causing the tyres to explode during its journey;
> Usage of old ambulances or those that had been categorised as “beyond economic repair;” and
> Negligence by the driver.
About a quarter of the 157 drivers interviewed said they had been involved in accidents caused either by technical problems, carelessness or bad road conditions, while 36.3% said the vehicles were constantly spoilt and too bulky, making them unsuitable for narrow and jammed roads.
Repairs on ambulances were also not carried out quickly, either due to a lack of funds or difficulty in finding parts.
In one example, the audit found that it took five years for one ambulance belonging to the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Sabah to be repaired.
“The cost of repairs also exceeded the estimate. In one example in Muar, the estimate given by the Works Ministry was RM29,050 but the price quoted by the concessionaire was RM127,415,” the audit said.
The AG said the Health Ministry had to look into such cases seriously so that society would not look negatively at ambulance services.

Sunday, September 09, 2007

More suffering from kidney failure

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: More and more Malaysians are suffering from end-stage renal disease, or kidney failure.
The 14th report of the Malaysian Dialysis and Transplant Registry 2006 released recently contains some grim revelations.
There were 15,000 Malay-sians on dialysis last year, and the intake of new dialysis patients showed a linear increase over the years from 1,136 in 1997 to 3,152 last year.
It also revealed an alarming trend in the incidence of diabetic nephropathy as a cause of kidney failure — 50 per cent of new dialysis patients last year were diabetic.
But it need not be the case, said Dr Satwant Singh Gill, who is better known as S.S. Gill, the country’s first nephrologist.
"The key to prevention is early diagnosis and prompt treatment before damage becomes extensive."
And Dr Gill, 74, called on Malaysians to seriously heed the government’s healthy lifestyle campaign to avert chronic diseases, including kidney failure.
Malaysians, said Dr Gill, must prevent what was preventable, treat what was treatable and prepare for what was inevitable.
Chronic kidney disease is a silent threat. It decreases the organ’s ability to perform its vital functions of removing impurities from the blood and regulating blood pressure.
When kidney failure occurs, death is certain unless the patient undergoes regular hae-modialysis — blood cleansing with the help of a machine — or receives a transplant.
Chronic kidney disease also increases the risk of cardiovascular disease.
Timely treatment can greatly slow the progression of the disease and delay or prevent the onset of kidney failure.
Chronic kidney disease shows no symptoms in its early stages.
The high risk group includes sufferers of type 1 and type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure. This group accounts for 70 per cent of chronic kidney disease cases.
As the disease advances, it can produce symptoms such as fatigue, itching, swelling or numbness of the hands or feet, nausea, vomiting, cramps and difficulty in concentrating.
Dr Gill said if people could control their diabetes and high blood pressure, there was a good chance to prevent chronic kidney disease and keep it from progressing to kidney failure.
Some 11 per cent of the population, said Dr Gill, have some form of kidney disease — cancer, damage, infection, injury, stones, renal disorder, urine protein and blood in the urine.
"What we are concerned is diabetic kidney disease which is preventable by keeping blood sugar within the target range."