Saturday, September 26, 2009

Better treatment for A(H1N1) patients considered

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Improved methods against the A(H1N1) virus, particularly those applied successfully by other countries, would be used to treat patients here.
Mainland China and Hong Kong, for instance, were using serum or plasma from patients who recovered from the infection on patients in the intensive care unit (ICU), Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said.
“We will look at the methods used by other countries and upgrade our treatment methods,” he said here yesterday.
Currently the ministry uses anti-virals and immunoglobin to treat the influenza patients.
Liow had just returned from the World Health Organisation Western Pacific regional meeting where various countries shared their views on influenza A(H1N1) treatment.
At the meeting, WHO officials also alerted participants to a second wave of the pandemic that was likely to hit the world and reminded people to be vigilant.
On some studies by Canadian scientists that seasonal flu shots might increase the risk of catching influenza A(H1N1), Liow said it was just a preliminary study and the ministry would monitor the situation.
As of yesterday, there were no deaths from influenza A(H1N1) in Malaysia and the totoal number of fatalities remained at 77.
Liow said there were no new admissions to intensive care units while four cases were discharged yesterday.
There were 135 new cases with influenza-like illness (ILI) warded in hospitals nationwide while 108 were discharged, leaving the total at 704.
Of the total ILI patients still under treatment, 184 or 26% were confirmed H1N1 cases.
The latest information on H1N1 infection can be obtained by calling the hotline 03-88810200 or 03-88810300 from 8am to 5pm, e-mail at and on the ministry’s website at
In MALACCA, Liow said the decision by WHO to set up its first regional centre in Cyberjaya was a recognition of the country’s role in the global health arena.

Friday, September 25, 2009

Cervical cancer vaccinations for all girls

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will provide annual HPV vaccination against cervical or cervix cancer to all 300,000 13-year-old girls in Malaysia beginning next year.
The vaccinations will cost the Government RM150mil annually, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said on Friday.
In July, Liow said his ministry was conducting a preliminary study on the impact of providing HPV (Human Papillomavirus Vaccine) for 12-13-year-old girls, as well as the economic and financial constraint on the Government.
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the HPV could help to reduce the incidence of cervical cancer by at least 70%.
Cervical cancer was the second most common cancer among women in Malaysia after breast cancer, Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datin Paduka Chew Mei Fun said in July.
Each day, an average of four women are diagnosed with it.

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Death rate within ‘normal range’

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The death rate due to Influenza A(H1N1) in the country is within a normal range, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said a WHO team that was in Malaysia recently also praised the country’s efficiency in detecting and treating influenza cases.
As of yesterday, the death toll from the flu remained at 73 with no new deaths reported for six consecutive days.
“Nevertheless, we will not let our guard down and the public should also not do so, particularly with Hari Raya Aidilfitri around the corner when people will be travelling and congregating to celebrate,” he said after witnessing the signing of the sales and purchase agreement for the Sabah Medical Centre building yesterday.
Liow said the WHO team, here to look into the mortality rate involving the disease, had deduced that the surveillance system set up by the ministry was “sensitive” and capable of detecting cases.
The team, he said, also noted that the infection rate in the country was declining.
“I presented the team’s observation, especially on how fast we are at treating those with ILI (influenza-like illness) symptoms to the Cabinet today.
“We will continue to upgrade our surveillance system so that patients suffering from the flu can be treated faster,” the minister said.
On the purchase of the SMC building for RM280mil, Liow said the Government had to acquire the building to overcome shortage of medical facilities in Sabah following the closure of Queen Elizabeth Hospital’s main block and podium which had been declared unsafe.
He said a further RM90mil would be spent to renovate the building and to upgrade its facilities, including increasing the number of beds from 171 to 455.
“With the purchase, the problem could be solve expeditiously and with minimal effect on the public seeking medical treatment.
“The renovation is expected to take only six months while constructing a new hospital will take three to five years,” he said.
Liow said the purchase of the SMC building would also allow the ministry to offer new and extensive treatments including cardiology, cardiothorasic surgery, oncology, radiotherapy and diagnostic imaging.
“This is not the end of our efforts to provide Sabahans with quality medical facilities. We are also in the final stage of planning for the construction of a new twin-tower block at the present Queen Elizabeth Hospital site which has a capacity of 660 beds,” he added.
The agreement was signed by Land and Mines director-general Datuk Abd Halim Ain in his capacity as the Federal Land Commissioner and SMC chairman Dr Tseu Fui Loong.

Wednesday, September 09, 2009

‘Champion docs’ to share advice on treating A(H1N1)

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Government has appointed 15 senior clinicians to advise other doctors on the appropriate treatment for Influenza A(H1N1).
Dubbed “champion doctors”, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said there would be one from each state and federal territories to advise private and government hospitals that treated flu patients, especially those in the intensive care unit (ICU).
The chosen clinicians are those experienced in treating the virus.
Liow said they were tasked by the ministry to visit hospitals to advise other doctors on the proper treatment procedures and techniques.
More “champion doctors” will be identified and appointed later.
“They will be making the rounds at the hospitals in their respective states,” he told a press conference after a media workshop on the virus yesterday.
“They will also be interacting with the public and local community leaders to get feedback on the ground.”
He added that the measure was to focus on effective treatment of ICU patients because the ministry noticed that some were prone to contracting secondary infections even after they had recovered from the primary A(H1N1) infection.
“These patients must be treated quickly,” he said.
He said the ministry would continue to adjust measures to handle A(H1N1) patients effectively.
As an added measure, Liow said the Government also needed more private companies to carry out their corporate social responsibility (CSR) to raise awareness on preventing infection from the virus.
He also advised the public to be more vigilant during the Hari Raya balik kampung exodus and to be hygienic to prevent its spread.
This was because the ministry was concerned there might be a sharp increase of cases during the festive season.
Liow also suggested that transport operators place hand sanitisers in strategic places for the public to use.

Saturday, September 05, 2009

Many still clueless about H1N1, says D-G

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Many people are still unclear about Influenza A(H1N1) symptoms despite the aggressive awareness campaign by the media and health authorities, said Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican.
He said judging from calls received by the ministry’s hotlines, many people were still unaware that the A(H1N1) symptoms were fever, cough, headache, pain in joints or body aches, cold, sore throat and breathing difficulty.
“We still get many calls asking for the symptoms,” he said.
Dr Ismail said the five preventive measures the public should take on A(H1N1) are:
> cover the mouth when coughing or sneezing
> maintain good personal hygiene by constantly washing hands,
> stay away from individuals with influenza-like illness (ILI)
> avoid crowded places, and
> parents with young children should stay away from public places.
Dr Ismail said no new deaths had been recorded over the past 24 hours, adding that the death toll remained at 73.

Friday, September 04, 2009

Flu death toll rises to 73

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Health authorities have confirmed another death due to Influenza A(H1N1), bringing the death toll to 73.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said the 25-year-old woman from Betong, Sarawak, was admitted to the district hospital on Sunday with fever, cough and sore throat and had previously sought treatment for a similar illness from the same hospital.
“On Aug 31, she was referred to the Sibu Hospital for further treatment where anti-viral treatment was given to the patient. She died the next day due to severe pneumonia with H1N1 infection,” he said yesterday.
He added that laboratory test results confirmed that the victim had been infected with the H1N1 virus.
Dr Ismail said 266 new patients with influenza-like illness had been admitted to hospitals while 293 patients were discharged.
There are 1,211 patients being treated in hospitals nationwide, including in 11 private hospitals, and 230 are confirmed H1N1 patients.
Dr Ismail said there were 41 cases in the intensive care units, including five new admissions.
He said the ministry was concerned about people who continued to frequent public places despite having cough, sore throat and fever when they should be staying indoors.
“They should only go out if necessary and not go shopping or patronise entertainment outlets and attend gatherings. Even when it is crucial for them to leave the house, they must put on a face mask.
“It seems that many are still unaware of how the virus is spread –which is through fluids when talking, coughing or sneezing. The public should also keep their distance from people who are ill,” he added.

Wednesday, September 02, 2009

Liow: Make smaller masks

Star: KLANG: Manufacturers of masks have been urged to consider making smaller masks for children in addition to the standard ones.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the standard-sized masks, which come with elastic bands to hold them in place, were too big and loose for children.
“It won’t be effective if they are loose,” Liow told reporters after handing over boxes of surgical masks to schools in the Klang parliamentary constituency.
He also briefed teachers and students about the Influenza A(H1N1) at the event at the SJK (C) Pandamaran A yesterday.
He said it was important for schoolchildren to take preventative measures because if the infections occurred in schools, the outbreak would be rapid.
Liow also said it was the collective responsibility of all teachers and principals to examine their students to detect if they had fever, adding that if they did, they should be sent home.
Teachers, he said, should be on high alert at all times to identify pupils who were not well.
He said the country was well prepared in tackling the outbreak, pointing out that the Government allocated some RM158mil to strengthen and instill the necessary measures to counter the pandemic.
Malaysians were told to take all the necessary precautions as the World Health Organisation had given six months to a year for the pandemic to subside.
Meanwhile, Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said the authorities were in the midst of determining if three deaths reported in Negri Sembilan on Sunday were due to Influenza A(H1N1).
“The cases, involving victims aged between 24 and 42, have been forwarded to the Mortality Review Committee. The committee will announce its findings as soon as possible,” he said yesterday.
Currently, the death toll stands at 72.
Dr Ismail said 278 new patients had been warded for influenza-like illness (ILI) over the past one day.
He also said that a total of 1,373 patients were being treated for ILI nationwide and of the number, only 193 people were confirmed to have been infected with Influenza A(H1N1) and 43 of them were being treated in the Intensive Care Unit.