Monday, January 25, 2010

Increase in dengue cases

Star: PETALING JAYA: The dengue situation in the country is at an alarming level with 11 deaths recorded in the first three weeks of the month.
As of Saturday, 3,002 dengue cases were reported all over the country.
According to the Health Ministry’s Disease Control Division (national dengue operations room), Selangor recorded the highest number with 1,370 cases between Jan 1 and 23.
This was followed by Sarawak (645 cases), Kuala Lumpur/Putrajaya (246), Johor (166) and Sabah (106).
Seven out of the deaths were from Selangor.
As of yesterday, there were 31 hotspots throughout the country, of which 20 were in Selangor.
The ministry has issued a dengue alert to all states on Nov 26, last year.
Its deputy director-general Datuk Dr Hassan Abdul Rahman urged the people to ensure their homes, schools and workplaces were free of mosquito breeding grounds.
He said fogging was a temporary measure.
“As long as mosquito breeding grounds still exist, new adult mosquitoes will emerge and the infection will continue,” he said in an interview.
Of the 77,818 premises inspected the previous week, Dr Hassan said 1,549 (2%) were found to breed Aedes mosquitoes — an increase of 33% compared to the previous week.
Dr Xavier Jeyakumar, who is Selangor health, estate workers affairs, poverty eradication and caring government committee chairman, said dirty neighbourhoods contributed to the high number of dengue cases.
“High incidences of dengue in Selangor is nothing new. This is because of the large population living in places that are not clean,” he said.
“There is a dengue outbreak in the state every year,” he added.
In GEORGE TOWN, three residents in Jalan Pintasan Bahagia, Bayan Baru, contracted dengue fever while seven others in the same area have been suspected to have come down with the disease.
“The south-west health authorities had started fogging the affected area twice a day since the first case was confirmed last week,” Pantai Jerejak assemblyman Sim Tze Tzin said during a gotong-royong in Kampung Jawa yesterday.
Under the law, those found to be breeding Aedes mosquitoes will be slapped with a RM500 compound per breeding site, besides a possible fine or even a jail term under the Destruction of Disease Bearing Insects Act.

Saturday, January 16, 2010

Utar set to produce doctors

Star: PETALING JAYA: There is now a new and affordable avenue for Malaysians to study medicine locally.
Universiti Tunku Abdul Rah-man’s (Utar) new Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences will start its first intake in May for a course which will cost about RM50,000 a year, a fraction of what parents would have to pay for medical courses in other local private universities.
The Higher Education Ministry has approved the faculty’s Bache-lor of Medicine and Bachelor of Surgery (MBBS) programme. The faculty will accept an initial batch of 50 students this year.
Housed at the varsity’s Sg Long campus in Selangor, the MBBS programme will cost about RM250,000 for the entire five-year course. The amount is far smaller than similar programmes in traditional countries.
A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) was also signed with the Health Ministry yesterday, formalising the placement of Utar medical and health sciences students at government hospitals.
With the MoA, Utar students will undergo their practicum, industrial training or clinical studies at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Ampang Hospital, Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Baru and Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh.
Commending Utar for its initiative, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said that his ministry was excited to accept Utar into its pool of collaborating universities.
There are currently 25 universities’ training doctors in Malaysia.
Ten of them are public universities while private universities and university colleges make up the rest. “This is a historical event for Utar,” said Liow in a press conference after the signing ceremony.
“Based on Utar’s track record in producing quality graduates and commitment in promoting lifelong learning, I have no doubt that the university will attain the same level of excellence in their new venture.”
Established on Nov 16, last year, Utar’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences also plans to offer three more degree programmes in Nursing, Physiotherapy and Traditional Chinese Medicine.
The application process for Utar’s MBBS course is open until the end of March and selected applicants will be interviewed in early April.
Utar president and chief executive officer Prof Datuk Dr Chuah Hean Teik told The Star that the interview process would test applicants’ maturity, passion, commitment and attitude.

More bite from March for national dental health care

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry will launch a nationwide dental health awareness campaign in March.
Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said a survey by the ministry found that 60% of 12-year-olds had dental caries (tooth decay or cavities), with the number rising to 75% among those aged 16 and 90% in adults.
He said this was despite the fact that Malaysia boasted comprehensive dental care services, including preventive efforts like free screening and educational programmes in pre-schools and schools.
He said the ministry had similar preventive programmes for the elderly and special children.
“The high number of people with dental problems is a cause for concern.
“Checks among children as young as six have found that 70% of them have dental caries.
“At that age, it is not too worrisome because their permanent teeth have not grown yet, but the lack of care continues as they grow older and we want to change this,” he said, adding that the campaign would be carried out in collaboration with the Malay-sian Dental Association (MDA).
Liow was speaking at a press conference after receiving a courtesy call from the Chinese Stomatological Association (CSA) delegation here yesterday.
He also said Malaysia was looking to increase the number of dentists it produced annually, from the current 250 to 800 over the next few years.
The aim, he said, was to change the current dentist-to-population ratio by 2018 from the current 1:7,840 to the World Health Organisation standard of 1:4,000.
On the CSA visit, he said it was to enhance collaboration between Malaysia and China in dental care.
CSA president Prof Dr Wang Xing led the delegation, which is in Malaysia to attend the International Dental Federation (FDI)-MDA Scientific Convention and Trade Exhibition starting tomorrow.

Wednesday, January 13, 2010

1Malaysia clinics to go ahead without docs

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The 1Malaysia clinics will operate without doctors, and patients with serious illnesses would be referred to polyclinics and government hospitals.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said although he understood the concerns of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), the country was facing a shortage of doctors.
“It is our intention to have doctors at all clinics. But we do not even have enough doctors in hospitals. This does not mean the people should be deprived of medical services. Medical assistants and nurses can help out here,” he said.
MMA president Dr David Quek had expressed concern over the 1Malaysia clinics.
He said they should be manned by registered medical doctors, as clinics run by medical assistants and nurses could lead to a poorer standard of healthcare.
Liow said he met with MMA representatives on Jan 8 to address their concerns.
“The MMA and the Government have the same objective, which is to improve the standard of health services,” he added.
“We are short of doctors, even in hospitals and the big clinics. So doctors, and also locums, will be posted there. 1Malaysia clinics are only for illnesses such as coughs and colds.
“Patients with more serious illnesses should go to hospitals and polyclinics.
“We will stick with the first 50 and evaluate their performance. Forty-four have begun operating, and the remaining six will be opened by the end of the month,” he said, adding that the delay was due to renovation work.
Liow was speaking to reporters after handing out RM2mil each to the Tung Shin Hospital and the Chinese Maternity Hospital yesterday.

Tuesday, January 12, 2010

SMS to cut hospital wait

Star: JOHOR BARU: The Health Ministry is introducing an SMS-based system to notify patients of their appointments to reduce queues at hospitals.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the pilot project had been implemented at the Mamodiah Outpatient Clinic here.
The queue management and appointment reminder would also send out an SMS when there are five patients before their turn.
“We are still fine tuning the system and once the kinks are ironed out, we will start implementing it at medical facilities with high patient rates,” he said, adding that the project was carried out in collaboration with Celcom.
“This system will also allow for updated statistics for hospital services in the country. Through the system, we will be able to monitor the number of patients, the illnesses they are being treated for, and even the duration at the various departments within the hospital and clinics.”
Liow said at present only 70% of local hospitals had achieved the 30-minute waiting limit set by the ministry last year.
“Although there has been progress, we hope that technology can help us further reduce patients’ waiting time,” he said after a briefing on the system here yesterday.
At another event, during the groundbreaking for a new block of the Southern College in Skudai, Liow said the ministry would propose a new Act to govern traditional and complementary medication (T&CM) at the next parliamentary seating.
“The Act would help to ensure the safety and quality of T&CM and help the industry to grow locally,” he said.