Sunday, May 30, 2010

1Care scheme for better healthcare

Star: MALACCA: The Health Minis-try is in talks with the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) to implement a 1Care scheme that will see government and private clinics working together to provide better healthcare for the people.
Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the scheme, once approved, would have an immediate impact on improving the country’s healthcare system while also addressing the scarce distribution of government clinics in Sabah and Sarawak.
At present, there are 800 government health clinics nationwide with 6,500 general practitioners.
“If we work together with the private clinics, we will be able to increase this number to more than 7,000 doctors nationwide,” Liow said at the MMA’s 50th annual general meeting on Friday night.
Liow said the ministry was in discussion with MMA to iron out details of the tie-up.
“I have briefed the Prime Minister on the proposal and he is very excited about it as it would help improve the healthcare service for the people,” he added.
Liow also said the Govern-ment was mulling over the possibility of imposing a moratorium on private medical colleges following MMA’s concerns about a possible glut in poorly train-ed doctors within the next decade.
“We have agreed to put a stop to it. A moratorium has to be set up to allow us to produce quality doctors,” he said.
He said there were currently 31,273 registered doctors nationwide with the Government focusing on achieving a ratio of 1:600 by 2015.
He was responding to the issue raised by MMA president Dr David Quek that the number of doctors in the country would swell to between 45,000 and 50,000 by 2015 and 75,000 and 80,000 by 2020.
In view of the glut, Quek said that MMA was concerned about the quality and standard of such doctors.
As of this month, there are 28 approved private institutions offering 37 medical courses that produce between 2,000 and 3,000 doctors annually exclu-ding the estimated 2,000 graduates returning from abroad.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Doc: It is preventing early treatment of cancer patients

Star: PETALING JAYA: Seventy per cent of the 50,000 newly-detected cancer patients in Malaysia each year need care from oncologists. However, there are only 60 such cancer specialists in the country qualified to treat them.
Universiti Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) senior lecturer and clinical oncologist Dr Daniel Wong Wai Yan said the waiting list in government hospitals was between a month and six weeks.
There are currently only 15 oncologists with Health Ministry hospitals where a majority of patients seek treatment.
Apart from the long queue, he said patients also had to travel far for treatment as many hospitals did not have oncology services.
“Some of the patients may be dead or too sick to see a doctor when they finally get their turn to see an oncologist,” said Dr Wong, who is also a member of the Clinical Oncology Speciality Committee for Universiti Malaya.
He added that the remaining 30% of patients diagnosed were either at the early stage of the disease and could be treated by specialists from related disciplines or those who were at the end-stage where the treatment was to reduce their suffering before they died.
Dr Wong, however, added that oncologists were now able to detect the exact location, stage of the cancer and assess its development.
“With the availability of more options of drugs and high-tech radiotherapy facilities nowadays, we need to spend more time to plan treatment with our patients,” Dr Wong said, adding that an oncologist treats about 300 patients a year.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abd Rashid Shirlin said patients could also seek treatment at teaching hospitals like UMMC and Hospital Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, and private hospitals.
“Government hospitals without resident oncologists have visiting oncologists from nearby hospitals to help out,” she said, adding that some cancer patients were also treated by specialists from related disciplines.

Wednesday, May 05, 2010

New influenza drug is effective, assures doctor

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The new trivalent influenza drug in the market is effective against Influenza A (H1N1), the Malaysian Society of Infectious Disease and Chemotherapy (MSIDC) said.
Available since March, the drug can fight against H1N1, H3N1 and Influenza B strains. The fight against H1N1 is now included in the seasonal influenza vaccination.
“Those especially in the high-risk group are encouraged to get their vaccination,” MSIDC member Dr Christopher Lee said, adding that high risk individuals included those with underlying medical conditions as well as pregnant women, those above 65 years old and children above six months old.
At government hospitals and clinics, the vaccination for monovalent H1N1 virus strain was currently offered, he told a media conference on Annual Influenza Vaccination with New Southern Hemisphere Formulation yesterday.
Dr Lee said that based on past trends, the most common symptoms for Malaysians hit by influenza were cough, fever and sore throat and not many suffered from diarrhoea.
Asked to comment about the possibility that people might have a fever after getting the jab, Dr Lee said the vaccination was generally safe with mild side effects.
Prof Datin Dr Che Ilina Che Isahak of the Asia Pacific Advisory Committee on Influenza said the vaccine did not contain live virus. “Even if one gets a fever from the jab, it is usually mild.”
In PUTRAJAYA, health authorities were alerted of six Influenza-like Illness (ILI) cluster cases – four of them in schools – in Pahang, Malacca and Johor over the past 24 hours.
Of the cases, two were tested positive for H1N1 and were administered with anti-viral medication.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said the cases were reported at SK Kemendor in Jasin, Malacca, involving six people, SM Sains Sultan Ahmad Shah in Kuantan, Pahang (nine students), SMK Tekek in Rompin, Pahang (five) and SK Cheng in Malacca (nine).
Four members of a family in Bandar Baru Uda, Johor Baru, and three members of another family in Kampung Maju Jaya, also in Johor Baru, showed symptoms of ILI.
Dr Ismail said as of Monday, 31 new cases of H1N1 were reported nationwide, adding that there were now 606 ILI patients being treated in hospitals.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Poor response to H1N1 jabs

Star: PETALING JAYA: The poor res-ponse to the free Influenza A(H1N1) vaccine jabs is likely due to the people’s worry about the possible side effects.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin said that some people might come down with fever for several days after the vaccinations.
“This could be a reason why people are not coming for the jabs,” she said.
A total of 104 health clinics are offering vaccines against H1N1 throughout the country. However, the response has been poor although the jabs are given free.
Rosnah described the public response as slow, adding that Malaysians should remain cautious as H1N1 was still prevalent.
“It is better to have protection and get yourself vaccinated,’’ she said in an interview yesterday.
She encouraged the public to check the ministry’s website to find out which health clinics offered the vaccines.
It was reported that 175,747 people had been vaccinated although the ministry had ordered 400,000 doses.
Of those who had received the jabs, about 49,727 or 28.3%. were people in the high-risk category.
The rest who were vaccinated were the ministry’s frontliners (76,613 or 43.6%), frontline staff of other government agencies such as police and immigration officers (49,407 or 28.1%).
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican also called on people in the high-risk category to get vaccinated at the 104 health facilities.
These would include people with diabetes, hypertension, asthma, heart and lung diseases. Those who are obese, pregnant or intending to travel overseas should also be vaccinated.
“Although the number of people getting vaccinated has increased over the past one month, we want more to come forward,” he said.
Infectious diseases expert Dr Christopher Lee said private clinics also offerred seasonal flu vaccines covering three strains of flu including A(H1N1).
The cost is believed to range from RM60 to RM300.
As at 8am on Friday, the ministry has not received any new report on new cluster Influenza-like Illness (ILI).
So far, there are 35 confirmed A(H1N1) cases reported, which meant that total cases stood at 13,744.
The death toll remains at 81.