Monday, June 14, 2010

Malaysia to set up traditional Chinese medicine hub

Star: SHANGHAI: Malaysia plans to set up a centre of excellence for traditional Chinese medicine (TCM) in the country in a joint venture with China.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the cooperation would be between Malaysian and Chinese institutions as part of Malaysia’s bid to raise its standard in TCM.
“That will move us ahead faster as we can provide training, treatment and research and development at the same place,” he said after visiting the Shanghai Shuguang TCM Hospital on Saturday.
He added that both countries planned to allow the resources at the centre to be shared by other Asean, Japanese and South Korean counterparts.
Liow said that during the World Health Assembly meeting in Geneva last month, Chinese Health Minister Chen Zhu had preliminarily agreed to pursue the matter and that they would discuss it further when Chen visits Malaysia on July 15.
Currently, Malaysian students pursue TCM at five institutions in Malaysia that are affiliated with their Chinese counterparts.
Many Malaysians also opt to study at eight Malaysian Medical Council-certified Chinese universities for bachelor of medicine and surgery programmes in China.
Liow said there were about 10,000 TCM practitioners in Malaysia but the country needed to train more.
“We have sent full-fledged doctors to China to learn short and long-term TCM courses. We will send more in future. Those who return from the stint will help us set up proper TCM centres,” he added.
When the new Traditional Medi-cine Act is in place later this year, he said it would give the ministry more bite to monitor the quality of TCM practitioners and provide them with grants.
To address the safety issue of drug and health and cosmetic products imported from China, Liow said the ministry was also in talks with both the Chinese State Food and Drug Administration and State Admini­stration of Traditional Chinese Medicine to extend cooperation in regulatory control of the trade of drug products.
“We buy a lot of Chinese medicine from China. We will have a memorandum of understanding to ensure what we certify as safe in Malaysia can be exported to China, and what they certify as safe can be imported to Malaysia,” he said.

KK to get fourth govt hospital

Star: KOTA KINABALU: Construction of a government hospital, which will be the fourth for the state capital, will begin next year, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin.
She said the hospital, which would have between 600 and 800 beds, would be constructed on a 20.2ha site at Bukit Padang, about 5km from the city.
“This will not be an upgrading or an extension of the Bukit Padang psychiatric hospital,” Rosnah said after attending the bersanding ceremony of Sabah Puteri Umno chief Musliati Moslimin and Mohd Nizam Nazib yesterday.
She said the new medical facility was among the eight general hospitals planned under the 10th Malaysia Plan that was unveiled last week by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
The new hospital and the upgrading of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) would ensure sufficient medical facilities to meet the needs of the people here, she said.
Apart from the QEH, the other government hospitals are the Likas Women and Children’s Hospital and the Sabah Medical Centre in Luyang.

Monday, June 07, 2010

Health DG: Private hospital fees exorbitant; to be revised

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The government will revise the fees charged by private sector hospitals and clinics, Health Director-general Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican said.
“The exorbitant fees now charged by private hospitals has been brought to my attention many times and the current schedule drawn by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) was not as comprehensive as it should be.
“As such I have made it a point to call for a meeting soon with MMA to develop a comprehensive fee schedule that was acceptable to all,” he said in a special interview published in the latest issue of the MMA newsletter.
He reminded doctors that the main reason for them to choose the profession was not merely to make money and profits, although there was nothing wrong with it, but to help the sick.
“Therefore doctors have to give a level of care that would reduce the morbidity and mortality and provide comfort to the patients,” he added.
He said doctors were respected by society because they had earned it, however, it was not their right to demand respect as it was a privilege.

Touching on the medical curriculum, he said there was an urgent need to revamp the medical curriculum in local universities to make it more relevant to the country’s current health and medical sector.
He said at present, what was being offered has been deemed insufficient for young doctors to function effectively, and added that the view was derived from a number of interviews he had conducted with primary healthcare specialists and was not satisfied with the outcome.
A related area of concern, he added, was the aspect of technology substituting the human touch.
“Doctors do not examine patients the way they used to do and they substitute it with technology,” he said.
He reminded doctors that patients came to see them because they wanted to talk to them about their problems, but doctors were too busy doing other things, and were not listening.
Dr Ismail was also concerned with the mushrooming of medical schools which was beyond the jurisdiction of the Health Ministry.
“My advice to doctors and specialists in the face of this challenge is to train these young doctors,” he said.
Dr Ismail said the onus in terms of quality of young doctors was in the ability of a specialist, to train them.
“There have been many instances where housemen experienced mental anguish, depression, anxiety, stress and suicidal tendencies while undergoing training and this is no laughing matter.”
As such, he advocated a two-way assessment system where not only the specialist and doctors provide feedback, but the houseman would also be given an opportunity to provide feedback on their trainers.
On the criteria for promotion of public service doctors, Ismail said it was based on five main aspects, namely service, training, research, one’s standing in the eyes of peers and the 360 degree perception.
He explained that the 360 degree perception, meant a positive reaction and recognition from patients, students and peers which reflected upon the dedication, commitment and quality care of the doctor.

Thursday, June 03, 2010

Miros: Make child restraint systems in vehicles a must

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Institute of Road Safety Research (Miros) wants child restraint systems in vehicles to be made compulsory.
Miros director-general Prof Dr Ahmad Farhan Mohd Sadullah said there were no legal provisions currently to make it mandatory for adults ferrying children to use child restraint systems.
“One of the primary areas being looked into is the need for children to be kept safe in vehicles,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Research has shown that the safest place in a car for a child is the rear seat.
“Parents and adults in a vehicle must always ensure that children of all ages are properly secured when travelling, either in a dedicated child seat, infant seat or buckling up their seat belts,” Dr Farhan said.
He said road accident statistics revealed a high number of road fatalities involving children.
Children between one and 15 years old accounted for 410 fatalities in 2008, with 2,797 having suffered slight to serious injuries.
“Of the figure, 43% involved children travelling on motorcycles,” Dr Farhan added.
He said residential areas were also becoming increasingly dangerous in terms of road accidents involving children.
“In the same year, 75 children were killed, 192 seriously injured and 424 sustained slight injuries from road accidents that occurred within housing areas.”
Unrestrained children could be flung out of vehicles, thrown against the front windscreen or dashboard and result in serious injury or death, he said.
“A child in the front seat, on the lap of a parent, can be crushed between the parent and the dashboard in the event of a collision,” he added.

Medicinal researchers urged to come up with real studies instead

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians researchers must move away from doing “humdrum” research work on medicine and instead explore new frontiers, the Health Ministry said.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said Malaysia needed more researchers but quality work should matter more than quantity.
“Stop doing duplicative, humdrum research but move forward and do earth-shattering ones,” he said.
To do this, researchers should ask important research questions, be kept informed of the latest findings and collaborate with other researchers in the world, he added.
Dr Ismail said the ministry received RM90mil for research alone, under the Ninth Malaysia Plan, but it was still inadequate.
“We have proposed an ambitious and robust research agenda but financially, the Government is going through some challenges.
“So we’ll have to wait,” he said after the 13th NIH Scientific Meeting yesterday.
The ministry had applied for RM100mil to finance research work for the 10th Malaysia Plan, and it would focus on diseases such as dengue, tuberculosis, malaria and H1N1, he added.
Dr Ismail said two organisations — the TDR, which is a Special Programme for Research and Training in Tropical Diseases ba­­sed at the World Health Organisation, and Drugs for Neg­lected Diseases Initiative — had expressed their intention to work with the ministry to carry out research on the diseases.

On another matter, Dr Ismail said the Cabinet had its reasons for the delay on the ban of 14-stick cigarette packs to Jan 1 next year.
On reports of some clinics running out of H1N1 vaccine, Dr Ismail said the clinics could ask the ministry for replenishment.
He also said the ministry would complete distributing the H1N1 vaccines first and would use the three-in-one vaccine if there was a need.
Deputy Health director-general Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said seven new influenza A (H1N1) cases occurred in six clusters cases in four states on Tuesday, making it a total of 14,850 cases nationwide.
Currently, 575 patients were warded for influenza-like illness and out of that, 56 were found to be positive with A (H1N1).
The number of deaths still remains the same at 87, he added.