Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Liow: Doctors have to inform of cases of rat urine disease to department

Star: ALOR GAJAH: Leptospirosis, a rat urine-borne disease that has caused the deaths of nine people in the country so far, has been made a notifiable disease, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
He said medical practitioners that come across or treat patients with bacterial infections related to leptospirosis or melioidosis would have to notify the district or state health department.
Speaking to reporters after launching the new pre-school and special education building at SJK (C) Machap Umboo with Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong here yesterday, he said the directive would enable health authorities to identify the source of the disease and implement preventive measures.
“When we are able to identify the source of the bacteria, measures can be taken to control it, including clean-up works, gotong-royong and closure of the affected area if necessary,” he said.
Liow urged the public, especially campers and jungle-trekkers to take care of their personal hygiene and keep their surrounding clean so that it would not attract rats.
He said a series of campaigns would be carried out nationwide to increase the awareness on leptospirosis.
Meanwhile, Liow said the rise in dengue cases and deaths because of the disease in the country was alarming.
The death toll from dengue hit 101 compared with 67 last year, he said, adding that cases in Kedah and Malacca had also increased 25% and 23% respectively.
“This is a shocking figure,” he said.

Monday, August 16, 2010

Dengue begins at home

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Homes can literally turn into death traps when it comes to dengue.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said authorities found Aedes larvae in the homes of more than 50% of people who died from dengue this year.
“As at Saturday, 30,350 dengue cases have been recorded, with 95 deaths. This is an increase from the 28,659 cases with 67 deaths recorded in the same period last year,” he said.
“We must take a serious proactive approach in fighting dengue. It is important to be aware that our homes can be breeding grounds for the Aedes mosquitoes,” he said after launching a blood donation campaign by Naturally Plus Malaysia Sdn Bhd and the National Blood Centre here yesterday.
Liow said for the week ending on Saturday alone, there were 847 dengue cases in the country, with one death recorded in the Federal Territory, adding that authorities were meeting dengue experts to find ways to combat the disease.
He said the Institute of Medical Research was also conducting a study on the drug-resistant NDM-1 (New Delhi metallo-lactamase-1) superbug identified in India and Pakistan.
“We are waiting for the results before making an announcement. We do not want to cause unnecessary alarm.
“We are concerned about this bug as any bacteria, especially one described as a superbacteria can cause harm to the body. There are no details from the World Health Organisation yet,” he added.
The superbug had reportedly caused the death of a Belgian man and infected several people from Britain, Australia and the United States, who had travelled to India and Pakistan for surgery. The Belgian was reportedly infected by the bacteria after being hospitalised in Pakistan for a leg injury following a car accident.
According to the United States’ Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, NDM-1 is an “enzyme that destroys many commonly used antibiotics, rendering them ineffective.”
On the leptospirosis and melioidosis infections that had claimed nine lives so far, Liow said these could be treated if detected early.
Leptospirosis is present in rat urine while melioidosis is a water-and-earth-borne bacteria.
“Those who feel sick or have fever, especially after outdoor activities, should seek treatment immediately,” he added.
Earlier, Liow encouraged people to donate blood during the current festive season when supply was low.
He added that 565,604 blood units were donated to the National Blood Centre last year.

Monday, August 09, 2010

'No' to teaching hospital adjacent Parliament

Sun2Surf: KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 8, 2010) : A plot of land adjacent to Parliament was the focus of businessmen for the setting up of an international teaching hospital.
It is understood that representatives of Johns Hopkins University had earlier this year made overtures to set up the Malaysian arm of the internationally-renowned institution on Jalan Ledang next to Parliament.
Another option was to develop the neighbouring Malaysian Medical Academy but this proposal may have included encroaching into a nearby forest reserve.
However, all proposals were turned down by the government.
Sources were quick to tell theSun that in spite of the interest in the land, this was not the motivation for a proposal to move Parliament House to Putrajaya.
“This had nothing to do with it. The proposal to shift Parliament was because the RM600 million PICC (Putrajaya International Convention Centre) was underutilised,” the source said.
He said the government was not keen on having the hospital so close to the Parliament complex and suggested that the representatives scout for other locations.
It is understood that Tanglin Hospital was proposed as an alternative, the only problem being it was too small. “There is just not enough space for a hospital of that magnitude. Even the open area surrounding Tanglin Hospital has limited space,” the source said.
He said any development plans of that magnitude would have to include the tearing down of the Statistics Department behind Tanglin Hospital.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said a proposal was made to the Economic Planning Unit (EPU) and any decision will come from the EPU.
"But my ministry is very supportive. We will welcome them as they are a great teaching hospital and we can benefit from them. However, there is nothing concrete," said Liow, returning calls from theSun.
He said finding a suitable location is one of the factors delaying progress of the RM2 billion project.
Kuala Lumpur City Hall officials said so far there had been nothing in black and white. “There have been no official applications for any such development,” said an official.
It has been reported that Johns Hopkins’ local partner is Sitt Tatt Bhd, which bought a stake in US-based Amcare Labs International – an affiliate of Johns Hopkins Medicine International and Johns Hopkins Medical Laboratories.
The reports said Amcare intends to make Malaysia a regional testing hub.
The Selangor State Development Corporation (PKNS) is understood to be in talks with Johns Hopkins as part of PKNS’ plans to develop a healthcare city. However, discussions are still at a preliminary stage.