Friday, September 30, 2011

Health Minister unveils 7 medical devices projects, RM17.1b revenue

The Edge: KUALA LUMPUR: Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai unveiled seven new medical devices related Entry Point Projects (EPPs) which are expected to generate RM17.1 billion in revenue.
A statement from Pemandu on Thursday, Sept 29 said the new EPPs were expected to contribute to RM 11.4 billion in gross national income (GNI) and create 86,000 jobs by the year 2020.

The seven new EPPs are:
1) Tap into the fast-growing In-Vitro Diagnostics (IVD) market through academic-industry partnerships
2) Create next generation of single-use devices (SUD)
3) Build hub for high-value medical device contract manufacturing
4) Create Malaysian clinical devices champions
5) Orchestrate contract manufacturing supply chain
6) Medical equipment refurbishment hub
7) Build medical hardware and furniture cluster

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Demand for healthcare for the aged set to rise significantly

SinChew: KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 (Bernama) -- The demand for healthcare for the aged is expected to rise significantly in the coming years based on projections by the United Nations (UN).
Chief executive officer of Employees Provident Fund (EPF), Tan Sri Azlan Zainol, said under the UN definition, the Malaysian population was ageing.
"We are now classified as an 'ageing' nation, with over seven per cent of our population aged 60 years and older," he said in his keynote address at the Malaysian Private Pension and Healthcare Conference 2011 here today.
Azlan said with old age medical expenses were expected to increase.
He said health spending in Malaysia has grown from RM9.8 billion in 2007 to RM12.2 billion last year while the federal government's health expenditure was expected to be RM13.2 billion.
"This rise is moving in synchrony with the ageing demographics of the country and with rising healthcare costs," he said.
Azlan said the demand for healthcare was so strong that the country now has 217 private hospitals when 30 years ago, there were just a handful.
He said EPF was cognizant of its members' needs and for those most urgent, it has provided withdrawal schemes from members' account two such as for housing, education and critical illnesses.
"Specifically for critical illness withdrawals, we have raised the number of critical illnesses eligible for withdrawal from 36 to 55," he said.
Azlan said for critical illnesses, the EPF has in the past three years seen steady amounts of withdrawals, from circa RM46 million in 2006 to around RM35 million last year for a total of RM220 million in these past five years.
"We note, with some satisfaction that these amounts have been falling, implying, among other things, the increased awareness of the importance of retirement savings despite the rise in medical costs," he said.

Health Ministry To Look Into Kidney Trade Allegation

Bernama: KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 26 (Bernama) -- The alleged involvement of Malaysian hospitals in illegal kidney trade will see the health ministry liaising with the federal police to launch an investigation.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said the ministry took a very serious view of a recent media report on this matter.
He explained that kidney transplantation in Malaysia was currently performed at specific hospitals, namely Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Selayang Hospital, Universiti Malaya Medical Centre and a few private hospitals in the Klang Valley.
Dr Hasan said it seemed a little far-fetched for such an illegal activity, especially involving foreigners, to have been conducted in any of the said hospitals.
"However, if there is evidence that such a thing had happened in any of the hospitals, the ministry will certainly take serious action against them," he vowed.
The report alleged that donors from remote villages in Bangladesh were allegedly flown to Southeast Asia to sell their kidneys.
Dr Hasan said the ministry encouraged cadaveric organ transplantation and transplants from live, related donors.
He noted that transplants from unrelated donors needed to be vetted by an independent body called 'Unrelated Transplant Approval Committee', appointed by the health director-general.
"Hence, the alleged transplants from unrelated foreigners (from Bangladesh) would have required prior approval from the ministry. Our records show that there have been no such requests or applications," he said.
As a member of the World Health Organisation and signatory to The Declaration of Istanbul on Organ Trafficking and Transplant Tourism, Malaysia is committed to ensuring that illegal organ trade did not occur in the country, said Dr Hasan.
"To further regulate transplantation, the ministry is currently in the midst of drafting a new and comprehensive Transplantation Bill," he said, adding that the National Organ, Tissue and Cell Transplantation Policy was established in 2007 to guide the development of transplantation based on best ethical practices in Malaysian hospitals.

Sunday, September 25, 2011

A healthy lure for tourists

Star: PETALING JAYA: Foreigners will find Malaysia an attractive place for healthcare as the country offers affordable and quality medical treatment by accredited healthcare providers.
Launching the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Exhibition 2011 in Hong Kong yesterday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said Malaysia had many highly-trained specialists with recognised qualifications, mostly from Britain, Ireland and the United States.
“Many of them have been involved in revolutionary and ground-breaking research which has garnered internationally-acclaimed awards and recognition,” he told visitors to the show.
He added that besides state-of-the-art equipment and treatment, patients from Hong Kong and China would have no problem conversing with doctors as Mandarin, Cantonese and English are all widely spoken.
“With a favourable exchange rate, Malaysia has an advantage in terms of cost of care,” said Liow, adding that the country adopted a single pricing policy for private medical treatment where foreigners enjoyed the same rate as locals.
The exhibition, organised by the Malaysia Healthcare Travel Council (MHTC) and the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia, featured 17 exhibitors from hospitals and related industry players.
Present at the launch were MHTC chief executive officer Dr Mary Wong Lai Lin, Malaysian celebrity Michael Wong, who was named the country's health care travel ambassador, Hong Kong artistes Nat Chan Pak Cheung and Petrina Fung Bo Bo and Malaysia consul-general in Hong Kong Jilid Kuminding.

Who’s using it?

Star: BASED on the latest Malaysian Population and Family Survey, only around 52% of couples in Malaysia are using at least one form of contraception, whether natural or artificial.
The 2004 survey conducted by the National Population and Family Development Board (better known by its Malay acronym, LPPKN), spoke to a sampling of married women aged between 15-49, and were either currently using, or whose spouse was using, at least one form of contraception.
This included artificial methods like hormone pills, condoms, and intra-uterine devices (IUDs), as well as natural methods like periodic abstinence using the rhythm method, withdrawal, lactational amenorrhea method (using breastfeeding and the absence of periods as an indication of non-fertility) and folk methods.
The percentage of these women is considered the contraceptive prevalence rate (CPR).
The surveys, which are carried out every 10 years, show that the CPR in the country has been holding relatively steady around 50% ever since 1984. Ten years before that, it was 36%.
The survey reports that for the major ethnic groups, 64.3% of Chinese couples practise some form of contraception; followed by couples of other races, 59.3%; Indian couples, 51% and Malay couples, 39.3%.
And while urbanisation and education has increased the CPR, LPPKN Human Reproduction Division director Dr Norliza Ahmad says that “the differentials between urban (50.7%) and rural couples (43.3%), and across education categories (primary or no schooling 46.5%; secondary 48.6%; and post-secondary 49.3%) are much less pronounced than ethnic differentials”.
The most popular method of contraception is the oral contraceptive pill (14%), while the rhythm method is the most used among the natural, or non-modern, methods (9.3%).

The survey also showed that around one quarter of married couples wanted to stop or delay having children, but were not using any contraceptive methods for various reasons. This “unmet need for contraception” was highest among women in their 40s (64.4%).
Dr Norliza says that this could be due to a couple of factors.
“Number one is they might think that they are not fertile, This perception is partly true because at this age, there is a natural decline in fertility. However, the chance of getting pregnant is still there.”
Currently, women less than 50 years old are advised to continue using contraception until they have had no periods for two years, and women above 50 to continue for 12 months after their last period.
“Secondly may be because they are unaware of the contraceptive choices available. This could be due to inadequate advice by healthcare providers.” She adds that education and awareness is a very important part of LPPKN’s work as many women are afraid of the side effects of artificial, or modern, contraceptive methods.
In addition, Dr Norliza says that a wider range of contraceptive methods, such as low-dose oestrogen and long-acting formulations need to be made widely available to the community, and that effective counselling is a priority.
“More concentrated efforts are also needed to encourage and facilitate active male participation, and to reduce their objection to family planning practice.
“Nevertheless, women’s rights to decide on contraception and fertility will not be neglected.”
According to Dr Norliza, future areas of research for LPPKN include emergency contraception, unmet needs, and family planning usage among singles.

Friday, September 23, 2011

Malaysia Against Delays In Introducing New Generic Drugs

Bernama: KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 19 (Bernama) -- Malaysia does not want the introduction of new generic drugs to be obstructed and delayed by conflicting interpretations of national legislation and regulations on trade-related aspects of intellectual property rights (TRIPS) by various parties.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said with the increasing number of patients with non-communicable diseases (NCDs), many countries were faced with a huge challenge in providing sufficient access to essential medicines to treat such cases. The positive economic impact of generic substitutions can be enormous. For Malaysia which provides free medical care to its citizens, generics are essential to meet the continuous delivery of healthcare to its population," he said in his speech at the United Nations High-Level Meeting On NCDs in New York Monday.
The text of his speech was made available to the media here.
Liow noted that the United Nations Declaration on HIV/AIDS in June had endorsed important flexibilities guaranteed by the World Trade Organisation (WTO) TRIPS Agreement to ensure that trade would not violate patients' rights.
"While the promotion of international trade is important, especially within a rules-based trading system, the WTO should provide flexibilities, particularly to developing countries," he said.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Ministry tightens rules over bird’s nests

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Owners of bird's nest processing premises have been given until Oct 1 to register their businesses with the Health Ministry in a move to regulate and control the product's quality.
“At the moment, the premises are only registered with the local authorities, not with the ministry,” said minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, adding that the Chinese Government had expressed concern over the high levels of nitrite contained in the nests exported to the country.
“China is taking the issue very seriously,” he said at a press conference here yesterday.
Liow said the Government had agreed that any food item exported to the China would have to be certified by the ministry and the Veterinary Services Department.
“We will take action against premises that do not register with us by Oct 1,” he said, adding that they could also be fined up to RM10,000 for not doing so.
Their registration forms can be obtained from the state health department, district health offices or online at
Liow said the processing premises would be given until the end of the year to implement the food safety assurance system or be fined up to RM10,000.
He said operators could choose from the 1Malaysia Food Safety Scheme (SK1M), Hazard Analysis Critical Control Point (HACCP) or the Good Manufacturing Practice, all of which were endorsed by the ministry.
He said the SK1M, which is free of charge, was implemented to assist small and medium entrepreneurs.
“To date, 64 companies have already obtained the SK1M certification.”

Saturday, September 10, 2011

Malaysia On Alert Although No Influenza A (H5N1) Outbreak - Liow

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 8 (Bernama) -- Malaysia is on Influenza A (H5N1) alert although there has been no outbreak in the country since 2003, Health Minister, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said today.
However, he said the Health Ministry's surveillance team had been activated to monitor the situation on the ground from time to time.
"Malaysia has been free from Influenza A H5N1 since 2003 as there have been no positive samples.
"However, we are working closely with the Veterinary Services Department. If chicken are affected, we will ensure the situation is contained so that there will be infection of humans," he told reporters after attending the Health Ministry's Merdeka Raya celebration here Thursday.
Liow advised the public to take preventive measures, including seeking immediate medical attention at clinics if they develop influenza-like illness symptoms.
On the haze problem, Liow urged the people to avoid outdoor activities at areas where the Air Pollution Index (API) was unhealthy.
"Patients with eye-disease, asthma and chronic bronchitis should seek immediate medical attention," he said.
Asked whether the ministry would distribute face masks if the air quality deteriorated further, he said ministry would not as they were cheap and easily available in the market.