Sunday, December 30, 2012

Call for watchdog on drug dispensing

Free Malaysia Today

Public interest must come first in any change in the healthcare system, say consumer groups.
PETALING JAYA: Any new law governing the dispensing of medicine must provide for the establishment of a monitoring body that protects public interest, a consumer group suggested today.
Referring to speculation that such a law is in the making, the Islamic Consumer Association of Malaysia (PPIM) cautioned against rushing the legislation without consulting all stakeholders.
Public interest should be the government’s foremost consideration, said PPIM spokesman Nazim Johan.
He said the monitoring body should be non-governmental and should regularly check on the prices of drugs “so that consumers are not cheated”.
“We need to make sure charges are regulated and there are clear guidelines issued by the authorities,” he added.
A source in the Health Ministry recently told FMT that the government had for years been contemplating taking away the right of private physicians to dispense drugs and giving it to pharmacists, as is the practice in developed countries.
Some civic groups fear that such a change would put patients at a disadvantage, particularly in the matter of pricing, but also because of the inconvenience of having to travel from clinic to pharmacy. Furthermore, doctors might feel compelled to raise consultation fees to make up for their loss of income from selling drugs.
However, supporters of the proposed change say doctors can easily abuse their current dispensing right by raising prices or giving unnecessary prescriptions.
Nazim also said the government should widely consult the public through consumer associations and other civic groups before tabling the proposed legislation.
The Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca) agreed. Its president, N Marimuthu, called for “adequate planning” for the drafting of the law and “proper education of the public” on its implications.
“The question of affordability is a key issue,” he said. “The government must ensure that consumers are not taxed further.”

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Dengue cases will increase if no action taken, warns Health Ministry


KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 21 — The public have been reminded that an increase in the number of dengue cases over the last four weeks will continue in an upward momentum until early next year if immediate action was not taken. 
Health Ministry Disease Control Division director Dr Chong Chee Kheong also warned that the possibility of a dengue epidemic in 2010 may repeat itself if the current situation persists.
He stressed that, with the worrying trend, the involvement of society to reduce and eradicate breeding areas for Aedes was needed.
“Furthermore, all government agencies, private sector companies and non-government organisations must together take the initiative to eradicate dengue,” he said in a statement, here, today.
Chong said, until December 15, the cumulative total of reported dengue cases was 20,923 or an increase of 10 percent compared to 19,105 cases during the same period last year.
He said 10 states that recorded an increase in the number of cases this year compared to the same period last year were Kelantan (69 per cent), Perlis (63 per cent), Sabah (61 per cent), Kedah (59 per cent), Sarawak (52 per cent), Perak (23 per cent), Selangor (17 per cent), Terengganu (12 per cent), Johor and Malacca (three per cent each).
He said 35 deaths from dengue fever were recorded during the same period compared to 36 last year.
Chong said the factor which resulted in an increase in dengue fever was the high rate of breeding of Aedes mosquitoes.
According to him, during the 50th week, between December 9 to 15, 536 cases were reported, namely, exceeding the 500 cases a week, after recording under 500 cases a week for 39 weeks. — Bernama 

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Health ministry approves Avastin for ovarian cancer treatment


KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 18 — Avastin (bevacizumab), a type of drug known among others for breast cancer treatment, has been approved by the Health Ministry to be used in combination with standard chemotherapy as a front-line treatment for advanced ovarian cancer.
According to a statement by Roche Malaysia, the good news marked a major advancement in ovarian cancer treatment which was previously limited to surgery and chemotherapy.
“It puts Avastin as the first major treatment in newly diagnosed ovarian cancer in 15 years and this makes it one of few biological drugs indicated for multiple cancer treatments,” the statement said.
It said, a study had shown that women with advanced ovarian cancer who received Avastin, plus chemotherapy and continued on Avastin alone, lived significantly longer without their disease getting worse compared to those who received chemotherapy only.
Ovarian cancer, the most deadly of the gynaecological cancers was ranked eighth in the top 10 most frequently occurring type of cancer, based on the National Cancer Registry 2007, and the fourth most common cancer in Malaysia among females, it said.
The statement added Avastin, which was founded by Roche, acts as an antibody and a key driver to block tumours from spreading and approved by 30 countries for the treatment of several types of cancer, including breast, colorectal and kidney cancer. — Bernama

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Public happy with existing public sector health services - Najib


KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 (Bernama) -- A preliminary analysis by the Health Ministry indicated that the public are happy with the existing public sector health services, which is of high quality and affordable, said Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak.
However, the Prime Minister said they had also voiced their concern about the long waiting time, insufficient staff, crowded facilities and problem with accessibility.
"The Ministry of Health is in the midst of a public engagement road show to seek feedback on the people's experience with the current health care system and to obtain from them, ideas and suggestion on how to improve the present system.
"So far the road show has covered 10 states. Based on this feedback, we know that we need to address three important areas, first to strengthen the public health system and indeed, we are doing it," he said in his speech at the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Annual Dinner here tonight.
Also present were the Prime Minister's wife Datin Seri Rosmah Mansor and Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
Najib said the government was building more facilities, providing better equipment, training more high quality human resource, credentialing its staff and implementing Quality Improvement and Risk Management systems.
"For example we are increasing the number of our medical graduates from local as well as foreign institutions in order to improve our doctor-population ratio from 1:791 in 2011 to 1:400 by 2020.
"We are also extending a moratorium on new medical schools in order for the existing ones to enhance their education programmes and train better quality graduates," he said.
He said that the government was also increasingly emphasizing on performance measurement and improvement with clinical and other performance indicator monitoring and improvement.
"We also need to make most of what we have of our current health care system such as developing synergies between the public and private sectors," he said.
Najib also proposed a collaborative effort between the ministry and private general practitioners in improving the chronic disease management.
"The results of the National Health Morbidity Survey (NHMS) 2011 showed that an estimated 80 per cent of patients with known diabetes and hypertension are regularly seeking treatment at the 985 public health clinics and 141 hospitals.
"It is not simply about prescribing medications but more importantly, empowering people living with these diseases to make positive changes in their lifestyle to proactively manage their health condition," he said.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

Treating infertility in Malaysia

The Malay Mail

SINCE Independence, Malaysia’s total fertility rate has been on the decline. Dr K.K. Iswaran, consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist, also sub-specialist in reproductive medicine and in vitro fertilisation, says that Malaysian women’s capability of bearing more children has decreased over the years. “The fertility rate is the average number of children that would be born to a woman over her lifetime. It has dropped from 5.8 to 3.2 in the year 2000 and further dropped to 2.6 this year. In women, the problem of infertility stems from an increasing trend of postponing the child bearing years beyond their most fertile years of between 19 to 24 years old,” said Dr Iswaran.

“On top of this, the stress from work that the women are facing these days as well as the multitude of fertility problems such as polycystic ovarian syndrome, which has the genetic predisposition, results in the rise of male hormones, poor egg quality, insulin resistance resulting in obesity further contributes to the reduction of the fertility rate.”

He said the incidence of vaginal infections is increasing and it should be assessed by a gynaecologist so that appropriate treatment and screening for sexually transmitted disease are carried out.

DR K.K. ISWARAN: Consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist
Chlamydia and gonorrhea infection will lead to swelling (hydrosalphynx), blockade and destruction of the fallopian tubes, which in turn becomes a hindrance to conception.

Dr Iswaran is the outgoing head of reproductive medicine (fertility unit) at Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL).

He has been the head of the unit since 2008.

“IVF pregnancy rate among the patients who came to us was just under five per cent in 2008. The rate has doubled each year and the current pregnancy rate has risen to 40 per cent. This is contributed by the various initiatives that have been put in place to screen and pre-treat patients to ensure that they are optimised for fertility treatment,” he said.

In doing so, Dr Iswaran developed the gynae-endocrine clinic in HKL where gynaecologists and endocrinologists provide treatment for patients with severe endocrine abnormalities such as hyperprolactinemia, hyper/hypothyroidism and hosts of other endocrine abnormalities which result in infertility.

The andrology clinic is also one of Dr Iswaran’s initiatives due to the rising male infertility rate, whereby a gynaecologist and an urologist jointly manage patients with azoospermia (no sperm) or poor sperm parameters to ensure that the quality and quantity of sperm are suitable for intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI).

The unit has a dedicated reproductive surgery session to handle patients who require surgery prior to IVF treatment. Patients with endometriosis, one of the causes of infertility may require laproscopic (minimal invasive) surgery to remove ovarian cysts or release of adhesions so as to improve the pregnancy rate.

The reproductive medicine unit of HKL has taken the advantage of the DaVinci robotic system to provide robotic surgery for the removal of uterine fibroids and severe endometriosis. As for patients with blocked tubes or previous tubal ligation, reanastomosis of the tubes can also be carried out via robotic surgery.

Cyropreservation (freezing of gametes, sperms, oocytes, ovarian tissues) is being carried out for young cancer patients prior to the commencement of chemo/radiotherapy to preserve the fertility for future use. This is the only unit under the Ministry of Health that provides such services.

Dr Iswaran is also the chairman of the Fertility and Sterility sub-committee of the O&G Society of Malaysia.

Together with the Ministry of Health, the reproductive medicine unit of the O&G department at HKL initiated the first Malaysian Reproductive Medicine Congress in 2009.

The congress featured renowned reproductive medicine consultants and embryologists to share their knowledge. Dr Iswaran was the organising chairman of the congress in 2011 as well and presently advises the upcoming congress in 2013.

The reproductive medicine unit of HKL provided the necessary information to support the Ministry of Health’s initiative towards subsidised fertility treatment.

All the developments at the HKL reproductive medicine unit and also towards subsidised care would not have been possible without the support of the ministry’s director-general of health past and present.

And the present subsidy is for 100 cycles and the cost to the public is RM4,000 per fertility treatment.

Dr Iswaran continues to seek new sources of funds for fertility treatments to improve and further develop reproductive medicine and fertility treatment in Malaysia.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Appointment of new health DG will follow standard procedure, says Ali


KOTA KINABALU, Dec 9 — Chief Secretary to the government, Datuk Seri Ali Hamsa, said that the appointment of the new health director-general to replace Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman, who was demoted following a khalwat case last month, will be in accordance with standard civil service procedures.
“We’ll have to wait for it as it is done according to standard civil service procedures. It’ll be announced when the time comes,” he told reporters after launching the Malaysian Government Services Welfare and Recreation Council (MAKSAK) gotong-royong at Kampung Lindung, Karambunai, near here today.    
Ali was commenting on the post’s vacancy after Public Services Commission chairman Tan Sri Mahmood Adam was quoted as saying Dr Hasan had been demoted by a grade following the khalwat case last month and was no longer health director-general.      

Malaysia Moves Closer Towards Becoming A Regional Orthopaedics Hub

PUTRAJAYA, Dec 10 (Bernama) - A joint venture signed between two Malaysian companies and a medical group from China in the area of orthopaedics products manufacturing is expected to position Malaysia as the orthopaedics hub in the region, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said.

He said the collaboration between The Naton Medical Group of China (Naton), OSA Niaga Sdn Bhd (OSA) and Straits Orthopaedics (Mfg) Sdn Bhd of Malaysia to manufacture orthopaedic devises, comprising trauma, spine and arthroplasty products would also enable Malaysians to enjoy 30 to 50 per cent discount of the products in future.

"I have been informed that the industry is ready and willing to advance to the next level, with companies planning to scale up their operations, win new contracts from global customers, engage in more technical and higher-value R&D projects as well as make Malaysian brands and products more visible in the export markets of Asean.

"Thus, should Malaysia achieve the distinction of becoming the orthopaedics capital of the east, it will further provide a marvellous platform for entrepreneurs and companies to venture into other clinical discipline such as cardiovascular surgical devices," he said after witnessing the signing between Naton, OSA and Straits Orthopaedics here Monday.

Liow said the field of orthopaedics offered a huge industry potential for Malaysia with players are already leveraging on Malaysia's excellent comparative advantage and developing expertise in all aspects including research and development (R&D), products development, commercialisation and distribution.

Saturday, December 08, 2012

SGH bars children under 12

BorneoPost Online

KUCHING: Children under the age of 12 is now barred from visiting Sarawak General Hospital as the place is congested with patients, and kids typically have a weak immune system.
SGH director Dr Abdul Rahim Abdullah said the move had nothing to do with the recent case of a 71-year-old patient being infected by lung infection there.
He revealed that investigations into the case concluded that the infection was not due to the air quality in the hospital but caused by cross infection from another patient.
“Investigations have been conducted on the patient in the last few days and we found out the cause was not due to the air quality in the hospital. My doctors have talked to the family of the patient on this, and the patient is now being given antibiotics.
“We are still awaiting test results on whether the infection was TB (tuberculosis),” he said in a telephone interview yesterday.
He said this when asked about the notices which were broadcast over RTM local radio channels.
The Borneo Post yesterday received calls from concerned parents over the notices as they were worried whether the air quality in SGH had dropped or if it was a standard procedure for this time of the year.
Dr Abdul Karim confirmed there such notices had been issued to radio stations, but he stressed it was done because SGH was now congested with many patients.
“It is a general notice issued by hospitals because children generally have weaker immune system and thus exposed to air-borne diseases. Some hospitals are more relaxed with this ruling.
“But now SGH is congested and we have to issue such a notice because of the higher risk of infection to small children.”
Asked to elaborate further, he said small children would be disallowed from entering the hospital for visitations unless in special cases where they had to visit a critically-ill relative.
If the parents wanted to send their child for check up at the clinic, he advised them to go to the clinic at the SGH first where the family medicine specialist would advise them whether or not there is need to admit the child at the hospital.
SGH recently came into the media spotlight after Parti Keadilan Rakyat (PKR) Stampin branch raised concerns that the air quality in SGH could be contaminated by mold spores.
Its branch secretary Desmond Kho was quoted as saying that the 71-year-old patient was re-admitted for diarrhea and subsequently discovered to have a lung infection two weeks after being discharged from SGH following a leg complaint.
Wanita PKR vice chief Voon Shiak Ni, who is also the branch vice chief, had also claimed that the branch service centre received a number of complaints from families of patients who were admitted for other illnesses but contracted lung infection later on.
Assistant Minister of Public Health Dr Jerip Susil, meanwhile said the SGH’s Department of Infectious Diseases was carrying out investigations on the allegations of poor air quality in the SGH.
He advised patients and their family members to forward their complaints if they suspect of infection in the SGH through the proper channel.
Although he did not think the poor ventilation and air conditioning is to blame because SGH was just renovated, he stressed that a thorough probe would have to be done.

Friday, December 07, 2012

Primary prevention of NCD vital, says Health Minister

My Sinchew

PETALING JAYA, Dec 6 (Bernama) -- Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai today spoke of the importance of primary prevention of non-communicable diseases (NCD) by all Malaysians to check the rise in the number of sufferers.
He said the Health Ministry was giving special focus to the wellness paradigm by disseminating information on preventive measures to inform the people of the dangers of NCD.
Data from the National Health and Morbidity Survey 2011 showed a high prevalence of NCD such as diabetes, cardiovascular diseases, cancer and chronic respiratory ailments in Malaysia and the rest of the world, he said.
"In 2011, diabetes was prevalent in 2.6 million of the Malaysian population aged 18 and above; hypertension, 5.8 million population; hypercholesterolaemia or high cholesterol, 6.2 million population; and obesity, 2.5 million population.
"These numbers are most worrying because the NCD can put pressure on the sufferers in terms of medical costs and jeopardise their daily life activities," he said when launching the "Medik TV Live Now" channel, here.
Also present at the event were Health Ministry secretary-general Datuk Kamarul Azaman Md Isa and Medic Media Network Sdn Bhd chairman Datuk Dr Rahman Ismail.
At a news conference after the launch, Liow said the ministry was more focused at one time on dissemination of information on the modes of treatment of diseases and enhancing the quality of medical equipment facilities.
"These efforts produced results, and the time has come for us to focus on preventive measures," he said.
"Medik TV", a channel disseminating information on health under the auspices of the ministry, will begin its broadcast at hospitals and 1Malaysia clinics in the country next month.
In his speech, Liow said the channel had begun broadcast at selected hospitals and clinics in the Klang Valley, Negeri Sembilan and Melaka.
"Under the first phase, we provided 1,612 television sets to carry the Medik TV broadcast at 252 locations, covering government hospitals and 1Malaysia clinics.
"Facilities for broadcast to the whole country are expected to be ready in January 2013," he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Rahman said Medik TV was seen as a good platform for more effective dissemination of health information.

Thursday, December 06, 2012

Those aged between 19 and 39 make up bulk of HIV cases

The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: More than 70% of HIV/AIDS cases are comprised of those aged between 19 and 39 years old, says the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC).
“Every year, one out of four new HIV cases reported in Malaysia involves a person aged between 13 and 29 years.
“Since 2011, transmission through sexual activity has overtaken what used to be the main driver for HIV in Malaysia, which was injecting drug users,” MAC president Datuk Dr Raj Karim said in her speech at an event to commemorate World AIDS Day 2012 here yesterday.
This year’s theme is “Getting to Zero: Zero Discrimination, Zero New HIV Infection, Zero AIDS Death”.
The Health Ministry’s director of infectious disease Dr Chong Chee Kheong, who launched the event, emphasised the Government’s com­mitment to tackle the spread of the disease.
“We are committed to providing more access to diagnosis, treatment, care and support for HIV patients.
“More than 16,000 people will be treated with anti-retroviral drugs by the end of this year, which is available for free to all HIV patients at government hospitals,” Dr Chong said.

    Tuesday, December 04, 2012

    Main - Malaysia - Health D-G demoted one grade over ‘khalwat’ case


    Dr Hasan pleaded guilty to committing ‘khalwat’ on November 14, 2012. — File pic
    KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 — Director-general of Health Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman, who was suspended following a “khalwat” (close proximity) case, has been demoted by one grade lower than his Medical Officer Staff II Main Grade, the Public Service Commission (PSC) announced today. 
    PSC chairman Tan Sri Mahmood Adam said the decision was made at a meeting of the PSC today.
    He said in a statement that the disciplinary action against Dr Hasan was taken under Regulation 33(1) of the Public Officers Regulations (Conduct and Discipline) 1993.
    The PSC had decided on November 26 that Hasan be suspended pending a decision on the disciplinary action to be taken against him.
    Mahmood also said that the PSC decided that Grade U41 nurse Wan Syarifah Nooraazmanita Wan Hassan, who was involved in the case, be subjected to a drop of three salary movements for a period of 12 months.
    On November 14, Dr Hasan, 56, and Wan Syarifah Nooraazmanita, 36, were fined RM3,000 and RM2,900, respectively, by the Syariah High Court after they pleaded guilty to “khalwat” in a room at the Putrajaya Pullman Hotel here at 2.18am on that day. — Bernama

    Monday, December 03, 2012

    Senate Passes Traditional And Complementary Medicine Bill


    KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 3 (Bernama) -- The Dewan Negara Monday passed the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Bill 2012 which requires all traditional medicine practitioners to register with the Council of Traditional and Complementary Medicine.

    Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin, in winding up debate on the bill, said the title of 'doctor' would only be given to qualified traditional and complementary medicine practitioners with a five-year basic degree who also fulfill the qualifications set by the council.

    "The bill does not allow individuals who only attend a short course (in the discipline) to use the title of doctor, for example Dr (H) for a practitioner of homeopathy," she said.

    Rosnah said 13,811 practitioners of traditional and complementary medicine had registered with the ministry in the country so far.

    On Islamic medicine or Rukyah, she said the Health Ministry had published a book "Garis Panduan dalam Perubatan Islam" (Guide to Islamic Medicine) which must be adhered to by the practitioners.

    The house will sit again Tuesday.

    Liow: Malaysia needs more rheumatologists

    New Straits Times

    KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia needs more rheumatologists if it is to fulfil the one for every 640 people ratio according to the World Health Organisation (WHO).

    Health minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said yesterday that currently there were 24 rheumatoid arthritis specialists in Malaysia, mostly in government hospitals.
    He said early diagnosis was necessary to treat the disease because joint disfigurement could be delayed with proper treatment.
    “Early diagnosis of rheumatoid arthritis can help prevent permanent damage to the joints of wrists, fingers, knees, feet and ankles,” he said at a press conference after launching the Fly My 1 Dream campaign aimed at creating awareness of chronic inflammatory conditions.
    Liow said some 0.5 per cent of the Malaysian population was suffering from the disease and no one knows what causes it.
    “It can be due to genetics, environment or hormones. This affects people in the middle age and also young children,” said Liow adding that women were more prone to the disease.
    He added that those affected would need life-long treatment, which included expensive medication, and physical and mental therapy.
    Meanwhile, the ministry’s rheumatology head Dr Muhaini Othman said the current lack of rheumatologists should not be a cause for worry as Malaysia was on the way to achieving the recommended WHO ratio.
    She said 16 doctors were currently training to specialise in rheumatology while another eight were on the waiting list for training.
    Dr Muhaini who is also the former president of Malaysian Society of Rheumatology (MSR) said she was proud of the fact that most rheumatologists were in government hospitals and only a handful in the private sector.
    “So more people, especially the under privileged, will be able to receive treatment for this lifelong condition,” she said.
    The campaign held at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa had about 500 patients and their families participating in the half day event which included a ride in the hot air balloon, which symbolised the campaign’s theme.
    The Fly My 1 Dream campaign was organised by the ministry in collaboration with Arthritis Foundation Malaysia, Psoriasis Association Malaysia, Malaysian Society of Rheumatology and Abbott Laboratories (M) Sdn. Bhd to promote early awareness and detection of chronic inflammatory conditions affecting the joints (rheumatoid arthritis and juvenile idiopathic arthritis), the skin (psoriasis) and the gut (inflammatory bowel disease)

    Saturday, December 01, 2012

    Many still not aware of rheumatoid arthritis


    KUALA LUMPUR (Dec 1, 2012): Many people are not aware that they might be suffering from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) as symptoms are often regarded as not serious, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
    He said early symptoms include pain and stiffness in joints, especially in the morning, and also having difficulties to hold things since it most likely affected the fingers.
    "It can affect any joint and wrist. Fingers, knees, feet and ankles are the most commonly affected. More women get RA than men," he told reporters after launching the 'Fly My 1 Dream' programme at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa here, today.
    The programme was jointly organised by the Health Ministry, Arthritis Foundation Malaysia, Psoriasis Association Malaysia, Malaysian Society of Rheumatology and Abbot Laboratories (M) Sdn Bhd.
    Liow also said that the disease often starts between 25 and 55 years and until today, the cause of the RA was still unknown but the genes, environment and hormones might contribute to it.
    He added that it was important for the disease to be detected at an early stage since early aggressive treatment can delay joint destruction.
    "The disease usually requires lifelong treatment, including medication, physical therapy, exercise and possibly surgery," he said.
    Liow added that currently there were 24 rheumatologists at public hospitals throughout the country, except in Perlis, where such cases are managed by general physicians.
    Among hospitals with rheumatologists are Hospital Kuala Lumpur, Hospital Serdang (Selangor), Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun (Perak), Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II (Kelantan), Hospital Umum Kuching (Sarawak) and Hospital Queen Elizabeth (Sabah).
    Liow also said it was important for patients to receive strong support from family and friends as they might experience some degree of depression, anxiety and feeling of helplessness.
    "Daily joint pain is an inevitable consequence. In some cases it can interfere with a person's ability to carry out normal activities, limit job opportunities or disrupt the joy of family life," he said. –Bernama

    2,504 new HIV cases reported till Nov 2012

    New Straits Times

    KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has received 2,504 new Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) notifications from January to November this year.

    The Health Ministry's Director of Disease Control Dr Chong Chee Kheong said with the alarming number of HIV cases, all young people must know how to protect themselves from such ailment and start being responsible for their health.
    "One out of four new HIV cases reported in Malaysia involve youngsters aged between 13 and 29 years and young adults aged between 20 to 39, constituting 70 per cent of the cumulative HIV cases.
    "New cases in young adults through sexual transmissions are also expected to increase from year to year and its already overtaking what used to be the main driver for HIV in Malaysia which was Injecting Drug User," he said in his speech at the Red Ribbon Youth Club's "Celebrate World AIDS Day 2012" here, today.
    He added that in 2011, Malaysia had witnessed a cumulative total of 94,841 HIV cases of which 17,686 progressed to Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS), while at least 14,986 AIDS related deaths were reported.

    Meanwhile, Honorary Secretary of the Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) Hisham Hussein said it was timely for Malaysians to acquire knowledge and develop an integrated approach about sexual and reproductive health education and services,
    especially to young adults.
    "We must stay ahead to educate our young people, particularly at this critical juncture," he said on behalf of MAC President Datuk Dr Raj Karim.
    In conjunction with World AIDS Day 2012 today that was themed Rising Up to Challenges of "Getting to Zero", Hisham said MAC was collaborating with the University of Malaya Medical Society to launch the two-day Red Ribbon Youth Club's Worlds Aids Day 2012 which started today.
    The aim of the event is to increase public awareness and raise funds for HIV organisations in Malaysia. -- BERNAMA

    Johor hospitals set for 12-12-12 requests

    The Star Online

    JOHOR BARU: Hospitals are expecting to receive requests from pregnant mothers to give birth via Caesarean section on Dec 12 (12-12-12).
    Puteri Specialist Hospital public relations and marketing executive Nurul Dashireen Hashim said most requests are not because of superstitious or religious reasons.
    “They just want their child to be born on a memorable date because 10-10-10, 11-11-11 and 12-12-12 only come once in a century,” she said here yesterday.
    She said although the hospital had yet to receive any bookings for Caesarean section on Dec 12, they expected to start getting such requests soon.
    Columbia Asia Hospital in Nusajaya marketing manager Christopher Konsaid that the hospital had received one such request from a mother-to-be to deliver on Dec 12.
    Johor Specialist Hospital senior executive for quality and public relations Ramlah Amir said that the hospital would give out special hampers to mothers who deliver on Dec 12.

    Liow: Target to reduce AIDS deaths may be reached earlier

    The Star Online

    PETALING JAYA: With rapidly improving statistics, Malaysia is likely to achieve zero AIDS-related deaths before the targeted 2015, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
    He said that since 1986 when the first HIV-related case was detected in Malaysia, the number of cases had dropped drastically from the highest number in 2002 of 6,978 new cases (or 28.5 cases in 100,000 people) to 2,544 new cases as of September.
    “If the number of cases per month does not change, the number of new HIV cases recorded this year is 3,392 cases or 11.8 cases in 100,000 people. Looking at this, there is a big possibility that the 2015 target will be achieved earlier,” he said in a statement.
    He added that among the efforts by the Government to reduce the number of AIDS-related deaths was providing antiretroviral (ARV) drug treatment.
    “With the best ARV treatment, HIV patients are able to lead a longer and more meaningful life,” he said.
    He urged those at risk of getting infected by HIV to come forward to be tested.
    “Among other efforts was a programme to curb vertical transmission' by providing free ARV treatment to expecting mothers who are HIV-positive, as well as the prophylaxis drug to prevent other infections, with ARV, to their newborn babies,” he said.

    Friday, November 30, 2012

    KPJ Healthcare acquires stake in Thailand hospital


    JOHOR BAHARU, Nov 29 – KPJ Healthcare Bhd, a member of Johor Corporation (JCorp) Group, continues its aggressive expansion in the regional healthcare market by acquiring a substantial stake in a Thailand hospital.
    Its Chairman Kamaruzzaman Abu Kassim said KPJ forked out RM63 million to buy 23 per cent of multi specialty private healthcare provider, Vejthani Hospital, in Bangkok.
    The 500-bed hospital is famous for its specialty in orthopaedic treatment.
    “The stake acquisition in a Thailand Hospital will expand KPJ’s reach within Asean’s healthcare market. The potential profit contribution from Vejthani Hospital is expected to enhance KPJ Group’s earnings in the future,” said Kamaruzzaman, who is also JCorp President and Chief Executive, to reporters after attending KPJ’s extraordinary general meeting.
    He said the stake acquisition would be fulfilled via internal-generated funds but the transaction was expected to increase the company’s gearing by about six per cent by the second quarter of next year.
    KPJ bought the stake from a private equity fund.
    According to Vejthani Hospital’s website, it handled about 300,000 patients annually, with its share of international patients coming from 40 different countries worldwide.
    He said efforts to grow KPJ’s medical tourism segment was continuing, with the company targeting to raise the revenue contribution from the segment to as high as 25 per cent by 2020.
    “Today, KPJ’s health tourism patients are mainly from Indonesia, Australia, New Zealand, Somalia, Singapore, India and the Middle East,” he said.
    Besides Malaysia where it owned 22 private specialist hospitals, KPJ also has a presence in Indonesia with two hospitals in Jakarta and a retirement and aged care resort called Jeta Gardens in Brisbane, Australia.
    Meanwhile, Managing Director Datin Paduka Siti Sa’diah Sheikh Bakir, who was also present at the media conference, said apart from local parties, KPJ also received enquiries from foreign parties wanting the company to have a presence in their countries.
    Today’s EGM was held to discuss three resolutions – proposed acquisition of 80 per cent equity interest in PT Khidmat Perawatan Jasa Medika (PT KPJ Medika) by Kumpulan Perubatan (Johor) Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of KPJ from JCorp.
    The acquisition’s total cost was RM15.8 million, said Kamaruzzaman.
    The second resolution was on the proposed disposal of two pieces of land in Johor Baharu by KPJ’s wholly-owned subsidiary, Puteri Specialist Hospital (Johor) Sdn Bhd, to Al-’Aqar Healthcare REIT for a total cash consideration of RM3.6 million.
    The last resolution in today’s EGM was on the proposed acquisition of a parcel of vacant commercial land in Mukim Tebrau, Johor Baharu, by Renalcare Perubatan (M) Sdn Bhd, a wholly-owned unit of KPJ from Johor Land Bhd for RM45 million.
    The purchase of the land in Bandar Dato Onn was to enable KPJ to build a 150-bed private hospital, costing RM100 million, by early next year and be completed by 2015.
    KPJ’s Bandar Dato Onn Hospital was one of the six hospitals the company planned to build throughout the country, which was under the ambit of the government’s Entry Point Projects (EPP). – Bernama

    Tuesday, November 27, 2012

    Another fake hospital scam

    The Star Online

    PETALING JAYA: Scammers are “injuring” another hospital by using its website to con unsuspecting expatriates, including doctors.
    “Hartamas Medical Center” mirrors the website of Damai Service Hospital (HQ) (DSH) to hire foreigners by offering jobs with lucrative salaries and other perks.
    The website, which is still running, lists several job vacancies, including for general surgeon, paediatrician, physiotherapist and nurse manager.
    They have handphone numbers for people to contact although instead of a fake mailing address, the “hospital” lists the address of DSH on its website, which is about 5km away from the fake Dutamas Hospital, supposedly located in Solaris Dutamas, that was reported last week.
    DSH officials were shocked when a doctor turned up claiming that he had been offered a job some weeks ago.
    Chief operating officer Andy Soo, in denying any connection to the scam, said the expatriate doctor had a letter stating that he had been offered a job.
    “But we do not send out official recruitment letters via e-mail,” he said yesterday. “We fear our reputation will be tarnished.”
    Soo said reports with the police and the Malaysian Communica- tions and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) had been lodged.
    He said the hospital lodged the police report on Nov 5 after it received e-mails that its website was being mirrored by scammers.
    It was reported that “Dutamas Hospital” offered salaries of more than US$9,000 (RM27,000) per month for executive jobs, in addi-tion to holidays, accommodation and other perks, to lure victims.
    They targeted prospective expatriates into parting with their money by getting them to pay thousands of ringgit as visa and contract fees.
    “Dutamas Hospital” had taken information from Columbia Asia Hospital Setapak's website.
    Meanwhile, a source revealed that an ayurveda doctor from India had been offered a job by “Hartamas Medical Center” in October.
    The terms of appointment were the same as that in the “Dutamas Hospital” scam.
    MCMC said the case was being investigated.

    Friday, November 23, 2012

    Ministry dismiss mandatory plan for female patients

    New Straits Times

    KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has dismissed a suggestion to make it mandatory for female patients to be treated by female medical officers and female gynaecologists only.

    Its deputy minister Datuk Rosnah Shirlin said there were just not enough female gynaecologists to make the proposal feasible.
    "However we have rules in place that if a female patient is examined by a male gynaecologist, a female medical officer must act as a chaperone for the patient," she said in parliament in response to Mohd Nasir Zakaria (PAS-Padang Terap).
    She added that the ministry's priorities in placement of doctors was based on workload and not gender.
    According to the statistics in 2011, 1.05 million patients sought the services of gynaecologists and the current national ratio of gynaecologists to patients was 1:4,695.
    Rosnah revealed that up to Sept 10 this year, there were a total of 245 gynaecologists, of which 109 were males and 136 females.
    In a bid to increase the number of specialists in the country, the ministry has increased Masters studies slots in public higher learning institutes from 450 to 600 in the 2010/2011 academic session intake and to 800 in the 2011/2012 intake.
    The ministry also offers 150 scholarships every year for students to pursue sub-specialty studies.

    Thursday, November 22, 2012

    Bogus hospital website uses RM27,000 bait to lure expats

    The Star Online

    PETALING JAYA: A “virtual hospital” is the latest scam targeting prospective expatriates into parting with their money by getting them to pay for Malaysian visas upfront.
    The fake Dutamas Hospital offered salaries of more than US$9,000 (RM27,000) per month for executive jobs, in addition to holidays, accommodation and other perks to lure victims.
    If they take the bait, they would be asked to pay thousands of ringgit upfront as visa and contract fees.
    Its website, created early this month, displayed detailed information including address, contact numbers and a list of doctors.

    Wednesday, November 21, 2012

    Finally a taste of bitter medicine

    The Star Online

    SEREMBAN: A minimum RM500,000 fine and mandatory jail sentence of at least one year awaits any individual caught selling counterfeit or adulterated drugs under the proposed Pharmacy Bill to be tabled in Parliament soon.
    A company involved in a similar undertaking will be slapped with a minimum RM1mil fine and its owner jailed for a minimum of one year under the proposed legislation set to replace a clutch of archaic pre-Independence laws.
    The comprehensive Bill, which has been deliberated for close to a decade now, will replace the Registration of Pharmacist Act 1951, Poisons Act 1952, Sale of Drugs Act 1952 and the Medicines Act 1956 (Sale and Advertisement).
    The Health Ministry is seeking feedback from the public, drugs and cosmetics industries, pharmaceutical companies, associations and academic institutions on the new legislation before tabling the Bill.
    The public online engagement ends on Nov 29.
    The ministry said the absence of specific provisions in the existing laws made it difficult to check the flooding of fake and unregistered drugs, including traditional medicines, in the market.
    “We hope the new legislation will be a deterrent to those who hope to benefit from the loopholes in the existing laws,” the ministry said.
    Under the Sale of Drugs Act, people arrested for selling fake drugs are only liable to a RM50,000 fine or a jail term not exceeding three years. Companies may only be fined up to RM100,000 for a similar offence.
    Under the new Bill, individuals caught selling unregistered medicines may be fined up to RM100,000 as against RM25,000 at present.
    Also, those found to have sold psychotropic pills are now only liable to a fine of up to RM10,000.
    The ministry said the new Bill also proposes the setting up of a National Pharmacy Council to formulate new regulations on drug classification, prohibited and controlled items and fees for the various licences.
    Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai cited statistics which showed that 22,970 SSFFC (substandard/spurious/false label/falsified/counterfeit) drugs worth RM27,461,997 were seized last year.
    In 2010, the ministry seized 16,862 SSFFC drugs worth RM22,000,047 and 12,825 SSFFC drugs worth RM13,596,290 in 2009, he said.
    “The trade of such drugs has been a growing problem because of the limitations of old legislation ... heavier penalties will give the ministry more teeth in tackling the problem,” he added.
    It was reported that some counterfeit drugs like sex stimulants, painkillers, eye drops and cough mixtures are dangerous and can kill.
    The ministry's Pharmaceutical Services Division director Mohd Hatta Ahmad said most of these drugs were brought in illegally and sold in traditional medicine and sundry shops and roadside stalls.
    The public can check whether a medicine is counterfeit via several methods like using a Meditag decoder found in licensed pharmacies to check the autenticity of the hologram label on the product.
    Another way is to verify the registration number printed on the outer packaging by going to and searching the “registered product” bar.