Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Strict monitoring of breast implants and anti-ageing jabs

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Medical Device Act 2011 will help ensure the quality and safety of medical devices once it is enforced.
Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said products such as facial fillers and breast implants would be register­­-ed with the Medical Device Aut­hority.
“All companies dealing with medical devices will be licensed so that authorities can monitor the performance of medical devices in the market and take action once the Act is enforced.” he said.
Dr Hasan was responding to reports asking for tighter regulations of such cosmetic procedures like anti-ageing injections in Britain re­­cently.
This followed fears that harmful dermal fillers could be the next scandal in the cosmetic surgery industry following the breast implant scare in France.
“Under the Act, a ‘designated medical device’ would be regu­- lated to ensure its usage complied with certain requirements,” he said.
Dr Hasan added that anyone who used the device must possess a permit issued under the Act.
“This permit will only be issued to a person who has the necessary qualification and experience,” he said.
He added that once the Act was fully enforced, the marketing and usage of such devices would be regulated.
“For a medical device, the manufacturer must demonstrate evidence that the filler will not compromise the clinical condition or safety of users,” he said.
He stressed that although facial fillers were not regulated as medicines, the provisions under the Act would allow the ministry to put in place all the appropriate steps to address safety issues.

Making profit from organ donation a no-no

Star: SEREMBAN: Organ donors are not allowed to make a profit as promoting or commercialising transplants is strictly prohibited.
However, a reasonable reimbursement for the donation process is allowed.
Under the Health Ministry’s Unrelated Living Organ Donation: Policy and Procedures, a Malaysian organ donor is also entitled to free admission to a first class ward for the surgery. All hospital charges relating to the surgery will also be waived.
“Personnel in the public service who have donated their organs will be given unrecorded leave of up to 42 days to facilitate the surgery,” the ministry said.
Approval is needed from the ministry’s Unrelated Transplant Appro­val Committee for any procedure involving an unrelated living donor.
The committee, comprising bet­ween seven and 11 members, will evaluate and recommend if a transplant involving an unrelated living donor should be allowed.
The committee, including doctors, health personnel or anyone with knowledge about transplant ethics, will be appointed by the Health Ministry director-general for a period of three years.
“It shall be chaired by a doctor not actively involved in the field of transplantation, but who has sufficient knowledge about the matter,” it said.
An independent team, comprising at least a medical donor advocate, a psychiatrist and a medical social work officer, will also be appointed to evaluate prospective donors.

Too early to talk about 1Care, says ministry

Star: PETALING JAYA: Protests by a Facebook group called #taknak1care has prompted the Health Ministry to take on some of the group’s claims against the ministry’s proposed healthcare reforms under the 1Care for 1Malaysia system.
Health deputy director-general (Medical) Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, who joined the discussion on the group’s wall, said the plan was still at a conceptual stage.
“Nothing has been decided and the rakyat will be the first to know,” wrote Dr Noor Hisham in one of his first responses.
He added that speculation and assumptions were not going to help and people must give the new system a chance to be developed.
The Facebook group, citing ministry sources and some public documents, claimed the new healthcare system would be funded by the public through a compulsory contribution of 10% of their monthly income.
It had also claimed that the public would only be allowed to see their designated general practitioner a maximum of six times a year.
Dr Noor Hisham, in response to those claims, reiterated that it was premature to speculate and make an assumption on something the ministry had not studied in detail.
He, however, implied that the scheme might be, in part, funded by employees’ wages as he wrote “your salary goes to the scheme”.
Dr Noor Hisham also said the ministry had only started the first stage of transformation, which is the strengthening of existing healthcare services.
He noted that the Health Ministry would be assisted by the World Health Organisation and experts in healthcare reform when it proceeds to the second stage, which is to study various healthcare models.
According to an earlier article in The Star by Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman, the concept paper on 1Care for 1Malaysia had been presented to Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak and members of the Economic Council in August 2009.
Consequently, the Health Mi­­nistry had received the mandate to develop the 1Care blueprint.

Monday, January 30, 2012

Ministry warns of fake medical products sold at grocery stores and night markets

Star: PETALING JAYA: They say laughter is the best medicine but many traditional drugs available in grocery stores or night markets are no laughing matter.
Most of them are unregistered products such as counterfeit medicine, fake sex stimulants, food supplements and even cosmetics.
According to Health Ministry's director of pharmacy enforcement Mohd Hatta Ahmad, the Pharmaceutical Services Division confiscated 33,274 such items worth RM22.5mil during raids, inspections and entry point screenings last year.
There has been a steady increase - in 2010, the authorities confiscated 24,852 products valued at RM21.5mil, while in 2009, 19,764 items were seized valued at RM10.4mil.
“People could be ignorant, buying these products which are within easy reach and cheap. They look legitimate and impressive with their attractive packaging,” he said.
Hatta said many of the unregistered medicine were sold at night markets, grocery stores and roadside stalls.
Another means of distribution was direct selling and a substantial amount of the unregistered medicine was confiscated from the houses of the distributors, he said.
Hatta said these so-called traditional items were often used to treat simple ailments such as cough and cold, fever and aches.
“Some of the medicine claims to be effective for joint pains. When we studied them in our labs, we found that they contained steroids or anti-inflammatory ingredients,” he said.
Some of the products even contain heavy metals which can cause kidney damage.
He said some cosmetics might contain hazardous chemicals such as hydroquinone, mercury and tretinoin, which can cause skin damage.
The fake sex stimulants were food products and supplements laced with active ingredients like tadanafil, sildenafil and verdenafil, all of which were used to treat impotence.
Hatta said they were harmful to one's health if taken without proper consultation and could even cause loss of vision.
“These products are available because there is a demand for them. If there are no buyers, there will be no sellers,” he said.
Datuk Eisah A. Rahman, the ministry's senior director of pharmaceutical services, said any unregistered product was considered to be unsafe as its quality, safety and efficacy had not been evaluated.
“When we conduct pre-approval testing of medicine, about 10% of the medicines contain contaminants, what more these types of medicine which have not even been registered and tested?” she said.

Seek advice if you have had breast implants, women urged

Star: PETALING JAYA: Women who had undergone plastic surgery for breast implants and facial fillers have been told to consult their surgeons and seek advice following a health scare involving such procedures in Europe.
The French-made Poly Implant Prothese (PIP) implants which is currently embroiled in a scandal in Europe are not used for cosmetic surgery in Malaysia, but at the same time, there were no statistics for breast implants in the country.
Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said the ministry do not have statistics on Malaysian women who have had breast implants.
“It's hard to keep track of those who have had breast implants since most of them go abroad, like Thailand, to get it done as it is cheaper. Some may also go to unauthorised beauticians,” he said yesterday.
A safety notice had been posted in the division's website urging women to continue to routinely monitor their implants and to consult their surgeons if they had any concerns.
“Specialists or centres which made use of PIP implants are advised to contact the ministry's Medical Devices Control Division. The ministry will also inform the public on this issue from time to time,” he said.
In the notice, the division urged implant users to provide relevant information including the name of the healthcare centre, contact person, number and name of the suppliers.
Currently, no local authorised representative for the product had been identified based on the registered medical device establishment listing in Malaysia.
Dr Hasan said that presently, only two products were listed in their database, none of which were PIP.
“However, an assessment on safety and performance will be carried out once the Medical Device Act 2011 is enforced,” he said.
The scandal in Europe erupted after the now-defunct manufacturer in southern France shut down after it was found using substandard, industrial-grade silicone gel.

Guidelines for cosmetic surgery

Star: PETALING JAYA: Those who opt to go to unqualified medical practitioners for surgical and non-surgical cosmetic procedures at unregistered clinics are putting a lot at risk.
Plastic surgeons are concerned that many Malaysians still go to unqualified practitioners to have such a delicate procedure carried out.
Consultant plastic surgeon Dr Cheong Yu Wei said invasive procedures must be carried out by registered medical doctors in a proper environment to avoid unnecessary complications later.
“If the procedures are done in a registered hospital, they will be on record. If anything goes wrong, they can be held accountable and responsible for their actions,” he said in an interview.
Dr Cheong urged the Government to set guidelines to regulate the industry and help the public in selecting authorised clinics and hospitals for such procedures. Also, it is important to outline who were qualified to perform certain procedures.
“There are many who promise the sky but are you sure what they say is true? Customers do not know how or where to verify,” he said.
He advised the people to visit the Malaysian Association of Plastic, Aesthetic & Craniomaxillofacial Surgeons and the National Specialist Register websites to check if the names of the doctors were listed to ensure that the person conducting the procedures was qualified.
“Patients should be more vocal over their concerns and raise questions if they are apprehensive or doubtful of what they are about to undergo. Some may think it is rude or impolite to do so but it is your right to know these things.
“They should question the doctor's background, his qualifications and even his certificates. Also, ask for the brand and name of products to be used in any of the procedures and do your homework. Well-known brands will have their own websites filled with information including the contents of the products,” he said.
Consultant plastic surgeon Dr Lee Kim Siea was concerned about illegal injectors and injection material used for facial fillers.
“Fillers from well-known brands usually have a better safety profile. Paying a bit more for well-known brands is worth every sen. The doctor who administers it is equally important as you can still get complications if the injector is not qualified to do it,” he said.
He cautioned the public on the usage of silicone gel used as filler material as it cause severe deformities years down the line.

Sunday, January 29, 2012

Cut down sugar intake, public urged

Star PETALING JAYA: Malaysians need to cut down on their sugar intake as it would not only be beneficial to their health, but also save on the Government's spending on subsidies.
Last year, the Government spent RM262.41mil in subsidies and it would be spending RM567mil this year due to the increased price of the commodity, the Domestic Trade, Cooperative and Consumer-ism Ministry said.
“If we can reduce our intake of sugar, the money spent on this subsidy could be extended to subsidise other commodities,” said its minister Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob yesterday.
It was announced on Friday that the Government had increased the sugar subsidy from 20 sen per kilo to 54 sen per kilo earlier this month to avoid having the rakyat pay more due to the increasing global price of the commodity.
Ismail was reported as saying that the price of sugar would remain at RM2.30 per kilo while current open market price for sugar is RM2.84 per kilo.
Malaysia is the eighth highest sugar consumer in the world and the fourth highest in Asia.
The Health Ministry recently revealed that Malaysians consume excess sugar, adding an average of seven teaspoons of sugar to their drinks daily.
This does not include the hidden sugar contained in other food and beverage consumed each day.
According to Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman, consumers should not add more than two teaspoons of sugar into their tea or coffee each day.
“Most of our food is sweet enough on its own, but it has become a habit among many Malaysians to add more sugar to it,” he said, adding that the practice contributed to obesity and high blood sugar.

Malaysia health official to probe sleepy surgeons

Monster and Critics Kuala Lumpur - Malaysian health officials will investigate claims by two alleged surgeons who told a local radio station they dozed off while performing surgeries, a report said Sunday.
Hasan Abdul Rahman, director general of health, said such doctors were liable to have their licenses suspended or removed from office by their hospitals.
'Such things will affect our image as we need competent doctors,' Hasan told the New Sunday Times newspaper. 'The patients' safety is our main concern.'
One of the two alleged doctors told a radio show Friday that he fell asleep while helping a surgeon perform an operation. A second caller said he dozed off while assisting an appendectomy.

Housemen no longer need to work 32 hours straight, guidelines say

The Star PETALING JAYA: Medical housemen will no longer work 16 hours continuously after their normal eight hours with the implementation of a flexible schedule.
Previously, all housemen were required to work continuously for 32 hours eight normal working hours followed by 16 hours overnight and another eight hours the next day.
A guideline on the implementation of the flexi-schedule was announced in a circular dated Jan 3. It states that hospital directors and department heads must ensure that the total average working hours was 60 hours per week for every posting, but not exceed 72 hours.
They have two options available to them. They are:
> A three-session system whereby the shifts would be from 7am to 6pm, 11am to 11pm and 10pm to 10am.
> The second option will be a two-session system whereby the shifts will be normal working hours of 7am till 5pm with extended hours until 12am, and 7am till 5pm and continuation of work again at 11pm till 1am the next day.
The two options will allow hospitals to implement a work schedule according to their needs and the number of housemen.
The guidelines call for hospital directors and head of departments to ensure that the flexi-schedule is arranged to give “protected time” for housemen to do Continuous Medical Education (CME) and Continuous Professional Development (CPD), whether in hospitals or at the department level.
“To ensure that housemen are able to perform hands-on procedures while under the supervision of a specialist or medical officer and that they receive the maximum exposure in training such as grand rounds, teaching rounds, CME, Operation Theatre time and day care services, the number of housemen on duty during the day must be more than those on night shifts,” according to the guidelines.
It also states that housemen will be paid a Flexible Working Allowance of RM600 a month but they will not be qualified for it if certain conditions applied such as during unpaid leave, half paid leave and rest days including weekly rest days and public holidays for more than 28 days in a row.
On Oct 7 last year, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the Government had introduced a flexible schedule.

Saturday, January 28, 2012

MMA all set to heal itself

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) council has called for a special general meeting (SGM) to discuss its temporary deregistration and reinstatement.
The meeting, scheduled to be held on Feb 12, was to provide members with a clearer picture of its current status, MMA president Dr Mary Cardosa said.
The 52-year-old association was reinstated shortly after being deregistered by the Registrar of Societies (ROS) on Nov 15.
“Because of the adverse publicity and uncertainty that our members have had over the last two months, the MMA council has decided to call an SGM on Feb 12 to explain the situation to our members,” she added.
In the latest edition of the association's newsletter, Berita MMA, Dr Cardosa said the Home Ministry had suspended the deregistration notice and given the MMA a warning to abide strictly by its Constitution and the Societies Act.
“The response from the Home Ministry to our appeal letter states that the decision of the ROS is tangguhkan or suspended', which means that the MMA can function normally again,” Dr Cardosa wrote.
“The warning' that was given to the MMA is that in the next six months, we have to follow our Constitution and the Societies Act strictly,” she added.
The MMA was also asked to hold its AGM in compliance with its constitution within the stipulated period.
Dr Cardosa also announced that the ROS had confirmed that the current council and executive committee would continue to function until the association's AGM and elections, scheduled to be held in May.
The MMA had received a show cause letter from the ROS in September, in which it was asked to explain alleged irregularities in the running of its last elections.
The ROS issued the MMA a deregistration notice shortly after the MMA submitted its explanation, and the association temporarily suspended its activities.

Malaysian youth not drinking enough water, say experts

Star: PETALING JAYA: Malaysian youngsters are not drinking enough water, and that does not bode well for their health.
A recent study by the Health Ministry showed that less than 35% of Form One, Two and Four students from 50 schools in the country drink the recommended six to eight glasses (1.5L to 2L) of plain water a day.
The recommendation was listed as one of the 14 key messages in the Malaysian Dietary Guidelines, which encouraged people to “drink plenty of water daily”.
Consultant dermatologist Datuk Dr Low Bin Tick said that although young people today were more conscious about water intake, they were still not drinking enough.
“We see them bringing their water bottles but we do not know whether they actually finish it,” said Dr Low, adding that adequate water intake contributed to skin health by making it easier for the skin to remove waste products through sweating.
National Heart Institute (IJN) chief dietitian Mary Easaw-John said it was easy to meet the recommended requirement of six to eight glasses of water a day.
“Just take a glass of plain water when you wake up, when you have your three meals and during tea time, and one more before you go to sleep. That's six glasses already,” she said.
The remaining two cups of water can be fruit and vegetable juices, milk and plain tea.
“Caffeinated drinks like coffee and soft drinks are fine but it is best to limit them as they may make you pass more urine,” said Easaw-John.
She noted that the easiest way to find out if you are drinking enough water is to pay attention to the colour of your urine.
“If it is colourless and light yellow, you are generally drinking sufficiently. But if it is yellow or dark yellow, you are not drinking enough,” she added.
While the recommendations are meant for the general population, there are special groups that require different amounts of water.
Those with kidney stones, for instance, should be careful with the amount of water they take as it may worsen their condition.
“I often see patients who overdo it, thinking that the extra water will flush out their stones,” said consultant urologist Prof Datuk Dr Tan Hui Meng.
He noted that while adequate water intake was needed to expel the stones, too much water would stretch the patients' urinary tracts and prevent its muscles from moving the stones along.
According to the guidelines, young children may need less water while lactating mothers may need more.

1Malaysia Clinic proof of govt’s concern — Dr Jerip

BorneoPost: KUCHING: The government’s concern on public health is apparent by the setting up of the 1Malaysia clinics although there is still room for improvement to make them well stocked.
Assistant Minister of Public Health Dr Jerip Susil said Malaysia was one of the most fortunate countries in the world because it had spent a large amount of money to support medical and health care services.
“Budgetary expenses are allocated to provide free medical and health care services and provide various subsidies on pharmaceutical products, hospitals and health clinics including the supply of manpower like doctors and nurses,” he said when met recently.
He, however, noted that overcrowding in government hospitals, especially in the urban areas, was a major concern.
He thus said that the 1Malaysia clinics couldn’t have come at a more opportune time “to deal with overcrowding and provide more facilities for the people.”
“Two reasons why 1Malaysia clinics are set up — one to provide more facilities in urban areas, and second, to allow the urban poor to have access to medical and health care services,” he said.
Dr Jerip said facilities available in 1Malaysia clinic were fairly advanced compared to that in many developing nations.
“All these are part and parcel of the government’s efforts to ensure that medical and health services are available to the people in urban areas who cannot afford to go to private clinics.
“Of course there are pros and cons of the 1Malaysia clinics. The good point is that everyone is entitled to make use of facilities which are quite good. On the other hand, the private doctors would not be too happy if everybody patronises the 1Malaysia clinics. There ought to be a balance.
“We realise that not only people from the lower income group visit the 1Malaysia clinics but others who are well off also go there because of the conveniences.
“These are the benefits and disadvantages of the 1Malaysia clinic but overall, it is a good facility,” said Dr Jerip who is also Bengoh assemblyman.

Friday, January 27, 2012

Colon cancer spreading

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Cancer of the colon and rectum (colorectal cancer) has overtaken cervical cancer as the second most common cancer among Malaysian women.
UKM Medical Centre (UKMMC) oncology department head Assoc Prof Datuk Dr Fuad Ismail said the cancer, which is the most common type among Malaysian men, had intensified with the women in the past few years.
“In 2003, the most common cancer in women was breast cancer, followed by cervical cancer and colorectal cancer,” said Dr Fuad after the launch of the European Society for Medical Oncology (ESMO) Asia CME Partner Centre Colorectal Cancer Programme at UKMMC yesterday.
The pattern changed in 2007, when colorectal cancer was recorded as the second most common cancer among women.
“This may be due to the increase of the number of women diagnosed with colon cancer and the decrease of cervical cancer incidence among women,” said Dr Fuad, adding that more women were now educated on cervical cancer prevention and its screening methods.
He noted that of the estimated 40,000 cancer cases diagnosed every year, about 4,000 of them were colorectal cancer.
“Men and women are just as likely to get it,” said Dr Fuad, who also agreed that colorectal cancer used to be thought of being “a men’s disease”.
Dr Luqman Mazlan, a surgeon at the UKMMC, who was also present at the event, said surgeons at the medical centre operated on three to four colorectal cancer patients a week.
“We don’t routinely screen the general population for colorectal cancer unless a person has a very strong family history of it,” said Dr Luqman.
However, he said those who experienced changes in their bowel habits, unexplained weight loss and find blood in their faeces should check for the cancer.
It is not yet clear what causes colorectal cancer but medical website Mayoclinic.com offers the following advice to reduce the risk of developing the disease:
“Eat a variety of fruits, vegetables and whole grains, drink alcohol in moderation, stop smoking, exercise regularly and maintain a healthy weight”.

Consumers must learn to detect fake medicine, says Liow

Star: KUANTAN: The public has once again been reminded of the importance of differentiating between genuine and fake medicines.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said it was important to know whether the medicines were registered with the ministry.
“Those already registered will have the ministry’s sticker. It will be easier if we know where and what to look for so as to detect the genuine and fake medicines,’’ he told reporters after attending a Chinese New Year celebration hosted by the Federation of Kuantan Chinese Associations here yesterday.
The ministry has an existing awareness campaign to teach the public how to differentiate between genuine and fake medicines.
Liow added that consumers could always refer to the ministry or the nearest pharmacy to verify them.
He was asked to comment on claims that there were many medicines being sold with questionable legitimacy.
On Chinese traditional medicines, Liow said these too must be registered with the ministry.
“Enforcement actions will be carried out from time to time.
“Public cooperation is also welcome and they can come forward if they have any information,’’ he added.
Liow said the ministry would draft a new Pharmacy Act as the present punishment for offences were inadequate.
“Culprits are not remorseful despite being penalised with compounds. Because of this, the ministry has to amend the Act.”
He warned medicine sellers not to market their products without registering with the ministry.
On another matter, Liow said the 1Malaysia Clinic was popular in Pahang and the ministry had decided to add seven more, at the cost of RM10mil, in the next five years.
There are now 50 clinics nationwide providing services from 10am to 10pm seven days a week.
Later, Liow visited China Press reporter Chow Siew Chin who was injured following an armed robbery on Tuesday.
Chow, 25, lost RM48,000 when she was robbed of her car and valuables by a knife-wielding man at about 7pm in front of her office at Jalan Lim Hoe Lek here.
Liow advised her and the public to be extra cautious as crime could happen anywhere.

Cracking down on unlicensed contact lens vendors

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The Malaysian Optical Council will issue warnings to online contact lenses vendors to curb the sale of unauthorised contact lenses.
Director-General of Health Datuk Hasan Abdul Rahman said although the Optical Act 1991 did not cover online sales of contact lenses, the move would help improve the situation.
He said the Health Ministry and the council would be enforcing stricter measures.
He added that unauthorised contact lenses vendors at night markets and beauty salons, would be fined heavily.
Contact lenses from an optical store were not guaranteed to be authorised unless the optician had a "prescription and dispensation permit" issued by the council.
Dr Hasan said unlicensed contact lenses vendors could be charged under the Optical Act 1991 and the fine was no less than RM1,000 for the first offence.
For subsequent offences, the fine was RM2,000 as well as six months' jail.
Dr Hasan added that the ministry's Medical Device Control Division and the Private Medical Practice Control Unit (Ukaps) were currently identifying the unauthorised dealers.
"The ministry will be publishing pamphlets specifically for contact lenses users on the dangers of using unauthorised lenses.
"Contact lenses users need proper eye examination and constant supervision, at least in the first year," he said.
Dr Hasan added that the ministry was also working with the Malaysian Customs Department relating to the import and sales of contact lenses in Malaysia.

Toys without Malaysian Conformity mark may cause cancer

BorneoPost: KUALA LUMPUR: That toy may look attractive, but beware! It could pose hidden dangers to your children.
It could be a choking hazard and even cause cancer.
Awareness on the safety of children’s toys in this country is still low.
This can be seen with many consumers still buying toys based on how trendy, sophisticated or attractive they are.
They see toys merely as harmless means of entertaining children.
This is despite numerous media reports, particularly internationally, of children suffering from various accidents and health hazards caused by toys.
They still hold this view even after massive toy recalls and confiscations such as the one in Victoria, Australia, before Christmas.
It was reported that over 10,000 children’s toys have been recalled and confiscated and subsequently destroyed.

A new dimension
Low awareness in Malaysia of the importance of toy safety may have to do with the belated implementation of the Safety Standards Regulations for Children’s Toys, which has been long implemented in developed nations.
The regulation that was enforced on Aug 1, 2010, did leave some impression on Malaysians on the importance of toy safety.
The regulation dictates that all toys manufactured locally or overseas must undergo an evaluation and testing processes before receiving the Malaysian Conformity (MC) mark.
Through related regulations, toy manufacturers, importers and repackers need to observe guidelines to ensure the toys are safe for supply and distribution in Malaysia.
In other words, all the companies involved in the supply and distribution of toys in Malaysia are obliged to follow the guidelines.
The Ministry of Domestic Trade, Cooperation and Consumerism (KPDNKK) has mobilised efforts to raise awareness on toy safety in Malaysia through various media.
A recent Bernama survey found that the ministry’s campaigns, aimed at consumers, have been quite effective.
An Intellectual Property Corporation of Malaysia staff, Nur Izza Osman, said it never crossed her mind that poorly-made toys could be hazardous for children.
“I knew about the MC marking after watching a television advertisement on it.
I previously bought toys based on how attractive it was rather than whether it had an MC mark,” she said.

Hazardous to health
Some chemicals used in the making of children’s toys can have a lasting effect on a child’s health.
The problem is exacerbated with younger children, whose natural curiousity about the texture, feel and taste of things leads them to regularly suckle on toys.
This exposes them to the risk of cancer, according to the University Malaya Medical Centre Head of the Pharmacy Department, Amrahi Buang.
“For example, plumbum (better known as lead, which is used in paint to make colours bright) can enter a child’s body when they play and suckle on the toy, and accumulate over time.
“Couple that with the kinds of food children eat as they are growing up, and the risk of cancer would have greatly increased for them.”
Such chemicals also cause lung problems, nerve disorders, allergies and other health problems.

Other dangers
Toy safety also encompasses the choice of materials, form, size and sound coming from the toy.
The Malaysian Association of Standards Users CEO Ratna Devi Nadarajan said it was important for parents to know the age level of a toy before purchasing it.
This is because not all toys are suitable for their children’s age level, and thus could expose the children to risk of injuries, such as choking.
Based on the 2011 research report Trouble in Toyland, by the US Federation of State Public Interest Research Groups, choking on small toy parts has continued to be the main cause of fatalities and injuries among children.
The study revealed that 200 children died of choking from 1990 to 2010.
“Poor-quality toys (without the MC mark) such as teddy bears with loose fur coats and buttons that are poorly-sewn on can be hazardous to children, especially those of the age where they suckle and chew on toys.
“What is more dangerous is buying a poorly-made electronic toy as it can potentially explode,” she said.

Prevent from being duped
Although the Safety Standards Regulations for Children’s Toys has been in effect since Aug 1, 2010, it was implemented in stages, as many industry players were still uninformed.
Starting this year, however, action will be taken upon the production of toys without the MC lettering under the Consumer Protection Act 1999, said Rashinah Abdul Hamid, the deputy director-general for Policy and Consumerism Standards Division of KPDNKK.
“The ministry has been discussing with the industry the need for an MC mark since 2008. But not all industry players are up to date with the news and some claim to not know about it at all.
“So we decided to implement the ruling in stages so that it can be done fairly, without taking anyone by surprise. To date, we have checked 59,964 premises,” she said.
Rashinah gave two useful tips to detect a fake MC mark.
First, the letters MC should be either in black or white.
Next, there should be a registration number inscribed under the MC lettering, along with the addresses of the manufacturer, importer and repacker.
Consumers should not simply assume that toys in the market are safe for children.
Such a mentality is dangerous and needs to be changed for the sake of children’s health and safety.
Children have yet to learn to become discerning consumers so it is up to the parents to ensure that they are protected from harm.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

MMC to be corporatised

The Sun Daily PUTRAJAYA (Jan 24, 2012): The government will soon table an amendment to the Medical Act 1971 to corporatise the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) – a move aimed at addressing concerns of declining medical standards in the country.

Health Deputy Director General (Medical) Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah told theSun recently that once the amendment is passed, the MMC will be a professional body responsible for maintaining medical standards in the country, and more significantly, for performance monitoring of doctors.

The amendment is expected to be tabled when the Dewan Rakyat reconvenes in March.

"The corporatisation of MMC is to emulate the General Medical Council (GMC) in the United Kingdom, where it functions not only to set and monitor standards of the medical profession, but also the competency of doctors registered with it," said Noor Hisham.

GMC is a fee-based registered charity which maintains a register of its medical practitioners, and functions to protect public interests by ensuring compliance to medical standards.

Noor Hisham said the monitoring of doctor's performance is the way forward for quality healthcare.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai told theSun that the move is to make the council more efficient in its daily administrative work, as well as free it from government bureaucracy.

"MMC is growing by leaps and bounds, it has registered around 35,000 doctors now, so we have to look into making MMC more efficient and not tie it down with government bureaucracy or circular," said Liow.

He added that corporatising the council will ensure that it operates as a stand-alone, independent professional body, akin to the Malaysian Institute of Accountants, the Bar Council and the Institute of Engineers Malaysia.

Under the purview of the Health Ministry, the MMC currently functions under the same principles as the GMC, and also acts as a disciplinary body for the medical profession.

A long serving member of the council, who is also a senior doctor in a public hospital, told theSun the move will resolve the occasional conflict between the functions of the council as the 'whip' of the medical profession, and its role as advisors to the Health Ministry.

"The very fact that the council is funded and run by the ministry, there will be some conflict of interest between the two," the doctor, who declined to be named, said.

He said there were also occasionally some difficulties for the MMC to exercise its disciplinary roles, especially when involving ministry-employed doctors, though he did not give specific examples.

"The move has of course been welcomed by the MMC, and hopefully with its corporatisation it will receive more funding, be more efficient, and able to function independently and with professionalism," he said.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Medical Association also welcomed the move, although it admits that it was not consulted on the matter.

"However, the move is a good as it will make the MMC an independent body and there will be no potential conflict of interest, since currently the Health Ministry director general is also the chairman of the MMC," said MMA president Dr Mary Cardosa.

She added that in the interest of good governance, the MMC must have representatives from all stakeholders who will be responsible for the registration of doctors and maintenance of standards of practice and ethics among doctors.

However, Cardosa disagreed that there may be an increase in fees paid for annual practising certificates (APC) with the corporatisation, and that it may be passed down to patients. Doctors in private practice currently pay RM50 per annum.

"Currently government doctors have their APC fees waived, but even if the APC fees are increased, it will not burden the patients as the fees are not high, and doctors' fees are closely regulated by the law," she said.

The medical standards in the country have come under scrutiny of late, as claims of poorly-qualified housemen, dipping standards in medical education and overcrowded hospitals flood the media.

TheSun, last November, front-paged concerns by senior doctors over the poor quality of some housemen, due to the proliferation of medical schools which produce sub-standard graduates.

Sources had said the situation may be worsened by the government's decision to quash a proposal to abolish the list of 365 recognised overseas foreign universities, and make it compulsory to pass the Medical Qualifying Exam before practising medicine here.

The government instead directed that the list of recognised universities be shortened and reviewed more frequently, and Health Director General Datuk Seri Hasan Abdul Rahman told theSun last month that the list may be slashed by as much as half to maintain standards.

Infants did not die of infections, says ministry

Star: PETALING JAYA: The deaths of the two infants at a childcare centre in Taman Permata Ampang were not caused by infections, said the Health Ministry.
Health director-general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said preliminary lab tests on tissue samples from both infants' lungs and other organs showed that infections were not the main causes of their sudden death.
However, he noted that the ministry had yet to exclude the possibility of milk aspiration as the main cause of death.
“The final conclusion can only be made after all laboratory results, currently being conducted by the Chemistry Department, are received in about two to three weeks time,” said Dr Hasan in a statement.
The final report on the matter will be handed over to the police for further action as a police report as been made.
On Jan 19, three-and-a-halfmonth old Muzaffar Mohd Faizal and seven-month-old Hariz died under the care of their minders at a childcare centre.
Both infants were reported to experience symptoms of cough and cold before their death.
No signs of any serious infectious disease were detected at the childcare centre.
Dr Hasan said health officers had conducted repeated checks at the centre and educated its caretakers on personal hygiene of children.

Sunday, January 22, 2012

Docs who don’t report dengue cases face action, Liow warns

The Star KUALA LUMPUR: Medical practitioners who fail to report dengue cases treated at their respective facilities will face action under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said.

Under the Act, medical practitioners are required to report dengue cases to the health office within 24 hours.

"The ministry regards this as a serious matter because failure to report such cases will hamper the effort to control the disease, and contribute to an outbreak," he said in a statement.

He said last year, six medical officers of a private hospital in Petaling Jaya were fined RM1,000 each for failing to report dengue cases that were treated in their facility.

"The ministry found 213 dengue cases treated by the hospital and of the total, six were not reported to any health office," he said, adding that the ministry would carry out continuous monitoring on private and government clinics and hospital to ensure all dengue cases are reported.

Dengue claimed two lives during the first week of this year, he said.

There are 921 dengue cases so far this year. - Bernama

Saturday, January 21, 2012

Liow: Don’t let germs ‘hitch a ride’ during festive break

Star: BENTONG: Take care of your personal hygiene or risk having “uninvited guests” for Chinese New Year.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai warned that germs could be “hitching a ride” over the Chinese New Year break.
“We find there is usually an increase in infectious disease outbreaks, such as the hand, foot and mouth disease, during and after festivities with so many people going back to their hometowns or attending gatherings.
“Take care of cleanliness and make sure that your hands, especially, are clean,” he said after launching the MTD Group’s road safety campaign at the Bentong toll plaza.
Liow said food safety was important because of the increase in food poisoning cases during festivals.
Earlier, Liow said dengue cases had doubled in recent times, from 200 to 300 cases per week between December and this month.
“Last week, there were 481 cases and the increase could be due to the rainy season,” he said at another function in Rawang.
He urged the public to clean their homes before leaving for their festive breaks to ensure there was no stagnant water that would allow mosquitoes to breed.

M'sia inks MoU with British educational institutions

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia today signed a memorandum of understanding with two British educational institutions to help develop world-class medical education in the country.
The signing of the MoU with the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) London and University of Newcastle-upon-Thyne was witnessed by Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
Liow said the first batch of 30 senior doctors and medical specialists will begin their training in March, in this effort to develop excellent medical educators.
"The course is important because they need to give guidance to the medical graduates employed by the ministry to undergo housemanship.
"This is the beginning. We will train more in the future. We would like the public to know that we are very concerned about continuous upgrading of the ministry's quality of services," he told reporters after the signing ceremony.
At the signing, Newcastle University was represented by its chief executive officer and provost Prof Reginald Keniston Jordan, RCP by its chief executive Martin Else and the ministry by secretary-general Datuk Kamarul Zaman Md Isa.
Liow said the MoU will provide for both countries to work together more closely to achieve the common goal of ensuring that Malaysia has medical specialists of the highest quality to deliver healthcare to its population as well as to be recognised as a centre of excellence internationally.
The collaboration will also work towards developing a complementary and parallel suite of academic programmes at certificate, diploma and masters levels for the present and future leaders of medical education and the country's health services, he added.

High rate of nose cancer

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia has among the highest incidence of nasopharyngeal cancer (NPC) in the world but early detection is hampered by poor awareness of its symptoms.
Malaysian Society of Otorhinolaryngology and Head & Neck Surgeons president Dr Yap Yoke Yeow said NPC was one of the most treatable cancers.
“If they come to us at the early stages of the cancer, most patients respond well to radiotherapy and chemotherapy and have good outcomes,” he told The Star.
Dr Yap said 70% of NPC patients were diagnosed only six months after the first symptom was noticed and treatment was delayed due to lack of awareness of its early symptoms.
For this reason, the society and the Health Ministry recently started a nationwide campaign to increase the awareness level on NPC and other head and neck cancers such as oral, laryngeal and pharyngeal.
The 2006 National Cancer Registry showed NPC was the fifth most common cancer in Malaysia, but grouped under head and neck cancer, and 2,884 cases were reported in the peninsula the highest number after female breast cancer (3,525) and higher than colorectal (2,866) and lung (2,048) cancer cases.
Dr Yap said people with immediate family members suffering from NPC and middle-aged Chinese, Malay or those from indigenous groups in Sabah and Sarawak should go for screenings while general practitioners should refer patients with neck lumps to ear, nose and throat (ENT) specialists for further investigation.
A neck lump is the most common NPC symptom, followed by hearing loss or ringing or buzzing in the ear, blood-stained saliva or nasal discharge and double vision.
Dr Yap said a study in Sarawak revealed that the Bidayuhs had 26 NPC cases per 100,000 people compared with one per 100,000 worldwide.
There were 5.4 cases per 100,000 in the peninsula and 13.5 per 100,000 in Sarawak.
NPC is caused by many factors and is linked to genes, preserved food such as salted fish and vegetables which contain carcinogenic nitrosamines and the Epstein-Barr viral infection.
The cancer was common in the Guangdong province in China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and the South-East Asia region, indicating a possible genetic link, he said.
The Malaysian 2008 Nasopharyngeal Carcinoma Database showed that carpenters were a high risk group and pesticides and formaldehyde used in the timber industry were possible causes.
Another ENT surgeon, Dr Yeo Sek Wee said the lower income group tended to seek treatment at a late stage of cancer.
He said he was also seeing more cases of tongue cancer.
He urged those with prolonged mouth ulcers to seek treatment and people should visit dentists on a regular basis.
Dr Yeo said the prognosis for all head and neck cancers were good if treated at the early stages.

Friday, January 20, 2012

KL to drop some medical schools

AsiaNewsNet: The Malaysian government is looking to slash its list of approved overseas medical schools in an effort to address complaints that too many under-qualified doctors are joining its hospitals.
How many of the 375 recognised overseas medical schools will be dropped is not clear but Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman, the Health Ministry's director-general, has said the list will be "substantially shortened".
Some Malaysian doctors say as many as half the number of schools may be dropped.
The cuts will affect thousands of aspiring medical students who flock to cheap universities that made it to the approved list in the past decade such as some in South Asia and eastern Europe.
At that time, Malaysia faced a severe shortage of doctors and came under intense pressure from parents to increase the intake for medical students, especially in Malaysian universities.
The issue even took a political turn: When students with top results in the school-leaving examination (equivalent to Singapore's O levels) failed to make the cut in medicine, some non-Malay parents blamed it on racial discrimination.
As a result, the government quickly opened more medical schools in Malaysia, boosting the number from 10 to 24 between 2001 and 2010. And overseas medical schools recognised by the government grew from 210 in the 1970s to 375 today. The list includes the National University of Singapore.
About 4,000 to 5,000 Malaysians now become doctors every year.
This has given rise to a whole new set of problems. Hospitals complain they cannot cope with the deluge of trainee doctors, or housemen, while standards have reportedly dropped.
"There are so many people wanting to do medicine for the wrong reasons and attitudes," said Dr Mary Cardosa, head of the Malaysian Medical Association which groups the country's doctors. "Lots of young doctors may not know what they're getting into."
The 39 training hospitals nationwide have struggled to cope with the numbers, leaving many of these new graduates without adequate supervision or opportunity to learn.
The number of house officers soared 272 per cent from 2,297 in 2008 to more than 6,200 in 2010, according to the Health Ministry.
The accreditation process of overseas schools will also be made be more stringent, Dr Hasan told The Sun daily earlier this month.
"If a university is given full accreditation, we will visit the university every five years," he said. "If there are any discrepancies or doubts as to its quality, the frequency will be increased to once in two years."
Without naming any specific overseas universities, several local doctors told The Straits Times that some medical graduates from Russia, Ukraine, Indonesia and India lacked core knowledge.
In 2005, the Malaysian Medical Council ended its recognition of the Crimea State Medical University in Ukraine for accepting even students with an arts background. The move caused an uproar among parents, students and the opposition because the university had already taken in 1,100 Malaysians.
A head of infectious diseases in a government hospital said the quality of housemen had dropped.
"Yes, in my experience, I can tell you that the average houseman today is not as good as those 15 years ago," he said on condition of anonymity.
Many medical students study in these lesser-known universities because they are often much cheaper and easier to enter than those in Britain, the United States and Australia.
Compared to the US, where a medical course can cost about RM700,000 (US$184,000), it costs only about RM100,000 to study in some of the cheaper overseas colleges.
But Dr Parameswaran Ramasamy, a clinical psychologist with his own practice, does not think dropping the number of recognised overseas universities en masse is the answer. He said it would remove educational opportunities for aspiring doctors here.
"Whether they recognise these universities or not is not the right answer," he said. "They need to put in stricter criteria for entry and look at the graduates' soft skills training."
Malaysia is still short of the World Health Organisation recommendation of one doctor to 600 Malaysians, and aims to reach that goal by 2015. It now has one doctor for every 900 people. In the remote areas of Sabah and Sarawak, there is only one doctor per 2,000 people.

Hooked on Facebook

Star: PETALING JAYA: If you prefer to interact on Facebook rather than have a normal conversation, you could be suffering from a psychological disorder, an expert warned.
Gleneagles Hospital Kuala Lumpur neuro-psychologist Dr Nivashinie Mohan said that Facebook Addiction Disorder (FAD) continues to go undetected because most addicts do not realise or want to admit that they have a problem.
With Malaysians spending more hours and having the most number of friends on Facebook, many had become addicted to it, she said.
“A lot of people do not see it as a real problem because they don't think it is as harmful as addiction to tobacco or drugs.
“But it is a problem that needs to be treated like any other addiction that prevents you from going on with your daily activities,” she said, adding that the disorder could cause anxiety and depression.
The disorder term FAD was coined by American psychologists to describe the addiction to Facebook.
Dr Nivashinie said that Facebook addicts had dificulty carrying on a normal conversation with people as they preferred to “poke”, “like” or comment on what their friends posted on the website.
She said the addicts felt the need to be connected to their Facebook friends all the time. “They fear that they may miss out on something important if they don't constantly check the website,” she added.
On average, Dr Nivashinie said people spent about an hour each day on the website. “But if you are cancelling plans with friends and family so you can spend the time on Facebook, it is a clear sign that you are addicted.”
She added that addicts usually lost interest in school or were not productive at work because they were constantly on the website.
Stressing that the problem could be very serious, she said: “Sometimes these addicts don't even enjoy logging on to Facebook. They just feel they have to. Some people even break into a cold sweat at the thought of not going on Facebook for a day or two. And they feel depressed when nobody communicates with them or responds to something they posted on the website.”
To overcome the disorder, she said, addicts must first acknowledge that they have a problem.
“It may not be possible for them to quit Facebook instantly or completely,” Dr Nivashinie said. “They can begin by reducing and limiting the hours they spend on the website daily.”

Move to help obese school kids lead healthy lifestyle

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry is taking steps to help overweight children, especially the obese, to lose weight and adopt a healthy diet.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the Health and Education ministries would promote healthy eating among school children.
“We do not want overweight children to be teased or taunted by their peers. When children get their body mass index (BMI) checked, we will also send our officers to schools to promote the importance of healthy eating and lifestyle,” he said after witnessing the signing of an MoU between the Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia (NUMed Malaysia), The Royal College of Physicians and the Health Ministry here yesterday.
Currently, about 26.5% of school children are overweight.
The Education Ministry has come up with new guidelines aimed at inculcating healthy eating habits among students.
Deputy Education Minister Datuk Dr Wee Ka Siong recently announced that students with weight problems would be referred to the nearest clinic for counselling. Their parents would also be informed.
He said BMI checks would be conducted twice a year.

On another topic, Liow said 30 doctors with high leadership qualities would attend a three-day Train-the-Trainers workshop in March aimed at providing them with skills and knowledge to help them train housemen effectively.
The workshop will be jointly administered by NUMed Malaysia and the Royal College of Physici-ans.
“They may be good specialists but not necessarily good educators. We need to expose them to such structured training programme as we believe in continuous improvement and hope they can impart knowledge to the younger generation,” he said.
On another matter, Liow said he would respect any decision made by MCA president Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek whether to contest in the next general elections.
“If the president chooses not to contest in the next general election because of age or other reasons, I will respect his decision,” he said.
Dr Chua had said he was not keen on contesting during the next general elections.
He was quoted as saying that he was not young, and that the young people should be given a chance.

Thursday, January 19, 2012

Seeking a better healthcare system — TK Khong

MalaysianInsider: JAN 19 — Having worked in various parts of the NHS for over 30 years, I know it in virtually every detail. As a health and social concept, the NHS is an unimpeachable undertaking.
However, the NHS in England today is facing severe difficulties caused not merely by demographic changes and medical advances but by the crippling cost of its administration and the inefficiencies of a dominant tax-funded system.
Despite the common belief that it is equitable and efficient, the reality is often the opposite. Although there have been huge increases in health spending over the past two decades, there has been little or no improvement in outcomes across a wide range of specialties, and even a worsening in patient experience in many areas.
The latest reform, with its montage of internal market and private providers, aims to restore some semblance of cost-effectiveness and improved efficiency through delegating the financial decision processes to the medical profession and delivery redesigns targeted at the main causes of ill-health.
The 1Care for 1 Malaysia plan to introduce a nationalised health service in Malaysia partially along the lines of the NHS is a laudable move. Although the per capita income may be rising, the reality is a widening gap between high- and low-income sections of society with poverty on the increase.
Indeed, Datuk Dr Hassan Abdul Rahman, Health director-general, expressed concern that “greater private health sector development would widen the gap of access to healthcare services for the rural population compared to the urban population and between those who can and cannot afford to pay” (The Star, December 3, 2011).
Social Health Insurance (SHI), devised to supplement the amount allocated to healthcare from Government General Revenue, is promoted as an attempt to address income inequalities which are considered as obstacles to accessing healthcare.
However, if as Dr Hassan says, “private investments and the continuous contribution of the private sector are encouraged”, then SHI represents an additional levy on many who are just able to afford their own healthcare but who would under the new regime be financially penalised and who would therefore migrate wholly to the public sector. This in turn will increase the burden on public sector healthcare provisions.
Another key feature of 1Care for 1 Malaysia is that primary care is at the heart of the reform with the GP as its focal point. This transformation is sensible, if only to increase the power of rationing, but co-payment for prescriptions and certain appliances lacks precision over the amount of money that is required from patients. Similarly, there is no clarity over what is within the defined benefits package of hospital care that is free of additional payment.
While commendable in principle, SHI contributions are dependent upon financial ability. Means testing is fraught with difficulties, while the thresholds and variations for additional levy on the rich and healthy have not been defined, nor has the quantification of the “cross-subsidy” been finalised.
Most importantly, it is unclear how much administration of the SHI “organisation” will cost and where the funding for this will come from. Only if the consolidated fund is ring-fenced for healthcare will the public be able to enjoy the full benefit of a properly constructed SHI.
Otherwise, there will be a major adverse impact on the amount of money available for healthcare as management costs will divert significant amounts of funding. Furthermore, there are no indications about commissioning and provision of services. For example, there are no statements on whether the SHI would develop its own provider wing or commission services from external private sector providers, and on the governance of cost and quality issues.
To achieve the success it deserves, 1Care for 1 Malaysia should not be unduly concerned about the ratio of government-to-private spending in healthcare being 55:45 and use it as a starting point for the financial reform of healthcare.
Indeed, the current growth in the private healthcare sector should be recognised as reflective of demand and competition, both of which are natural drivers of quality and restrainers on costs. Instead, the health inequality gap should be dealt with differently cognisant of disease prevalence, and 1Care for 1 Malaysia should focus its attention on detailed analyses and taxonomy of various diseases as causes of morbidity, mortality, emotional distress and economic burden.
The Malaysian government must demonstrate strong stewardship in public health and social care in such areas as care of the vulnerable, the frail and the elderly, those with learning disabilities and the physically handicapped. It should ensure a comprehensive strategy for major killers, such as infectious illnesses and cardiovascular diseases. Health education to promote healthy lifestyles should be a consistent feature in schools and at places of work.
With a safety net in place, Malaysians are then best served in health by reinforcing their financial autonomy and empowerment of individual choice. Rather than follow the path of the NHS and release a money-guzzling genie, the far better approach is for the Malaysian government to craft a robust public health and social care policy that provides for the needs of all Malaysians.
1 Care for 1 Malaysia must not become a wasted opportunity. Its success or failure is critical to the health and welfare of all Malaysians.

* Dr TK Khong, who is a Malaysian GP and a forensic physician in the UK, also serves as a board member of a clinical commissioning group and advises on health and social care policies.

Health, Education ministries to work together to curb obesity

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The Health and Education Ministries will work together to help curb obesity among school children.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said here Thursday that he did not want children to be teased by their peers for being overweight.
“When students get their BMI index recorderd, Health Ministry officers will also go to schools and promote the importance of healthy eating and lifestyle,” he added.
Liow also told reporters that 30 doctors would attend a training programme by the Newcastle University Medicine Malaysia and Royal College of Physicians in March so that they could help train housemen.

Weight woes in diabetes

Star: UNIVERSITI Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre (UKMMC) recently conducted a survey amongst its diabetes patients to determine their level of understanding of the disease.
Diabetes remains one of the greatest health challenges today, and its incidence is on an upward trajectory globally.
In response to this worrying trend, the UKMMC survey was initiated to gain better insights on the management of the disease, with the purpose of helping diabetes patients control the disease more effectively.
The survey was conducted amongst diabetes patients from the hospital over a period of two months. The UKMMC specialist diabetes clinic currently treats 100 patients with type 1 diabetes and 1,200 patients with type 2 diabetes on a monthly basis.
Throughout September and October 2011, UKMMC diabetes patients were polled, and in most cases, it was done with face-to-face interviews with the help of UKMMC diabetic educator nurses.
Prof Nor Azmi Kamaruddin, head of diabetes & endocrinology, UKMMC, who led this initiative, said: “Diabetes prevalence in Malaysia has almost doubled in the last decade in parallel with the doubling of overweight/obesity amongst the population. Through this survey, we hope to find out more about the knowledge level amongst our diabetes patients, and stressing to them the importance of weight management in controlling diabetes.
“With one in seven Malaysian adults having diabetes, it is crucial to create better understanding about this disease.”
Patients with diabetes are at increased risk for complications involving the eye, heart, kidney and various other organs. Associated risk factors that can further increase the risk of complications among diabetics include excess body weight, high blood pressure, and high cholesterol levels, amongst others.
Being overweight or obese can hasten the onset of diabetes complications.
The UKMMC survey results showed that 62% of participants were overweight when first diagnosed with diabetes.
While over 85% of participants polled understood that weight loss was helpful in managing type 2 diabetes, only 31% of participants have been successful in managing their weight.
In addition, over 70% of participants consider being overweight as a contributing factor to developing type 2 diabetes, and nearly 60% were dissatisfied about their current weight.
Diabetes cases in Malaysia are predominantly type 2 diabetes. According to the third National Health and Morbidity Survey 2006, there was a 41% increase in the prevalence of individuals with abdominal obesity.
Figures show 1.8 million Malaysians were diagnosed with diabetes in 2010, a significant increase from 1.4 million in 2006.
In 2010, diabetes was responsible for more than 23,800 deaths in Malaysia.
Prof Dr Nor Azmi Kamaruddin said: “One key finding that we were able to conclude was that 75% of the participants polled snacked to prevent hypoglycemia.
“Hypoglycemia associated with current medications can lead to increased snacking and are deterring diabetes patients from controlling their weight effectively.
“The majority are aware of the importance of weight and maintaining a healthy lifestyle in managing their diabetes, but a high percentage of them are still unsuccessful in controlling their blood sugar levels and weight to an optimum level.”
The age group with the highest prevalence of diabetes is those between 60 and 64 years old, although there is a sharp increase in the prevalence of diabetes among those aged 30 and above as revealed in the third National Health and Morbidity Survey 2006.
With two in five Malaysians obese or overweight, the association between obesity and diabetes is one that should be highlighted more aggressively to encourage Malaysians to maintain an active and balanced lifestyle.
A strong genetic predisposition to diabetes should also encourage a healthier lifestyle and preventive action to keep this disease at bay.
The World Health Organization has estimated that in the year 2030, Malaysia would have a total of 2.48 million people with diabetes.
In conclusion to the survey, it is evident that a majority of obese or overweight people struggle to reduce their weight and control their diabetes, but with proper counseling and lifestyle intervention, these may be overcome.
Some newer medications that reduce blood sugar and weight may be the answer to helping patients manage their diabetes and weight more effectively.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

‘88888’ rule to good health

Star: PUTRAJAYA: The Government wants the public to be “prosperous” in health this Chinese New Year by following the “88888” rule of living.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the “88888” rules meant that they should avoid overindulging and practise healthy eating during this festive season when they were likely to be tempted by delicacies like yee sang and nian gao.
“The 88888' rules mean that you stop eating 80% before you are full, have dinner before 8pm, drink eight glasses of water per day, sleep at least eight hours and walk at least 80,000 steps daily,” he told reporters at the launch of the Eat Healthy During Chinese New Year campaign here yesterday.
Malaysians, he added, should also insist on taking smaller portions and quantity of food during this holiday.
“If they continue to consume an extra 500kcal daily for a week, they will gain some half kilo to one kilo.
“It is easier if they control themselves from taking rich, calorie-laden food like peanut puffs. Five puffs are equivalent to 500kcal.
“It will take about an hour for an adult to burn 500kcal through cycling. By watching the exact amount of calorie intake, you will lose weight much faster,” he said.
Liow added that the Government was increasing its efforts in combating and reducing the number of cases relating to non-communicable diseases like obesity and diabetes.
“Factors contributing to obesity can be easily controlled by simply taking care of a person's diet,” he said.
Liow also said the public could get health and nutritional advice from the ministry's nutrition information centres nationwide.
“We have published booklets in Chinese, English and Bahasa Malaysia to promote healthy eating and an active lifestyle during the Chinese New Year celebration,” he added.
The booklet can also be downloaded from these websites www.moh.gov.my, www.myhealth.gov.my, www.infosihat.gov.my, blogmoh.moh.gov.my and btmk.moh.gov.my/BlogICT

Despite Its Huge Area, Sarawak Has Very Comprehensive Health Service: Wong

SIBU, Jan 17 (Bernama) -- Despite its huge area as big as the whole of Peninsular Malaysia, Sarawak has a very comprehensive health service in all categories provided for by the government, Minister of Local Government and Community Development Datuk Sri Wong Soon Koh said.
For instance, it has 22 hospitals and 13 outpatient centres, he said.
"In addition, it has 226 health centres, eight special dental centres, 26 main dental centres, 129 primary school dental clinics, 24 in secondary schools and 74 mobile health teams serving statewide," he said.
Wong was speaking when launching the 64 Multislices CT Scanner, Digital Mammogram and Cardiology services at the Rejang Medical Centre (RMC), a private medical specialist centre here today.
He also said that the state had mobile dental teams while people in deep interiors were frequently served by the "flying doctor" Service.
"We also have seven 1Malaysia clinics while another one will be built this year. But we must admit we have not adequately provide the specialist service as expected by the people," he said.
In this regard, the private sector could play its role to complement the government effort, he said.
With the new facilities costing about RM3 million now available at the RMC, Sarawakians from the central region need not go to Kuching or Singapore for heart problem or cancer screening tests.
Wong believed the facilities would attract Indonesians across the border, thus boosting the state's effort to promote its health tourism.
RMC managing director of RMC Dr John Tang said the nine-year-old centre was now one of the most advanced private specialist medical centres in the state and the largest in the central region.
He also announced the appointment of Dr Annuar Rapaiee who is also the Nangka assemblyman here as its visiting consultant cardiologist.

Big issue on little ones

NST: IT’S no secret. In a recent study by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Faculty of Health Sciences and Nestle Products Sdn Bhd, more children are becoming obese.
The study, Nutritional Status And Dietary Habits Of Primary School Children In Malaysia 2007/2008, looked at 11,000 primary pupils nationwide over a one-year period. It measured their weight, height and body mass index and examined their eating habits and physical activities. It found that 12.8 per cent were overweight and 13.7 per cent were obese.
This was a follow-up to a similar study by UKM and Nestle in 2001, which focused only on children in Peninsular Malaysia. At that time, there were 11 per cent overweight children and 9.7 per cent obese children.

The study found that more girls (13.0 per cent) were overweight compared to boys (12.1 per cent), but more boys (17.5 per cent) were obese compared to girls (9.6 per cent). In terms of racial demographics, Chinese boys (34 per cent) and Bumiputra girls in Sarawak (29.3 per cent) were more likely to be overweight and obese.
UKM School Of Healthcare Sciences chair Professor Dr Norimah A. Karim said the study confirmed that children are eating more fast food, do not have balanced meals and are less involved in physical activities.
“We already know children today have a poor diet and lead a sedentary lifestyle. We hope this study will encourage parents to monitor their children’s eating habits.
“At the end of the day, parents must be accountable for what their children eat. They can control their children’s trips to fast food restaurants, make sure they eat fruit and vegetables, and encourage them to take part in some form of physical activity.”
The study revealed that children are indulging in fast food more frequently. The three favourites are burgers, fried chicken and pizza.
In the 2001 study, nine per cent of the children said they ate fast food more than twice a week. In 2007, that figure shot up to 20 per cent. Those who ate fast food weekly also increased to 31 per cent in 2007, compared to 22 per cent in 2001.
The fact that children are eating fast food more than twice a week, said Norimah, is a concern as this could mean they are having their fill four or five times a week. If they’re not engaged in any physical activity, that may explain the increasing rate of obesity among children.

The study also found that many of the children skipped breakfast. “The risk of obesity is higher if we don’t have breakfast,” said Norimah.
Only two-thirds of the children had breakfast every day, with those who didn’t giving excuses such as “no time”, “not hungry” and “no appetite”.
Most also didn’t eat a balanced meal, with 28.5 per cent saying they ate rice with meat and vegetables plus fruit during lunch and 21.2 per cent during dinner.
In terms of physical activity, only 27.3 per cent of the children said they spent time playing badminton, football, cycling or running.

Nestle started its Healthy Kids Programme last year in five schools to educate children aged 7-12 about nutrition and the benefits of physical activities. It chose 40 children from each school for the three-year programme.
Nestle Products corporate wellness manager Chia Wee Leng said: “We will monitor their understanding of nutrition and eating right. Lack of knowledge and understanding may lead them to becoming obese. We believe if children are informed, they will know how to take care of themselves.
“We are also working with parents, teachers and canteen operators on improving their knowledge on nutrition and physical activities among children.”
Nestle has also taken the initiative to ensure its food products are healthier by coming up with breakfast cereals made from whole grains, reducing the sugar content in its Milo UHT drinks by 25 per cent, increasing its range of low-fat milk and offering real fruit juices.
Norimah thinks the reason it’s difficult to curb obesity among children is because it’s not identified as a disease. Many people don’t realise that obesity can be a contributing factor to serious conditions such as diabetes, cancer, renal failure and stroke.
“I believe more in prevention than treatment. Having a healthy lifestyle can help prevent obesity, which, in turn, can help prevent diseases related to it.”
Norimah is optimistic that with education and proper implementation, the rate of obesity among children can be reduced in the next three to five years. “We won’t see a reduction immediately. If we can maintain the rate, it’s good enough for now.”

Monday, January 16, 2012

Health Ministry Monitoring Orange Juice From Brazil

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 14 (Bernama) -- The Ministry of Health will ensure that orange juice imported from Brazil is not contaminated with carbendazim residue, a type of fungicide.
Its deputy minister, Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin based on Schedule 16, Rule 41 of the Food Regulations 1985, carbendazim is not allowed in orange juice in the country.
"However, according to the United States Environmental Protection Agency, carbendazim residue in orange juice up to the level of 80 parts perbilion does not pose public health risk," she said in a statement here Saturday.
She was commenting on a report yesterday that Coca-Cola Co. had alerted U.S. federal regulators about low levels of fungicide in its own orange juice and in competitors' juice, prompting increased government testing for the residue.
The U.S. Food and Drug Administration said Coca-Cola found levels up to 35 parts per billion of the fungicide, far below the European Union's maximum residue level of 200 parts per billion.
Most orange juice products made by Coke and other companies in the U.S contain a blend of juice from different sources including Brazil.
Carbendazim is used to combat mould on orange trees in Brazil.
Rosnah said Malaysia imported 2.775 tonnes of orange juice worth about RM15 million from Brazil since 2010 but did not import oranges from the country during the period.

Sunday, January 15, 2012

Placenta jabs not allowed for beauty treatment, says Liow

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Beauty treatments using injectable placenta extracts are not allowed in Malaysia.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, in cautioning the public against going for such treatments, said the ministry’s National Phar­maceutical Control Bureau had not approved the use of any injectable placenta products.
Liow was responding to news reports yesterday about a botched beauty treatment that allegedly involved placenta injections.
“Currently, there are only two types of placenta products that are approved and registered to be used.
“As of today, only 31 health supplement products that contain placenta (three from deer and 28 from sheep) and 300 cosmetic products are registered with the bureau,” said Liow after a Chinese New Year charity luncheon here yesterday.
He emphasised that all the registered health supplements were oral supplements, and the cosmetic products were only supposed to be applied topically.
“None of them are injectable,” said Liow.
Registered health supplements should have a registration number (that starts with MAL) printed on their packaging, and registered cosmetic products should also come with a notification number (that starts with NOT).
Liow also reminded the public that beauticians are not allowed to administer injections or perform any invasive procedures.
He urged those who want to seek beauty treatments or procedures to consult qualified practitioners.
“The public should make a police report if healthcare services that are supposed to be done only by registered doctors are being provided by unqualified or bogus doctors,” he added.
This includes injections, invasive procedures like surgery, and the prescription of drugs.

Sign up, disabled urged

Star: IPOH: A six-month campaign by the Welfare Department early last year to register more disabled Malaysians received lukewarm response.
Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Senator Datuk Heng Seai Kie said as of November last year, only 331,606 disabled people were registered in the department's records, an increase of 48,402 from the 283,204 people registered as of December 2009.
She said the number was a far cry from the forecast by the World Health Organisation (WHO) that the disabled make up 15% of a country's population.
“Malaysia has a population of about 28.6 million. Based on the figures and projection made by WHO, I am convinced that there are many more people with disabilities who are not registered with the Welfare Department,” she told reporters after opening Perak's Disability Day here yesterday.
Heng said there might be a misunderstanding among the public that only the disabled who wished to apply for assistance were required to register with the department.
She said the notion was wrong as all disabled persons must register with the department.
“I want to state here that accurate statistics is important to help the Government formulate an appropriate budget and programmes for the disabled,” she said.
Among the benefits, disabled students are entitled to a monthly allowance of RM150 while disabled workers earning less than RM1,200 monthly are entitled to RM300 each month.
Those who wish to register their disabled friends and family members, can obtain the form at all district Welfare, Health and Labour departments or online via www.jkm.gov.my

Heatlh Ministry to launch 1Malaysia mobile dental clinics Read more: Heatlh Ministry to launch 1Malaysia mobile dental clinics - Latest - New Straits

NST: SUBANG JAYA: The Health Ministry will launch the 1Malaysia mobile dental clinic soon to serve the public in rural areas.
It director general Datuk Seri Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said the project will kick start in Pahang soon.
“Such an effort by the ministry is important as many still did not give attention to proper dental care,” he said after launching the 19th International Scientific Convention and Trade Exhibition yesterday.
He said improper attention of oral healthcare would cause cavity which may lead to bacteria infection to the brain through the blood stream.
The mobile clinics, Dr Hasan said would visit remote villages regularly, operating with a dentist and fully equipped facilities to treat dental patients for free.
He added that the attitude of the public has to change.
“Most only seek treatment when illness get severe, the same goes for dental care which should not be the case,” he said.
Dr Hasan said the 1Malaysia mobile dental clinic would access remote villages without public transports or a dental clinic close by.
“If they can’t access our clinics then we will go to them,” he said.
He added that certain areas in Pahang such as the Felda and orang asli settlement had roads but did not have public transportation.
“If the responds is good, we would cover more remote areas in other states,” he added.
The mobile dental clinic, he said would be station at the villages for about two weeks and provide patients with follow up treatment advice when needed.
Dr Hasan said the clinic was an extension of the ministry’s services after a success of the five 1Malaysia mobile clinics.
The five mobile clinics were currently operating in Perak, Hulu Selangor, Pahang, and Segamat while there were two boats in operating Sarawak.
Dr Hasan also expressed his support towards the Malaysian Dental Association’s suggestion to amend the Dentist Act 1971, to lift the dental clinic partnership limitation.
On the 1Malaysia clinics, Dr Hasan said there were currently 96 and the ministry would open another three this month.
“This year, we plan to set up an addition of 50 1Malaysia clinics to provide easier access to the public in residential areas in the city,” he said.
The clinics, opened daily on weekdays have so far treated 3.2 million patients
Meanwhile, Dr Hasan advised the public not to purchase medicines unlicensed medicines or health supplements randomly online as the drugs could be fake or have side effects.
He was responding to the case of a Singaporean female who succumbed to her death due to complications after consuming slimming pills bought online.
“It is important for the public to be well informed as not all the information of the drugs bought online are true,” he said.
He added that the ministry was aware of the challenge of monitoring medicines online but will do the necessary and look at laws to safe guard the public.
“The ministry is looking at how we can impose a tighter control over medicines bought online,” he said.
He added that currently there were co-operation with Post Malaysia and customs, allowing only individuals or parties with permit to bring drugs in.

Friday, January 13, 2012

Easy To Start, Difficult To Stop

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 12 (Bernama) -- It usually begins when youngsters try out smoking after seeing their peers do it.
Some may feel that if they don't smoke, they may be ridiculed, or that smoking supposedly shows that you are an adult. Peer pressure is a formidable reason why youngsters try smoking.
A civil servant who wants to be known as "DJ" reveals that he started to smoke when he was an undergraduate in university.
"I only smoked for two days, as I remembered my father's words telling me not to smoke," he told Bernama.
DJ's father is a hard-core smoker who puffed some 40 cigarettes a day. He suffered lung damage and had a stroke when he reached his late 60s.

Some youths start to smoke in their early teenage years, after they begin secondary school. Usually, they will not stop after taking their first puff and this will turn out to a habit -- a grave one.
Smoking is addictive. According to the Health Ministry's "Info Sihat" website, tobacco contains nicotine that initiates a chemical reaction in the body similar to that caused by drugs such as cocaine or heroin.
Many school-age teenagers, after being trapped in the clutches of smoking, resort to paying for cigarettes using their pocket money and, worse, start to play truant in order to smoke, as the habit is prohibited in schools.
If the pocket money is gone, some start to ask for more from their parents, giving false reasons, or resort to stealing from their parents.

These juveniles have no qualms about smoking at cybercafes, bus stops, shopping complexes, or food stalls. Many take the plunge into criminal activities and drug abuse.
A former delinquent juvenile, Paul, admits that smoking made him wild and a truant.
Paul's dark episode began when he was in lower secondary school, where he was influenced by his peers to try smoking.
At first, he tried only a few puffs. When smoking became a habit, he started to play truant and cheated his parents before finally ending in jail after being convicted of drug pushing.
He spent five years in prison and this made him vow to return to the correct path after his release.

The website states that there are some 1.15 billion smokers worldwide. Some 15 billion cigarettes are sold daily. This translates into 10 million cigarettes a minute.
According to "Info Sihat," it is estimated that one out of five youths aged 13 to 15 years smokes. Some 60,000 to 100,000 children start smoking every day, and half of those are in Asia.
"Info Sihat" quotes a study in the United States that shows a smoking child has 13 times more inclination to become a drug addict than a non-smoking child.

The website also states that almost half of the men in Malaysia smoke. Around 45-50 youths under the age of 18 start smoking everyday.
Statistics concerning young women are also alarming.
Studies held in 2000 and 2004 showed that smoking among young women increased from 4.0 to 8.0 per cent. The 2004 showed that one out of five youths was a smoker.
Lung cancer in Malaysia is reported to be on the rise at the rate of 17 per cent a year, and smoking is believed to cause close to half a million coronary cases.
The website also states that, based on the 2nd National Health and Morbidity Study in 1996, smoking causes the death of some 10,000 people in a year. Hardcore smokers spend RM15 million a day to buy cigarettes.

According to Info "Sihat," the World Health Organisation (WHO) states that tobacco is the number one killer worldwide, with some 1.0 billion people expected to die from smoking during this century.
There are more than 4,000 chemicals in tobacco smoke, 2,000 of them toxic, and 63 are carcinogenic (can cause cancer).
About half of long-term smokers are at risk of lung cancer, chronic lung diseases and other possibly fatal complications.
On average, a smoker's life is shortened by five minutes for every cigarette the person smokes.
"Info Sihat" points out that 30 per cent of cancer-related deaths are due to smoking, as are 90 per cent of deaths caused by lung cancer.

The health hazards of smoking have been so widely discussed that some may regard the issue as nothing new.
The government has spent hundreds of millions of Ringgit to inculcate the anti-smoking message among the society, via the "Tak Nak Merokok" (Say No To Smoking) campaign. In such campaigns, gory snapshots are depicted on cigarette packs in an effort to deter the public from smoking.
What has Fomca (Federation of Malaysian Consumers Associations) got to say?
"Such anti-smoking efforts from the authorities have yet to achieve success in curbing smoking.
"However, I hope that the Health Ministry will continue with such campaigns despite the failure to achieve the desired outcome," says Fomca's Communications Director Mohd Yusof Abdul Rahman.
He calls for the anti-smoking campaign to be continued, particularly when cigarette companies are aggressively campaigning to promote their products.
"This is in evidence with the participation of cigarette companies in programmes involving youth," he said, adding that the authorities should enforce no-smoking zones in stipulated public locations.
So far, there are 21 premises named as "No Smoking" spots, among them hospitals/clinics, airports, education institutions, public lifts and toilets, air-conditioned restaurants, public transport vehicles, shopping centres and any premises with centralised air-conditioning.

Mohd Yusof said the task of reminding the public of the dangers of smoking lies not only on the shoulders of the government but with all parties.
He said Fomca carried out such a programme in the 1990s.
"Even though we no longer hold such campaigns, we still call for healthy-living practices and this includes saying no to smoking," he said.
He called for schools to monitor students outside school hours with the help of local authorities and enforcement agencies, apart from the government imposing stringent rules on the permissible age of those who can smoke.

Industrial accidents down, commuting accidents up

BorneoPost: KOTA KINABALU: The rate of industrial accidents in Malaysia dropped by 48 per cent while commuting accidents increased by 30 per cent from 17,170 to 22,040 cases in the past 10 years, according to National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
He said the increase in commuting accidents should be given attention by employers as it could affect productivity and result in losses.
“Commuting accidents include workers who are on the way to work or going back home from office. It shows that employers should create safety awareness among motorists and drivers in the workplace,” he said.
Lee said there were a total of 85,926 industrial and commuting accidents in 2001 and 57,656 accidents in 2010.
He said NIOSH Sabah will continue its effort to raise safety and health awareness in both the private and public sectors with various seminars throughout the year.
He said three areas, namely Agriculture and Plantation Division (APD), Occupational Health and Hospitality Division (OHH) and Occupational Safety and Management (OSM) Division, will be prioritised.
“There will be 14 scheduled courses, 18 in-house training and three seminars under the APD with an estimated number of participants at 1,000, while the first Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) – Basic Water Safety course will be organized under the same division.
“As for OHH, NIOSH will be having 18 scheduled courses and 13 in-house trainings on the health in workplace with estimated 600 participants.
“Another course under OHH with 500 female participants will be organized by Socso in Tawau to increase the awareness among women,” he told a press conference at Hyatt Regency Kinabalu yesterday.
Lee said NIOSH will also conduct manual handling and ergonomics training here and in Kudat, Keningau, Sandakan, Lahad Datu, Semporna and Tawau.
Under the OMS, 18 scheduled courses, 23 in-house training and 70 passport security safety courses will be conducted with estimated 2,600 participants.
He said this year’s programmes will be carried out in collaboration with the Road Safety Department (JKJR), oil and gas industry and also manufacturing and construction industry in Sabah.
Lee said NIOSH Labuan and Sabah trained 6,218 participants in 2011.
NIOSH was established on 24 June 1992 as a Company Limited by Guarantee, under the Malaysian Companies Act 1965. As a company, NIOSH is expected to operate efficiently and with minimal administrative bureaucracy.
During the event yesterday, Lee introduced the newly appointed Sabah and Labuan NIOSH manager, Mohd Hussin Abd Salam as the person in charge of the state level training and courses.

Traditional cure at more clinics

NST: THE Health Ministry will expand the practice of traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) to more government hospitals and clinics.
Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said alternative medicine should be made available to the public to encourage its development.
"By expanding the services to government hospitals and clinics, more people in residential areas can try out TCM," he said after visiting the TCM Department here yesterday.
Currently, 10 government hospitals are offering TCM services. However, Liow said some clinics were too small to offer the service.
"We may have to think of mobile services if there is space constraint in clinics."
Liow said the World Health Organisation had identified TCM as an important alternative treatment to improve healthcare.
"This will also help Malaysia, which is rich in herbal plants, as a favourite TCM destination when it comes to health tourism."
Liow said the ministry planned to open two integrated hospitals every year that offer TCM.
"This year, a TCM unit will be opened at the Cheras Rehabilitation Centre, offering Malay massage and acupuncture," he said, adding that another would follow in Malacca.
The treatment also includes traditional Malay post-natal care.
A memorandum of understanding was signed with China last November and a meeting will follow in March to discuss plans for the establishment of a traditional Chinese medicine centre in Malaysia.
Liow said Malaysia would host the fourth Conference on Traditional Medicine in Asean Countries this year.
"The ministry hopes to increase collaboration among Asean countries and make Malaysia a recognised destination for traditional and complementary medicine."
Liow urged TCM practitioners to register online as only 4,900 out of 8,000 had done so nationwide.
"Many herbal products are not registered. We urge them to register with the pharmaceutical Department. Bogus practitioners will spoil the image of the country and we do not want this to happen."
A survey by the department showed 12 per cent of TCM practitioners were supplying unregistered products in the market.
TCM practitioners can register at http://tcmonline.moh.gov.my

Rules for TCM practitioners after Bill tabled

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: A minimum set of requirements will be outlined for traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) practitioners before they are allowed to practise after the TCM Bill is passed, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
He said a TCM Council, which would be formed under the Act, would decide on the qualifications required of a practitioner.
“The bodies which the practitioners are attached to will also help us to assess their skills and qualifications.
“We will also take their experience into consideration,” he told reporters after visiting the Health Ministry's Traditional and Complementary Medicine Division here yesterday.
He said those who did not meet the minimum requirement would be given time to further their studies and get the required recognition.
The ministry, he said, was aiming to table the Bill in Parliament in March.
He said the proposed Act would put a stop to common problems faced by the industry, such as the use of unregistered drugs by practitioners, and practitioners with unrecognised qualifications.
The ministry, was also planning to expand TCM services at the primary health care level, which were the government clinics.
“This is in line with the World Health Organisation's call to all its member to promote TCM.
“For the initial stage, we plan to offer traditional Malay treatment for mothers who have just given birth, traditional massages and acupuncture for those suffering chronic pain.
“This will also improve the accessibility and affordability of such services,” he added.
Currently, TCM services are only available at 10 government hospitals Hospital Kepala Batas (Penang), Hospital Sultan Ismail (Johor), Hospital Putrajaya, Hospital Sultanah Nur Zahirah (Terengganu) and Hospital Duchess of Kent (Sabah).
The other five hospitals are Hospital Umum Sarawak, Hospital Port Dickson (Negri Sembilan), Hospital Sultanah Bahiyah (Kedah), Hospital Sultanah Hajjah Kalsom (Pahang) and Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II (Kelantan).

On another matter, Liow urged all elected representatives to undergo health examinations on a yearly basis to ensure that they were healthy to serve the people during their term.
“All political parties from both divides should also make it compulsory for all their candidates to be screened before they are nominated for the MP and state assemblyman seats,” he said.
Liow, who is MCA deputy president, said all candidates from the party were required to submit a report on their health condition before they were nominated.
However, he said, the ministry would not make it mandatory for MPs and state assemblymen to undergo health screening.
On Tuesday, Election Commission deputy chairman Datuk Wan Ahmad Wan Omar said it would not impose a ruling to ensure that candidates for the general election were physically fit to avoid having by-elections in the event of the death of MPs or assemblymen.