Sunday, September 30, 2012

The National Science Centre glows pink for a good cause

The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: The National Science Centre lit up the night sky in a vivid shade of pink as thousands of people came together to create breast cancer awareness among Malaysians.
The building, along with others chosen around the world, will be “washed” in pink for the whole of October.
Organised by Estee Lauder Companies Malaysia, its annual Breast Cancer Awareness campaign aims to educate Malaysian women about the importance of early detection and treatment since 1996.
Its managing director Paul Slavin said that the campaign was a global initiative involving over 40 countries.
Pretty in pink: The National Science Centre in Kuala Lumpur aglow in pink and will remain so in that colour until the end of October.Pretty in pink: The National Science Centre in Kuala Lumpur aglow in pink and will remain so in that colour until the end of October.
“Every October, you will see Estee Lauder out in full force across Malaysia to spread awareness,” he said, adding that it had raised around RM611mil towards global breast cancer research under founder Evelyn H. Lauder's Breast Cancer Research Foundation.
Participant and breast cancer survivor Amnah Salleh, 44, recalled feeling as though “I am going to die” when she was diagnosed in December 2005.
The mother of four endured six months of surgery, chemotherapy and radiotherapy before embarking on five years of hormone therapy. “Now, seven years later, I feel that yes, breast cancer is a scary thing but women can beat it,“ she said.
Amnah said she felt like she had been given a second chance and that her disease gave her the opportunity to do volunteer work as a Pink Unity cancer survivor volunteer under the National Cancer Society of Malaysia (NCSM).
Participants of the Pink Ribbon Charity Walk showing their ‘true colours’ when creating awareness about cancer.Participants of the Pink Ribbon Charity Walk showing their ‘true colours’ when creating awareness about cancer.
Another participant Naddia Azizis, 33, said the event was crucial in enhancing breast cancer awareness among women.
“We sometimes take things for granted. This is like a wake-up call for many of us. Women have great willpower and we can conquer this,” she said.
The participants who crowded the National Science Centre in a sea of pink also embarked on a 3.5km Pink Ribbon Charity Walk before the Landmark Illumination took place at around 7.45pm.
They also browsed at the booths set up by Estee Lauder, NCSM, Breast Cancer Welfare Association, Cancer Research Initiatives Foundation and Jazzercise.

Boost for healthcare and well-being - Budget 2013

The Star Online

THE Government has allocated RM19.3bil for healthcare management and development services next year. This is a 15% increase compared with last year.
Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said the 1Malaysia Clinics would begin to offer cholesterol and glucose testing services as well as urine tests for those who needed them.
As for the reduced sugar subsidy, he said this was done as 2.6 million Malaysians were diabetic.
“The Government urges retailers not to burden fellow Malaysians by increasing prices. Instead, reduce the content of sugar,” he said.
Najib added that the subsidy reduction was supported by consumers groups and health practitioners.
The Prime Minister said that the Government would still be subsidising sugar at 34 sen per kilo, totalling RM278mil.
Interests groups welcomed the reduction of sugar subsidy but some of them were not happy that the 1Malaysia Clinics are affecting private practice.
For instance, Malaysian Medical Association president Dr S.R. Manalan said they were disappointed that the Government did not include the request of private doctors to incorporate their services in the 1Malaysia Clinic scheme.
“We have mentioned to the Government that the programme had affected the livelihood of many private doctors.
“The Government said the doctors could sign up for slots in general hospitals but these slots were always full, filled up by their own doctors,” he said.
Dr Manalan also said that breast cancer had become more common among those aged 40 and below, thus allocations should be made for them for other forms of screening such as ultrasound.
On the RM200mil allocation for Socso to enable 1.4 million workers to go for free check-ups, he said it was a good effort but there must be follow-up efforts to their cases.
Fomca deputy president Muhammad Sha’ani Abdullah said the Government should engage private practitioners for 1Malaysia Clinics instead of creating more clinics by renting new premises and employing additional medical assistants and staff.
He noted that there was no mention of the healthcare financing scheme, which was needed in view of Malaysia becoming an ageing population.
“This must come as soon as possible because healthcare cost has escalated and affecting consumers,” he said.

Colorectal cancer on the rise

New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: COLORECTAL cancer has overtaken lung cancer as the second most common  cancer among Malaysians, raising serious concerns about our poor dietary habits, especially the consumption of foods high in saturated fats.
According to the World Health Organisation's Globocan 2008 report, one in 33 Malaysians are at risk of developing colorectal cancer.
The most frequent cancers among Malaysians are breast, colorectal and lung cancer, with one in 19 Malaysians developing breast cancer, one in 33 developing colorectal cancer and one in 40 developing lung cancer.
"With an estimated annual incidence of 30,000 cancer deaths in the country, one in four Malaysians are expected to get cancer in their lifetime," said Dr Gogilawani Muagan, education development manager of the National Cancer Society Malaysia.
She said the two major contributing factors that increase the risk of cancer were tobacco and smoking, and diet and obesity, each contributing to 31 per cent of all types of cancer.
Ratna Devi Nadarajan, chief executive officer of the Malaysian Association of Standards Users, said although there were many possible reasons for colon cancer, medical experts had identified various risk factors, which were related to food and diet.
This included a diet low in fibre and high in red and processed meats, alcohol, fried foods, cooking meats or any other food at very high heat, or cooking with saturated fats like lard and tallow.
She said there were many ways pollutants and carcinogens like pesticide residue could find their way into the fruits and vegetables we eat, but encouraging good agriculture practices and organic farming could minimise this risk.
Another worrying trend, she observed, was the underestimated consumption of deteriorated cooking oil, or food cooked by it, as it contained polar compounds.
These compounds were a by-product of cooking oil exposed to very high temperatures or resulting from prolonged exposure to high temperatures. This often happened when oil is used for frying. Total polar compounds, or TPCs, are suspected carcinogens and increase risk of heart-related diseases.
"Last year, we tested cooking oil packed in 1kg pouches and found high levels of polar compounds. If new cooking oil bought from retailers contain high levels of TPCs, there is valid reason to suspect that the cooking oil is either recycled cooking oil or has been mixed with recycled cooking oil. Some of the restaurants we visited in SS3, Kelana Jaya and the pasar malam there used the 1kg pouch, or the same ones, but in bulk packing."
The Globocan report provides contemporary estimates of the incidence of, mortality and prevalence of major types of cancers, in 184 countries.
Earlier, in June, worldwide media reported that by 2030, cancer cases were expected to increase globally by 75 per cent, based on findings by international cancer experts published in the journal Lancet Oncology, with more developing countries adopting Western lifestyles linked to cancer.
Cancers of the lung, colon and breast, linked to bad diet and exercise, smoking and drinking, will account for at least one-fifth of new cancer cases. Dr Gogilawani said a majority of the patients were diagnosed at the later stages of the disease, due to lack of awareness and not going for cancer screenings.
So, is Malaysia experiencing a spike in cancer cases?
With the lack of up-to-date data, it is a difficult question to answer conclusively, said experts.
"We need an accurate and long- term cancer registry data," said Malaysian Oncological Society president Dr Ahmad Kamal Mohamed.
"The first report of the National Cancer Registry Malaysia noted 26,089 new cancer cases in 2002, 21,464 new cancer cases in 2003 and 67,792 cases collectively for the years 2003 to 2005. There have been no Malaysian cancer registry figures after that."
While not many studies have been done to see the connection between food and cancer, Dr Ahmad said it was believed that a healthy diet high in fruits and vegetables, with less fat and red meat, was better at reducing risks.
Relay for Life 2012 on Oct 13
JOIN  the National Cancer Society Malaysia, cancer survivors and friends at Stadium UKM Bangi from 6pm on Oct 13 to 10am Oct 14 for this year's Relay for Life.
In addition to the overnight relay, games, performances and fundraising events will be held to raise funds in support of cancer awareness. For more information log on to

Global watch on SARS-like mystery illness in Middle East


KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 26, 2012): The Health Ministry is closely monitoring the situation on a reportedly new SARS-like repiratory virus detected in the Middle East.
Health Ministry Director-General Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said the ministry is liaising with the World Health Organisation (WHO) on the matter.
This follows a global alert issued on Monday by WHO about the virus which left a man from Qatar critically ill in a London hospital and killed at least one more in Saudi Arabia.
"The Health Ministry is working with WHO and its collaborating labs to get more information about this virus, its capability to cause transmission and also the cause of outbreak," Hasan told theSunwhen met at Parliament yesterday.
WHO has however classified the two cases in the Middle East as "isolated cases", he said.
"We are in contact with WHO which is looking to identify the capability of the virus to develop into an epidemic," he said.
"The moment the virus is detected, the immediate mode of transmission needs to be identified to enable the ministry to have strategic measures put in place."
Hassan said there was no need for Malaysians who are on their Haj pilgrimage to worry.
He said the Saudi Arabian government has identified the risks for pilgrims which require mandatory vaccinations.
"At the top of the list is the risk of getting meningococcal meningitis, which is why they must be protected and vaccinated against this infection caused by bacteria.
"The other is neumococo vaccine for the lungs, which is optional," he added.
Meanwhile, the director of the Health Ministry's Disease Control Division, Dr Chong Chee Keong, said the division is finalising a surveillance format for the Malaysian medical team in Mecca.
"We are also preparing health education material for those who are performing their haj," he toldtheSun.
A Malaysian Pilgrims Fund Board (Tabung Haji) spokesman said it would act upon any directive received from both the health and foreign ministries. He said of the 28,400 Malaysian pilgrims performing their Haj in Mecca, the first batch is scheduled to return on Nov 1, while the last flight is due to reach KL International Airport on Nov 29.
WHO confirmed the new repiratory virus was in the coronavirus family but was not SARS, which swept out of China in 2003, killing more than 800 people worldwide.
"This is a new virus," WHO spokesman Gregory Hartl told AFP.
"We haven't heard of any more new cases. We don't have an appreciation of how widespread the virus is," Hartl said.
"This is one reason why we're trying to get more information. We don't know how it's transmitted."
According to WHO, the 49-year-old Qatari was admitted to an intensive care unit in Doha on Sept 7, suffering from acute respiratory infection and kidney failure before being transferred to Britain by air ambulance on Sept 11,
A Saudi Arabian national died earlier this year from a virtually identical virus, WHO said, while Saudi medical authorities said they were investigating other possible cases of the disease.
The Qatari first fell ill on Sept 3 after visiting Saudi Arabia.
Britain's Health Protection Agency which confirmed the presence of the new coronavirus and then found that it was a 99.5% match with a virus obtained from the lung tissue of a 60-year-old Saudi man who died earlier this year.
Coronaviruses are causes of the common cold but can also include more severe illnesses including SARS.
In Riyadh, the health ministry revealed that a total of three people, including the Qatari man, had been diagnosed with the virus after spending time in Saudi Arabia. The other two later died. – AFP

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Health Ministry Campaign To Streamline Use Of Antibiotics


KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 (Bernama) -- Datuk Dr Christopher Lee, Ministry of Health's Department of Medicine, National Head and Consultant for infectious disease, today urged for the use of antibiotics to be streamlined due to the alarming rise in antibiotic resistant bacteria.

He said the increase of bacteria such as Carbapenem resistant Enterobacteriaceae and Multi Resistant Acinetobacter or, "Superbug" posed a significant threat to human health globally and has led to the emergence of Antimicrobial Resistance (AMR).

Therefore, the Ministry of Health, Malaysian Medical Association and Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society will be jointly hosting a one-month AMR campaign starting Oct 16 in efforts to streamline the use of antibiotics in order to control the situation.

Dr Lee said the first phase of the campaign involved talks in government hospitals to educate medical practitioners on the importance of prescribing antibiotics sparingly.

"The second phase is to educate the public and create awareness on AMR. We will put up posters, banners and give out flyers to the public," he said.

Dr Lee noted that the World Health Organisation (WHO) has highlighted antibiotic resistance as a major threat to public health in the 21st century.

Meanwhile, the Ministry's Medical Development Division, senior principal assistant director Dr Suraya Amir Husin said the public played an important role in helping to control AMR.

"It is imperative that the public is aware of the importance of controlling the use of antibiotics. Thus I hope people will pay special attention to the matter and help share the information with others," she said.

More information on AMR is available at or 1-800-88-6722.

83 Malaysian students ill after drinking free milk


MUAR, Malaysia - Eighty-three pupils of a Malaysian school in Muar suffered food poisoning after drinking milk supplied under the free milk scheme.
The pupils started vomiting and purging 30 minutes after drinking the milk during recess on Thursday.
School authorities, which stopped the media from entering the compound, alerted the Health Department, which rushed teams to the school.
One of the pupils said he had to run to the toilet after drinking the milk - "I vomited three times when I was in the toilet and purged twice. After I returned to my class, several friends also suffered similar pains. My teacher quickly took us to another room."
State Women, Family, Health and Community Development Committee chairman Dr Robia Kosai said cases of food poisoning in schools should be resolved fast.
"We want the Health Department and those related with food supplied at all schools to ensure all food is fresh and clean," she added.

Friday, September 28, 2012

M'sian AIDS Council needs foreign funding


KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 26, 2012): The Malaysian AIDS Council (MAC) requires the support of international agencies to complement the HIV/AIDS prevention programmes carried out by the Health Ministry.
In a statement today, MAC said although the Malaysian government had all this while largely bore the council's financial burden for its HIV prevention activities, additional financial support was required from international agencies to expand the council's area of coverage.
It said among the international agencies were the Open Society Foundation, International HIV/AIDS Alliance and The Global Fund to Fight AIDS, Tuberculosis and Malaria.
MAC said since the past several years, it had received grants totalling RM450,000 to support HIV prevention activities among the high-risk groups, especially in reducing infections among intravenous drug users and promoting Methadone Replacement Therapy, which had been proven to be effective globally.
The statement comes in light of recent controversy regarding the channelling of funds by foreign agencies to certain local organisations known to be pro-opposition and involved in anti-government activities including street demonstrations.
The media recently reported that the Open Society Foundation chaired by currency speculator George Soros has been channelling funds to Suara Rakyat Malaysia (Suaram) and Mkini Dot Com Sdn Bhd, which operates the news portal. – Bernama

First mobile breast screening unit gets rolling

 The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: The country's first mobile breast screening unit which provides free mammogram and clinical breast examination (CBE) has been launched.
The 12m trailer, equipped with state-of-the-art digital mammography facility as well as a self-examination room, will travel throughout the peninsula to provide screening services.
National Cancer Council (Makna) president Datuk Mohd Farid Ariffin said the services would be provided for those living in rural areas and with a monthly income of less than RM3,000.
“Those who can afford it will be charged RM150 for a mammogram screening and CBE,” he said.
An initiative by Makna under its five-year mobile screening programme, the unit is staffed with an all-female team of trained nurses and licensed radiographers.
Hearty effort: Makna staff members posing in front of the mobile breast screening unit during the launch at Sri Cempaka School in Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.Hearty effort: Makna staff members posing in front of the mobile breast screening unit during the launch at Sri Cempaka School in Damansara, Kuala Lumpur.
It can accommodate up to 50 mammograms screenings and 150 CBEs a day.
Mohd Farid said the programme was to make early cancer detection convenient and accessible to all, especially those in rural areas.
The programme is budgeted at RM6.6mil, and is funded via donations from individuals and corporations such as MNRB Holdings Berhad andTenaga Nasional.
Mohd Farid said Makna planned to launch mobile screening units in Sabah and Sarawak next year.

Monday, September 24, 2012

Islamic medicine included in Traditional and Complementary Medicine Bill 2012

The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has agreed to include Islamic medicine practices in the Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM) Bill 2012 after this was agreed upon by the Malaysia Islamic Development Department (Jakim) and all the states' Islamic religious departments.
Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the amendment notice to include Islamic medicine in the Bill would be issued during the debate session in the Dewan Rakyat.
"Prior to this, we did not include Islamic medicine in the Bill as we did not have Jakim's approval, but now Jakim and all the states' religious departments have agreed.
"After this, Islamic medicine practitioners and bomohs will have to be registered through a council to be established," he told Bernama at at the Parliament lobby.
Earlier, Liow had tabled the Traditional and Complementary Medicine Bill for the second reading in the Dewan Rakyat.
Barisan Nasional and opposition lawmakers have asked the ministry to consider including Islamic medicine in the Bill as modern medicine and Islamic medicine were equally important, besides the increasing popularity of Islamic or traditional medicine among patients.
Federation of Islamic Medicine Practitioners' Associations (GAPPIMA)chairman Mohd Fauzi Mustaffa had also expressed concern over the future of Islamic medicine and increasing cases of using black magic (by bomohs) to treat patients.
Under the TCM Bill, Liow said his ministry, with the cooperation of Jakim, would be monitoring the registration process for Islamic and Malay, Chinese and Indian TCM practitioners through a council that would be set up.
He said such practitioners who failed to register themselves could face a jail term of up to two years and a fine of RM30,000 to RM50,000.
When tabling the Bill, the Health Minister said nearly 15,000 TCM practitioners would not escape stern action if found to have cheated patients or have contravened the law.
He said with the rapid growth of TCM in Malaysia and internationally, the World Health Organisation had drawn up strategies that could be used in developing this sector in their respective countries.
The Health Ministry, he added, had also launched a national policy on TCM, which stated that TCM would be practised together with modern medicine and to be integrated in the national healthcare system to improve the health and well-being of the people.
Liow also said that so far, 10 government hospitals in the country were offering TCM alongside modern medicine.
They are Kepala Batas Hospital (Penang), Sultan Ismail Hospital (Johor Baharu), Putrajaya Hospital, Sultanah Nur Zahirah Hospital (Kuala Terengganu), Duchess of Kent Hospital (Sandakan, Sabah), Sarawak General Hospital (Kuching), Sultanah Bahiyah Hospital (Alor Setar), Port Dickson Hospital, Sultanah Hajah Kalsom Hospital (Cameron Highlands) and Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital (Kota Baharu). - Bernama

7,000 show support in fight against cancer

The Star Online

PUTRAJAYA: This Federal Administration centre became a sea of pink yesterday when 7,230 people flooded Precinct 2 and 3 in creative pink T-shirts and costumes in support of the fight against cancer campaign.
The “Kiss Goodbye to Breast Cancer” charity walk saw participants of all ages stroll and jog a distance of five kilometres.
Local celebrities, including Avon ambassador actress Neelofa, actor Que Haidar and wife Linda Jasmine, as well as Harimau Malaya striker Safee Sali, also took part.
The event was held in conjunction with the global celebration of Avon's 20th Breast Cancer Crusade anniversary.
Heng said while there was a marked increase in the level of awareness on breast cancer among Malaysian women, more support from the men would be welcomed.
“Husbands could play their role by encouraging their wives to undergo mammogram tests.
“There are 58 Nur Sejahtera clinics throughout the country where they can go for the test which is free of charge under the ministry's subsidised mammogram programme for those with a household income of below RM5,000 a month,” she said.
Heng added that since the programme was introduced in May 2007, a total of 100,357 women had undergone the test and 125 had been detected positive and given further treatment.

'Proposed Traditional Medicine Act will drive some practitioners out of business'

The Star Online

PETALING JAYA: Traditional medicine practitioners without paper qualification will be put out of business once the proposed Traditional and Complementary Medicine (TCM) Act is passed and enforced.
To safeguard the livelihood of these practitioners, the Malaysian Society for Complementary Medicine (MSCM) wants a clause that allows existing practioners without paper qualification to continue practising and the requirement for paper qualification be applied to newcomers.
MSCM president Dr Lee Chee Pheng said Monday there was no 'grandfather clause' in the bill allowing TCM practitioners without certificates to continue with their practice.
A grandfather clause allows an old rule to continue to apply in certain existing situations while the new rule is set apply in all future situations.
"The Health Ministry should not ignore this group of people who have learned the traditional method of treatment from their forefathers. However, they do not carry any paper qualifications.
"There are many practitioners in the traditional massage industry who are blind and are over 60. How can they possibly undergo formal anatomy and physiology classes in order to get certified?" he asked in an exclusive interview with Bernama.
Lee said that if the government felt that it was ready to enforce the law, then the act should be implemented gradually over time so as to ensure that the transition of the 'qualified' and 'non-qualified' practitioners was balanced out.
Otherwise, it would impose a problem for the practitioners who are skilled but have no paper qualification, he said.
The TCM Bill 2012, which was tabled for first reading in the Dewan Rakyat on June 27, among others, requires all practitioners to be registered with the proposed TCM council.
Under the act, TCM practitioners must be provisionally registered and must undergo a residency of not less than one year with any hospital or institution identified by the council.
A council member of MSCM, Dr Lai Yoon Kgen, said he was unhappy with the requirement of the proposed act for TCM practitioners to undergo residency of not less than one year, and added that it would interrupt their daily routine as they have be attached to hospitals to acquire their practising licence.
"We hope the TCM Division of the Health Ministry will reconsider this point as many practitioners are not in favour of it," he said, adding that there were about 15,000 practitioners in the country.
Meanwhile, MSCM secretary Lee Yoke Kwan said it was difficult to prove that TCM was evidence-based as there was no proper assistance from the Health ministry with regard to documentation.
"Malay traditional medicine, for instance, is still at a preliminary level. How much evidence does it have?" she asked.
Lee urged Health Ministry officials to invite again all the relevant stakeholders to discuss the TCM Act so that it truly benefited the practitioners in the country.
"The Health Ministry should look at the TCM industry in totality by taking into account matters such as eco-health and eco-tourism and not confine (matters) to hospitals alone," she said. - Bernama

Friday, September 21, 2012

Heart disease is number one killer among women

The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: Heart disease is the number one killer among Malaysian women and is two and a half times as common than dying from all cancers combined, warned the National Heart Association of Malaysia.
Its president Datuk Dr Azhari Rosman dispelled the common perception that only older men were prone to heart diseases and strokes.
“Women must maintain a high index of suspicion,” he said here yesterday.
“Cancer does not take as many lives as cardiovascular diseases. Women also tend to dismiss pain more easily than men and generally have a higher pain threshold.”
Dr Azhari said the latest 2011 National Health and Morbidity Survey (NHMS IV) had revealed some alarming statistics, including the fact that Malaysian women had the highest body mass index (BMI) in the South-East Asian region.
“Obesity is the harbinger of many conditions,” he said. “The NHMS IV study reports that out of 17,000 women surveyed, 29.4% were overweight while 15% were obese.”
Dr Azhari, a consultant cardiologist at the National Heart Institute, said that Malaysian women also had one of the highest prevalence of hypertension in South-East Asia, even more than men.
He said women also formed a 60% majority of Malaysians who had elevated total cholesterol levels, another factor that contributed to heart disease.
Dr Azhari said that data also showed that most Malaysians were admitted to the hospital for Acute Coronary Syndrome around the age of 59 years.
“This is seven years below the average in other countries which is around 66 years.
“We have also treated a 19-year-old for heart disease and done a heart bypass on a 21-year-old,” he revealed.
Dr Azhari stressed that creating awareness among the public was critical as heart disease was “completely preventable” if detected early.
To this end, he said the Women's Heart Health Organisation (WH2O) was created to educate the public and healthcare providers that women were susceptible to heart diseases and strokes too.
In line with National Heart Day on Sept 29, NHAM, in collaboration with the Malaysian Heart Foundation, has organised a “Walk A Mile” activity at Taman Tasik Titiwangsa on Sept 30.
They will also have other physical activities and health screenings.
For details on other activities planned in the next few weeks,

Government Provides More Doctors For People's Healthcare

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 20 (Bernama) -- "Please be seated. Now, tell me what is your problem".

Those were the words of a young Malay man dressed in a white doctor's overalls after this writer was ushered into the consultation room at Pusat Kesihatan Besar Pasir Mas, Kelantan in 1975.

His name tag read 'Dr Nik Azam' and he was the first local doctor that this writer saw after numerous visits to the hospital.

Four decades ago, it was a rare sight to see Malaysian doctors attending to patients as many hospitals nationwide employed foreign doctors, at the time, many of them from India and Ceylon (now Sri Lanka).

Over the years, in the effort to produce more Malaysian-born physicians, the government has established numerous public and private medical colleges in the country.


However, Malaysia continues to face a shortage of doctors, with the ratio falling short of the 1:600 standard set by the World Health Organisation (WHO).

According to Deputy Health Minister Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin, the ratio of doctors to patients in Malaysia has gone from 1:905 in the year 2000 to 1:940 in 2011.

"The Health Ministry has drawn up several measures, including introducing various incentives to raise the number of doctors and medical graduates in the country," she told newsmen at a function here.

She added that the ministry hopes to achieve the WHO ratio by the year 2015.

Rosnah also said that the ministry has allocated more doctors to serve in government hospitals and clinics in Sabah and Sarawak.

Sabah and Sarawak have a doctor-population ratio of 1:2248 and 1:1709, respectively.


Based on statistics, as of Nov 17, 2011, there are 35 public and private medical colleges in Malaysia, including 12 in public institutions of higher learning (IPTA).

These medical colleges produce about 4,000 graduates a year.

Among the public medical colleges are those in Universiti Malaya (UM), Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM), Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) and Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM).

Some of the prominent private medical courses are offered by Monash University Malaysia, International Medical University (IMU), SEGI University College and Allianze College of Medical Sciences (ACMS).

Health Director-General Datuk Dr. Hasan Abdul Rahman said that there were 32,979 doctors serving in the country as of last year, with 22,429 of them working in the public sector.

Out of the total number of doctors working in the public sector, 19,429 were employed by the Health Ministry while the remaining were working with other government agencies like the public universities, Defence Ministry, as well as the Housing and Local Government Ministry.

Dr Hassan said that the Health Ministry has a target doctor-to-population ratio of 1:400 by 2020.

The ministry is targeting producing 4,500 housemen this year.


Based on the Health Ministry's statistics, the number of doctors serving in the country has shown an increment every year from 1999 to 2006. The figures for these years were 15,503 (1999), 15,619 (2000), 16,146 (2001), 17,442(2002), 18,191(2003), 18,246 (2004), 20,105 (2005) and 21,937 in 2006.

As for the doctor to population ratio, there was one doctor serving 1,465 Malaysians in 1999, 1,490 (2000), 1,487 (2001), 1,406 (2002), 1,377 (2003), 1,402 (2004), 1,300 (2005) and 1,214 in 2006.

According to Dr. Steven Lim, who is a medical officer undergoing a masters programme at a hospital here, doctors are facing a heavy workload.

"The work load is too heavy and the hours are too long. Some housemen (junior doctors) have to work for up to 36 hours straight.

"In some major hospitals, the patient load is non-stop as they have to accept referrals from other hospitals," he said.

As for Sabah and Sarawak, there are 1,339 government doctors in the 'land below the wind' (Sabah) and 1,254 government doctors serving in the 'land of the hornbills' (Sarawak).

Thursday, September 20, 2012

AIDS council condemns sexual discrimination - Nation

AIDS council condemns sexual discrimination - Nation | The Star Online

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian AIDS Council feels that singling people out based on their sexuality is discrimination.
Its president Datuk Dr Raj Karim also condemned the distribution of the “guidelines” on how to spot lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) tendencies in children at a seminar recently.
“We know all too well what the negative impacts of such practice can have on the lives of sexual minorities, especially those living on the fringes of society.
“It will drive them further underground and force them to live in greater fear of being ‘identified’,” she said yesterday.
Two non-governmental organisations, Yayasan Guru Malaysia Bhd and Putrajaya Consultative Council of Parents, had denied that it had any bad intention in distributing the controversial “guidelines” recently.
According to the leaflet, LGBT tendencies could be spotted among boys wearing tight-fitting V-neck T-shirts and carrying large sling bags, and girls who enjoy the company of their own gender.
Although the Education Ministry had denied endorsing it, the leaflets had sparked negative reactions among social media users and had drawn the attention of foreign news agencies.

More aching pain for dentists

Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Unregistered dental surgeons may be liable to a fine of RM300,000 or six years imprisonment, or both, if the Dental Bill 2012 is enforced.
A veteran surgeon from Puchong, who wished to remain anonymous, said the punishment stated is for a first-time offender.
Under the existing Dental Act, an unregistered dentist who practises as surgeon stands to be fined an amount not exceeding RM10,000. Jail sentence only comes in for a repeat offender.
“We hope the government would consider doing away with imprisonment for dentists as per international standards. Fine them or even suspend them but please no jail time,” he said.
Under the new Bill, the dentist also said that the fee for the annual practising certificate (APC) would be doubled from the existing RM50 to RM100 per certificate.
“Even now many are complaining on the requirement for dental surgeons to apply for APC for every clinic they practise at instead of having only one.
“Instead of addresssing the matter, the government plans to increase the price for the APC instead,” he said.
In July, several dentists criticised the Malaysian Dental Council (MDC) for requiring dental surgeons to apply for APCs at every clinic they work.
One even likened the APC to applying a driver’s licence for every type of car being driven.
Under the proposed legislation, the dental surgeon said that dental nurses, also known as dental therapists, would be grouped on an equal footing with the dental surgeon.
Dental therapists
In addition, he said, the Bill would allow dental therapists to conduct non-invasise procedures, such as tooth extractions and fillings, on patients below the age of 18.
“What if anything happens? At the end of the day, the clinic is registered under the dental surgeon and we will have to take responsibility if dental therapists make mistakes.
“Besides, if you go to a clinic, who do you want to see? A doctor or a nurse to cure your ailment?” he asked.
If the government wanted to regulate dental therapists, the dental surgeon said, it would be best if the government established a separate legislation for them.
“While medical doctors and medical nurses have different sets of laws governing them, why would the government group dentists and our nurses in the same legislation?”
Medical doctors in Malaysia are regulated under Medical Act 1971 while medical nurses are governed by the Nurses Act 1950.
The surgeon also questioned the government’s rationale in empowering the MDC to issue temporary licences to foreign dental surgeons to open private practice in Malaysia.
He added that Malaysia is set to have a surplus of dentists in years to come.
“We have about 10,000 dentists and the number is growing. Even now, I’ve heard cases of some qualified dental surgeons, unable to get a job, working as dental therapists.
“So if you allow foreigners to open private practice in this situation, what will happen to our local dentists?” he asked.
The new Bill is set to be tabled in the coming parliamentary sitting, to replace the existing Dental Act 1971.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Healthcare entities urged to get MSQH accreditation


SHAH ALAM (Sept 18, 2012): The Health Ministry requires all public and private healthcare entities in the country to be accredited by the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH).
Its minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said this was vital to ensure that the healthcare services offered by the entities would meet international standards.
"The MSQH accreditation standards have elevated and changed the public and the international patient's mindset and trust about the level of quality and safety in Malaysian healthcare facilities.
"The acknowledgement by the Health Ministry of MSQH symbolises our commitment to continuously adopt quality and safety approaches in the delivery of healthcare services to the people," he said in his speech at the opening of MSQH-MOH Conference and Exhibition 2012 "How Safe Are Patients: Today And In The Future" here today.
Liow's text speech was read by his deputy Datuk Rosnah Abdul Rashid Shirlin.
MSQH is the national accreditation body for hospitals, especially in terms of healthcare facilities, services and management.
The two-day conference which began today and organised by MOH and MSQH with the cooperation of Bahagian Perkhidmatan Kesihatan, Angkatan Tentera Malaysia (ATM) provides an opportunity for participants to widen their knowledge on quality improvement, patient safety issues and practices in public and private hospitals.
The conference reflects the aspiration and commitment of MSQH to achieve optimal standards in the provision of healthcare and to stay at the forefront of medical development in Malaysia.

Monday, September 17, 2012

Housemen to be sent to smaller hospitals in Sabah

New Straits Times

 KOTA KINABALU: BEGINNING next year, housemen will also be posted at hospitals in Keningau and Lahad Datu districts, besides the major towns in Sabah.
Sabah Health director Dr Mohd Yusof Ibrahim said this move was aimed at addressing the issue of staff shortage at the hospitals.
"Although the Health Ministry gives an extra RM1,500 incentive to staff who work in rural areas, only a small number of people are willing to serve there.
"If I issue transfer letters to staff members now, I will get back 20 letters rejecting them," he said at a forum on the healthcare system, held at Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) here.
He was responding to a health worker's question on the lack of staff in Kinabatangan which would compromise the healthcare system as the locals were solely depending on the medical team there.
He was also concerned over the rising number of non-communicable diseases as the government was spending more money on curing diseases as compared with prevention measures.
Dr Yusof said Sabah would have a one-school-one-clinic facility next year for better healthcare accessibility and to promote disease prevention among schoolchildren.
The proposal had been well received by the ministry and was being undertaken in phases.
"We have about 800 schools in the state, and we will apply the concept at schools with enough land and with a large population."
The forum was chaired by former Human Rights Commission of Malaysia vice-chairman Tan Sri Simon Sipaun.
Other panel members were Malaysia Medical Association Sabah branch chairman Dr Subhagan Chandran, Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society president Datuk Nancy Ho and UMS School of Medicine dean Dr Datu Kamarudin Datu Mudin.
Those who attended the forum also brought up the problem of the long wait to get treatment and lack of beds in government hospitals.
They claimed these problems were associated with the influx of illegal immigrants.
At present, there are more than 900,000 illegal immigrants in the state which has a population of 3.1 million.
Dr Yusof said the hospitals currently imposed higher fees on illegal immigrants who sought treatment.
"In future, hospitals will only admit illegal immigrants covered by insurance.
"Immigration officers may be summoned if they don't have valid identity documents."

Saturday, September 15, 2012

175 1Malaysia clinics by year-end

The Star Online

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry plans to set up 175 1Malaysia clinics by year-end due to high demand from patients, said Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
"The clinics have benefitted some five million patients so far. The response has been very encouraging.
"There are currently 119 1Malaysia clinics in operation nationwide while 56 more are in various stages of implementation," he said at the launching of the 1Malaysia clinic at the Danau Kota flats here Saturday.
Liow said they planned to expand the clinics' services to include healthcare for mothers and their children beginning next year.
The 1Malaysia clinics, he said, would make it easier for patients to seek treatment as they were open until night and located near residences.

Catherine praises programme in her maiden speech abroad

Catherine praises programme in her maiden speech abroad

KUALA LUMPUR - In her maiden speech abroad, the Duchess of Cambridge Catherine Middleton praised Malaysia's palliative care programme for its wonderful work.
She expressed admiration for the work done by Hospis Malaysia's staff in helping patients with life-limiting illnesses.
Dressed in a bespoke duck egg blue dress designed by British designer Jenny Packham, the Duchess said she was thrilled by the warm welcome she and Prince William had received at Hospis Malaysia.
They were greeted on arrival by the royal patron of the initiative Raja Zarith Sofia Sultan Idris Shah, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, Hospis Malaysia chairman Brigadier-General (Rtd) Datuk Richard Robless and chief executive officer/medical director Dr Ednin Hamzah.
Catherine, who is also royal patron to the East Anglia's Children's Hospices, said: "Will and I are hugely excited to be in Malaysia on our first ever visit".
Admiring the work done at Hospis Malaysia, she said she had learned through her patronage that delivery of the best paediatric palliative care to children was vital. They also witnessed the launch of Malaysia's "National Paediatric Palliative Care Initiative" by Liow.
Raja Zarith Sofia said palliative care was not only about pain management, but also served to assure patients that someone cared.
The famous royal couple thrilled the patients as they mingled and chatted with them.
Despite the searing afternoon heat, they looked fresh when they arrived in the afternoon, waving and smiling at the crowd, including children from a nearby kindergarten who gathered outside the hospice grounds.
They waved Malaysian flags and held a banner saying "We Love You" and "Welcome Prince William and Catherine".
Prince William and Catherine participated in several activities with the patients as well as unveiled a commemorative plaque.
Hospis Malaysia presented specially-commissioned batik pieces portraying the phalaenopsis orchid motifs to the royal couple.
From there, they left for the British High Commissioner's residence.
They later had an audience with Yang di-Pertuan Agong Tuanku Abdul Halim Mu'adzam Shah and Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Hajah Haminah, as well as attended a royal banquet at Istana Negara.

More centres proposed to destigmatise mental illness

More centres proposed to destigmatise mental illness - Nation | The Star Online

PETALING JAYA: Community mental health centres will help address the rising cases of suicide.
National Institute of Occupa- tional Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the centres would deal with the stigmatisation of mentally-ill people and create awareness on mental health.
He said a community mental health centre, like the pilot one in Putrajaya, should be set up in other states.
“People will feel more comfortable going to such centres compared to places like Tanjung Rambutan,” said Lee.
The centre, launched late last year, provides mental health counselling and treatment, rehabilitation programmes to help patients assimilate into society and a community psychiatric team to provide home treatment for patients with severe mental illness.
It is next to a health clinic which offers outpatient treatment along with gynaecology, paediatric and follow-up treatment for chronic illnesses like high blood pressure and diabetes.
“We need to respond to tragedies related to mental disorders with compassion.
“Of late there has been an increase in incidents involving persons with mental health disorders.
“On Aug 26, a man believed to be mentally unstable was suspected to have committed suicide by jumping from Centre Point Sabah,” Lee said.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai last week said a comprehensive approach was being taken to prevent suicides amid the increasing number of such cases over the past four years.
The number of suicide cases has increased steadily from 113 in 2007 to 290 (2008), 328 (2009) and 425 in 2010.