Friday, November 30, 2012

KPJ Healthcare acquires stake in Thailand hospital


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

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Another fake hospital scam

The Star Online

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

Friday, November 23, 2012

Ministry dismiss mandatory plan for female patients

New Straits Times

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

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

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Bogus hospital website uses RM27,000 bait to lure expats

The Star Online

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

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Finally a taste of bitter medicine

The Star Online

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

    Monday, November 19, 2012

    Progressing towards using telehealth


    SINGAPORE: REMOTE CARE: A growing ageing population, shortage of doctors and nurses are leading to change

    Telehealth will not take away the personal interaction with hospital staff.
    HOSPITALS in Malaysia should consider investing more in telehealth to improve healthcare delivery and efficiency in the country.
    Telehealth or telemedicine involves the use of proprietary software and electronic devices with audio and visual capabilities to assist in the provision of medical care to patients.
    "With only 30 intensivists (intensive care unit specialists) in Malaysia, remote areas with less developed healthcare facilities, for example in East Malaysia, can capitalise on the expertise available in the peninsula by centrally managing patients across the nation.
    "This would help improve the overall healthcare quality across the whole country," said Philips Healthcare Asia Pacific senior vice-president and commercial leader Wayne Spittle in an interview during a healthcare session at the Philips Asia Media Summit here recently.
    Spittle said telehealth solutions would not take away the personal interaction between patients and hospital staff as it still provides the human touch through its audio and visual capabilities.
    "There is immediate medical attention throughout the day, unlike the standard mode of operation today, where patients need to wait to receive medical attention because of travel time between wards and across the entire hospital."
    Several countries have begun capitalising on telehealth.
    At a general hospital in Orange, New South Wales, Australia, beds have been linked to a clinical information portfolio computer system to give staff immediate access to patients' conditions from a central location.
    Singapore hospitals have invested in ICU IT solutions to enable critical care medical staff to actively monitor patients in ICUs from remote locations.
    The Hanh Phuc International Women and Children hospital in Vietnam has a central maternal-fetal monitoring station as well as wireless foetal monitoring solutions which provide clinicians with vital information to track patients throughout the labour and delivery period.
    Surgeons at the Methodist Hospital in Houston, the United States, use a robotic system controlled from a remote location to unblock the arteries of patients with blocked peripheral arteries. Using video and integrated medical devices, medical experts are now providing services to communities in the most remote areas.
    Industry analyst Datamonitor estimated that this year, the global spending on overall telehealth market (including home telehealth) will exceed US$6 billion (RM18.4 billion).
    Spittle said with a growing ageing populations, the rise of chronic non-communicable diseases and the shortage of doctors and nurses, hospitals would lead the shift to telehealth solutions.

    Saturday, November 17, 2012

    Public-private partnership to improve facilities at Sarawak General Hospital

    The Star Online

    KUCHING: The Government has approved a project under public-private partnership (PPP) programme to improve facilities at Sarawak General Hospital (SGH).
    Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the programme would involve building, among other things, multi-storey car parks, daycare centre, pathology laboratory, medical apartment, and a blood bank at a total cost exceeding RM300mil.
    “The most important is the multi-storey car parks due to the congestion in the hospital compound. The project tender will be called soon.
    “As for the cost breakdown for each project, it has not been ascertained yet,” he told reporters after a working visit to SGH yesterday.
    He said the programme was a priority under Budget 2013 which had allocated RM193mil for 35 approved healthcare development projects in the state next year.
    “A lot of these projects including clinics under the Budget are already going on as they are under the rolling plan,” he said.
    Under the Budget, the Government had approved an allocation of RM1.9bil for 257 projects nationwide.
    Besides these projects, Liow also revealed that a RM35mil clinical research centre and a RM3mil acute psychiatric ward at SGH would be ready by next year.
    The RM32mil Petra Jaya Health Clinic and a new RM5.5mil state-of-the-art mortuary with a good forensic service will also be ready by the end of the year.
    Liow said the services at the SGH would be further enhanced with additional beds, with two vacant floors at the SGH Heart Institute in Kota Samarahan to be used for the purpose.
    “The hospital has seen an improved performance as the number of beds has increased to 934 now compared to about 700 in 2009,” he said.
    He said the Government had never neglected the healthcare services in the state.
    “We have a lot of clinics here with eight more 1Malaysia Clinics to be built in the state next year.
    “We also have the mobile clinics and flying doctor services.
    “There will be more doctors to be sent here as there are 3,500 newly trained doctors every year,” he said.
    He said doctors posted to the state were encouraged to serve in rural areas as it was a national call that they should take up.
    “We give them incentives and promotional opportunities after two years of service and we have even shortened the period to six months for the specialists.
    “In fact, a lot of these doctors have stayed back after that and some are even willing to serve in rural areas,” he said.
    On a question about hospital security, he said money had been allocated to it.

    Tuesday, November 13, 2012

    Health Ministry looks to lure doctors to 1 Malaysia clinics @ Sun Nov 11 2012


    ERANTUT, Nov 11 — The Health Ministry is implementing two pioneer projects to encourage doctors from the private sector to serve at the 1 Malaysia Clinics.
    Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the two pioneer projects were carried out at the 1 Malaysia Clinics in Malacca and Kerinchi in Kuala Lumpur to test their effectiveness.
    “We will co-operate with doctors from the private sector at the two clinics and see if we get good response from them,” he said after opening the Jerantut 1 Malaysia Clinic, here, today.
    Liow (picture) said every private medical practitioner would be paid RM80 an hour for their services at the clinics.
    “We encourage them to serve at the 1 Malaysia Clinics, and it is up to them if they want to serve for one or two hours,” he said.
    He said there were currently 22 1 Malaysia Clinics where the ministry placed doctors at clinics receiving more than 100 patients a day to avoid congestion at the hospitals and health clinics.
    According to Liow, there were about 150 1 Malaysia Clinics nationwide and the ministry targeted to create 20 more by the year-end.
    “Next year, as announced by the prime minister, we will add another 70 1 Malaysia Clinics,” said Liow.
    Meanwhile, he said the ministry allocated RM10 million to build quarters for health clinic personnel in Kuala Tahan, Damak and Kampung Bantal, all in Jerantut.
    He said the construction of the quarters would commence soon and was expected to be completed next year. — Bernama

    Thursday, November 08, 2012

    Liow: 800 doctors pursuing specialist courses

    New Straits Times

    KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry is sponsoring some 800 doctors to pursue specialist and subspecialist training to address the shortage of such professionals in the country.

    Its minister, Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai, said the figure was an increase from only 400 in 2010, with over 90 subspeciality programmes.
    "The ministry has been sending doctors to local and foreign institutions to further their medical education up to the Masters and PhD level upon which they can specialise and sub-specialise overseas," he told reporters after launching the First Stem Cell Congress here yesterday.
    "This is to tackle the shortage of specialist doctors in government hospitals."
    The popular areas of study included nephrology, cardiology, gastroenterology, rheumatology, urology, breast and endocrine surgery, intensive care, spine orthopaedics as well as neonatology. It was noted that there were currently 5,000 specialists nationwide of which 3,000 were serving in the public sector.
    Liow said a specialist wishing to sub-specialise would be required to undergo supervised training under a consultant for two to three years locally, followed by additional exposure in overseas training centres for about a year.
    "The ministry has been sending doctors for specialist training to, among others, the United Kingdom, Australia, and Europe."
    He also highlighted a new development in postgraduate medical speciality training, an agreement with the Royal College of Physicians Ireland accepting about 80 students a year, with the first batch to start next year.
    He said as of this month, there were 333 trainees in the training programme and the number of new intakes varied between 100 to 130.
    "Local universities have also been training a lot of doctors under the masters programme and they are given the opportunity to go overseas for subspeciality training. We also urge private hospitals to train specialists on their own to assist the government in tackling the shortage of specialist doctors in the country."
    The country's 30 medical schools were producing an estimated 4,000 to 5,000 doctors annually.
    Liow said there were 35,000 doctors in the country and the government hoped the ratio of one doctor to 400 people could be achieved by 2020.
    On the proposed 1Care Health Plan, Liow said the public should not be worried about the plan as nothing was finalised.

    Tuesday, November 06, 2012

    Health ministry orders products to be taken off shelves


    GEORGE TOWN, MALAYSIA - The Health Ministry has ordered all Ayamas products in the same batch that was found to contain a banned antibiotic be taken off the market.
    Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said yesterday his ministry had ordered the withdrawal of the products pending tests.
    "I am now waiting for the results of the tests done on the samples. We view this seriously and that is why we decide to withdraw the batch from the market."
    However, he said Ayamas products that were not from the same batch could continue to be sold. Liow was commenting on the Sarawak Veterinary Authority's immediate ban on all Ayamas products following a random test where traces of Chloramphenicol were found.
    Chloramphenicol is used to treat animals but is not safe for human consumption and, therefore, cannot be used in food processing.
    On Saturday, Sarawak Assistant Agriculture Minister Mong Dagang said he believed the problem could lie in the source of the chickens and not during the processing part.
    Chloramphenicol is banned in most Western countries although it is available in Southeast Asia. The drug is known to cause blood disorders such as aplastic and hypoplastic anaemia.
    Any interactions between Chloramphenicol and diabetic medicines, or even vitamin B12 supplements, may cause allergic reactions, including stomach upset, diarrhoea, headache, nausea and vomiting.

    Boost for healthcare and well-being

    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.

      Monday, November 05, 2012

      Govt to get tough on smokers

      The Star Online

      SEREMBAN: With an estimated 100,000 Malaysians dying every year from smoke-related illnesses, the Government may resort to having each cigarette stick printed with the words Smoking is hazardous to health.
      In another drastic move to discourage people particularly the young from picking up the habit, cigarette manufacturers may also be barred from making claims regarding tobacco grade, quality and flavour of their product.
      These and other new provisions are likely to be included in the Control of Tobacco Product Regulations 2004 when the Government intensifies its enforcement to make public places in the country absolutely smoke-free.
      A government source told The Star that the Health Ministry would, in the next two weeks, seek public feedback online on its tough plan to discourage Malaysians from ruining their health through smoking.
      The source said the proposed amendments are in line with the Global Adult Tobacco Survey (GATS) Malaysia 2011 carried out recently, in which 83.5% of the respondents want 100% smoke-free public places.
      “Under the ministry's proposal, the words Merokok Membahayakan Kesihatan should be clearly printed on every cigarette stick to remind existing and potential smokers on the dangers of lighting up,” the source said.
      “With some 4,000 chemicals in cigarettes and cigarette smoke which, among others, have carcinogenic effects, the ministry also wants the tar and nicotine levels in cigarettes to be further cut,” he said.
      It is learnt the ministry is proposing for the nicotine levels to be cut from 1.5mg to 1.25mg per stick and from 20mg to 15mg for tar content.
      It wants this to be further reduced to 1mg (nicotine) and 10mg (tar) in due course.
      The source said tobacco companies have, however, requested that the nicotine levels in cigarettes be reduced to only 1.3mg and tar levels to 15mg from 2014 and to 1mg and 10mg respectively by 2018.
      “Also on the cards are provisions to compel manufacturers to increase the size of pictorial health warnings on their packs on the effects of smoking, from at least 40% currently to 50%,” the source said.
      “The ministry is already looking at the Australian model, where tobacco companies are allowed only to sell their products in plain packaging; thus, being unable to use the strength of their brandname to market their product,” he said.
      Under the plain packaging method, tobacco companies are not allowed to display their brand colours or logos on the packs.
      The source said tobacco companies and importers will also be required to officially write in to the ministry each time they revise the retail price of their product.
      “Another amendment states that smokers will also no longer be allowed to light up along the five-foot way or in any covered area which is part of a premises.
      “In other words, if there is a perimeter wall outside a building, smokers will not be allowed to light up within the area,” he said.

      100 doctors overseas want to come home to serve

      The Star Online

      KULIM: About 100 Malaysian doctors and medical specialists working overseas have expressed their interest to return to serve the country, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
      He said the number was obtained during road shows conducted byTalent Corp, a Government-owned agency that has been mandated to recruit and nurture talent locally and abroad.
      The doctors and medical specialists were currently residing in Taiwan, Australia and United Kingdom, he said.
      Liow said he was told that Talent Corp received many enquiries during visits to Taiwan and Australia recently.
      “More importantly, many of them have expressed keen interest to come back. Some of them are well-known in their fields. We are happy and touched,” he said after a visit to the Kulim Hospital yesterday.