Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Harm reduction plans successful

PUBLIC health policies that the government put in place seven years ago to assist those who inject drugs are found to avert new HIV infections, save lives and reduce health care costs, according to a new study funded by the World Bank.
In 2006, Malaysia launched two programmes of “harm reduction” interventions, initially on a limited scale — the Needle & Syringe Programme, where those who inject drugs are offered clean needles and syringes, and Methadone Maintenance Therapy, offering heroin addicts enrolment in rehabilitation therapy where heroin is replaced with synthetic methadone.
These harm reduction programmes have succeeded, and Malaysia has now expanded them nationwide.
“We would like to congratulate the Malaysian Government for taking the lead in implementing these cost-effective and cost-saving harm reduction interventions targeting people who inject drugs,” said Ulrich Zachau, World Bank country director for Malaysia.  “We hope this study will inspire policymakers in other countries in the Asia-Pacific region that face similar HIV epidemics among people who inject drugs.”
According to new research, both harm reduction programmes have also been cost-effective. The new research was led by the Centre of Excellence for Research in AIDS at the University of Malaya, in collaboration with the Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales.
Such interventions are estimated to avert 23,241 new HIV infections as well as result in savings of RM210 million in direct health care costs. The study estimated that 12,653 HIV infections were successfully averted since 2006 with the implementation of both  programmes, targeting people who inject drugs.
These averted infections have resulted in savings of RM47.1 million in direct health care costs, which the government would have had to spend on treatment and monitoring.

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Foreign workers blamed for rise in TB cases

LABUAN: The influx of foreign workers is among the major reasons for the spread of tuberculosis (TB) in the country.
Based on statistics, about 18,000 cases were reported in 2010, rising to 20,000 in 2011 with 1,600 fatalities.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Hilmi Yahaya said efforts to monitor the spread of the disease had been enhanced with foreign workers being required to undergo mandatory health screenings.
He said that out of 30,000 foreign workers brought into the country, 20,000 had failed the health screening carried out by the ministry.  
Dr Hilmi Yahaya
Datuk Dr Hilmi Yahaya 
"Foreign workers wishing to work in this country must undergo two health screenings, one in the country of their origin and the other in Malaysia, before they are issued with a working visa," he told reporters after a one-day working visit to Labuan Sunday.
Dr Hilmi also said there were foreign workers who had passed the health screening carried out at home but failed the test here. Most of these workers were from Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Myanmar and the Philippines. 
He said foreign workers who failed the health screening here would be repatriated home. -Bernama

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Health Ministry bans Taiwan-made pimple cream

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has banned cosmetic product 'Sensual Meiji Skin Renewer Cream' which was found to contain the scheduled poison azelaic acid.

Senior Director of Pharmaceutical Services, Datuk Eisah A. Rahman, said the Taiwan-made product had been tested and contained the prohibited poison and was no longer allowed to be sold in Malaysia.

She said the product, which contained azelaic acid, must be registered with the ministry's Drug Control Authority aimed at reducing inflammation effects in treating acne vulgaris (pimples) and could only be used upon advice from health professionals.

"It is feared that the application of acid without expert advice from health professionals can produce undesired effects such as the part of the face which was exposed to the acid feeling burnt, itchy, turning red, and becoming flaky," she said.

She said the company responsible for notifying the product had been directed to stop the immediate sale or supply of the product and to withdraw all stocks of physical products from the market within 72 hours.

Consumers suffering any side effects or serious problems from using any cosmetic product are advised to contact the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau at telephone numbers 03-8835532/5533/5537. - Bernama

Denggi deaths up by 151%

PUTRAJAYA: Dengue fever killed 88 victims up to Dec 21, an increase of 151 per cent from the 35 cases during the same period last year.

Except for Terengganu and the Federal Territory of Labuan, the other states had reported fatalities with Selangor reporting the highest figure of 24 fatal cases, followed by Johor with 21 fatalities.

As for the other states, Malacca had nine fatalities; followed by Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (8); Penang (7); Perak, Sarawak and Sabah (four each), Kelantan and Pahang (two each); while Perlis, Kedah and Negeri Sembilan had one death each.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the rise in dengue cases had been significant in 12 states compared with last year, which included Malacca with 229 per cent; Johor (191 per cent); Selangor (152 per cent); Negeri Sembilan (100 per cent); Perak (42 per cent), Labuan (40 per cent); Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya (39 per cent); Penang (31 per cent); and Perlis (30 per cent). 

He said a total of 41,226 cases were reported up to Dec 21 throughout the country, a jump of 92 per cent or 19,782 cases, compared with the 21,444 cases reported during the same period of last year. - Bernama

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Penang wants Putrajaya to decentralise healthcare systems

Dr Afif said he can foresee the current system of placing all healthcare systems under Putrajaya’s full control continue on to the next millennia that will result in less efficiency in the distribution of healthcare services throughout the states. — Picture by K.E.OoiDr Afif said he can foresee the current system of placing all healthcare systems under Putrajaya’s full control continue on to the next millennia that will result in less efficiency in the distribution of healthcare services throughout the states. — Picture by K.E.OoiGEORGE TOWN, Dec 17 — The healthcare systems in the country should be decentralised for better efficiency, said Penang Health state executive councillor Dr Afif Bahardin.
He said currently, everything related to health is fully under the control of Putrajaya, which leaves the states powerless when there are insufficient healthcare services.
“We need to decentralise the healthcare systems and empower respective state governments so that there will be better distribution of health services to the people,” he said in a press conference in Komtar this morning.
He added that he can foresee the current system of placing all healthcare systems under Putrajaya’s full control to continue on to the next millennia, resulting in less efficiency in distribution of healthcare services statewide.
Referring to the recent announcement by Deputy Health director-general Datuk Dr S. Jeyaindran that the Health Ministry had stopped issuing licences for new dialysis centres, he said this is another centralised move that will only make it difficult for the state to set up more dialysis centres for patients with kidney failure.
Penang recently set up its first CAT dialysis centre in Balik Pulau here to meet the need for more of such centres due to a long waiting list at government hospitals.
A second CAT dialysis centre, located at Seberang Jaya, is now in the process of being set up.
Dr Afif said the move to stop issuing new licences for dialysis centres will negatively affect the patients who have no where else to go especially if they could not afford to go to private dialysis centres.
“We need more dialysis centres, especially in rural areas, to meet the needs of patients in rural areas who could not afford private healthcare,” he said.
He acknowledged the ministry’s concerns that there are dialysis centres that do not meet specifications and are operating illegally.
“Instead of freezing the issuance of licences, the ministry should impose tighter regulations and conduct aggressive enforcement against unlicensed dialysis centres,” he said.
Dr Jeyaindran had revealed that there are now 560 haemodialysis centres nationwide run by non-governmental organisations and private firms but only 326 have licences from the ministry.
Environment, Welfare and Caring Society state executive councillor Phee Boon Poh said there is a reason why there are so many dialysis centres nationwide.
“The ministry had failed in healthcare and health education which led to the increase in the number of patients with kidney failure from 1,204 patients in 1993 to 26,404 patients in 2012,” he said
“All these dialysis centres exist because there is a demand and need that the ministry had failed to meet,” he added.
Phee said it takes a centre about three years to get a licence and some of these centres may not fulfil technical requirements, not medical requirements, so they were not issued licences.
“Does this mean the patient have to wait for three years to get dialysis treatment?” he asked.
He said the ministry had taken a very drastic move to impose a blanket freeze on all centres due to a few isolated cases of contamination.
“This is very irresponsible as not all dialysis centres do not fulfil medical requirements but were not issued licences due to technicalities,” he said.
Yesterday, Dr Jeyaindran had said new licences for dialysis centres will not be issued while existing centres that do not meet requirements will be closed down.
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/penang-wants-putrajaya-to-decentralise-healthcare-systems#sthash.UZDOkekZ.dpuf

Health ministry to set up disaster response squads

KEMAMAN: The Health Ministry will set up special disaster response squads made up of medical personnel who will be equipped with skills to deal with disasters.
Its minister, Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam said members of the squads would undergo training provided by relevant agencies to prepare them for disaster relief missions.
“The medical personnel involved will not only be provided with medical training, but also safety training such as rescuing flood victims,” he told reporters after visiting the Kemaman Health Office here yesterday.
He said the squads, which would be placed in several disaster-prone areas, would also be assisted by other medical personnel during disasters.
Meanwhile, he said the ministry had not receive any reports on outbreak of diseases in flood-hit states in the East Coast.
Subramaniam said the ministry was also bracing for the second waves of floods predicted to hit the East Coast. — Bernama

Monday, December 16, 2013

More Die from Dengue in Malaysia As Cases Spike

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia—At least five people have died from dengue fever this month in Malaysia, where authorities are struggling to contain an outbreak of the mosquito-borne virus that claims hundreds of lives annually in Southeast Asia.

Agence France-Presse/Getty Images
A municipal council worker dispensing insecticide using a fogging machine among residential houses in Gombak, on the outskirt of Kuala Lumpur on Nov. 5.
The total number of dengue deaths for the year now stands at 79, more than double the 34 deaths recorded in 2012.  Cases of the virus have also spiked, with 37,698 dengue cases reported as of Dec. 7, an 85% increase from the 20,387 cases reported in the same period a year earlier, according to data from Malaysia’s Health Ministry.
Selangor state, which borders the capital city of Kuala Lumpur, has been hit the hardest, with 20,209 cases reported and 19 deaths, the Ministry said. The southern state of Johor, just across the Johor strait from Singapore, has recorded 4,421 cases.
Four of those who died recently were college students, Lokman Hakim, deputy director general at Malaysia’s Ministry of Health, said in a statement.
The virus, which is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, causes severe fever, headaches, rashes and muscle and joint pain. Severe forms can cause hemorrhagic fever. No vaccine is currently available, and treatment is limited to intravenous rehydration.
In Selangor, the government has identified 69 hotspots where pools of stagnant water serve as breeding sites for the Aedes mosquitoes.
To keep the mosquito population in check, Malaysia’s Health Ministry is searching thousands of premises around the country to identify potential breeding grounds and is urging the public to drain stagnant water from around their houses. It has also pressed non-profit organizations to boost efforts to educate the public about keeping their premises clean and mosquito free.
On November 12 the authorities searched 14,092 premises, identified 111 areas as breeding grounds and fined residents whose premises had stale pools containing Aedes’s larve with penalties totaling 55,500 Malaysian ringgit ($17,156).
According to law, people found to have breeding grounds on their property can be fined a minimum of 500 ringgit. Those who fail to pay could be fined as much as 10,000 ringgit, face up to two years in jail, or both for a first offense.  Repeat offenders can be fined five times as much or face five years imprisonment.
Government health workers routinely conduct checks at construction sites, where tiny pools of water often gather, and are fumigating schools and other public places. Mr. Lokman also urged citizens of states that recently experienced seasonal flooding to swiftly drain stagnant water that could host Aedes mosquitoes.
Neighboring Singapore has also been struggling to contain a dengue outbreak, with seven deaths and 21,324 cases of the virus reported as of Dec. 13, according data from Singapore’s National Environment Agency.

Ministry says no to new dialysis centres

PUTRAJAYA: The Health Ministry has stopped issuing new licences for dialysis centres and will close down existing ones that do not meet requirements and endanger patients’ safety.
There are now 560 haemodialysis centres nationwide run by NGOs and private firms but only 326 have licences from the ministry.
Deputy Health director-general Datuk Dr S. Jeyaindran said the centres that failed to meet standards would be closed down in stages after being given enough time for compliance.
The ministry would also find suitable alternative centres to relocate patients.
“Two haemodialysis centres, one in Kuala Lumpur and the other in Penang, were closed down recently,” he said.
Health woes: A patient receiving haemodialysis treatment at the CAT Dialysis Centre in Balik Pulau, Penang. 
Out of the 234 unlicensed centres, 114 had structural problems, were run without proper policies and did not submit applications for approval.
The issuance of licences to 80 centres was deferred because the operators did not comply with requirements as promised while another 40 centres did not have trained staff.
The pinching of staff also meant that some centres, whose employees had left, were unable to meet the requirements.
Operating licences of haemodialysis centres are renewable every two years, subject to meeting the ministry’s criteria.
Last month, The Star highlighted the plight of haemodialysis patients whose approvals for a government subsidy of RM600 per month were delayed.
An estimated 5,000 new kidney patients were diagnosed with end-stage kidney failure each year over the last three years. About half the patients going to NGO-run centres need treatment subsidy from the Government.
Dr Jeyaindran said the ministry had given out almost RM45mil (RM2mil in subsidy for dialysis and RM21mil in subsidy for erythropoietin injections each year), not including aid given by other government agencies.
Erythropoietin is a hormone produced by the kidneys and controls red blood cell production.
Click on graphic for larger view. 
He said the ministry was looking for companies to donate dialysis machines to ensure that the lower income group also received haemodialysis treatment with patient safety adhered to, as done by Maybank and Tabung Haji.
“We have the capacity for 1,700 dialysis slots but we only have 1,500 machines and need 200 more,” he said.
He said sponsorship from non-government entities was in keeping with the Prime Minister’s call for a public-private partnership, which encouraged optimum utilisation of resources.
On the training of renal staff, he said the ministry and the Malaysian Society of Nephrology had started a 200-hour programme on dialysis management for 60 doctors and also increased the number of renal nurses being trained.
There will be three more programmes to ensure an adequate number of trained doctors and nurses by the end of next year.

Ministry’s TV on healthy lifestyle to go on air in 2015

BALIK PULAU, Dec 15 — The Health Ministry’s television channel to raise awareness among the people on a healthy lifestyle is expected to go on air in 2015.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said the contents would include dramas, bulletins and talk shows on health to send the people the message in an interactive manner.
“We have MedikTV now but its broadcast is restricted to hospitals. We propose to have an open health channel free for all the people to watch,” he told reporters after launching a cooperatives carnival and a health campaign for his Balik Pulau parliamentary constituency, here.
Hilmi said a special committee would be formed to make an in-depth study of the programmes suitable for the health channel to make it an effective disseminator of information.
He also said that the ministry was monitoring the online advertisements on slimming and beauty products which did not meet the specified standards.
 “Sometimes, the companies send samples for the ministry’s approval but sell other products to their customers,” he said, adding that the ministry was focusing more on this aspect of the problem.
Hilmi advised the people not to be influenced into buying slimming pills which promise fast results as they could contain more than the permissible level of steroids that could raise blood pressure and the pulse rate and lead to muscle cramps.
“Consumers should ensure that every product they buy has the holographic logo certified by the ministry. They should lodge a report if they had doubts about a product,” he said. — Bernama

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

No reports of outbreak of infectious diseases due to floods

MELAKA, Dec 8 — There have been no reports of outbreak of infectious diseases due to the floods that hit Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan and Johor since last week.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said district health office staff had visited the evacuation centres to monitor the health of flood victims.
“It is the ministry’s standard operating procedure to visit and monitor the health of flood victims at evacuation centres and give advice such as diet and medication,” he told reporters after opening Melaka Healthy Living Carnival organised by World Youth Foundation (WYF) here today.
Also present was WYF chairman Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam.
The ministry will work with social institutions such as Kemas and Rukun Tetangga to enhance the awareness and health watch at the grassroots level.
Subramaniam said 17,000 Kemas officers would be trained on aspects including nutrition and health checks so that they could share them with the society.
“The first batch of 200 to 300 Kemas officers will be trained starting next month. I want the health training module to be implemented immediately.”
Some two million people will be given advice and health monitoring to achieve the objectives of healthy living, besides identifying and preventing dangerous diseases. — Bernama
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/no-reports-of-outbreak-of-infectious-diseases-due-to-floods#sthash.6IezvAZU.dpuf

Monday, December 09, 2013

Volunteer doctors brave floods to help victims in hard-to-reach areas

PETALING JAYA: A group of volunteer doctors are urgently calling for assistance in their efforts to bring medical aid to flood-hit victims in Pahang.
"Currently, we are in immediate need of more medicine, supplies and financial donations. We also would like to convey the message to any medical practitioners out there who are interested in joining us," said Dr S. Dhesi Baha Raja, Malaysian Integrated Medical Professionals Association (Mimpa) president.
The NGO comprises 25 doctors and specialists working in collaboration with aviation and pharmaceutical companies to provide medical assistance to individuals unable to reach medical centres.
"Mimpa goes into places inaccessible by road to reach patients who cannot travel. We are especially concerned about the plight of pregnant mothers, children and the elderly," said Dhesi.
Affiliates Sabah Air, Sazma Aviation and Mycopter aviation services have agreed to provide free helicopter services while companies Uzma, CCM and Deltaz are sponsoring much-needed medical supplies.
Mimpa has sent aid to Pahang, but is monitoring the situation in Terengganu.
As of now, about 40,000  people require medical assistance in Pahang, and Mimpa are covering 15,000 to 20,000 patients, said Dhesi.
All partner companies have also agreed to work in collaboration with MIMPA in the event of any future natural disasters.
"Our NGO focuses on the plight of Malaysians and to help them with medical situations.
"Any assistance to our current and future projects is most welcome," said Dhesi. 
Financial assistance can be contributed to via the Malaysian Integrated Medical Professionals Association's account (Public Bank 3184-749-115).
To donate medicine, food, blankets, clothes and other daily necessities, please contact themimpa@gmail.com.
Doctors, nurses and medical assistants who wish to extend their services are also welcome.

Sunday, December 01, 2013

Help for diabetics to prevent complications

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry will soon kickstart a programme to educate diabetics about their condition to prevent the onset of complications.
Health deputy director-general Datuk Dr S. Jeyaindran said awareness on the complications such as kidney failure, blindness or limb amputation was still low.
“The main reason why many Malaysians suffer from those complications is the lack of awareness on the need to control the disease,” he said during the 2013 Diabetes and Management Workshop yesterday.
Dr Jeyaindran said the team of educators would include doctors, nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians and pharmacists who would send out the same message to patients so they would get the message “loud and clear”.
“Patients need to be educated early on that diabetes is a slow killer,” he said.
He said diabetes cases were increasing at an alarming rate at 11% of the population in 2005 to 15% in 2011 and were likely to be one in four in the near future.
Dr Jeyaindran said the ministry was also working with the Community Development Depart­ment under the Rural and Regional Development Ministry to educate some 500,000 women on providing healthy food for their families.
Asked about a study by a Malaysian endocrinologist in Newcastle University who managed to get patients’ blood sugar levels back to normal through a diet of 600 calories per day for two months, Dr Jeyaindran advised caution.
He said the amount would not provide adequate energy for the day as people needed 1,500 to 2,000 calories per day. The diet, over a long term, could lead to starvation and even coma.
Dr Jeyaindran said that those at the pre-diabetic stage could control their condition through diet but once the disease was full blown, it would require diet, medicine and exercise.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

235,000 benefited from Socso’s health screening programme — Riot

KOTA KINABALU: Over 235,000 Socso (Social Security Organisation) contributors have benefited from its Health Screening Programme to date, said Human Resource Minister Datuk Richard Riot Jaem.
He said of the 82,130 vouchers of the programme distributed in Sabah, more than 10,000 contributors made use of them since January with the total cost coming to RM918,500.
“The HSP was introduced because of the increasing number of cases of workers being affected by Non-Communicable Diseases (NCD).
“With the availability of the HSP, it allows early intervention so that the affected workers get the needed treatment,” he said at a Job and HSP carnival organised by the Sabah Manpower Department and Socso here yesterday.
He urged Socso contributors to take full advantage of the facility which enables contributors aged 40 and above to go for health screening at approved clinics. — Bernama

More young people having mental health problems

SIBU: The nation is likely to be burdened by a generation with mental health problem as the number of children aged 15 and below afflicted by it are on the rise.
This observation came from National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye.
“Health Ministry statistics show that mental health problems among the group rose to 13 percent in 1996, 19.4 percent in 2006 and 20 percent in 2011,” he said.
Lee, who is a member of the Mental Health Advisory Council, said in a press statement emailed here on Monday that it was imperative that school children detected to have severe symptoms of stress, anxiety or depression be given appropriate interventions including counselling and mental health coping skills.
“The increase in stress level whether in school, at the workplace or elsewhere is one of the major factors causing more people to develop mental disorders.
“Among the mental health promotion activities that can be implemented in schools are promoting mental health literacy in the school community through talks, exhibitions and quizzes that can be held as extra curricula activities involving PTAs and school clubs,” Lee suggested.
He said schools need to have more counsellors trained to guide and help students to handle stress and cope with life situations.
He added: “We need to instill basic self-confidence in children with the cooperation of parents so failures or disappointments are seen as opportunities to try again rather than a lack of ability and taking the road to disaster.”
He observed at community level growing evidence that the burden of disease was gradually but surely shifting towards poor mental health and mental disorder.
While heart diseases, cancer and HIV-AIDS and others took their toll yearly in the form of death, the burden of diseases such as depression was rapidly becoming a major source of stress not only on the individual and his family but also on his community, he elaborated.
Of late, there had been an increase in number of suicides among persons with mental health disorders, he noted.
“Psychiatric disorders and other forms of mental illness are tragic reminders of another side of life which must not be overlooked in our quest to become a fully industrialised nation.
“The impact of mental health problems on people and their families as well as society as a whole is immense and needs to be addressed,” emphasised Lee.
He said it was imperative for the country to have more community mental health care centres.
The centres would provide mental health counselling, deal with stigmatisation, create awareness of mental health, and empower service users and their families.
“Stigma is one of the biggest challenges surrounding mental illness. Stigma is the single most important barrier to quality of life of mental health consumers and family members – more so than the illness itself – and a major impediment to mental health reform and development.” Lee concluded
“We, therefore, need to train more psychiatrists and psychologists for our hospitals and clinics to deal with people suffering from mental disorders while non-governmental organisations should be given financial assistance to promote mental health in the community. We are also severely lacking in psychiatric occupational therapists,” Lee concluded.

Malaysia’s health tourism industry booming, says Dr Hilmi

REVENUE of RM351.5 million was recorded  from 401,262 health tourists to the country until June this year, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.
He said the figure was expected to double by the end of December based on the number of health tourist arrivals to the country.
“The target this year is RM630 million in revenue from the strategies, promotional efforts and intensive marketing undertaken by the Malaysian Health Tourism Council (MHTC) to ensure that Malaysia becomes a major health tourism destination,” he said to a question from Datuk Dr Nik Mazian Nik Mohamad (PAS-Pasir Puteh) at the Dean Rakyat sitting, here, yesterday.
Nik Mazian wanted to know the number of health tourists to Malaysia, the estimated revenue earned from health tourism and the number of medical centres from which they sought treatment.
Dr Hilmi said the efforts undertaken by the MHTC proved fruitful as the number of health tourists to the country increased each year, thus giving a big impact to the industry.
“The number of health tourists to Malaysia rose to 583,296 in 2011 from 392,956 in 2010 (48 per cent increase).
In 2012, the number increased further to  671,727 (15 per cent rise),” he said.
As for revenue, he said the figure increased to RM511.2 million in 2011 from RM378.7 million in 2010 (35 per cent rise), and in 2012, it rose to RM594 million, a 16 per cent increase over the previous year.
Dr Hilmi said there were 72 hospitals and healthcare centres registered with the MHTC for the promotion of health tourism in this country, and they were offering attractive treatment packages at reasonable costs.
Among the hospitals which received a high number of tourists in 2012 were the Prince Court Medical Centre Kuala Lumpur, Gleneagles Kuala Lumpur, Johor Specialist Hospital, Sime Darby Medical Centre Subang Jaya and Lam Wah Ee Hospital in Penang. — Bernama

Monday, November 25, 2013

Suspended hospital braces for major layoff

DIRE: More than 100 staff to lose jobs if Health Ministry doesn't respond to appeal

SEREMBAN: THE Negri Sembilan Chinese Maternity Hospital and  Medical Centre (NSCMH) is expected to downsize its clinical and non-clinical staff from 145 to about 20,  should the Health Ministry  not respond to their appeal in the coming weeks.
NSCMH general manager G.T. Selvam told the New Sunday Times that the process of transferring the remaining seven in-house patients was underway, following the ministry's orders to suspend the hospital's in-patient services.
"The seven patients are elderly people, who are just undergoing physiotherapy treatment.
"They are under the medical officer's care and are awaiting their children, who are abroad, to take them home," he said yesterday.
Selvam said following the suspension of in-patient services, the hospital was experiencing a drop in out-patient services, too.
"Not many patients are coming in. If there is no reply from the ministry, we have no choice, but to lay off 110 to 120 of our staff."
However, the layoff is up to the board members, who will decide in the coming days, as they are awaiting a reply from the ministry, following an appeal they made on Friday.
The other area of concern, Selvam said, was the procurement of three specialist doctors in three disciplines.
"We are worried, as the suspension will affect the procurement of these doctors. Who wants to work in a hospital with suspended in-patient services?"
On Friday, the director-general of Health, Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah, suspended the hospital's in-patient services for failing to meet the ministry's requirements under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998, despite the hospital responding with an appeal dated Oct 24.
He said NSCMH had committed 10 violations and had been suspended from admitting new patients after site observations were conducted.
Existing patients are to be transferred to other hospitals.
Deputy director-general (medical) Datuk Dr S. Jeyaindran yesterday said the hospital's reply on Oct 24 was unsatisfactory.
"The ministry has no option, but to take action. Patients' safety and comfort come first."
MCA vice-president Datuk Donald Lim also expressed concern over the issue.
"I will be meeting ministry officials to follow up and get details on what really transpired," he said after the party's state annual general meeting here yesterday.
He said NSCMH should adhere to the rules and regulations outlined by the ministry, but added that MCA would help settle the issue.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Mercy Malaysia lends a helping hand

KOTA KINABALU: Medical services at a central Philippines city devastated by Typhoon Haiyan are slowly returning to normal, thanks to the Malaysian Medical Relief Society (Mercy Malaysia).
The NGO has deployed a field hospital within the grounds of the severely damaged Ormoc District Hospital.
Mercy team member Dr Cheah Phee Kheng (pic) said the field hospital was functioning as an outpatient department as well as a temporary emergency department while the original hospital was being repaired.
He said all that was left of the 100-bed Ormoc hospital after the typhoon, which struck on Nov 7, was its emergency unit.
Despite that, patients from more devastated areas such as Tacloban city, which is about 100km away, have been coming to Ormoc for medical treatment.
“All the wards, including the operating theatre, delivery suites and neonatal intensive care units, were destroyed.
“The only department that could function was the emergency department, which became the centre of all activities.
“Patients were placed along the corridors and hospital lobby,” Dr Cheah said, adding that Mercy had deployed four doctors who had so far treated more than 250 patients.
He said some very ill patients from the interior areas arrived at the hospital by tricycle.
Mercy vice-president Norazam Samah said the NGO would also help in the reconstruction of the Ormoc hospital, beginning with the replacement of the roof.
“As it is a double-storey building, water collects on the second floor and leaks when it rains heavily,” said Norazam, an architect by profession.
Mercy would also be involved in rebuilding the male, female and paediatric wards.
Donations can be channelled to the Mercy Humanitarian Fund, MBB 562179504126 Swift Code: MBBEMYKLA. Mercy Malaysia can be contacted at 03-2273-3999. For online donations, visit www.mercy.org.my.

Health Ministry shuts down Chinese Maternity Hospital

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 22 — The Health Ministry has issued an order to the N.S. Chinese Maternity Hospital and Medical Centre (NSCMH) to suspend its in-patient services with immediate effect.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said this was because the hospital was found to have committed 10 violations of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998.
“These violations encompass matters involving both in-patient and out-patient services. One such example is that NSCMH lacks full-time resident doctors in certain core disciplines, thus raising concerns about patient safety,” he said in a statement, here.
The statement dated yesterday was faxed to Bernama, here, today.
Dr Noor Hisham said the hospital was now not allowed to admit new patients and the existing in-patients were to be transferred to other hospitals as patient safety and quality of healthcare were of paramount importance to the ministry.
He said the suspension order followed a thorough investigation into a complaint received by the ministry in August and was substantiated by findings obtained during a verification visit to the hospital on Sept 4.
“The ministry had twice issued show-cause letters on Sept 18 and Oct 21 respectively, asking for the hospital to provide detailed response regarding the remedial actions that had been taken and those that were being planned in order to overcome these 10 violations.”
He said a special meeting was convened on Oct 17 with the hospital’s representatives and NSCMH life members, seeking detailed explanation for the 10 violations noted during the verification visit and also to discuss possible solutions to the problems faced by the hospital.
“The hospital’s management was given 14 working days to respond to the second show-cause letter dated Oct 21 and that period lapsed on Nov 8.
“Hence, due to the failure of the hospital’s management to adequately address and overcome these 10 violations, the ministry was left with no other option but to issue a notice of immediate suspension of in-patient services at the hospital in order to ensure safe medical practices and to protect the interest of the patients,” he said. — Bernama

Thursday, November 21, 2013

Ministry may recognise CSMU degrees

THE Health Ministry may finally recognise the degrees of the Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) after an eight-year hiatus, Makkal Osai reported.
In 2001, the ministry had recognised CSMU, but withdrew after four years and since then, various groups including MIC, opposition leaders, NGOs and the university alumni had called for its recognition.
It said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr.S.Subramaniam had promised to consider the recognition to the Ukrainian based medical university during a closed door meeting with the Malaysian Indian Education Transformation Association (MIETA) on Nov 11.
MIETA chairman A. Elangovan said that he was positive that the university would get its recognition very soon.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

35pc of cardiovascular disease-related deaths below 60 years of age

Cardiovascular diseases continue to be the leading cause of deaths at the health ministry's hospitals where about 35 per cent of deaths involve those aged less than 60 years, notes the minister, Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
He said there were 8,000 new heart patients annually and heart disease was the Number 1 killer in the country for the past three decades.
“More alarmingly, Malaysian children are just as vulnerable to the risk of cardiovascular diseases. These risks can begin before birth during foetal development and increase further during childhood with exposure to unhealthy diets and lack of exercise,” he said in his speech during the launch of the Sunway Pyramid Healthy Living here today.
He said the ministry was very concerned over the growing number of Malaysian adults and children who suffered from cardiovascular diseases.
Dr Subramaniam said disabilities and deaths from cardiovascular diseases were occuring amongst the economically productive members of the Malaysian population.
“In addition to its negative impact on the quality of life, cardiovascular diseases increase the economic burden of individuals, families and communities and reduce the productivity of the country. This has also put a tremendous strain on Malaysia's public health care system,” he added.
At a press conference later, the minister said lifestyle diseases or non-communicable diseases caused mainly by eating habits and less emphasis on physical activity was a burden to the country.
“There is also increase in the use of tobacco among women. To combat these lifestyle diseases, the health ministry has outlined a major campaign for healthy lifestyle. It is better to keep people healthy than to treat them after they fall sick,” he added.
On a proposal brought up in the Dewan Rakyat recently, to limit the operating hours of 24-hour restaurants as a means to fight obesity, Dr Subramaniam said it needed to be discussed with the urban wellbeing, housing and local government ministry. — Bernama
- See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/35pc-of-cardiovascular-disease-related-deaths-below-60-years-of-age#sthash.w0jBQeV8.dpuf

Subra: Amending act a way to check on medical grads

SUBANG JAYA: Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam is concerned about the standard of foreign medical graduates seeking to practise here and may make amendments to the Medical Act 1971 to improve this situation.

"We (the ministry) are looking at how we can address this issue, one of which is to make amendments to the act.
"It should be mandatory to see that a minimum requirement is met when taking up a medical course, apart from having a recognised degree to practise here."
Dr Subramaniam said this in response to the deans' council of the Medical Faculties of Public Universities' call for the setting up of a task force to re-examine medical education in light of the proliferation of medical schools and oversupply of inadequately trained graduates.
The council had cautioned that the standard of medical practice in the country could fall further if the issue was not redressed urgently.
It added that Malaysia had the highest number of medical schools per million people in the world.
The council's dean of medicine Prof Dr Adeeba Kamarulzaman said there was a need to set up a task force, comprising representatives from the Health Ministry, Education Ministry, Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), Malaysian Medical Association (MMA), Public Service Department and the deans council of public and private medical schools to review the situation and devise a plan for the development of the medical profession.
Speaking after declaring Sunway Pyramid the country's first health-promoting mall, Dr Subramaniam said such a step would need the engagement of all parties concerned, including deans, the ministry and those related to medical education.
"We must also control the numbers, because as it is, the number of those returning is very high and we might face problems to give them adequate training and ensure quality."
It is understood that some 2,500 medical graduates are produced annually from local public and private universities, with another 2,000 from foreign universities.
Dr Subramaniam said the ministry was serious about addressing the issue of proliferation of medical schools and oversupply of inadequately trained medical graduates.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

MMA probes complaints on foreign student check-ups

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 19 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has acknowledged receiving grouses from member doctors over Qualitas Medical Group Sdn Bhd’s role in facilitating Education Malaysia Global Services (EMGS) to provide healthcare for foreign students in the country.
“We received several complaints, both verbally and in writing, from doctors who were rejected (from being part of the panel clinic) and regarding the low payment by Qualitas,” said MMA president Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan. 
“The MMA ethics committee is investigating a complaint from a senior member on alleged unethical practice by the parties involved.
“If the allegations are true, we will refer it to the Malaysian Medical Council, Health Ministry and Education Ministry for further action.”
He said the MMA may refer the matter to the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission and Malaysian Competition Commission if the matter remained unresolved.
Tharmaseelan was responding to The Malay Mail’s article Doctors unhappy with medical group published yesterday. Several doctors were upset their applications to Qualitas to screen foreign students, despite having done so prior EMGS, were rejected by Qualitas.
Those in the panel asked why they were only paid RM65 (RM25 for X-ray and RM40 for drawing blood) when EMGS collects RM250 from each student for medical check-ups. 
From that amount, RM200 goes to Qualitas while EMGS retains the balance of RM50. 
Tharmaseelan said MMA met EMGS after The Malay Mail’s expose on visa delays, alleged monopoly of clinics and insurance company in June. MMA insisted clinics near higher learning institutions should be part of the panel. 
“Many doctors complained they have been bypassed. We also raised this matter with the health minister (Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam) who has directed his officers to raise the matter with the education ministry. We await for developments on the matter,” he said.
The MMA had also met representatives from the education ministry as EMGS was the brainchild of the then higher learning education ministry which has, after the 13th general election, been incorporated as part of the education ministry.
“Why the education ministry, and not the health ministry, has been given jurisdiction is another perplexing question. With the Fomema experience of conducting health checks on foreign workers, the health ministry should have been the authority to oversee this project,” he said.
“Ministries under the same government competing against each other to run a project is difficult to comprehend.”
Tharmaseelan advised doctors against being part of the panel if they were unhappy with the payment scheme.
“We urge EMGS to dispel this growing dissatisfaction by appointing more non-Qualitas clinics. The payment should be increased as students examined pay more than foreign workers (under Fomema scheme),” he said. 
“The administration fees should be covered by the RM1,000 processing fee (charged to foreign students by EMGS) and not from the RM250 student pays for the medical check-up.”
Tharmaseelan said MMA was working closely with GP groups including the Malaysian Primary Care Network to resolve this issue.