Saturday, March 30, 2013

Spot checks for illegal medical ads

Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: The Medicine Advertisements Board (MAB) has warned medical and health providers that it is stepping up action against establishments that violate the legal restrictions on the advertising of drugs and services.
In a letter to various medical and pharmaceutical associations, MAB said it was carrying out a three-month campaign of surprise checks on private hospitals, clinics, pharmacies and other such premises to ensure compliance with the Medicines (Advertising and Sale) Act of 1956 (Revised 1983)and the Medicine Advertisements Board Regulations of 1976.
The letter, dated March 1, said enforcement officers would examine advertising materials displayed at these premises and would book their owners if they went against the restrictions of the law.
The act prohibits advertising related to the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of 20 diseases, including cancer, high blood pressure, diabetes and loss of sexual function.
Muhammad Lukmani Ibrahim, the deputy director of the Health Ministry’s Pharmaceutical Services Division, told FMT today that MAB was working closely with the Malaysian Medical Council and the Private Medical Practice Control Bureau in the enforcement effort.
Apart from the surprise checks, enforcement officers were also studying advertisements in the printed media, Lukmani said.
First-time offenders of the act face a fine of up to RM3,000 or a year’s jail or both. For a subsequent offence, the fine can go up to RM5,000 and the jail term is two years.
The 1976 regulations require all advertisements from the industry to carry MAB’s stamp of approval.
Lukmani said the boom in the healthcare industry had resulted in a dramatic increase in the number of applications for approval of advertisements.
“We have now shortened the time to approve applications from six weeks to only five working days,” he added.
He said applicants needed only to fill up some forms, which are available at

Friday, March 29, 2013

Health Ministry Derecognises CSMU


KUALA LUMPUR: The medical study programme offered by Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) in Ukraine has been withdrawn from the second schedule of the 1971 Medical Act with immediate effect.

Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai said following this, graduates of CSMU who completed their studies must pass the medical qualifying test to register with the Malaysian Medical Council (MPM) as a doctor.

“It must be stressed, their (graduates) right to sit for the qualifying test will not be denied,” he said in a statement.

Liow clarified that the decision to withdraw the programme was made based on the suggestion of the monthly meeting of the MPM Medical Studies Recognition Technical Committee, after finding several weaknesses in CSMU.

CSMU received recognition to offer a medical study programme on Aug 7, 2001 but since then many complaints had been received with regard to the institution and the performances of its graduates.

A visitors’ panel for re-evaluation sent in 2003 found many serious weaknesses which were believed to be adversely affecting the quality of study at CSMU.

He said, the Cabinet supported the withdrawal of the recognition of CSMU by MPM in 2005, but to ensure it would not affect Malaysian students studying there, the decision only involved students registered at the university after Dec 31, 2005.

But during a re-evaluation visit last Oct 18-20, following several requests by CSMU, the evaluation panel found there were still serious weaknesses as found in the previous visits, he said.

Liow stressed that the decision was professionally done after taking into account all important aspects, especially the safety of patients and justice to the students and their families.

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Sime Darby proposes JV with Ramsay Health Care

Free Malaysia Today

KUAL LUMPUR: Sime Darby Bhd has proposed the establishment of a joint-venture (JV) company known as Ramsay Sime Darby Health Care Sdn Bhd with Australia’s Ramsay Health Care Ltd’s wholly-owned subsidiary, AH Holdings Health Care Pty Ltd.
Sime Darby will inject its healthcare and education business into the JV while Ramsay will inject its Indonesian healthcare business into the JV.
Both parties will have 50% equity in the JV, Sime Darby said in an exchange filing at Bursa Malaysia yesterday.
Ramsay Health Care was established by Paul Ramsay, in Sydney, Australia, in 1964 and has grown to become a global hospital group operating 116 hospitals and day surgery facilities across Australia, the UK, France and Indonesia.
For the six months ended Dec 31, 2012, the group reported a net profit of A$148 million (RM479.67 million). Ramsay Health Care is listed on the Australian stock exchange and its market capitalisation as on Monday was A$6.24 billion.
Sime Darby Healthcare Sdn Bhd undertakes group management services and its subsidiaries are involved in the operation of medical centres, management of hospitals and provision of healthcare and educational services in Malaysia.
On its rationale for the JV, Sime Darby said it was to penetrate and capture growing opportunities in the healthcare sector in Asia.
It also said that it wants to leverage Ramsay Health Care’s core competencies in managing private hospitals, given Ramsay Health Care’s experience in the global healthcare sector.
The JV offers an opportunity for Sime Darby to gain a foothold in the Indonesian healthcare market which has attractive economic and demographic fundamentals in the mid- to long-term.
Sime Darby said the disposal of its 50% stake in Sime Darby Healthcare would result in a possible gain on disposal of RM340 million on the basis that it records its investment in the company at RM596.5 million less incidental costs.
Sime Darby shares closed at RM9.19 before being suspended in yesterday’s afternoon trading session.

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Healthy growth for health sector

The Star Online

Datuk Seri Liow Tiong LaiDatuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai
KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia's health travel sector generated RM571mil while exports of its pharmaceutical products earned RM562mil in 2012 alone, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
This was due to the Government's efforts in promoting medical tourism through improved customer experience, proactive alliances and niche marketing.
“Through 13 Entry Point Projects (EPPs), the National Key Economic Areas for health aspire to contribute RM32.4bil to Malaysia's gross national income by 2020,” he said at the Economist Conferences' 4th annual Healthcare in Asia 2013 here yesterday.
Under the pharmaceuticals EPP, Liow said the industry was leveraging on the patent expiration of major “blockbuster” drugs by pursuing generic export opportunities.
He said these projects would have a direct impact on Malaysia's healthcare infrastructure and indirectly result in greater quality care for patients.
“For example, the increase in hospital beds, doctors and nurses due to the growth in the industry will reduce waiting times for patients, shorten the turnaround time on diagnostic and radiological services and improve the quality of patient outcomes,” he said.
Liow added that the Government had taken various steps to attract and retain human resources through fixed time-based promotions for doctors, dentists and pharmacists and by increasing on-call and specialist allowances.
Scholarships and the intake for master's programmes for doctors had been increased to 800 from 600 per year to address the shortage of medical specialists.
“Malaysia aims to achieve a doctor-population ratio of 1 to 500 by 2018,” he said.
Liow stressed that health and healthcare were viewed as investments and not costs to the country.
As such, he said access to healthcare was now available to the whole population with about 90% of the population living within a 5km radius of a static health facility.

Thursday, March 21, 2013

More pain-free hospitals in the works, says Liow

The Star Online

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia will collaborate with the World Health Organisation (WHO) to expand the use of acupuncture as a method for pain-control in healthcare procedures.
This was in line with the Government’s intention to set up more “pain-free” hospitals, Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said.
The Raja Permaisuri Bainun Hospital in Ipoh is one such hospital where traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) techniques are used with modern approaches to provide pain-relief option to patients undergoing surgery.
“WHO has a publication on acupuncture and we are trying to see how we can transfer the knowledge on acupuncture to our Malaysian healthcare.
“Basically, we will need to replace a lot of things, such as the use of morphine and other post-operative pain control, with acupuncture,” Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said during a press conference with Liow yesterday.
In line with the development of TCM in Malaysia, Liow said the Government would offer scholarships to two Malaysian doctors or specialists to pursue the Masters of Acupuncture in Surgical Anesthesia in China.
He also announced that the Public Service Department had officially recognised degree qualifications in TCM from two more Chinese universities.
The universities are Guangzhou University of Chinese Medicine and the Tianjin University of Traditional Chinese Medicine.
“Based on the recommendation by the Malaysian Medical Council, the ministry is also pleased to announce that we now recognise medical degrees offered by the Shanghai Jhiao Tong University School of Medicine and the Shanghai Medical College of Fudan University.
“Graduates from these two universities may now directly register with the MMC to practise medicine in Malaysia without having to sit for an eligibility test first,” Liow said.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Hospitalisation And Surgical Scheme For Foreign Workers


 The Health Ministry plans to further expand its Entry Point Project (EPP) for Hospitalisation and Surgical Scheme for Foreign Workers (SPIKPA) programme under the Healthcare National Key Economic Areas (NKEA) into Sarawak this year.

According to the Economic Transformation Programme (ETP) Annual Report 2012 issued by the Performance Management and Delivery Unit (Pemandu), the scheme, which calls for mandatory private health insurance for foreign workers, will cover all foreign workers, except for plantation workers in the palm oil industry.

While the SPIKPA has successfully provided coverage for 1.6 million foreign workers in Malaysia, there have been challenges in some specific job areas including domestic maids and plantation workers.

"The ministry is currently addressing these areas to further strengthen the healthcare system and safeguard foreign workers as well as to ensure that most, if not all, foreign workers in all sectors are covered under the SPIKPA," the report said.

Other critical target for Healthcare NKEA is the EPP on Malaysian Pharmaceuticals: Increasing Local Generic Manufacturing for Export, in which the focus will be to continue working with MoH to optimise local facilities, as well as review and address issues relating to pharmaceutical patent law and policy in Malaysia.

The report also stated that the Malaysian Healthcare Travel Council would be working extensively with the relevant organisations to develop outreach programmes for healthcare travel as well as continue to create awareness on Malaysia's advancing healthcare infrastructure.

The Healthcare NKEA would also commence the registration of unregistered nursing homes and cultivate the Seniors' Living (aged care) industry, besides drawing greater participation in the form of key players and strong champions to participate in the Medical Devices Industry EPPs.

Under this Healthcare NKEA, a total of 22 projects covering 10 EPPs and one Business Opportunity (BO) had been announced by the Prime Minister and they were expected to contribute RM4.6 billion to the Gross National Income (GNI), while generating investments totalling RM3.7 billion.

The NKEA is also expected to create 18,316 jobs by 2020.

The last 12 months saw a number of significant developments under this NKEA including the corporatisation of Clinical Research Malaysia (CRM), a unit under the Clinical Research Centre of the Ministry of Health.

The Medical Devices Act 2012 and the Medical Devices Authority Act 2012 were gazetted last year which will ensure that the medical devices industry is better regulated in Malaysia.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai in his message said: "It is my firm and sincere belief that we are now in a better position to respond to the expectations of our nation to develop an effective and responsive healthcare system, which is safe, effective, and equitable. We are indeed well on our way to becoming "A Nation Working Together For Better Health".

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

CSMU imbroglio: Pakatan promises review

Free Malaysia Today

PETALING JAYA: Pakatan Rakyat will review the recognition of the Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) if the opposition coalition forms the next federal government after the13th general election, which is just around the corner.
Teluk Intan MP M Manogaran, from DAP, said the opposition pact was concerned over the de-recognition of the CSMU.
“The Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) has deliberately delayed coming out with their report after visiting the university regarding the recognition of CSMU. They visited the university in October 2012 after a cabinet directive but until now no report has been produced,” he claimed.
It is learnt that Prime Minister Najib Tun Razak had personally written to MMC asking the council to cite reasons for CSMU’s de-recognition.
“It is already five months. Still MMC is yet to send any report on the university’s recognition. The MMC, Health Ministry and the Higher Education Ministry are applying double standard in recognising CSMU,” he added.
He said in 2010, it took just weeks for MMC to give the green light to a local university, Lincoln University College (LUC), to run offshore programmes in three universities in Ukraine.
The three universities were Ternopil State Medical University, Danylo Halytsky Lviv National Medical University and Ivano Frankivsk National Medical University.
“But why are they taking such a long time in the case of CSMU. LUC is the only local university to get approval to run offshore programmes in unrecognised universities,” added Manogaran.
The decision to allow LUC to conduct programmes has left parents fuming as LUC stands to rake in millions by just being an intermediary.
It was reported that the actual cost of completing a medical degree in Ukraine is between RM120,000 and RM130,000. But with Lincoln being the intermediary, the price will now escalate to nearly RM200,000.
According to Manogaran, there are 44 public and private medical universities in Malaysia which gave first priority to Malays.

Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai meanwhile has ensured that Chinese students were not left out in the medical field by applying for recognition of 11 medical universities in China.
It is reported all the universities are in the final stages of gaining Malaysian government recognition.
“So, who is going to be responsible for the future of Indian students in the medical field,” Manogaran questioned
The derecognition of CSMU became an issue a few years ago after MIC and other Indian-based organisations demanded that the government reinstate the university as a recognised university due to the high number of Malaysian Indian students studying there.
Despite this, MMC gave various excuses over the derecognition.
Nearly 1,000 Malaysian students of Indian origin had graduated from the university since 1997 until it was dropped from the list of recognised universities by the MMC in June 2005.

Friday, March 15, 2013

Health Ministry Targets ‘Less Salt’ After ‘Less Sugar’ Campaign

KUALA LUMPUR: After the “less sugar” campaign, the Health Ministry is now embarking on a “less salt” campaign.
Health Minister Liow Tiong Lai said research done in 2012 among the ministry’s officers showed that their average salt intake was 8.7 grams a day. This could reflect the average salt intake of Malaysians, too.

“According to the World Health Organisation (WHO) an average person should only consume as much as 5 grams of salt a day.

“High intake of salt can lead to increased blood pressure and hypertension. We found that 32.7 percent of Malaysians above the age of 18 suffer from this,” he said in a statement. 

Liow said the most cost effective way to overcome this situation was to instill prevention measures.

He said the World Action in Salt and Health (Wash) would hold its  sixth Universal Salt Awareness week from March 11 to March 17, themed “Less Salt Please”.

He said, “This campaign is aimed at caterers, chef’s and cafeteria owners and will cover topics relating to the reduction of salt in cooking.”

He said food industries in Malaysia have been very supportive of the ministry’s efforts to ensure healthy cooking and eating.

He said from 2011 till last year, more than 16 food items with high salt content – such as biscuits, soy sauce, and instant noodles – had seen salt reductions of between two and 40 per cent.

In conjunction with the Universal Salt Awareness Week, Liow urged the people to undergo regular medical checkups and aim to achieve the optimal blood pressure of 120/80mmHg or less.

 “People should use and consume less salt in their food and substitute with natural flavors like herbs and flavored leaves.

“An increased consumption of fruits and regular exercise will also aid in improving one’s health,” he said adding that a healthy mind and good stress management were essential.

By Kanyakumari Damodaran / New Straits Times

One in three Malaysian adults have high blood pressure

BorneoPost Online 

KUALA LUMPUR: One in three or about 32.7 per cent of Malaysians aged 18 years and above are now believed to have high blood pressure, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
He said this was found during a study on the intake of salt among Malaysians through urine analysis over 24 hours, last year.
“The average consumption of salt by Malaysians is 8.7 grammes daily which is 1.7 times higher than the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of 5 grammes a day.
“In the same study, it was found soy sauce is the main source of food which contributes to the high salt content and men consumed far more salt than women,” he said in a message in conjunction with 2013 World Salt Awareness Week.
Therefore, he urged members of the public to take steps in reducing salt intake by having routine health screening.
The 6th World Salt Awareness Week campaign held from March 11 to 17 focused on the food industry, caterers, food handlers and chefs at restaurants with the theme ‘Less Salt Please’.
Liow said the ministry was formulating a strategy to reduce salt intake in Malaysia.
“Among the salt controlling measures taken was on a list of 16 food items with high salt content including biscuits, soy sauce, instant noodles, snacks and frozen meat which have been reduced of their salt content by 2 to 40 per cent from the original level in 2011 to 2012,” he said. — Bernama

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Sime Darby, Ramsay Health in Southeast Asia JV Talks

Fox Business
Malaysia's Sime Darby Bhd. (4197.KU) and Australia's Ramsay Health Care Ltd. (RHC.AU) are in talks to form a joint venture that combines several hospitals in Southeast Asia, a person familiar with the matter said.
The move comes as rising incomes and an aging population in the region prompt healthcare companies to seek greater scale. Healthcare assets are largely shielded from swings in economic growth, making them appealing as a defensive investment for companies seeking exposure to emerging economies.
The boards of both companies are yet to approve the venture, which will include six hospitals and an education facility from Sime Darby's healthcare unit and Ramsay's Indonesian division.
Sime Darby's healthcare unit reported fiscal 2012 profit before interest and tax of 26 million Malaysian ringgit (US$8.4 million), a figure expected to grow significantly with the contribution from two newly opened hospitals in Malaysia.
Sime's contribution to the joint venture includes those hospitals plus another in Malaysia named Subang Jaya, which have a combined total of 910 beds. It also includes the Sime Darby Nursing and Health Sciences College, which provides programs approved by Malaysia's Ministry of Higher Education.
Ramsay will inject its entire Indonesian unit, which last month reported half-year earnings before interest, or Ebit, of 33 billion Indonesian rupiah (US$3.4 million). Two of the group's hospitals are in Jakarta, while one is in Surabaya.
Sime will receive between MYR300 million and MYR400 million from Ramsay to ensure the joint venture is evenly split, and Ramsay has discussed the payment with its banking syndicate, the person said.
Ramsay said in November 2011 that it had an underwritten debt facility worth 2 billion Australian dollars (US$2 billion) from banks including ANZ Banking Group Ltd. (ANZ.AU), Westpac Banking Corp. (WBC.AU) and National Australia Bank Ltd. (NAB.AU).
The vehicle could have a market value of more than MYR1.55 billion, based on earnings multiples of listed Malaysian healthcare companies such as KPJ Healthcare Bhd. (5878.KU).
It will seek to make acquisitions in Southeast Asia, and may pursue an initial public offering on the Kuala Lumpur Stock Exchange, the person familiar said.
If the joint venture talks are successful, Sime Darby--the world's largest listed palm-oil producer by acreage--will be freer to focus on its other businesses that range from property development to automobile assembly.

Friday, March 08, 2013

Yearly upgrade for government hospitals

The Star Online

TAMPIN: At least five government hospitals will be upgraded into specialist centres every year to give people, particularly those living in rural areas, better access to medical experts.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said his ministry had been giving out 800 scholarships to its doctors annually, beginning last year, for them to pursue specialist courses in order to achieve this.
“We are facing an acute shortage of specialists in some areas and this has to be addressed quickly,” he said during a visit to the newly-built RM138mil Tampin Hospital.
At present, only 55 out of the 140 government health facilities nationwide are categorised as specialist hospitals.
Although the number of doctors serving the civil service numbered around 35,000, there were only 3,5000 specialists on the Govern-ment's payroll.
Liow said there was also a dire need to increase the number of specialists as patients in some areas had to travel quite a distance for expert treatment.
“The ideal situation is to have three specialists in the same field at every hospital and we hope to achieve this one day,” he said.
Liow also announced the construction of a new hospital in the neighbouring Rembau district.
“This has been long overdue. In fact, I have been made to understand that the Public Works Department had called for tenders earlier this week,” he said.
Liow thanked Works Minister Datuk Seri Shaziman Abu Mansor for the quick completion of several Health Ministry projects.
Citing examples, he said the construction of the Putrajaya Cancer Institute, the Womens' and Childrens' Centre in Seremban and several projects in Kelantan and Sarawak had been completed ahead of schedule.
Shaziman, who was also present, said the PWD had set up special teams to monitor government projects, particularly the construction of health facilities.
On the new Tampin Hospital, Shaziman, who is also Tampin MP, said the ultra modern 108-bed facility was almost completed and would be handed over to the Health Ministry next month.
“Since I am the MP for Tampin, my constituents had frequently asked me why we did not have a modern hospital and had to be referred to other hospitals for treatment.
“We hope it will be quickly turned into a specialist hospital,” Shaziman added.

    Sunday, March 03, 2013

    Health Department intensifies HFMD screening

    BorneoPost Online

    PREVENTIVE MEASURE: A teacher gets preschoolers to wash their hands as a precaution to keep HFMD at bay.
    PREVENTIVE MEASURE: A teacher gets preschoolers to wash their hands as a precaution to keep HFMD at bay.

    SIBU: The state Health Department is doubling its efforts to screen children for hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD) at nurseries and kindergartens throughout the state as the disease has reached epidemic level in Miri and Sibu divisions.
    And on their part, teachers should adopt precautionary measures by screening children before letting them off from schools, state health director Datu Dr Zulkifli Jantan told The Borneo Post yesterday.
    “They (teachers and caretakers) must practise a high standard of hygiene and cleanliness at all times, including by thoroughly washing their hands with soap after visiting the toilet,” he added.
    Miri and Sibu recorded 564 and 342 cases of the disease respectively from the beginning of this year till Feb 23.
    Meanwhile, Association of Kindergarten Teachers in Sibu, Sarikei and Kapit Divisions chairperson Wong Mee Hoon revealed that their members carried out checks on the children at school gates daily.
    “The measure suggested by the Health Department is effective in keeping out the disease since children suspected with HFMD are asked to go home and prevented from entering the classrooms,” she stated.
    She said the precautionary measure had been implemented since the new school term began.
    Other measures, Wong disclosed, included exposing toys under the sun to kill the germs.
    “Toilets and classrooms are washed twice daily before and after lessons. They are also disinfected as we want the children to study in a clean, safe and hygienic environment,” she stressed.
    Elsewhere in rural areas, Dr Zulkifli said that educational programmes were on-going in the outskirts to curb the spread of HFMD.
    “The programmes are geared towards increasing the level of awareness of HFMD among the rural folk. These include advising them to practise self-isolation if their children are sick to prevent the spread of the disease,” he said.
    Deputy Minister of Rural and Regional Development and Selangau MP Datuk Joseph Entulu advised village security and development committees (JKKKs) to impress on longhouse residents the importance of maintaining a high level of hygiene and cleanliness at all times.
    “Be aware of the HFMD symptoms and send children for immediate medical attention when sick,” Entulu advised them.
    Association of Longhouse Chiefs Sibu (PTRS) advisor Penghulu James Semilan, meanwhile, urged parents to keep an eye on their children to ensure that they do not play in dirty rivers or places that can pose risk to their health.
    Semilan, too, emphasised the importance of maintaining surroundings so as to keep diseases at bay.
    “Whenever, your child is not feeling well, don’t wait but go see a doctor immediately,” he advised.

    Smoke-free Malaysia very much in sight

    The Malay Mail

    blue ribbon campaign
    BREATH CHECK: Liow tests a carbon monoxide analyser at the launch of the Blue Ribbon Campaign — Pic: ASHRAF SHAMSUL AZLAN
    GROWING public support shows a strong desire to move towards a 100 per cent smoke-free environment, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai.
    Launching the Blue Ribbon Campaign yesterday at the Sunway Medical Centre, the health minister said 83.5 per cent of Malaysian adults supported an indoor smoking ban.
    “What we need to do now is move towards 100 per cent smoke free environment.
    "It is the only effective strategy to reduce exposure to tobacco smoke indoors to safe levels and to provide an acceptable level of protection from the dangers of second hand smoke exposure,” he said.