Friday, February 28, 2014

Rise In Fatalities Due To Dengue A Cause For Concern - Dr Subramaniam

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 (Bernama) -- Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam today expressed concern over the rising number of fatalities due to dengue fever with 29 deaths recorded from January till Feb 22. Dr Subramaniam said the figure was a 263 percent increase or eight fatalities more when compared with the same period last year. He said 16,383 dengue cases were reported from January to Feb 22, marking a 316 percent increase when compared with the same period last year.

 "For the eighth week (Feb 16 - Feb 22) of the year, four deaths were recorded, involving two women aged 34 and 37 plus two men aged 21 and 35 respectively, due to dengue fever complications," he said in a statement. Of the 580 localities identified as still active in 12 states, 354 localities were from Selangor followed by Negeri Sembilan with 66, Kuala Lumpur & Putrajaya (48), Johor (30), Perak (25) and Kelantan (23). Seven states registered an increase in the number of cases, namely Negeri Sembilan, Selangor, Perak, Sabah, Melaka, Kelantan and Sarawak, he said.

 "We intend to carry out gotong-royong after fogging but public cooperation is also important to help reduce the Aedes mosquito-breeding grounds. The public must cooperate with the authorities to destroy all possible Aedes breeding grounds," he said. -- BERNAMA

Tuesday, February 25, 2014

Foreigners taking up big share of medical subsidy

PUTRAJAYA: Foreigners are taking about 30% to 40% of the country’s entire allocation for medical treatment meant for Malaysians, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subra­maniam said.
“They are eating up our medical subsidy,” he said, adding that in most countries in Europe, foreigners were required to pay the actual cost.
The minister touched on the issue at a press conference after addressing the ministry’s monthly assembly here yesterday.
Last December, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya announced a plan to get foreigners, including students, to pay for their actual cost of medical treatment in government hospitals, not at a subsidised rate.
Dr Subramaniam said the plan was at the final stage, adding that it required some amendments to the Fees Act (Medical) 1951 for Foreigners.
“We are ironing out that part. I think we should be able to list down the new charges in the next few months,” he said.
The charges for foreigners seeking medical treatment in government hospitals was last reviewed in 2003.
Presently, foreign workers given outpatient specialist treatment are charged RM60 while for accident and emergency cases, the charge is RM50.
Those seeking outpatient follow-up treatment are charged RM60 while the charge for general outpatient treatment is RM15.
The charges are paid as registration fees.
Dr Subramaniam was not able to say what the new charges are.
“That is what we are trying to determine because it is the actual cost of the treatment,” he said.

Sunday, February 16, 2014

MMA Suggests Government Provide Free Abate To Prevent Dengue

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 16 (Bernama) -- The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) today suggested that the government provide abate free to all clinics, even those in the private sector, for distribution to the people as a means of preventing dengue.

MMA president Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan said the abate must be given out to all households and should be available at all health clinics.

"The government is giving out so many handouts and aid to Malaysians. This is one thing they should be doing and, if funds are enough, it should be made available in all government departments, especially post offices," he said in a statement.

Abate is a potent larvicide based on the active ingredient temephos that effectively manages a broad spectrum of nuisance and disease-causing insects, such as mosquitoes.

Dr Tharmaseelan pointed out that the government also should provide incentives and funds to non-governmental organisations to encourage them to organise 'gotong-royong' (self-help) clean-up on monthly basis, especially in dengue-prone areas.

He said the people also must assist the district councils and the state governments in playing a major role in the prevention of dengue, which could cause a big loss financially in health costs in addition to loss of precious lives.

"The community must spur clean-up activities in dengue-prone areas to reduce the increasing number of dengue cases in Malaysia annually," he said.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Malaysia reports nearly 10,000 dengue cases in first month of 2014 prompting use of biological agent BTI

The mosquito borne virus, dengue has started strong in Malaysia during the first month or so of 2014, with health officials reporting 9,453 and 17 deaths since Jan. 1, according to a recent Sun Daily report.
This compares to  2,559 cases and five deaths during the same time frame in 2013.
Deputy Director-General of Health (Public Health) Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman said the ministry has identified 594 denguehotspots in the country, with 115 in Selangor, Negri Sembilan, Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya.
The severe outbreak of dengue fever, at approximately 2,000 cases a week,  has prompted health officials to attempt to integrate the biological agent Bacillus thurin­giensis israelensis (BTI) into themosquito control strategy (See video report).
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subra­maniam said of BTI, “Instead of using just insecticide to kill the (adult) Aedes, we are now also fogging with a biological agent.”
BTI is a bacterium found naturally in soils, and has been used worldwide as a biological control agent to combat mosquitoes and black flies since 1982.
During the spore-forming stage of its life cycle, the bacterium produces a protein crystal which is toxic only to mosquito and black fly larvae.
These protein crystals will be lodged in the larvae’s digestive system when they are feeding.
When the crystals dissolve, they will liberate toxic protein molecules that start to attack the larvae’s stomach lining, causing the creature to die within days.
Several years ago, researchers used BTI in Malaysia during a severe dengue outbreak where they concluded, “a wide application of VectoBac WG at target larval habitats is able to provide control of dengue mosquito vectors”.
Dengue fever is an infectious disease carried by mosquitoes and caused by any of four related dengue viruses. This disease used to be called “break-bone fever” because it sometimes causes severe joint andmuscle pain that feels like bones are breaking.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates there may be 50–100 million dengue infectionsworldwide every year. However, new research from the University of Oxford and the Wellcome Trust, using cartographic approaches, estimate there to be 390 million dengue infections per year worldwide.
There are three types of dengue fever in order of less severe to most: the typical uncomplicated dengue fever, dengue hemorrhagic fever (DHS) and dengue shock syndrome (DSS).
There is not a vaccine for dengue fever. There is no treatment for dengue, just treat the symptoms.

Malaysia reports first H7N9 case outside China |

Health officials announced an H7N9 avian flu infection in Malaysia today, the first case detected outside of China, along with eight other newly confirmed cases—one in Hong Kong and seven more from the mainland.
The patients who are sick with H7N9 infections in Hong Kong and Malaysia had travel links to China's Guangdong province, one of the main hotspots of disease activity in the outbreak's second wave.
Today's new cases lift the number of H7N9 cases reported in the second wave, which began in October, to 211, compared with 136 reported during the first wave last spring. For both waves, the total is 347, according to a list of confirmed cases kept by FluTrackers. The unofficial death count remains at 72.

CDC: Malaysia case underscores surveillance priority

Malaysia's patient is a 67-year-old woman who was part of a tour group from Guangdong province, according to a report today from Bernama, Malaysia's national news agency. The group was visiting Sabah. The woman is being treated in the intensive care unit at a private hospital in Kota Kinabalu.
The country's health minister, Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam said it was the first H7N9 case reported in the country and that health officials are taking steps to limit contact with the patient.
The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) today issued a statement on the Malaysian H7N9 case, which said the agency has been expecting the detection of H7N9 cases exported from China, including the scenario of an infected traveler. It said the illness in a traveler to Malaysia doesn't change its risk assessment for the H7N9 virus.
The CDC said the most important element in gauging the public health threat is transmissibility, and so far there is no evidence of sustained, ongoing person-to-person spread of H7N9. It emphasized, however, that the case underscores how important international surveillance is for H7N9 and other viruses that have pandemic potential.
Human infections in China linked to poultry exposure are likely to continue, the CDC said, and the virus could spread to neighboring countries, where it could infect people who are exposed to poultry. The most worrisome development would be if the virus gained the ability to spread easily among people, a possibility that the CDC said it and other international health partners are closely monitoring.

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Public Needs To Stay Indoors If Sumatra's Volcanic Ashes Hit Malaysia - Health Ministry

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 11 (Bernama) -- The public is advised to stay indoors with all doors and windows closed if ashes from the volcanic eruption of Mount Sinabung in North Sumatea are carried by winds towards Malaysia.

Director-General of Health Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah also advised Malaysians to wear masks or using a cloth or a wet handkerchief as a respiratory protective device if the air is polluted.

"Children, elderly people and those who have medical problems should avoid or reduce outdoor activities during this time.

"People are also advised to drink plenty of water, frequently wash the face and other parts of the body that are exposed," he said in a statement here, today.

He also advised the public to refrain from driving in ashy conditions since it may be difficult due to poor visibility resulting in motor vehicle accidents.

Mount Sinabung has been in an eruptive state since Sept 15 and the latest eruption started on Jan 30 resulted in the release of hot ash in the air of the height of 5km.

Although the possibility of people in Malaysia to be exposed to the ash is low but it is likely to involve Malaysia, especially areas on the west coast and southern part of the peninsula.

Dr Noor Hisham said those who are exposed to the ash will experience various eye, nose, throat and skin symptoms.

He said people usually experience eye discomfort or irritation during and after ash fall, especially those using contact lenses.

He added that the ministry will continue to monitor the situation of the volcanic dust and advise those who suffer medical illnesses related to the ash to seek medical treatment from the nearest clinic or hospital.


Dengue deaths soar in Malaysia

Deaths from dengue fever have nearly tripled in Malaysia this year compared with the same period in 2013, sparking a stepped-up campaign to control the mosquitos that spread the virus.
As of this week, 22 people had died from dengue in 2014, compared to eight deaths over the same stretch last year, Health Minister S. Subramaniam told AFP yesterday.
While still early in the year, at the current pace the numbers would surpass 2010, the deadliest year on record, when 134 people died from an illness that the World Health Organisation calls one of the fastest-growing viral threats globally, especially in the tropics.
A total of 11,879 cases had been reported as of Monday, up nearly four-fold from the same period in 2013.
"I think the number of cases will increase," Subramaniam said.
"We urge the public to play their role. The spike in cases is putting a strain on our medical services," he said, calling on Malaysians to eliminate mosquito breeding sites such as standing water and garbage piles.
More than 43,000 cases were reported in 2013, with 92 deaths, up from 35 dead the year before.
"Every three to four years, we witness a peak in the cycle," Subramaniam said.
Dengue fever is a flu-like illness marked by symptoms including nausea, headache, and severe muscle and joint pain that gives rise to its nickname "break-bone fever".
In severe cases, it can cause internal bleeding, organ impairment, respiratory distress and death.
Dengue is transmitted by the Aedes aegypti mosquito, which can pick up the virus from an infected human and transmit it to the next person it bites.
According to the World Health Organisation, the disease may be infecting up to 50-100 million people each year.
There is no vaccine, so prevention focuses on mosquito control.
Malaysian authorities have stepped up a nationwide campaign to fumigate or eliminate mosquito breeding hotbeds in standing water, garbage dumps and construction sites.
This includes what authorities have called the first large-scale use in Malaysia of the biological agent bacillus thuringiensis israelensis, or BTI, a naturally-occurring bacterium used in insect control.
The government also has ordered local clinics in dengue "hot spot" areas – which have been concentrated in and around the capital Kuala Lumpur – to extend their operating hours to accommodate the roughly 2,000 new cases emerging weekly.
"Hot spot" residents also are being advised to wear long sleeves and use mosquito repellent.
Researchers estimate around three billion people live in regions of the world susceptible to dengue. – AFP, February 12, 2014.

Friday, February 07, 2014

Malaysians state of health worrying: Dr Hilmi

KUALA LUMPUR: Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya today expressed worry over the state of health of Malaysians, saying both government and private hospitals in the country recorded three million warded patients last year.
He said the figure was huge because it was more than 10 per cent of the total 27 million population of the country. 
"It is quite high and worrying and should be taken seriously by all the people.
Every individual must take steps to maintain his or her health because preventive care is cheaper than treatment," he said. 
Hilmi spoke to reporters after officiating at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Orion Healthcare Management Services Sdn Bhd and Angkatan Koperasi Kebangsaan Malaysia Berhad (Angkasa), here.  
Also present were Orion Healthcare Management chairman Datuk Dr Ma'amor Osman, Orion Healthcare Management CEO Kho Brandon and Angkasa president Datuk Abdul
Fattah Abdullah. Kho and Abdul Fattah signed the MoU, witnessed by Hilmi and Ma'amor.
Hilmi said good health not only contributed to national development but also helped the government save costs in terms of medical treatment. 
"The deteriorating health of the people had raised the government's medical treatment expenditure, from RM20 billion in 2013 to RM22 billion this year," he said. 
On the MoU, Hilmi said it was a collaboration between Orion Healthcare Management and Angkasa in creating awareness on the importance of medical examination for all members of cooperatives. 
Ma'amor said the collaboration enabled Orion Healthcare Management to provide information and health checks to about eight million members of cooperatives. - BERNAMA

Thursday, February 06, 2014

46,000 medical images wiped out in UMMC

KUALA LUMPUR (Feb 4, 2014): Some 46,000 electronic images of X-rays and scans of patients at University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC) have been lost during a migration process from the old computer system to a new one.
As a result, some patients may be left in the lurch as their old medical information dating back to 2000 are unavailable.
The problem arose over the last two years when an American multi-national company, given the task of migrating a few million images of patients to the new system, lost the 46,000 images.
In an immediate reaction, the Health Ministry has asked UMMC to conduct an internal investigation to determine the cause of the computer foul-up.
However, UMMC director Professor Datuk Dr Ikram Shah Ismail said millions of images taken between 2000 and 2010 were safe and that the images lost were only a small fraction of the total.
He said the hospital is identifying other possible sources where the information could have been saved.
"It is very unfortunate that the problem arose as the back-up hard disc overworked and failed. The company had to copy the images in a temporary hard disc and then convert them to the new format. It was during this migration that we lost the images," he told theSun.
He said the images did not involve patients who came for the first time after 2010.
"Till today, we have not received any complaints from doctors or patients on the issue. I believe the doctors use recent or current images to do comparisons and treat patients."
Meanwhile, Deputy Director-General of Health (Medical) Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai said the loss is worrying as any form of electronic record- keeping must have sufficient safeguards to ensure a secure back-up.
The back-up, he said, was important to counter any form of hacking or records being accidentally deleted. He said medical records are vital for doctors to manage and treat their patients efficiently and effectively.
On the next course of action, he said UMMC should try its best to recover the lost images while conducting its internal investigation.
"This is important so as to give patients a valid explanation," he added.

‘We are a very sick nation’

KUALA LUMPUR: The nation’s state of health deteriorating. Last year alone 3 million people were warded in private and government hospitals.
And the government’s medical bill shot up from RM20 billion in 2013 to RM22 billion this year.
Deputy Health Minister  Dr Hilmi Yahaya said people being warded was huge because it was more than 10 per cent of the total 27 million population of the country.
“It is quite high and worrying and should be taken seriously by all the people.
” Every individual must take steps to maintain his or her health because preventive care is cheaper than treatment,” he said.
Hilmi said good health not only contributed to national development but also helped the government save costs in terms of medical treatment.
Hilmi spoke to reporters after officiating at the signing of a memorandum of understanding between Orion Healthcare Management Services Sdn Bhd and Angkatan Koperasi Kebangsaan Malaysia Berhad (Angkasa), here.
On the MoU, Hilmi said it was a collaboration between Orion Healthcare Management and Angkasa in creating awareness on the importance of medical examination for all members of cooperatives.
The collaboration will enable Orion Healthcare Management to provide information and health checks to about eight million members of cooperatives.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Diabetes to hit 1 in 5 Malaysian adults by 2020

PETALING JAYA, Feb 3 — If the disturbing increase in the number of non-communicable diseases (NCDs, including diabetes, hypertension and heart disease) is left uncontrolled, Malaysia is likely to be burdened with an unhealthy population, according to a health ministry expert.
The ministry’s public health specialist Dr Feisul Idzwan Mustapha said this burden will affect productivity and would have a negative impact on the country’s socio-economic development, which can possibly delay the progress in achieving developed country status by year 2020.
“Based on the results of the National health and Morbidity Surveys the prevalence of diabetes could be 21.6 per cent for adults by 2020,” he said.
Dr Feisul, who is from the Ministry’s NCD section, said the impact can be seen now, as an increasing number of patients with diabetes are seeking treatment at government clinics.
Meanwhile, there is an increase hospital admissions due to complications from diabetes, heart attacks and strokes.
Dr Feisul said individuals and communities need to take responsibility for their health.
“Excess food intake and a decrease in physical activity has caused the increasing trend of obesity among Malaysians,” he said.
Dr Feisul said the local governments and the Ministry of Youth and Sports would have to look into promoting the use of available and accessible facilities for exercise to increase the level of physical activity among Malaysians.
“The police department will also take part in personal safety for protection from personal harm, while people are out exercising,” he said.
Though Dr Feisul said behavioural change does not come easily, “pro-health” policies are needed to create a supportive living environment to achieve positive changes.
“Many policies and regulations on promoting a healthy environment lie outside the responsibility of the ministry.
“Therefore, we want the support of other ministries and stakeholders outside of the health sector in changing communities’ behaviour,” he said.