Tuesday, April 29, 2014

CARE to educate Malaysians on AED

KUALA LUMPUR: Citizen’s Action and Response in Emergencies (CARE) will extend its citizens education programme on cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) to include training in using the automated external defibrillator (AED), to save lives. CARE founder Dr Steven Chow in a press statement yesterday said Malaysians should be educated on managing this issue because in the event of a cardiac arrest, the odds of survival for an individual plummeted by seven to 10 per cent per minute if not cared for.

“AED is important to be made readily available with the necessary training provided to the public because proper use of the AED will enable a dysfunctional heart to revert to a normal heartbeat for a sudden heart attack victim,” he said. AED is a portable device that checks the heart rhythm and send an electric shock to the heart to try restore a normal rhythm and it is used to treat sudden cardiac arrests. Cardiovascular disease contributes 30 per cent of medically certified deaths in Malaysia. CARE has taught as many as 1,000 medical services staff on how to conduct CPR.

CARE was set up by the Federation of Private Medical Practitioners Association of Malaysia (FPMPAM) and St John’s Ambulance of Malaysia (SJAM) as an outreach programme to train Malaysians to be able to respond appropriately and assist others in times of crisis. — Bernama

Sunday, April 27, 2014

Dr Subramaniam: Health ministry analysing ‘smoke candies’

BUTTERWORTH, April 26 — The Health Ministry is analysing candies looking like cigarettes that are being sold outside school premises, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam. 

“If they are found to contain substances harmful to health, we will take action.
“Such candies also cannot be sold in the form of cigarette packaging. Anyone preparing, packing and labelling food products falsely face action under the Food Act 1983,” he told reporters after launching a MySihat India 1Malaysia programme here today.
Dr Subramaniam was responding to media reports today on the sale of such candies, also known as “smoke candy”, which were sold in packs that looked like those of international brand cigarettes.
Members of the public had complained it would encourage children to take up smoking.
On another matter, Dr Subramaniam said he had discussed with Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Jamil Khir Baharom on measures that could be taken to protect Malaysian pilgrims going to the Holy Land from being infected by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus (MERS-CoV).
He said the pilgrims needed to take additional precautions and need not be unduly worried as both Malaysia and Saudi Arabia had the best available healthcare facilities.
“It is possible the virus is present in camels. And from there it could have spread to humans. To spread from human to human is not something easy, it requires very close contact,” he said.
Yesterday the minister had announced that there had been no new MERS-CoV cases in the country since the death of a man due to the disease on April 13.
The 54-year-old man from Batu Pahat, Johor died at the Sultanah Nora Ismail after complaining of fever, cough and breathing difficulty.
He had returned from performing the umrah (minor haj) on March 29.
It was the first reported MERS-CoV case in Asean. — Bernama

Friday, April 25, 2014

MMA says would seek axe for docs who amputate under hudud

KUALA LUMPUR, April 24 — The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) today vowed it will seek to disqualify surgeons who perform the unethical amputations on criminals convicted under hudud in Kelantan.
Datuk Dr NKS Tharmaseelan, the MMA president, criticised the Kelantan government’s plans to have surgeons to perform amputations on criminal offenders convicted under the strict Islamic penal code.
“I implore the Kelantan government to rethink getting surgeons to do the ‘menial’ task of implementing a law that is against medical ethics and practice,” he said in a statement.
As the World Health Organisation (WHO) has told doctors not to be a witness or certify the whipping and caning of criminals, Tharmaseelan said the amputation of criminals’ limbs would be even more “serious”.
“Asking a surgeon to perform amputation is far more serious and definitely is opposed by the MMA,” he said.
Tharmaseelan stressed that doctors are bound by their professional ethics to do no harm.
He said any surgeons who carry out amputations under hudud risk being ejected from the profession, as the MMA would report them to the Malaysian Medical Council for breach of ethics.
“This may lead to him being expelled from the medical register as a doctor. The MMA will also take action against him, and expel him from the association,” he added.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Home based healthcare services in the planning, says Subra

GOMBAK: As part of the efforts to beef up public health services, the Health Ministry will be providing after-hospital home care services to patients suffering from chronic diseases.
Its Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam (pic) said on Thursday that it would target at 60 locations nationwide to provide the services.
For a start, they need an additional 600 staff members for the domiciliary care, he said.
"We are preparing the master plan, which we hope to complete by the end of this year," he said in a press conference after a ceremony to officiate the opening of the Batu 8 Gombak health clinic, which was upgraded from a community clinic.
Dr Subramaniam said the Ministry would focus on enhancing public health delivery system in the next four years and would do it through several approaches.
He said it would include providing the home care services to patients suffering from chronic diseases.
As part of the service, a stroke patient needing long-term rehabilitative care, for instance, would receive continued care after he was discharged from hospital.
"The hospital can't keep the patient for too long and this is where care is continued in the community, " he said.

Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Malaysia Moves to Contain Deadly MERS Virus

Malaysian health officials inspecting villagers who had contact with a man who died from the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) disease in Batu Pahat, Johor, on April 18.
European Pressphoto Agency
Authorities have tracked down nearly 200 people in Malaysia, including passengers of two Turkish AirlinesTHYAO.IS +0.88%flights, who came into contact with a man who recently died from a deadly viral disease from the Middle East.
The 54-year-old man who died on April 13 contracted Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, or MERS, while on a pilgrimage to Saudi Arabia. His death was the first MERS death recorded in Southeast Asia. As of Sunday, no new case of the virus had been detected in Malaysia, said health authorities.
‎All of the 197 people identified by authorities have been asked to monitor their health for two weeks for symptoms, such as fever, cough and breathing problems, said Noor Hisham Abdullah, director-general of Malaysia’s Health Ministry.
The deceased victim developed similar ailments before eventually succumbing to severe pneumonia.
Those who’ve been identified by authorities are not under formal quarantine and were told to seek help should they develop symptoms.
The ministry will “continue to monitor the situation,” Mr. Noor Hisham said, stressing that authorities have carried out prevention and control measures “at every level.”
Earlier, authorities put 64 people in the deceased man’s home village of Kampung Bintang Laut, in Malaysia’s southern state of Johor, under close surveillance. The authorities have not released the name of the victim.
None of those tested so far have been positive for the MERS infection, Mr. Noor Hisham added.

Monday, April 21, 2014

No new cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome

KUALA LUMPUR, April 20 — No new cases of the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome — Corona Virus (MERS-CoV) have been detected until today, said Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.
In a statement today, he said no clusters of MERS-CoV infection were reported nationwide making the permanent cumulative total as one case of death.
“There was no positive infection of MERS-CoV from 79 samples taken from those who had close contact or no close contact with the victim,” he said.
Dr Hisham also said all 17 members of the group in the same umrah (visit to holy land) package as the victim were found to be healthy and did not show any symptoms and had been confirmed free of the virus.
Yesterday, it was reported that an examination of 15 umrah-goers who returned from the holy land with the man who was confirmed to have died of MERS-CoV, showed they were not infected.
On April 13, a 54-year-old man from Batu Pahat, Johor died at the Sultanah Nora Ismail Hospital from acute pneumonia after being infected with MERS-CoV.
The victim returned to Malaysia on March 29 and complained of fever, cough and breathing difficulties after 10 days and was admitted on April 10.
Dr Noor Hisham urged the public visiting the Middle East to boost their level of cleanliness by washing their hands often with soap or hand sanitisers especially after coughing, sneezing and shaking hands.
He also suggested that the public put on mouth and nose masks and to stay away from the sick, eating raw food, unwashed fruits or drinking untreated water during such visits.
Tour agencies specifically those handling umrah and haj packages were also urged to boost awareness on the virus. 
More information on MERS-CoV developments can be obtained at the Health Ministry’s website. — Bernama  

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Policyholders to pay more for coverage

PETALING JAYA: Faced with higher claims from rising medical costs, many insurance companies have increased their charges and premiums by up to 20%.
National Association of Malaysian Life Insurance Field Force and Advisers (Namlifa) deputy president Kho Chui Ing said most companies had adjusted their charges and premiums for medical, health and investment-linked policies over the last few months to cope with medical inflation.
“Some companies are offering policy upgrades and at the same time increasing premiums while others just raise the existing policy charges and premiums,” he said, adding that insurance companies only needed to issue a 30-day written notice to policyholders for the hike to take effect.
Policyholders must comply with the new rates or risk their policy lapsing.
Admitting that agents have a tough time explaining the increases, Kho said Namlifa had a duty to protect the welfare of its 12,000 members and policyholders.
“We are also policyholders and we too have to pay the same rates for the same benefits as our clients. Policyholders have to see what is causing the inflation and solve that rather than get angry with the insurance companies and agents.
“Even hawkers are raising their prices insisting it’s not by choice but a necessity as ingredients are expensive,” he said, adding that Namlifa would engage with Bank Negara to ensure a more sustainable growth for the industry.
Prudential Assurance Malaysia Berhad (PAMB) recently notified its policyholders that the PRUmajor med plans (PMM) premiums and charges would be increased effective from the individual’s policy anniversary date. PMM is a medical and hospitalisation rider that is attached to investment-linked insurance plans (known as PRUlink plans) offered by PAMB.
PAMB CEO Philip Seah said only those with a PMM plan attached to their investment-linked policies were included in the revision.
He said the percentage of increase varied from individual to individual, depending on the type of plan. Any revision was only made after taking into consideration the rising costs and frequency of people seeking treatment. This was to ensure that policyholders continued to enjoy medical coverage in the long run.
“We’ve increased the lifetime limit of all PMM plans to ensure that policyholders are able to cope with rising medical inflation,” he said, adding that medical inflation in Malaysia was currently about 10% yearly and projected to continue rising.
In December, the Government allowed a maximum 14.4% rise in private medical fees – almost half of the 30% requested by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).
General Insurance Association of Malaysia (PIAM) chairman Chua Seck Guan said medical and health insurance, which accounted for RM920mil of the sector’s total market share last year, was projected to grow as demand in the healthcare sector increased in line with the country’s development as a medical hub.
MMA president Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan said insurance companies should control wasteful expenditure by hospitals instead of increasing premiums. They should also be “eagle-eyed” when presented with hospital bills and speak up when they are overcharged.
“(Instead) they take the easy way out by arm-twisting doctors to lower their fees,” he said.
Fomca secretary-general Datuk Paul Selvaraj said insurance companies should not hold consumers to ransom because health insurance was a necessity.
“Any increase should only be on new or upgraded policies and policyholders must be given an option whether or not they want the extra benefits. If they are happy with the present coverage, insurance companies should not force them to pay more,” he said

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Public Urged To Take Precautions Against MERS

KUALA LUMPUR, April 18 (Bernama) -- The public has been urged to take precautionary measures to prevent respiratory illness following the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (MERS-CoV) outbreak.

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) President Datuk Dr N.K.S Tharmaseelan said there was no need for anyone to change their travel plans because of MERS.

However, he said travelers to countries in or near the Middle East should follow standard precautions.

"People should wash their hands more frequently and avoiding people who are ill and cover their noses and mouths when they cough or sneeze.

"If they develop a fever and symptoms of lower respiratory illness, such as cough or shortness of breath, within 14 days after travelling from countries in the Middle East or neighboring countries, they should see healthcare provider and mention their recent trips," he said in a statement, in Kuala Lumpur, Friday.

On Wednesday, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam confirmed the death of a man on April 13 from MERS-CoV, the first such case reported in Asia.

The man had just returned from performing the 'umrah' (minor Haj).

MERS belongs to a family of viruses known as coronaviruses that include both the common cold and SARS, or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which killed some 800 people in a global outbreak in 2003.

MERS can cause symptoms such as fever, breathing problems, pneumonia and kidney failure.


Wednesday, April 16, 2014

First-ever MERS case detected in Johor

PUTRAJAYA: The first case of death caused by the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-coronavirus (MERS-CoV) in Asia has killed a Malaysian man who developed respiratory complications after returning from Mecca.
The 54-year-old man, from Batu Pahat, Johor, had arrived in Malaysia on March 29 after performing the umrah.
He died on Apr 13 after being admitted to the Hospital Sultanah Nora Ismail for three days, following complaints of fever, cough and breathing difficulties.
Passengers onboard the Turkish Airlines flights TK93 and TK60 on the Jeddah-Istanbul-Kuala Lumpur route on March 29 are urged to contact the Health Ministry for a health screening, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
The MERS-CoV was first detected in the Middle East in 2012, but researchers have yet to determine its cause.
The World Health Organization has recorded 238 cases of the disease and 92 deaths related to the MERS-CoV globally to date.

LONG-TERM CARE: Health Ministry wants families to choose their own doctors

KUALA LUMPUR: THE government is promoting the assignment of doctors to patients as a long-term measure to better manage a person's healthcare throughout his or her lifetime.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the plan would require patients to be registered to a doctor of their choice, either in a public or private sector facility, to prevent the occurrence of doctor-hopping and patients seeking suspected quick cures.
He said the move would enable healthcare providers to have their patients' complete medical records from "womb to tomb".
"A long-term relationship between doctors and patients is imperative to manage health issues better. This would help in building trust and foster mutual partnerships in maintaining health," he said in his address at the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute's Healthcare Forum here yesterday.
Subramaniam said the plan would require families to register themselves with a primary healthcare provider of their choice, as this would enable the doctor to know their entire health history.
In this regard, he said, many people no longer value the concept of "family doctors" to manage their health needs over a lifetime.
"People are more likely to go doctor-hopping in search of quick cures and seek specialist services even before their problem is assessed holistically. There is an over-focus on curative care."
Subramaniam said the trend is far less effective in tackling long-term chronic illnesses, such as high blood pressure, diabetes, asthma or lifestyle problems.
On a related matter, he said the ministry has stepped up efforts to empower communities to take more responsibility for their health.
"The current and next Malaysia Plan will continue to focus on prevention and promotion of healthcare. Individual and community empowerment will also be emphasised to reduce exposure to non-communicable disease risk factors."
On the issue of overcrowding at government health facilities, Subramaniam said: "The ministry is preparing a Healthcare Facility Master Plan to overcome hospital congestion and to better locate new hospitals in the areas where they are most needed."

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Cheaper nuclear medical technology when centre completed says Nuclear Agency DG

KOTA BARU: Malaysians will have access to cheaper nuclear medical technology when the high-capacity cyclotron centre in Bangi, Selangor is completed in three years time.
Nuclear Agency director-general Datuk Dr Muhamad Lebai Juri said the RM240 million 30 MeV (Mega electron Volt) facility would be able to produce more radioisotopes to treat chronic illnesses such as brain and bone cancer.
"The cyclotron is used for medical imaging, radio diagnostic and radiotherapy as well as the production of radioisotopes for diagnosis and treatment.
"The radioisotopes we produce now is limited to detecting and treating only a few cancers such as breast and liver cancers," he said after opening the 36th Medical Imaging Seminar here Sunday.
He said so far in Asia only Japan and South Korea had the latest technology and Malaysia had only four low-capacity cyclotrons at 18 MeV with one of them a government facility and the rest in private hospitals.
"The rich may afford more choices in treatment abroad. A single dose could cost as much as RM7,000 not including other treatments.
"We hope to provide people with more comprehensive and cheaper medical facilities with this new centre," he said. -Bernama

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Health Ministry to correct shortcomings highlighted in A-G’s report

 PETALING JAYA, April 9 — In a swift response to weaknesses listed out in the 2013 Auditor-General’s Report, the Health Ministry has vowed to take appropriate action to serve the people better. “The ministry takes seriously officers who make incorrect decisions. They will be investigated,” said secretary-general Datuk Farida Mohd Ali in a press statement. “Efforts will be made to ensure better decisions are made in the future.” With regards to the biomedical engineering maintenance services (BEMS), she said while limited allocation made it difficult for the ministry to replace equipment that was beyond their age, the ministry always had comprehensive plans for replacement by stages. “Medical equipment that exceeded their time period and 7not safe for use will be destroyed,” she said. It had been reported some equipment exceeded their “prescribed economic age” by between one and 23 years. On additional agreements signed late by between 123 and 2,286 days, she said it was because the asset registration process was finalised after the ministry obtained documentation for fees to be paid. She said as to better this, the project implementer was required to submit a list of assets and systems and detailed costing to hasten the process. “Besides this, registration of new assets will be done three months before the project handover date and it is included in the contract,” she said. On the overpayment and underpayment of fees, it has been agreed that streamlining of payment for additional or lessening of assets is done every January and July as it was found to be more profitable for government and practical as it involved more hospitals and assets. 

Regarding the loss of 482 assets at Hospital Tengku Ampuan Rahimah and Hospital Tuanku Fauziah, police reports have been made for 218 assets, 37 were recovered, 218 destroyed, three moved to clinics and six were in the process of being destroyed. Among matters mentioned in a press statement, the ministry said it would investigate the Hospital Sultan Abdul Halim officer who received a shipment of raw chicken, delivered at 31 degrees Celcius and the supplier. The ministry, it said, had ensured steps like the delay of thawing at the supplier’s end, vehicles were equipped with refrigeration by suppliers and specific delivery times for unloading to ensure the meat was at the specified temperature of not more than five degree Celcius. On the issue of the supply contracts for wet food, done via open tender, it said it would evaluate and only choose suitable candidates who had documentation and followed value for money and economy of scale principles. With regards to the Klinik 1Malaysia understaffing which led to a payout of RM1.39 million for overtime in four states for three years, it said there were 158 vacancies filled by existing staff from nearby clinics and was found to have saved the ministry payment by 60 per cent compared to paying for emolument of permanent staff. This practice, it said, would continue until the vacancies were filled but would not be for the long-term as it could affect staff performance. On the allocation of food baskets meant for undernourished children, it said it would strengthen its monitoring processes and an internal investigation was being carried out.

Health Ministry halts construction works amid spike in dengue cases

PETALING JAYA, April 10 — Construction work in 14 sites in the Petaling district has been put on hold by the Health Ministry after they were found to have 165 mosquito breeding spots. This follows the revelation that almost all dengue cases reported in Selangor were from the Petaling district alone. Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said there were 14,905 dengue cases in Selangor, with 6,083 or 42 per cent of them in Petaling, as of Monday. There have been 26,658 cases nationwide this year. He told a press conference yesterday the 14 construction sites were inspected by Selangor health officers under Operasi Gempur Tapak Bina Khas on Tuesday. “All works at the sites have been suspended for five days and notices were given to developers and construction companies,” he said. Besides the construction sites, the Health Ministry had also determined the population density in the district was one of the reasons for the high number of dengue cases. “The district is big and has a population of over two million people,” Dr Subramaniam said. Another reason highlighted was the multi-storey buildings in the area, specifically low-cost flats such as Mentari Court. “Some of the buildings have uneven floors, especially in parking areas, and are perfect breeding grounds for mosquitos,” he said. Dr Subramaniam said the residents were not cooperative with the ministry’s efforts to tackle this issue and that some breeding grounds were within the houses themselves. “If the residents don’t let us into their homes to conduct checks, we are not able to take the necessary actions,” he said. Dr Subramaniam also said there were a few issues to be brought to the Federal Cabinet’s attention. “The maintenance of low-cost flats and managing of construction sites need additional attention,” he said. Guidelines would be provided after discussions with responsible parties to ensure cleanliness and the prevention of mosquito breeding grounds. 

Under the Destruction of Disease-Bearing Insects Act 1975 (Section 25), building owners can be fined RM500 if the Aedes mosquito larvae is found on their premises. Under Section 23 of the same Act, a person may be fined RM10,000 or sentenced to two years’ jail for the first offence and repeat offenders will be fined RM50,000 or jailed for five years. - See more at: http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/construction-works-halted-amid-spike-in-dengue-cases-says-health-minister#sthash.zXnMvTkh.dpuf

Tuesday, April 08, 2014

Health Ministry bans two slimming products

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has advised consumers not to buy and use two unregistered slimming products found to contain the scheduled poison sibutramine.

The two slimming products are Collagen Slim and Beautiful Slim Body, used for beauty and slimming, sold widely via the internet.

MOH senior director of Pharmaceutical Services, Datuk Eisah Abdul Rahman said tests conducted by the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau (NPCB ) found that Collagen Slim contains excessive dose of sibutramine.

"Sibutramine is a controlled drug used for the treatment of obesity. All medicine containing sibutramine has been withdrawn registration on Dec 23, 2012 for increased risk of cardiovascular disease," she said in a statement.

Among other side effects include increased heart rate, blood pressure, dry mouth and throat, vomiting, diarrhoea, headache and sleeping difficulty. - Bernama

63 deaths from dengue from January to April 4 this year

Sixty-three deaths from dengue fever were recorded nationwide for the period January 1 to April 4 this year, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam (pic).
He said 26,107 cases of dengue fever were reported nationwide during the period, and if no preventive measures were taken, it could be a major threat to the community and nation.
"In this regard, in conjunction with World Health Day this year, I hope that Malaysians will be more awarene of the threat of dengue, especially the Aedes mosquito, the bearer of a dangerous disease which can kill," he said in a statement in Putrajaya, today.
World Health Day is celebrated with the theme "Small Bite, Big Threat" in reference to the Aedes mosquito.
The World Health Organisation has estimated that more than 2.5 billion or 40% of the world's population are at risk of being infected with dengue and 50 million to 100 million dengue infections are expected each year.
"This clearly shows that dengue fever has become a major burden to the world and showing a very prolific rate of increase," it said. – Bernama, April 7, 2014.

Friday, April 04, 2014

Authorities perplexed by spike in TB cases among the young

KUCHING: The number of young people suffering from tuberculosis (TB) in the state of late is said to be on the rise, which is puzzling the authorities. Assistant Minister of Public Health Datuk Dr Jerip Susil said this is a cause of concern because people in the younger age group are believed to have stronger immune system. “What is more alarming now is not the increase in the number of cases reported but what worries us is why there has been more and more young TB patients nowadays when in the old days the disease was common only among the older people,” he said. Without giving any figure, Dr Jerip said this new trend was a cause of worry because apparently the vaccination programme for children was not ineffective in protecting them against the contagious disease. “The vaccination programme is to make our immune system and antibodies stronger. That is why young people usually have greater resistance to sicknesses but now that the number of TB cases is more alarming among young patients we really don’t know what is wrong with our vaccination programme,” he said.

He told The Borneo Post this when asked to comment on the statement by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam in Kuala Lumpur on Monday that TB was the main cause of death under the contagious disease category last year, with a 13 per cent increase in the number of cases. He said 1,597 cases of TB-related deaths were reported nationwide last year – an increase of 183 cases compared to 1,414 deaths reported in 2012. Nevertheless, it was not revealed how many of the deaths were reported in the state, but Dr Jerip, who is Bengoh assemblyman, said overall the disease in the state was still under control although there was an increase in the number of cases reported last year as compared to the previous year.

According to him, there were 2,430 cases in 2012 while last year it was 2,673, an increase of nine per cent. He explained that the increase could be due to two factors. “The first one is there could have been some actual increase while the other factor could be due to the greater efforts made to control and prevent the spread of TB among the people,” he said.