Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Six get new lease of life

PETALING JAYA: Six patients on long term dialysis who are on the national waiting list were given a new lease of life when they became recipients of kidneys.
In disclosing this to theSun, Kuala Lumpur General Hospital (KLGH) nephrology head department Datuk Dr Ghazali Ahmad said the donors were an Australian, Shelley Elizabeth Mahoney, and the rest Malaysians – two from Klang, one from Kota Baru and another from KLGH.
The six patients, among 18,000 on the national waiting list for organ transplant, underwent kidney transplants within the last few days.
Ghazali said two kidneys were from Mahoney, following her family's decision to withdraw her life support after having sustained irreversible brain injuries in a boating accident on June 30.
Another donor was a Malay police officer from Kota Baru who had been certified brain dead earlier due to an infection which damaged his brain.
"By 5.30am, two kidneys were retrieved from him and by daylight, the kidneys were making their way to KLGH for transplant. The team of surgeons, nephrologists (and) transplant coordinators were literally parked (at the) hospital.
Giving the thumbs-up to the entire team and all those who coordinated the transplants, Ghazali said: "These officers gave their best at odd and challenging hours, doing things beyond their normal call of duty like an ER (emergency) team handling a crisis situation during public disasters."
"The only difference is the fact that patients were coming to the hospital with high hopes and anticipation of getting the organs. They were hopeful of permanent relief from the lifelong dialysis procedure.
He concluded that such courageous acts are needed as there are still plenty of patients in need of organs.
"While the country is still reeling in shock in the aftermath of the MH17 incident, when hopes are dashed and despair fills the air, the selfless sacrifice by the grieving family of five individuals … (the donors) were magnanimous in their intention and acts, for they gave rise to new hopes for a better life to the six patients who benefitted from the donated kidneys," said Ghazali.

3,142 dengue cases reported last week

PUTRAJAYA: A total of 3,142 dengue fever cases were reported last week (Week 29), the highest number reported for this year.
Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah(pix) said it was an increase of 978 cases or 45 per cent compared to 2,164 cases the previous week.
"This brings the total number of cases this year to 51,987 compared to 14,755 in the corresponding period last year, an increase of almost 100 percent.
"A total of 94 deaths were reported compared to only 29 deaths last year, an increase of 65 deaths or 224 per cent," he said at a meeting with media practitioners, here today.
The public have been urged to maintain a clean environment, dispose waste properly and destroy mosquito breeding ground to check the rise of dengue cases.
States active in Communication Behaviour (Combi) projects such as Negeri Sembilan, Johor and Melaka had been effective in reducing dengue cases.
"Fogging only kills adult mosquitoes. Breeding grounds for mosquitoes must be destroyed to ensure mosquitoes do not breed in the home environment."
The Ministry of Health had issued compound totalling RM4.5 million nationwide this year on premises owners for breeding mosquitoes.
Dr Noor Hisham said inspections were carried out on a total of 2.5 million premises in which first offenders were compounded RM500.
"Second offenders can be charged in court and fined RM10,000 while repeat offenders can be fined RM50,000 or two years' jail."
He said 80 to 90 per cent of 800 construction sites in Selangor and Federal Territory were found to be Aedes positive.
The offenders were compounded, taken to court and had their operation closed until the areas were cleaned. – Bernama

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Government to carry out feasibility study on dengue vaccine

PETALING JAYA: The Government will carry out a feasibility study on a proposed dengue vaccine that is expected to hit the shelves next year, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam. 
He said the ministry was eagerly waiting for the vaccine, which was announced by a private company on Friday and would first be made available to endemic countries.
“This is indeed an exciting news for the ministry and steps have been planned ahead in looking into the feasibility of the dengue vaccine in Malaysia.
“Data analysis and a review on the dengue vaccine will be done by a team of health experts based on the finding of the clinical evidences and the current scientific literature,” he said in a statement Saturday.
Dr Subra said depending on the findings of the study, the ministry would consider the dengue vaccine as a method to prevent the spread of the disease in the country. 
On Friday, it was reported that the vaccine had registered increasing effectiveness during trials in Malaysia, Indonesia, Vietnam and Philippines.
Produced by French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur, the vaccine is touted as the world’s first and is said to be able to boost a person’s pre-existing immunity rather than protective immunity.
However, experts maintain that the results of the trials are promising, but not yet perfect.

Sunday, July 06, 2014

Health Ministry seizes RM12.4mil male sex stimulants

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry seized RM12.4mil worth of "male health supplements" from a store at KL International Airport.
Director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the raid was conducted on June 6 at the store located at the International Free Trade Zone hub.
He said 181 types of medication, were confiscated, mostly generic medication for erectile dysfunction such as sildenafil and tadalafil.
Also confiscated was generic medication to treat high cholesterol, high blood pressure and antibiotics.
“The distribution of the medicines was led by syndicates in India, Singapore and Malaysia. Orders for the medication were made online via a site with a London domain,” said Noor Hisham in a statement.
He said the Singapore company would place orders with Indian manufacturers who would then send the medication to the Malaysian hub, which was also a packing facility.
The Indian company would also send details of the customers, mostly from United States.
The medication would be sent to the United States from Malaysia in packages marked as “Health Supplements."
“The syndicate has been operating in Malaysia since the middle of March and was sending more than 1000 packages everyday,” said Noor Hisham.
He said the Malaysian staff were trained to check emails, choose and label the medications before they were packed and subsequently couriered out.
Noor Hisham said the medications were illegal under the Poisons Act 1952 and Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations 1984 and Malaysia Copyright Act 1987 because some medication for erectile dysfunction were still under patent.
“Further investigations will be carried out and individuals and companies found to be in the wrong will be charged in court,” he said.

Better prospects to lure doctors to Sarawak

KUCHING: The Health Ministry will fight for more perks for specialist doctors serving in Sarawak to attract more doctors from Peninsular Malaysia to serve in government hospitals in the state.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S Subramaniam said this was one of the approaches his ministry was looking into, to address the shortage of specialist doctors in the state.

“As an immediate and short term measure to attract doctors to come and serve in Sarawak we are trying to create more senior posts because we believe with better incentives, more doctors from Peninsular Malaysia will be interested to come and work here.

“However, we need to bring this matter to the attention of the Public Service Commission (PSC) and Public Service Department (PSD) because it involved existing policies,” he said.

He stated this at a media conference during his working visit to Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here yesterday.

Subramaniam said the long term measure to address the shortage of specialists faced by Sarawak hospitals was to create more opportunities for students from Sarawak to go into medical studies.

“This was among the challenges conveyed to me by the State Health Department top management. We are aware of the problems and I have discussed it at the ministry level and we will look into it,” he added.

He said there were 213 posts for specialists in the state and 93 per cent of them had been filled.

“Overall I am satisfied with the quality of services in Sarawak because despite all the challenges such as poor communication in certain parts of the state the rate of maternal and infant mortality reported in the state had been very low,” he noted.

Subramaniam assured that the government would continue to improve the facilities at Sarawak General Hospital, including building the long overdue multi- storey car park.

“Some of the projects have already been completed, some still on-going and others are yet to start. All are aimed at providing better health care services to the people here.

“In addition Petra Jaya Hospital project has started and the 300-bed hospital is expected to be operational by middle of 2016. When completed, it will complement SGH which has 900 beds. With a total of 1,200 beds the two hospitals should be able to cater for the needs of the people in the city.

During his visit to SGH yesterday the minister had a dialogue session with the medical officials and staff prior to the media conference. He later visited the patients at one of the wards in SGH.

Among those present at the occasion was State Health director Dr Zulkifli Jantan and other senior officers.

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

Health Ministry says 16 Japanese Encephalitis cases since January

Health Ministry says 16 Japanese Encephalitis cases since January
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said there has been a total of 16 Japanese Encephalitis cases this year. — Picture by Choo Choy MayGEORGE TOWN, June 30 — A total of 16 Japanese Encephalitis (JE) cases has been reported nationwide since the start of the year, including four deaths, according to the Health Ministry.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said of the 16 cases, eight were in Sarawak, four in Sabah, two in Penang and one each in Selangor and Kelantan.
Of the four deaths, two were in Sabah and one each from Selangor and Kelantan.
“The ministry received a report of a JE case from a private hospital in Penang on June 27 where the 12-year-old boy was a student of a primary school in northern Seberang Perai but lives in Padang Serai, Kedah,” he said in an official statement issued today.
He revealed that the student first received medical treatment at two private clinics on May 16 after suffering from headache, nausea and vomiting before he was warded in a government hospital on May 18 for suspected meningitis.
On May 21, the boy’s condition worsened and he was intubated to assist in his breathing and on the same day, he was transferred to a private hospital in Bayan Baru, Penang for further treatment.
He was discharged on June 17 but he was unable to talk or walk due to the infection and on June 26, he was warded into the Intensive Care Unit (ICU).
Subramaniam said the results of tests on blood samples taken on May 23 was released on June 27 confirmed that the boy had JE.
“The Penang Health Department and Kedah Health Department had conducted investigations into the case especially around the boy’s school in north Seberang Perai and his house in Padang Serai, Kedah.
Amongst the preventive measures conducted included testing other residents and students for JE symptoms and conducting fogging to destroy mosquito breeding sites.
“So far, we find that the 715 students in the boy’s school did not show any symptoms of suffering from JE and the residents in the area are also symptom-free,” he said.
The Health Ministry also cooperated with the respective state’s veterinary departments to check for JE infections.
“Based on our investigations on the JE case in Penang, we suspect that it stemmed from the patient being exposed to mosquitoes with the JE virus while participating in a camping activity in school between April 24 and 26,” he said.
Subramanian said the locality of the student’s school is a high risk area for JE infection as it is near pig farms.
The JE virus is spread by the Culex mosquito that had bitten animals such as pigs and birds that are reservoirs for the virus.
The virus has a five to 15 days incubation period, a large portion of the infection are asymptomatic and the possibility of contracting encephalitis is one out of 250 cases.
Symptoms of the virus infection include headache, fever, nausea and vomiting.
“The ministry has advised all schools to obtain the necessary advisory from the district health offices before conducting any camping exercises or overnight activities especially if the school is located within a 2km radius from a pig farm,” he said.
He urged pig farm workers and residents living nearby to take precautionary steps as prevention against the virus infection.
“Please get rid of mosquito breeding grounds and whoever experienced any of the symptoms must immediately get medical treatment,” he said.