Sunday, July 19, 2015

Dengue cases in Penang triple last year’s, says deputy health minister

NIBONG TEBAL, July 18 — The number of dengue fever cases in Penang this year up to yesterday was 2,990, more than triple that of the corresponding period last year, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.
The number of cases for the corresponding period last year was only 982, he said.
Penang remained at fourth place among the states with a large number of cases, after Selangor, Johor and Perak, he told reporters after handing over Aidilfitri goodies to staff of the Sungai Bakap Hospital here.
Dr Hilmi said the responsibility of fighting dengue rested with everyone and all should cooperate to check the breeding of the Aedes mosquito, carrier of the dengue virus.
“Penang has a similar situation as Selangor, with a large number of construction sites that offer the perfect breeding ground for the Aedes mosquito,” he said.
Dr Hilmi urged the local authorities to step up enforcement to ensure that construction sites were free of the breeding grounds of mosquitoes.
He said that as of yesterday, the number of dengue fever cases for the whole country this year stood at 64,473, much higher than the 47,871 cases for the corresponding period last year.
Dr Hilmi also said that the ministry was drafting legislation for smokers as well as tobacco products, covering also electronic cigarettes or e-cigarettes.
“The process (of bringing the draft legislation to the Attorney-General’s Chambers and Cabinet) will take time because it involves many stakeholders.
“One of the proposals is to introduce tighter control on cigarette advertisements including cigarette racks behind the cash registration counter in shops,” he said. — Bernama

Sunday, July 12, 2015

New hope for liver cancer patients

BorneoPost Online 

SGH among 29 centres in Asia-Pacific set to undertake clinical trial on cutting-edge therapy
C_PC0006796KUCHING: Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) has become the first public hospital under the Health Ministry (MOH) in the country to conduct a clinical trial on the ‘Yttrium-90 Resin Microspheres’ therapy for liver cancer patients.
The cutting-edge systemic oral chemotherapy was disclosed by Dr Law Chiong Soon, a nuclear medicine physician during an interview with thesundaypost here yesterday.
“SGH would be able to take in liver cancer patients for this trial soon,” said Dr Law.
The multi-discipline team involved at SGH comprises Dr Law himself, hepato-pancreto-billary surgeon Nik Azim Nik Abdullah, interventional radiologist Dr Ahmad Faizal Mohammad Ali and clinical oncologist Dr Yu Kong Leong.
The coordinator of the clinical trial is Prof Pierce Chow, who is senior consultant of the Surgical Oncology Division, National Cancer Centre Singapore. The visiting expert, who was assisting in the site initiation at SGH over the weekend, said two research studies were held concurrently in the world today – one in Asia-Pacific and another in Europe, namely France.
He also disclosed that SGH was one of 29 centres in the Asia-Pacific that had been selected to undertake this clinical trial.
So far, 320 patients have been admitted to undergo the trial which can only admit another maximum of 40 before the programme closes, hopefully by the end of this year.
Prof Chow said there had been many hurdles for Dr Law to overcome, but with his determination, Sarawak was able to get onboard.
“I am happy that SGH has made it for the trial, which will definitely benefit the people of Sarawak,” said Prof Chow, a former student of St Joseph’s School Kuching.
The main objective of the clinical trial is to compare the effectiveness between the two treatments for inoperable advanced localised liver cancer.
According to him, the clinical trial for liver cancer patients are currently using Sorafenib – an oral therapy – and Yttrium-90 Resin Microspheres, which is classified as a medical device that is injected into the cancerous tumour.
Both treatments could be applied for patients with inoperable advance localised cancer in BCLC Classification stages B and C.
“Little clinical research has been done to determine which of the two treatments is better,” said Prof Chow, adding that studies in the West have shown that Yttrium-90 Resin Microspheres to be more effective.
However, he mentioned that liver cancers here were largely caused by Hepatitis B, while those in the West were caused by Hepatitis C and alcohol.
“So, more studies need to be done to see if Yttrium-90 Resin Microspheres is as effective here. An earlier study on 103 advanced liver cancer patients from 2008 to 2012 seemed to show that Yttrium-90 Resin Microspheres might work even better on Asians than Caucasians,” he said.
Prof Chow indicated that more studies would be required; hence, the ongoing clinical trial held across the Asia-Pacific.
“By the end of next year, we would receive the outcome of this clinical research – one that will contribute in deciding which therapy is more suitable for a particular patient,” he added.
Liver cancer showed no symptoms in the early stage and by the time there are symptoms, the disease tended to be in at least within BCLC Stage B or C.
There are specific high-risk groups for liver cancer but the disease could strike anyone.
The key risk group in Malaysia is the chronic Hepatitis B carriers. The most viable way to lower the risk of contracting liver cancer is thus, to undergo immunisation for Hepatitis B.
If one is already a carrier, then it is crucial to go for six-monthly surveillance with ultrasound as well as a blood test for the cancer marker Alfa-Feto protein.

Tuesday, June 30, 2015

Najib: Medical tourism expected to rake in RM1bil this year

PUTRAJAYA: Malaysia's medical tourism industry continues to rake in more income for the country, with RM1bil expected to come from healthcare travellers this year.
Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak (pic) said medical tourism would be made "a priority area" for Malaysia so it could be the best in the region.
"Malaysia's share of the medical tourism market has nearly doubled in the last four years.
“In 2014, it reached 770,000 patients, bringing in revenue of around RM700mil.
“This year, those figures are expected to rise further to 930,000 patients, and a revenue of RM1b.
"Compared with one of our neighbouring countries, we still have a long way to go.
“I intend to make this our priority area to enhance our competitiveness in the field of medical tourism," said Najib, during the launch of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA)'s "Fifty-Five Years 1959-2014" book at the Prime Minister's office Tuesday.
He also expressed hope that the MMA will give its cooperation in giving the medical tourism industry a boost.
Present at the launch were Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam and MMA president Dr Ashok Zachariah Philip.

Sunday, June 28, 2015

Plans to increase cigarette prices, smoke-free zones, says health minister

Malaysia has adopted two strategies so that the country will eventually achieve a smoke-free zone, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

One is to increase, in stages, the smoke-free zones in the country and the other, to reduce the number of places where cigarettes are allowed to be sold, he said.

"These are two of the strategies to control and reduce the number of smokers.

“Eventually, we are hopeful that the country can be declared a smoking-free zone although we do not know when that can be realised.”

Subramaniam said another long-term measure was to raise the price as well as the duty on cigarettes.

He said that as a ministry responsible for maintaining the health of the people, it was only proper that greater restrictions on smoking be enforced at the ministry itself.

As such, he said, since the monitoring of and enforcement of restrictions on smoking were implemented at the ministry on May 1, 13 notices pertaining to offences and seven warnings had been issued.

All staff at the ministry who smoke had been instructed to attend programmes to give up the habit and staff who did not smoke were educated on the dangers of cigarette smoke, he said. – Bernama, June 24, 2015.

Fake rice allegation was untrue, baseless

\New Straits Times

PUTRAJAYA: Health Ministry clarified allegations that a rice producing factory in Kedah produces fake rice was untrue and baseless. "Based on our checks in the factory, we found that allegations on the factory is untrue," said the ministry's director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah. With the clarification, he advised the public not to be worried as monitoring and enforcement of food safety activities were constantly being carried out to ensure food sold in the market was safe. "If consumers are worried and uncertain about the safety status of food in the market, consumers can make a complaint to the Ministry of Health through state health departments and offices or make an online complaint at or health ministry's official Facebook page," he added. Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry takes serious of any allegation in regards of food safety and now the alleged fake rice from China which has gone viral on social networking sites. Adding further, he said the issue has already been clarified by PadiBeras Nasional Berhad (Bernas) and the ministry has issued a statement last May 21 that a majority rice import were from Vietnam, Thailand and Pakistan. "Rice import from China is very small, less than 0.01 per cent compared to 800,000 tonnes of rice a year. "Rice from China is usually on request for use in Japanense and Koren food restaurant in Malaysia," he added.

Saturday, June 27, 2015

31 healthcare facilities damaged after Sabah quake, says minister

The earthquake, which struck Sabah on June 5 and the following aftershocks, damaged 31 healthcare facilities, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.

Of the total, 11 were in Ranau, comprising five rural clinics, four health clinics and the Ranau Hospital quarters while damage in Tuaran involved a health clinic, a maternal and child health clinic and six rural clinics, he said.

Nine healthcare facilities damaged in Kota Belud were the government hospital, a health clinic and seven rural clinics, he added.

Subramaniam said that in Papar, a maternal and child health clinic and a rural clinic were damaged while in Putatan a health clinic was damaged.

"The ministry will work with the Public Works Department to ascertain the damage. If forensic examination finds the buildings to be unsafe, we will build new facilities.

"If the structure of the buildings are safe and only require repair, then we will repair the buildings," he said in Ranau, Sabah today.

Badly damaged facilities had to be vacated.

Subramaniam said the operation of a rural clinic in Kelawat, Tuaran, had to be transferred to nearby premises due to severe cracks on the building.

"Health services in all the affected areas operated as usual although we had to relocate to other premises.”

Asked about the construction of health facilities in areas at high risk of earthquake such as Ranau and Kundasang, he said the ministry would seek advice from the Meteorological Department, the Minerals and Geoscience Department and other agencies. – Bernama, June 25, 2015.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Spike in dengue cases highest ever in Malaysia


KUALA LUMPUR - The spike in the number of dengue cases this year is the highest in Malaysia's history and the problem could be endemic, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
There have been twice as many deaths this years compared to last year with 157 fatalities in the first six months, and more than 40,000 cases, an increase of more than 30 per cent.
He said the ministry was expecting a larger number of cases this year with a new serotype infecting humans. There are four dengue serotypes.
Dr Subramaniam said the ministry was facing a big challenge with dengue and urged the people to work with them to eradicate it.
Speaking at his ministry's buka puasa function with the media, he said more patients were coming in for treatment for a second time, and were suffering from pneumonia, liver failure, brain failure and other more complicated problems unlike before when patients had spots and bleedings.
"We are looking at different serotype viral infections. Many people are getting dengue for the second time. If you get it again, then it is serious," he said.
"There is what we call immune damage."
Dr Subramaniam said there were proper vaccines to deal with all four different serotypes.
"Patients can get infected by dengue up to four times," he said.
He said the ministry had no cure for dengue but were controlling it and was conducting checks at construction sites with municipal councils, state health departments and state governments to ensure that mosquitoes do not breed in these areas.
On the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), Dr Subramaniam said Malaysia was ready to contain any outbreak if the disease spreads here.
"Surveillance is there and I can assure you the Health Ministry has the ability to handle MERS. Our people have the expertise and knowledge to make sure it does not spread."

Monday, June 22, 2015

Anti-dengue kits for high risk states

The Star

PETALING JAYA: A new anti-dengue kit will be distributed to communities in three states with the highest recorded number of cases this year.

A total of 100,000 kits – each containing a Mousticide biolarvicide that kills aedes larvae, a Denguard mosquito repellent and ALOT Aedes Larvae Ovitrap that traps mosquitoes into breeding in the treated water and kills the larvae – will be given out.

The kits are part of the Dengue-Free Community programme, launched by the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry in collaboration with Inno Biologies and Entogenex.

The two companies, which are responsible in providing the technology used in the programme, will be overseeing the implementation of the project.

Minister Datuk Dr Ewon Ebin called the collaboration a positive step for the country’s biotechnology industry.

“I am very proud to see local organisations that are far sighted and innovative in coming up with environmentally friendly solutions to problems faced by the community,” he said in his speech, which was read out by the ministry deputy secretary-general (Science) Dr Zulkifli Mohamed Hashim yesterday.

A dengue-free squad, he said, would also be set up in high-risk neighbourhoods with the help of the local councils and which would be trained to use the kit to combat the scourge.

The kits will be distributed in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and Johor between this month and September.

Organisers claimed that they were expecting a 100% success rate from the programme, adding that they estimated to see results within a month.

Entogenex executive director Tunku Naquiyuddin Tuanku Jaafar said the products had been sold in Singapore and Philippines, where it had shown good results.

“The programme is holistic and very targeted in combating dengue. We will be using a four step plan, known as REAP – reduce, educate, activate and prevent,” he said.

He said while the Government could introduce many programmes to fight against dengue, the community still played a big role.

“The onus is on the community to ensure that their backyard is not a breeding ground,” he said.

Hundreds get free HPV vaccine

The Star

KUALA LUMPUR: Hundreds of young women turned up to take advantage of MCA’s drive to protect them from cervical cancer at Wisma MCA’s Dewan San Choon.

In an event jointly coordinated by Wanita MCA and the National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) here yesterday, women aged 18 above received free vaccinations against the human papillomavirus (HPV).

“This is the fourth such event this year,” said Wanita MCA chief Datuk Heng Seai Kie, who emphasised the importance of receiving the vaccination during her speech at the HPV vaccination programme themed Catch Them Early, Keep Them Healthy.

“In Budget 2012, millions of ringgit were allocated towards a free HPV vaccination programme in order to help prevent cervical cancer in this ‘catch-up’ group of 18-year-olds,” said Heng.

She added that cervical cancer was the third most common cancer among women after breast and colorectal cancer.

Heng also said that cervical cancer, which can be caused by HPV, was particularly prevalent in deve­loping nations.

“In the spirit of 1Malaysia, this is for everybody, regardless of race and religion,” said Heng, who encouraged young women to invite their friends to get the vaccination.

“We must pay particular attention to those in the 18- to 23-year-old range as they often do not get their vaccinations.

“We must also work to ensure that they complete their three doses within a six-month period,” she said, adding that LPPKN and Wanita MCA would send out reminders to yesterday’s participants when they are due for their follow-up doses.

LPPKN’s HPV vaccination programme for women is free, and a list of clinics offering the jab is available on LPPKN’s website. Public university students can also receive the vaccine from their university’s health centre.

Monday, June 08, 2015

Move to reduce maternal mortality rate

KUCHING: Malaysia needs to improve awareness and accessibility to healthcare to further reduce the country’s maternal mortality rate.
There are now about 26 deaths per 100,000 live births in the country compared with above 50 in 1990.
Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia (OGSM) secretary-general Dr Thaneemalai Jeganathan said the number of deaths decreased drastically from 1990 to 2000 due to efforts of the Health Ministry.
“We realised then that our maternal deaths were very high. The ministry came out with training programmes for nurses and action plans, such as what to do if a mother encounters bleeding.
“Subsequently there has been a decrease but it is an ongoing process. We are trying to bring it down further,” he said at the 24th Asian and Oceanic Congress of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (AOCOG) here on Saturday.
AOCOG 2015 president Dr Ravi Chandran said reducing maternal mortality was a complex matter involving socioeconomic and education status of women, awareness, accessibility and infrastructure.
“When the figure is very high, usually at first it drops quite rapidly, then it gets more and more difficult to reduce the number because it is no longer purely a health issue,” he said.
Dr Jeganathan said ideally the number of deaths should be zero because every life was precious and even developed countries where the rate was less than five deaths were still working to bring it down to zero.
“That should be our aim. No mother should die while delivering a baby,” he said, adding that OGSM was working closely with the Health Ministry to reduce the mortality rate.

Friday, June 05, 2015

Despite subsidies, most Malaysians still save money for healthcare, survey finds

KUALA LUMPUR, June 3 — A majority of Malaysians target setting aside money for medical expenses despite the availability of free or subsidised public healthcare, a survey of Asian investment and saving habits has found.
Manulife Asset Management’s “One step forward, half a step back: Meeting financial goals in Asia” report in its Aging Asia series also found that out-of-pocket healthcare spending in Malaysia has risen 11.9 per cent per annum over the past five years due to a shortage of doctors in public hospitals.
“While the public healthcare system in Malaysia is known for providing high-quality care, it suffers from a shortage of resources,” said the Manulife Asset Management report released this month.
The report noted that Malaysia only has 1.2 doctors per 1,000 residents, less than half of the OECD average of more than three, and that only 40 per cent of these doctors service the 75 per cent of hospital beds in the public healthcare system in Malaysia.
“This results in often long wait times in the public system and incentivises residents to turn to the private healthcare industry, where much higher user fees – which rose further on 1 April 2015, when private medical bills became subject to a 6 per cent Goods and Services Tax (GST) – buy access to the 60 per cent of the nation’s doctors who service less than 25 per cent of its available beds,” the global asset manager added.
The Manulife Asset Management report said almost 50 per cent of Malaysian investors rank healthcare among their top five financial goals, including preparing for both expected and unexpected medical expenses
“As in Hong Kong, this seems strange in a country where all legal residents have benefited from publically provided and heavily subsidised healthcare,” it said.
The report noted a potential for Malaysia’s healthcare services to move towards the direction that Hong Kong is heading, where both public and private systems merge in a hybrid.
“Some claim that this system is already evolving, as local governments have reportedly taken stakes in private hospital chains in recent years,” said Manulife Asset Management.
National news agency Bernama reported Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak as saying last February that Malaysia’s government healthcare fees are the cheapest in the world, with the health subsidy in the country at 98 per cent.
He was quoted saying that patients only need to pay RM1 to see a doctor in public hospitals or clinics for outpatient services and that medicine is given out free.

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Health Ministry allocates RM200 million to rebuild Kelantan clinics

The Malaysian Insider

The Health Ministry has put aside RM200 million to rebuild clinics in Kelantan which was hit by floods last December. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 30, 2015.
The Health Ministry has put aside RM200 million to rebuild clinics in Kelantan which was hit by floods last December. – The Malaysian Insider file pic, May 30, 2015.The Health Ministry is rebuilding 11 rural clinics in Kelantan which were destroyed in the floods last December with an RM200 million allocation from the federal government.
Its Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahya said the clinics were being constructed in stages and were expected to be completed soon.
"We received RM200 million from the federal government so we are building new clinics in Kelantan," he told reporters after launching the Treated Water Pilot Project at Kampung Star yesterday.
In the meantime, he said, tents were being used as makeshift clinics but the ministry would replace these to provide more comfort for patients.
He added that the pilot project was a joint initiative between the ministry and the Rural and Regional Development Ministry to provide clean water for the 1,500 residents of the village.
"The project is the first in the country and if successful, will be implemented in other villages including in Sabah and Sarawak.
"From what I observe, modern and state of the art technology is being used to produce water that is so clean and need not be boiled to consume directly," he said. – Bernama, May 30, 2015.

Malaysia back to square one in dengue research

GEORGE TOWN: Malaysia appears to be heading nowhere with dengue research.
The plan to release genetically altered male Aedes mosquitoes so that they cannot breed with wild females has proven too costly and impractical.
Another plan for a dengue vaccine by a pharmaceutical company which was slated to be marketed next month was shot down by the Health Ministry since it was not satisfied with the research data.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the genetically changed mosquitoes were only useful in small areas but “dengue is all over the place” in Malaysia.
Dengue cases reached an all-time high of nearly 100,000 last year.
“We would have to flood the country with huge numbers of mosquitoes.
“We are concerned because nobody has studied the ecological effects of releasing such a huge number of genetically changed mosquitoes”
The genetic modification of Aedes came from Oxford University and Malaysia’s Institute of Medical Research tested it in the laboratory in 2006.
Speaking to reporters after launching the 9th National Conference for Clinical Research here yesterday, Dr Subramaniam also said the dengue vaccine’s clinical trials were completed and the pharmaceutical company wanted to market it.
“But the research data they gave us is not enough for us to use the vaccine on a large scale.
“We are back to square one with dengue research,” he said.
He said Malaysia had to take the lead in dengue research.
“We cannot rely on developed nations for medical discoveries which tend to be skewed towards issues they face.
“Malaysia has our own set of medical problems so we need to scale up our research,” he said.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Malaysia: Dengue cases top 45,000, ‘monkey malaria’ accounts for majority of human malaria cases

Mosquito borne diseases are taking a significant role in the health of Malaysians as some 200 additionaldengue fever cases are reported on a daily basis and two out of three cases of malaria in the country are derived from monkeys, according to health officials.
As of Friday, the Malaysia Health Ministry has reported 45,284 dengue fever cases in 2015. Of that total, 136 fatalities ( as of May 16) due to the virus have been documented.
In addition, just six months after we reported that 68 percent of malaria hospitalizations in Malaysia were due to infection with Plasmodium knowlesi,health officials report sixty-six per centor 2,584 out of 3,923 malaria cases reported in the country last year derived from monkey (zoonotic) malaria.
And that trend continues into 2015 according to Head of Health Ministry’s Vector-Borne Disease Sector Dr Rose Nani Mudin. She said in the first quarter of this year, 356 cases, or 67.6 per cent of the 527 cases of malaria were detected to be derived from monkeys.
The good news is the total malaria burden in the country has dropped significantly in recent decades, from the 10s of thousands in the 1990s to just under 4,000 last year.
Plasmodium knowlesi, “the fifth human malaria”, is mostly found is mostly found in South East Asian countries particularly in Borneo, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, and Thailand.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Health Ministry prepared to conduct screenings on Rohingya migrants

GEORGE TOWN: The Health Ministry is prepared to conduct health screenings on Rohingya migrants if they are accepted into the country, says Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.
He said it was normal for health screenings to be conducted on foreign nationals when they were accepted to live in the country to ensure they were disease-free.
“We will carry out health screenings on them to make sure they are in good health,” he told reporters after a dinner hosted by the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Association at Batu Feringhi here Saturday.
Dr Hilmi added that it was necessary to ensure the migrants were free from diseases like tuberculosis and leptospirosis. – Bernama

Thursday, May 21, 2015

Nurses question why govt hospital understaffed but grads jobless

KUCHING: Nurses working in a public sector hospital have questioned how it is possible for thousands of nursing graduates to be jobless when the hospital they work for is acutely short of nurses.
According to them, it was heartbreaking to read of the plight of the nursing graduates in thesundaypost as most wards in their hospital are understaffed.
They claimed many nurses often have to work double shifts, are forced to work overtime, while some cannot take their day off.
The nurses said they feared being overstretched and unable to give their patients the standard of care required.
“Imagine how you feel. When you are already half-dead working and yet you still get complaints. It is a very frustrating and demoralising thing,” said one nurse, who requested not to be identified.
The nurses said they have raised the matter with their immediate supervisors, but their superiors seemed powerless to make changes.
As such they were shocked to learn that so many qualified nurses were desperately waiting to be employed while there should be many vacancies in the government hospital.
“What a sad irony the situation is,” said one nurse. “Is there really nothing anyone can do about such a tragic state of affairs?”
She added that those in top management roles may not know the true situation on the ground.

Thursday, May 14, 2015

Health minister: Government providing aid to thousands of migrants in Langkawi

KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 ― The Health Ministry, Foreign Ministry and National Security Council will jointly hold discussions to address the entry of illegal immigrants from Bangladesh and Myanmar who landed in Langkawi last Sunday.
Health Minister Datuk Seri S.Subramaniam said at present the government had yet to make a decision on the status of these illegals but had given them appropriate humanitarian aid.
"Clinics and hospitals in Langkawi have also prepared for any eventualities concerning the health issues of these illegals," he told reporters before launching the "My Home" programme here today.
He said so far there were no health cases or infectious diseases involving these illegals being reported.
His ministry also had yet to plan any health screenings or check-up on all the foreign immigrants, he said.

Friday, May 08, 2015

IHH, Sime Darby Said to Make Bids for HMI Malaysia Hospital

IHH Healthcare Bhd. and Sime Darby Bhd.’s medical venture made offers for a Malaysian hospital owned by Health Management International Ltd., people with knowledge of the matter said.
The two companies submitted first-round bids for the Mahkota Medical Centre in the state of Malacca, the people said, asking not to be named as the process is private. Health Management, which is listed in Singapore, is working with Credit Suisse Group AG to sell the hospital for about $250 million, people with knowledge of the matter said last month.The bidders aim to boost growth by buying a hospital that provides specialist services including chemotherapy day care and in-vitro fertilization, drawing more than 287,000 patients last financial year. Aging populations and a burgeoning middle class are boosting health-care spending in Asia Pacific, which is projected to increase 10.5 percent annually to reach $2.2 trillion by 2018, according to Frost & Sullivan.Health Management shares jumped 20 percent, the most since September 2013, to close at a record 39 Singapore cents.Revenue at the 266-bed Mahkota, which opened in 1994, rose 11 percent to 212 million ringgit ($59 million) in the year through June 2014, according to Health Management’s annual report. The hospital, located about 120 kilometers (75 miles) southeast of Malaysia’s capital, has offices in Indonesia, Cambodia and Singapore to attract patients from overseas, its website shows.Sime Darby, the world’s largest listed palm oil producer by market value, bid through its 50-50 medical joint venture with Australia’s Ramsay Health Care Ltd., the people said. The business operates three medical centers each in Malaysia and Indonesia, according to its website.

Teen pregnancies, child marriage behind high maternal deaths in Malaysia, say activists

KUALA LUMPUR, May 6 — The higher risk of women dying during pregnancy or in childbirth in Malaysia compared to Singapore is because of teen pregnancies and child marriage, activists said today.
Social activist Azrul Mohd Khalib said the government’s push for pro-abstinence sex education has resulted in the rise of teen pregnancies and child marriages, which affects the girls’ maternal health.
“If you look at countries that have been pushing for pro-abstinence like Uganda and other African countries, you can see there is an increase in the mother’s mortality rate,” Azrul told Malay Mail Online today.
Azrul said teen mothers face a greater risk of dying during pregnancy or in childbirth, as they are too young to give birth, or they give birth to too many children in a short span of time without proper medical care.  
“If they are married at the age of 15 to 18 and immediately give birth in numbers, this can cause death as well,” he added.
The State of the World’s Mothers 2015 report by international children’s rights group Save the Children released on Monday showed that one in 1,600 women in Malaysia are at risk of maternal death, nine times higher than Singapore’s at one in 13,900.
The report also showed that a child born in Malaysia is three times more likely to die before turning five compared to Singapore, with the child mortality rate here at 8.5 per 1,000 births, while Singapore’s is 2.8 per 1,000 births.
Local daily The Star reported last December United Nations resident coordinator in Malaysia, Michelle Gyles-McDonnough, as expressing concern over child marriage, saying that based on the 2010 consensus, 80,000 married women in Malaysia were between 15 and 19 years of age, while there were 70,000 young married men.
According to the Health Ministry, 16,528 teen pregnancies were recorded last year based on the number of adolescents that registered at government clinics. On average, there are around 50 teen pregnancies a day, with three-quarters involving married teens.
The Health Ministry’s statistics showed an increase in teen pregnancies from 18,652 cases in 2011 to 18,847 cases in 2012, but a drop after to 16,528 cases last year.
However, Dr Raj Abdul Karim, Asia director of Women Deliver, a global group advocating girls’ and women’s health and rights, said the government statistics do not necessarily reflect the actual number of cases as they only rely on registered government sources like public clinics and government health organisations.
“If you look at it properly, there are a lot more unregistered places like certain private institutions that people actually turn to,” she told Malay Mail Online.   
Dr Raj said strict government policies on family planning that only allow contraceptives to be given to married couples have contributed to the country’s decline in maternal health and a rise in teen pregnancies.
“This service is not available to unmarried girls who are sexually active. Hence they either go to private clinics or are more likely to have unprotected or unsafe sex resulting in unwanted pregnancy, unsafe abortions, STIs or HIV and AIDS.
“Thus resulting in a decline in maternal health or maternal mortality,” she added. 
Dr Raj also said religion should not prevent people especially married couples from family planning, like Islam only forbids the use of contraceptives for those unmarried. 
“We should emphasise that religion should not stop you from family planning or the use of contraceptives. 
“Even Islam allows the use of contraceptives but does not condone permanent methods like sterilisation. Also Islam allows family planning only for married individuals, not unmarried unless it is for medical or health reasons,” she added. 
Regional women’s NGO Asian-Pacific Resource & Research Centre for Women (Arrow) executive director Sivananthi Thanenthiran said maternal deaths in Malaysia have been increasing in proportion to the growing number of teen pregnancies.
“There is a lack of family planning efforts compared to the 1970s and 1980s, as well as a lack of access to services for women in Sabah and Sarawak, migrant women workers and even indigenous women,” Sivananthi added, when contacted.

Health Ministry: No reports of products containing DNP in Malaysian market

PETALING JAYA: There have been no reports of dietary products containing 2.4-dinitrophenol (DNP) in the Malaysian market, says the Health Ministry.
The Ministry’s pharmacy enforcement division deputy director Mazlan Ismail said, however, that the situation was being monitored closely, especially after Interpol’s global alert on Monday.
“Based on the monitoring and post marketing activities conducted by the department, we have yet to come across any pharmaceutical products containing DNP being marketed in Malaysia,” said Mazlan when contacted on Thursday.
He explained that DNP is an organic compound and is usually used in the manufacturing industry as an industrial chemical and might also be used as antiseptic.
He said that legally, any products containing DNP that are meant for consumption could not be sold in the country.
“This chemical is not suitable for human consumption and can be extremely dangerous to human health.
“Currently, no products containing dinitrophenol are registered with the Drug Control Authority of the Health Ministry.
“(So) legally there should not be any products containing dinitrophenol available in the market,” he said.
He added that dinitrophenol can only be brought into the country with a valid licence.
When contacted, Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society told The Star that pharmacists in Malaysia are careful and do not sell drugs containing DNP.
“Pharmacists are very careful as safe custodians of medicines,” she said.
Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr Krishna Kumar added that although there have been no reports of deaths caused by DNP, the association’s pharmaceutical division was working to identify international websites selling products containing DNP.
“Our pharmaceutical division is working with the Interpol and the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MSMS) to identify and take these websites down,” he said.
The Interpol alert was issued after a woman died in the UK and a French man was left seriously ill after taking products containing DNP.
The agency said that DNP was found to have been sold in the form of yellow powder or capsule form and as a cream marketed as dieting and body-building supplements.

Thursday, May 07, 2015

MMA donates RM20,000 to Nepal's relief fund

PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) donated RM20,000 to the Nepal Disaster relief fund under Mercy Malaysia.
MMA President Dr Krishna Kumar said that although the sum is small, he hopes that it will help the victims of the quake.
“We share the sorrow faced by the Nepalese people in this time of need and hope that this small contribution will help them,” he said at a cheque presentation ceremony at the Sun Media Corporation office here.
The MMA is also sending 15 volunteer doctors under their new Volunteer Organisation Corp (VOC).
“The VOC has provided assistance during the recent floods in the East Coast of Malaysia where several assistance missions were conducted. We have also assisted in an Orang Asli settlement in Perak where we are building houses and getting basic amenities to the villagers,” he said.
He added that since the volunteers' experiences at Kelantan, many of them now want to go and assist in Nepal.
“We want to donate to Mercy Malaysia because they are doing a wonderful job on the ground, at the same time, we will send our volunteers there to see how they can assist in any way possible,” said Krishna.
He said that Malaysia has been a relatively lucky country because it does not have disasters like Nepal and the MMA wants to lend a helping hand.

Tuesday, May 05, 2015

Study on factors affecting youth’s reproductive health underway – BorneoPost Online | Borneo , Malaysia, Sarawak Daily News | Largest English Daily In Borneo

MIRI: The National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) is doing a research on Risk and Protective Factors Affecting Youth’s Sexual and Reproductive Health in Sarawak and Sabah.
In revealing this, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Rohani Abdul Karim said a similar research was conducted in Peninsular Malaysia in 2011.
“A research on Risk and Protective Factors Affecting Youth’s Sexual and Reproductive Health in Peninsular Malaysia conducted by LPPKN in 2011 found that family closeness is one of the factors contributing to youth’s sexual behaviour and reproductive health.
“We are now implementing similar research in Sarawak and Sabah this year,” she said when officiating at the 2015 Happy Family Roadshow at Bekenu community hall near here yesterday.
Rohani admitted that modern living posed tough challenges to the family institution, resulting in the so-called ‘commuter family’ and ‘sandwich family’.
In an effort to save marriages, she said her ministry through LPKKN in collaboration with registered non-governmental organisations (NGOs) started the SMARTSTART pre-marriage programme to provide knowledge, guidance, skills and tips for a happy marriage and family life.
She called on more NGOs in Sarawak to submit their applications to LPPKN Sarawak to enable them to conduct the SMARTSTART pre-marriage course.
Another programme called SMARTSTART 2nd Honeymoon, she added, had been extended to couples who had been married for more than five years.
She pointed out that the ministry and LPPKN had lined out five core values; namely love, attitude, health, safety and harmony, as the basic guideline in developing a happy family.
On the roadshow, she said the event in Bekenu was the fourth this year after Pusa (Sarawak), Menumbok (Sabah) and Tanjung Malim in Perak.
The theme for this year’s roadshow is ‘I Love My Family’.