Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Blocking illegal medicine a headache for Malaysia's health ministry, Others news, Health News, AsiaOne YourHealth

 KUALA LUMPUR - The booming online pharmaceutical industry, and the ease of having these items delivered to the buyer's doorstep, is posing a major challenge to the Health Ministry's efforts to block illegal medicine.
These online transactions were "almost invisible" and their origins difficult to trace, said Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam.
He added that the Customs Depart­ment's policy of not screening packages valued below RM500 made it even easier for unregistered and illegal medication to enter the country through online purchases.

"The shipments brought in by companies in bulk are screened, but the problem is with individual purchases sent by post.
"If the value is less than RM500, the Customs Department's policy is not to screen the package as the volume of these packages is too high. But for us, this makes a big difference," he said yesterday.
Dr Subramaniam said the ministry raised this concern to the Customs Department over a year ago.
"People are also able to buy online the medication which they would otherwise need a prescription for.
"This not only puts patients at risk. It is also against the law.
"We have asked the Customs Department to screen all packages and they are trying to do it but I think it is quite expensive to put such a system in place.
"I hope they will be able to do it as soon as possible," he said after opening the training conference on access to safe medicines here.
Earlier in his speech, Dr Subra­maniam said the ministry had introduced various efforts to protect Malaysians from counterfeit and unregistered medicine, such as introducing the Meditag security hologram on registered medication and enforcement activities.
Last year, he said 33,704 unregis­tered products worth RM43.22mil were seized by the ministry.

Monday, January 26, 2015

Women's healthcare in Malaysia is the weaker rights

Women may be the fairer sex, but not the weaker one. Still, there are plenty of issues to address over women's healthcare in Malaysia.
A woman plays many roles in a family – daughter, sister, wife, mother – throughout her life. When she becomes a mother, she inevitably takes the reins as the guardian of health and carer to the family. But who is there to safeguard her interests?
Women are often depicted as the weaker sex. I beg to differ.
In terms of health, women have a lower mortality rate compared to men at any age group. It’s safe to say women are the stronger sex from womb to tomb. Women have conquered more than 60% of varsity places in Malaysian universities, and are a vital workforce for the nation. 
Because of their varied roles, women will prioritise others in a family before themselves. But women should also be provided with better access to health and care for themselves.
Let's start with contraception – not all women have access to it. A woman's right to contraception is determined by national policies on their age, marital status, and other factors that may not be relevant to the woman herself.
Women should be allowed to decide – if they want to – what form of contraception they want and when to use it after being counselled on the various options available. Healthcare professionals should not use their own values in deciding for women when they should start their family and how to space them. 
In this aspect, Malaysia is failing miserably as less than 50% of eligible women of childbearing age have access to contraceptives.
Women should also receive the necessary information for them to make their decisions. Health education, including sex education and inculcating awareness of their sexuality and the consequences of their actions, needs to be imparted early for women to make choices compatible with their own plans for their lives. 
Women should be educated about the necessary preparations for getting pregnant, pregnancy itself, and the care of their babies before they embarked on this journey. 
In addition, an underaged girl should not be forced into marriage and starting a family. Even though she is physically capable of performing the functions, she may not be mentally and physically ready for the responsibilities that come with this. There are many stresses and pressures that need to be balanced in life.
Female foreigners have the shorter end of the stick when it comes to healthcare in Malaysia. They are not provided for adequately, even with mandatory medical coverage (Skim Perlindungan Insurans Kesihatan Pekerja Asing), when they come into the country legally to work. It's even worse when they are illegal.
In addition, healthcare staff at clinics and hospitals are required to report such “illegals” when they seek care, when they are at their most vulnerable state. This has become an ethical issue for healthcare personnel.
We understand that the government cannot give free healthcare to non-Malaysians. This has been clearly demonstrated in the recent increase of medical fees for foreigners in the government sector. We also know that this will seriously impact the health of the foreigners, especially women who become pregnant.
We hope that healthcare is treated differently from other forms of assets and services. We need to ensure that the right to health is not denied to any group, including those that do not have their full rights. The government, as the ruling body of the country, has this responsibility and needs to address these issues seriously.
■ Dr H. Krishna Kumar is president of the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA). For further information, email starhealth@thestar.com.my. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care.

Health Ministry confirms nationwide spike in dengue cases

 Malay Mail Online

Ipoh city council workers carry out fogging in Taman Pakatan Bercham in light of the rising dengue cases. ― Malay Mail picIpoh city council workers carry out fogging in Taman Pakatan Bercham in light of the rising dengue cases. ― Malay Mail picBALIK PULAU, Jan 25 — Dengue cases are on the rise, with Selangor recording the highest number in one week, according to Health Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya.
He cited disorganised garbage collection as a factor for the spread of dengue in the state.
“In the course of one week, there were almost 3,000 cases nationwide, of which more than 1,000 were in Selangor,” he told reporters after the presentation of 1Malaysia People’s Aid (BR1M) in Balik Pulau here today.
He named Petaling as the area in Selangor with the highest number of dengue cases.
“Selangor is an urban area; the local government must ensure that its enforcement covers all the areas including squatter colonies,” he said.
Meanwhile, Dr Hilmi described the local council election proposal by the DAP government in Penang as a waste of time.
“Don’t spend too much time politicking. We have an election every five years, suffice that after the election, we concentrate on developing the state and doing what is best for the people,” he said.
In another development, the Balik Pulau member of parliament said 16 clinics comprising four in Terengganu, 11 in Kelantan and one in Beufort, Sabah, which had been destroyed by floods would be rebuilt. — Bernama

Sunday, January 11, 2015

Health ministry to open 22 tent clinics to replace flood-damaged clinics in Kelantan

The health ministry said 23 health teams from Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Perlis, Melaka, Kedah and Selangor would be sent to Kelantan to prevent disease outbreaks, especially ‘Acute Gastroenteritis’ (AGE). — Picture courtesy of Health Ministry's Facebook page.KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 10 — Twenty-two tent clinics will be up and running soon to replace health clinics that suffered severe damage due to the floods in Gua Musang, Kuala Krai and Tanah Merah in Kelantan, the Health Ministry said in a statement here yesterday.
It said to prevent disease outbreaks, especially ‘Acute Gastroenteritis’ (AGE), 23 health teams from Penang, Kuala Lumpur, Perlis, Melaka, Kedah and Selangor would be sent to Kelantan for the purpose.
Apart from this, it said 229 volunteers from Institusi Latihan KKM were also helping to clean up health facilities in six districts while specialists were also providing counselling to folks tramautised by the devastating floods.
Meanwhile, Acer Sales and Services Sdn Bhd managing director Ricky Tan in a statement said Acer Malaysia is lending a hand to those affected by the recent floods especially in the East Coast by providing free inspection and 50 per cent discount on parts needed for repair of affected Acer devices.
George Kent (Malaysia) Berhad in a statement said they have pitched in to help flood victims in Kuala Lipis and its surrounding areas by donating foodstuff and essential items which were handed over by the company’s representative.
The company has also volunteered to ferry government engineers assigned to conduct inspection of damage caused by the floods to government clinics in Kelantan.

Apart from this, CMC Engineering Sdn Bhd has launched a programme call ‘CMC Flood Aid Relief — Hand in Hand’ to support flood victims and their family members.
In a statement CMC Engineering Sdn Bhd said the aid in the form of basic school supplies and clothes and other donations would be handed over to Hilir Perak Flood Relief Centre in Sekolah Kebangsaan Selabak which is occupied by approximately 140 people.
Ayam Brand™ also said in a statement that it had contributed hundred of cartons of canned sardines and baked beans to the Malaysian Islamic Development Department in helping the relief effort.

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Only 300 medicines will be GST zero-rated

PETALING JAYA: Only about 320 different medicines are GST zero-rated as the same medicine made by different manufacturers have been counted repeatedly.
This was disclosed jointly by the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS), Malaysian Community Pharmacy Guild (MCPG), Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (PhAMA), Malaysian Organisation of Pharmaceutical Industries (MOPI) and Malaysian Association of Pharmaceutical Suppliers (MAPS).
Citing an example, they said, Paracetamol is counted as 17 items instead of one medicine.
They said the National Essential Medicines List (NEML) 4th Edition represents only 13% of the total 43,000 registered medicines.
"The majority of these zero-rated medicines are only used in government hospitals. The many medicines outside the list are widely prescribed and used in the private sector, hospitals, clinics and pharmacies which are mainly paid out of pocket," said MPS president Datuk Nancy Ho.
She said if they are not zero-rated there will likely be an increase in the cost of medicines, making them unaffordable to many patients who are on long term medication.
"The MPS and other pharmacy stakeholders would like to see all Scheduled Medicine zero-rated before April 1," she said in a statement.
Ho said they have written to the prime minister appealing for all Scheduled Medicines to be zero-rated under GST so that the sick would not be taxed for their medication.
"The health minister himself has previously been quoted to say that there is a possibility of increase in medical care by 1% to 2% after the implementation of GST and the government is looking into ways to reduce this cost," she said, adding that the ministry had recognised that there are technical issues on health services being exempted from GST in that while services are GST-exempted, the products used in the services are not.
She said the minister was saying the ministry "would like for all medications to be zero-rated GST" and it is up to the Customs Department.
Ho said it is not easy to explain to ordinary people why the price of essential medicine has gone up when there are 900 other items (including lobster) which are GST-exempted as announced during the tabling of the Budget 2015.
"On the price hike, those who require long-term medication will be the hardest hit. It is of concern that with such price increases, the patient may be forced to stop taking their medicines," she added.
She said certain illnesses such as cancer, require a patient to fork out tens of thousands of ringgit every month.
" If they are made to pay GST at a standard rate, they will need to pay an extra of RM600 in tax for every RM10,000 they need to pay for their medication. It is already sad for a person to fall seriously sick which cripples his ability to generate an income necessary to battle for his life. With GST he may has to pay even more for his medicines," she added.

The MPS had started a petition campaign to seek support that all Controlled Medicines (Schedule Poison B and C)to be zero-rated under GST.