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 http://fsq.moh.gov.my 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.