Materia Medica Malaysiana

June 30, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:23 am

Higher SARS perk for health personnel
From The Star
BANGKOK: Responding to feedback, the Health Ministry will revise upward the allowance given to healthcare personnel dealing with Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) cases, its minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said yesterday.

He said the ministry opined that the revision was necessary in view of the high risk taken by the personnel when handling SARS patients.

“This is important because we do not want some of them resigning from the healthcare service,” he told Malaysian reporters after the conclusion of the special one-day Asia Pacific Health Ministers Meeting here.

In deciding on the revision, Chua said the ministry considered the experiences of healthcare personnel around the globe, in particular countries where some personnel left the service because of their unsatisfactory allowance, which did not justify their health risk in treating SARS patients.

Chua declined to reveal the new quantum, saying it would be revealed upon approval by the Cabinet.

He said the revision was important to the Malaysian healthcare personnel as it reflected the Government’s deep appreciation for the doctors, nurses and other medical care personnel, including those involved in conducting the screening process. – Bernama


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:21 am

More foreign docs sought
From The Star
SINTOK: The Health Ministry will recruit more foreign doctors to overcome the shortage of medical officers in the country, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Suleiman Mohamed said.

He said the country needed another 1,000 doctors but only managed to recruit 275 foreign doctors on a two-year contract in a recent exercise.

“There will be a second round of recruitment,” he said after launching a health festival at Universiti Utara Malaysia here yesterday.

Dr Suleiman said the foreign doctors recruited in the exercise so far were from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Myanmar and Indonesia.

June 29, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 4:37 pm

Should you cryopreserve your baby’s stem cells?

The Star today features prominently an article entitled “A cord of riches“. In this article Cryocord, a local cord blood cryopreservation private concern, promotes the advantages of freezing one’s newborn baby’s cord blood.

I thought the report was woefully short on the ethical matters of private cord blood banking. The issue of a community cord blood bank (which would serve the community in a more cost-effective way) was not mentioned at all.

From the CNN article by Jeffery Kahn on the ethical matters of private Cord Blood Banking :

Lessons from blood banking

Blood banking created a system that has inspired community confidence that blood will be available to anyone who needs it, such that there is very little talk of personal banking of “autologous”blood. The exception came when AIDS was first thought to be transmitted by transfusion, but before testing for HIV was available. Patients preparing for elective surgery might elect to give a unit or two of blood in advance of the surgery to assure that any transfusion would use their own blood. Since the terms of the donation were often that any blood not used while the patient was in the hospital would revert to the general pool. The unused blood this practice created led to a short-term increase in the blood supply.

No such increase will exist with personal cord blood banking since the selling point of storage is that it will remain available throughout the individual’s life. Instead of reverting to a community supply, unused cord blood would remain frozen and effectively wasted.

Personal cord blood banking is a classic example of “me first” thinking, but it is wrong headed. Community cord blood banks will serve our collective interests without asking individuals to sacrifice theirs, and save many lives in the process. These are the ultimate goals of any public policy, and they are well within reach. Only those profiting by trading on the worst fears of parents will see their interests undermined, but those are interests not worth promoting.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:02 am

Asia Pacific ministers warn that SARS fight not over, pledge further cooperation

PDT BANGKOK, Thailand (AP) —

Asia Pacific health ministers pledged Saturday to share more information about SARS and other infectious diseases to stem future epidemics that could threaten the region’s public and economic health.

While screening measures have lowered the risk of the virus spreading, “we are fully aware … that this is only the start,” the ministers from Asia Pacific Economic Cooperation forum countries said in a joint statement.

“Controlling SARS requires continued vigorous surveillance and containment of new cases, intensive regional and global collaboration,” said the statement, a 14-point plan calling for greater cooperation in fighting the virus.

The ministers agreed to share all relevant information immediately with the World Health Organization and through an APEC network set up to monitor emerging diseases. They also resolved to support plans to revive tourism and trade.

“Early resumption of normal business travel and tourism is essential for overcoming the economic damage caused by SARS in recent months,” the ministers said.

Thai Prime Minister Thaksin Shinawatra told the ministers that SARS had caused more rapid economic damage than the 1997-98 Asian financial crisis and warned that “there is no telling when it will re-emerge.”

He said the disease had revealed weaknesses in regional public health systems, and that screening measures needed to be improved so each country could better cope with future outbreaks of SARS or other diseases.

He said much was still unknown about the virus, such as whether it is seasonal.

The meeting Saturday was organized to complement a World Health Organization conference last week in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, at which the SARS epidemic was declared “dead in its tracks.”

The WHO meeting focused on scientific and health issues related to SARS, while Saturday’s APEC conference also considered economic implications.

David Heymann, WHO’s executive director for communicable diseases, cautioned Saturday that although new cases have fallen to zero in recent days, the SARS scare “certainly won’t be over for another year” because the next phase is “intense surveillance for the next year to see whether the virus is still present or whether it’s gone.”

Severe acute respiratory syndrome has killed at least 812 people worldwide since it first surfaced in November in southern China.

The disease has claimed a heavy toll on the region’s economy by strangling tourism and business travel.

APEC’s members are Australia, Brunei, Canada, Chile, China, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Papua New Guinea, Peru, Philippines, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Taiwan, Thailand, United States and Vietnam.

June 28, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:47 am

Malaysia goes into vaccine research: Chua
From the Daily Express

Kuala Lumpur: A multi-million ringgit research centre to produce vaccines will be set up to prepare the country against microbe attacks or bio-terrorism.

Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said the country needed to rely on locally produced vaccines to protect the people from such threats.

“When are we going to be attacked? Maybe not for many years, maybe next year…the same with bio-terrorism. It is a global threat.

“We must be prepared for any microbe attack whether disturbances through the eco-system or bio-terrorism,” Chua told reporters after a briefing on the National Institute for Natural Products and Vaccinology (NINPV) at his office here.

He said Malaysia was currently a net importer of vaccines, a risky position especially in a volatile economic situation.

“To depend entirely on imported vaccines means to allocate vast funds for controlling infectious diseases…serious implications in times of geopolitical emergencies as multinationals will reduce production of vaccines, rendering new born babies unprotected,” Chua said.

He said Malaysia needed to be independent and to establish its own research centre to produce vaccines especially those that were vital to prevent child mortality.

The lack of vaccines would lead to rampant spread of preventable infectious diseases such as tuberculosis, hepatitis B and measles, which could have an adverse affect on community health and the economy, he said.

Chua said the vaccine unit of the Institute for Medical Research (IMR) produced a range of vaccines for diseases, ranging from smallpox, rabies, cholera and typhoid for 24 years before it was closed down on the recommendation of a foreign consultant.

He said at present there were no concerted efforts to produce vaccines in the country nor was there a national blue print for the industry.

The NINPV, to be located in the bio-valley within the Multimedia Super Corridor (MSC), would be a research and development (R&D) hub for herbal medicines and selected vaccines, while production would be carried out by the private sector.

NINPV estimated expenditure is RM220 million over a five-year period, both for natural and vaccine research.

The annual operations cost would be about RM5 million. – Bernama

June 27, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:57 pm

Malaysia to set up lab against bio-terrorism threat

Malaysia will spend some $US58 million to set up a research centre aimed at guarding its people against the threat of bio-terrorism and new infectious diseases.

Health Minister Chua Jui Meng says the institute will begin operations in 2005 and will be located in the so-called “BioValley”, which has been established south of the capital Kuala Lumpur, in line with Malaysia’s aim of becoming a bio-technology hub.

Mr Chua says the government has a duty to protect its citizens against terrorists and new infectious diseases, the latest being the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and the anthrax scare in the United States following the September 11 attack.

Mr Chua says because of current “geo-political instability”, Malaysia, which depends on imported vaccines, may face a shortage if a crisis breaks out.

Mr Chua says the government will source some of the best brains from within and outside the country to work in the medical institute.

27/06/2003 17:20:49 | ABC Radio Australia News

June 25, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 1:38 pm

Sime Darby aborts sale of SJMC
From The Edge

Sime Darby Bhd has aborted the proposed disposal of the Subang Jaya Medical Centre Sdn Bhd (SJMC) after it could not agree to the prices and terms offered by several bidders.

In a short statement to the KLSE on June 24, Sime Darby said its unit SD Holdings Bhd had decided not to proceed with the proposed disposal after considering “the pricing and terms of the bids received from the bidders”.

“The board, after careful deliberations, has decided not to proceed with the proposed disposal,” it said. SJMC owns and operates the 375-bed Subang Jaya medical centre.

Sime Darby did not state its next course of action.

On May 29, Sime Darby chief executive Tan Sri Nik Mohamed Nik Yaacob had said the final decision on proposed sale hinged on whether the bids from several bidders measured up to the group’s expectations.

The Edge Weekly had reported that it was asking for more than RM200 million cash in the proposed sale, but the bids came in at between RM150 million and RM180 million.

Pantai Holdings Bhd, which already owns six hospitals, and Singapore’s Raffles Medical Group were believed to be among the bidders.

Sime Darby had on March 28 announced that it was selling its entire 64.26 million shares in SJMC by way of a bidding process.

The proposal was aimed at freeing capital not directly related to its core businesses in plantations, motor vehicles and heavy equipment distribution, property, engineering and power generation.

SJMC is the group’s only investment in the healthcare industry. SJMC’s net profit of RM6.7 million in the financial year ended June 30, 2002, represented less than one per cent of the Sime Darby group’s profit of RM771.22 million.

June 24, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:45 pm

Ministry: Winter may see new SARS outbreak
From The Star
KUALA LUMPUR: A new wave of SARS could break out towards the end of the year, the Health Ministry warned.

Its secretary-general Datuk Alias Ali said World Health Organisation (WHO) experts concluded during the recent Global Conference on SARS that the new outbreak could come during the start of the winter months in the north.

“Although Malaysia is not subject to seasonal changes, we still have to maintain a high level of alertness (because) the disease is a travelling bug.

“We will maintain all the SARS wards in the designated hospitals nationwide and look into upgrading laboratory capabilities to ensure we are ready to face the disease and the emergence of other old or new viruses.

“We are glad the overall SARS situation has improved but health screening at entry points will continue,” he told a press conference after chairing the weekly technical committee meeting on SARS yesterday.

Health Ministry Disease Control Division deputy director Dr Hassan Abdul Rahman said winter was viewed as a risk period due to people’s lifestyle.

“Based on history, winter is a higher risk season for infectious diseases such as influenza and pneumonia to spread due to the movement (of people) that mainly takes place indoors.

“Indoor activities with overcrowding and close contact can contribute to the transmission of virus,” he said.

Dr Hassan said based on the latest WHO report, the focal areas affected by SARS had shifted from Asia to North America, where most new cases were occurring.

He said of the eight new SARS cases reported between June 16 and 20 worldwide, three each were reported in Canada and the United States.

The other two new cases were in Taiwan while two deaths were registered in Canada, four in China and three more in Taiwan during that period.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:16 am

Health card firm ordered to pay up

From The Star Online

MALACCA: The Consumer Claims Tribunal has ordered a health card promoter to reimburse its 30 cardholders seeking medical claims.

Tribunal presidents Noor Azian Shaari and Eddie Yeo – who listened to the cases separately – made the decision in default against NHP Health Club (formerly Samlid Global Network), whose representatives failed to turn up.

The highest claim was for RM9,312.90 and the lowest RM120.

The tribunal handled 48 cases yesterday, 41 of them from the cardholders.

Noor Azian said that of the 41 cardholders’ cases, eight were struck off as the complainants did not turn up or failed to produce their membership cards or medical bills.

At an earlier sitting on May 12, the tribunal had ordered NHP to reimburse 39 other cardholders’ medical claims when no company representatives turned up.

Malacca Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Department deputy director Teo Sean Chang said the department would consult the Public Prosecutor to press criminal charges against the company for failing to comply with the tribunal’s orders to pay.

Under Section 117 of the Consumers Protection Act, offenders are liable to a maximum fine of RM5,000 or two years’ jail, or both, for failing to comply with the tribunal’s orders.

For each continuing offence, the offender is liable to a maximum fine of RM1,000 for each day the offence is continued after conviction.

Noor Azian urged claimants to inform the tribunal if they were not reimbursed.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:16 am

Higher allowance for public health personnel
From The Star Online
KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry is working with the Public Services Department to bring the public health allowance at par with specialist allowance enjoyed by doctors.

Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said the move, which would benefit some 500 public health personnel, was to recognise the important role they play.

He said the Education Ministry had already recognised those holding a masters degree in public health as specialists and that they were entitled to the specialist allowance.

A total of 103 public health physicians had already been gazetted as public health specialists, he added.

The three universities which offer the four-year masters degree since 1997/1998 – Universiti Malaya, Universiti Sains Malaysia and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia – produce about 50 graduates yearly.

At present, public health specialists enjoy 70% of the allowance given to clinical specialists, which is between RM910 and RM1,680 as compared to RM1,300 and RM2,400 for the latter.

“The incentives for public health personnel must be the same to prevent their migration to other sectors or countries,” Chua said at the 2003 Malaysian Health Conference yesterday.

Pointing out that “preventive work” carried out by public health personnel was important in the healthcare system, he said that health authorities in some countries had great difficulty handling SARS.

“SARS demonstrated the importance of the public health system.

WHO said SARS had mercilessly exposed the weaknesses of the system in some countries where their hospital bed care was strong but public health structure was weak, Chua said.

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