Materia Medica Malaysiana

July 31, 2003

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Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:08 pm

Herbal way to promote health tourism

MALACCA: Malaysia wants to promote health tourism using traditional herbs, said Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Mohamad Taha Arif.

“We are exploring ways to introduce herbal baths and traditional massage to Western tourists,” he said.

“Health tourism is not only confined to seeking Western medical treatment but it is also for a healthy person who wants to try out traditional methods,” he said.

Thailand had been successful in wooing Western tourists through its traditional massage, spa and diet, he said after opening the 16th Malaysia-Thailand Goodwill Committee meeting at the Golden Legacy Hotel here yesterday.

Also present was Inspector-General in the Thai Public Health Ministry, M.L. Somchai Chakrabhand.

Dr Mohamad Taha said the ministry would look for ways to promote health tourism, particularly in Kelantan, which shares borders with Thailand.

“We will look at safety practices and register those who are involved and conduct research,” he said.

July 28, 2003

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Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 12:56 pm

CNN.com – Ditch chopsticks, Malaysians told – Jul. 27, 2003

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — Chinese diners in Malaysia are being urged to ditch centuries of gastronomic tradition and ditch their chopsticks in favor of serving spoons.

Health Minister Datuk Chau Jui Ming said diners enjoying the favored pastime of communal dining should avoid dipping in with their chopsticks in order to stop the spread of infectious diseases like SARS.

“Chinese should kick the habit of using their own chopsticks to pick up food,” the Star newpaper quoted Chua as saying.

He said other types of restaurants provided common serving spoons for their dishes, greatly reducing the risk of diners spreading disease via their saliva.

The clatter of chopsticks diving into shared dishes has been a feature of Chinese dining for centuries.

According to some historians chopsticks first emerged as an eating utensil about 5,000 years ago, starting off as rudimentary twigs.

Among those thought to have influenced the development of chopsticks is the scholar Confucious, who lived from 551 to 479 BC.

A strict vegetarian Confucious said knives would remind people of slaughterhouses and were too violent for use at the dining table.

July 26, 2003

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Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:37 am

‘Say no to sex if husband has Aids’
KUALA LUMPUR – Women in Malaysia should be allowed to refuse sex if they know their husbands suffer from HIV, said a women’s affairs minister.

‘There have been cases of wives being forced to have sex with their husbands although they realise they run the risk of being infected with HIV,’ Datuk Sharizat Abdul Jalil, Women and Family Development Minister, said.

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She said her ministry was organising programmes to educate wives about their right to refuse sex, and their husbands had to accept and respect the decision.

Malaysian Aids Council president Marina Mahathir said religious leaders in mainly-Muslim Malaysia should support the proposal.

She said: ‘Women are not considered as being in the high-risk group but they are subjected to Aids by various means, including contracting it from their husbands.

‘The problem is that our culture does not allow wives to say no to sex and this ought to change.’

Datuk Sharizat said Health Ministry data showed that three new Aids cases were reported daily last year.

‘The reported number of HIV infections among women has increased by 35 per cent from 2001 to last year. This is a cause for worry,’ she said.

The ministry is willing to provide funds for the Malaysian Aids Council to publish booklets in Tamil and Mandarin on Aids, she said. — AFP, New Straits Times

July 25, 2003

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Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 2:54 pm

TH Group branches into healthcare with acquisition of hospital

KLSE main board company TH Group Bhd (THG), which is into plantations, contracting services and information technology-related investments, will move into a fourth core business, healthcare, with the acquisition of the Nilai Cancer Institute (NCI), the first private oncology hospital in Malaysia.

THG will acquire a 90.57% equity stake in Asiaprise Biotech Sdn Bhd, which owns the NCI, for RM38.95mil, to be paid in part by cash (RM6.35mil) and the rest through the issuance of 29.64mil new TH Group shares at a five-day weighted average price of RM1.10 each. The agreement for the remaining 9.43% equity interest in Asiaprise will be signed later.

“Although THG has been involved in life sciences for over two years, it has been as an investor, not owner,” Dr Kim Tan, founder of ABSB, told reporters after signing the conditional sale and purchase agreement with THG in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

From left: Lai Lin Thai, TH Group chairman Abu Bakar Abdul Karim and Dr Kim Tan
The healthcare industry in Malaysia, valued at RM900mil, is expected to grow to RM1.2bil by 2006, while revenue from health tourism to rise to RM390mil this year and to RM2bil in 2007.

THG group managing director Lei Lin Thai said THG’s move into the healthcare sector was after carefully planned and was synergistic with the group’s investments in the technology sector.

He added that returns could only be expected after five years, common for the life sciences industry.

The NCI, set up in 1998 with an initial investment of RM20mil, would see RM28mil – expected to be a mix of equity and debt – pumped in as part of its expansion plan, Tan said. He added that the research and treatment-based hospital was operating almost at maximum capacity.

THG, which obtains around 50% of its revenue from its oil palm plantations, mainly in Sabah, also provides timber extraction services, its latest project being a 145,000ha land-clearing job in Kalimantan Timur, Indonesia, began early this year.

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Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:09 am

Asia Times – Malaysia pesticide ban could be reversed

“Environmentalists told me last year that the long battle to ban paraquat has been won,” Anggamah said, referring to a government announcement last August that paraquat will be banned in 2005. “We were all overjoyed.” But the battle to ban paraquat is far from over.

Since the government decision was made, plantation companies and agro-chemical giants such as Syngenta have launched a campaign to get the ban reversed. They have importuned the media, plantation workers, their trade union, fruit growers and rice farmers to join forces with big business to revoke the ban.

Anggamah said: “I think it [the ban] is a lost cause.”

This month, about 30 rice farmers in Kepala Batas in Penang state staged a demonstration against the paraquat ban. They claimed, in a memorandum to the government, to represent 17,000 rice farmers and argued that paraquat is cheap, effective and proven.

They quoted a now-famous Syngenta phrase attributed to John McGillivray, general manager of the giant’s local unit Syngenta Prop Protection, “Paraquat is a dream product.”

But “the farmers fail to mention that paraquat is a dangerous poison, not only to users but also to the environment and to everyone in the food chain”, said Irene Fernandez, director of the non-government Tenaganita group.

Nevertheless, the farmers represent a powerful political force – influential enough to revoke the ban especially in an election year such as now.

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Is paraquat coming back????

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Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:05 am

Private sector may face reverse effect: Sabah, Malaysia — News Headlines
Papar: The Sabah Pharmaceutical Society fears the move to have newly-registered pharmacists serve the Government for three years would have a reverse effect on the private sector.

Its President, Chung Ke Chun, said with the new ruling taking effect tentatively early next year, there would be an acute shortage of pharmacists in the private sector for the next four years.

“In a few years to come, there will be no new pharmacists coming into the job market as no more new graduates will be filling up posts.

“Subsequently, it will slow down the opening of a community pharmacy or retail pharmacies around the country,” he said here, Wednesday.

Chung feels the shortage is inevitable given that the Government will absorb all new pharmacists into the public sector for a three-year housemanship before they are eligible for registration with the Pharmacy Board.

Nevertheless, the association supports the Government’s move as they understand and recognise the reason why the Government is introducing the compulsory service to provide good pharmaceutical care to patients.

“We also agree with the Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng that the compulsory service would make pharmacists more competent which definitely will help them in their future career in the pharmacy field,” said Chung.

“They would gain priceless experience in many areas which are not available to them in the private sector such as in regulatory, community (healthcare) and clinical pharmacy (fields), among others.”

To a question 0n why pharmacists appear to shy away from the public sector, Chung said this had to do with the private sector offering better remuneration.

“Low pay is one of the reasons why a majority of pharmacists would favour the private sector which pays much better.

“So the only way to make them serve longer in the public sector is by imposing the compulsory service. Then the pharmacists will be sent to smaller towns and districts to serve,” he asserted.

On Tuesday, Chua announced that the Cabinet gave its approval last month to amend the Registration of Pharmacists Act 1951 to set a new ruling which would take effect next year after the proposed amendments are tabled at the next parliamentary sitting.

Under the existing law, a pharmacy graduate must undergo a year’s housemanship in an institution recognised by the Pharmacy Board before he can be eligible to register with the board.

Of the 3,234 pharmacists practising in the country, only 583 or 18 per cent are employed in the public sector.

July 24, 2003

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Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:12 am

Siti Hasmah conferred honorary doctorate

PENANG: Datin Seri Dr Siti Hasmah Mohamad Ali has been conferred an Honorary Doctorate in Philosophy by Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) in conjunction with its 32nd convocation.

Dr Siti Hasmah, the second recipient of the honorary doctorate after consumer activist Datuk Dr Anwar Fazal, will receive it from Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Fauziah Tengku Abdul Rashid, who is also USM chancellor, on Aug 7.

USM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dzulkifli Abdul Razak said she was awarded the honorary doctorate for her significant contribution in helping to promote health among women, family planning, and reading among the adult population and in educating the younger generation to avoid drugs.

More from: The Star

July 23, 2003

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Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:23 pm

e.sinchew-i.com: Cancers More Prevalent Among Chinese?

MELAKA (Wed): The occurrence of cancers is highest among the Chinese and this is believed to have something to do with the fact that Chinese mainly live in cities and towns while other races mostly live in rural areas.

A cancer specialist said during an interview with Sin Chew Daily, that the national cancer report released by the Ministry of Health recently was the first comprehensive report on the occurrence of cancers in Malaysia. Prior to that, comprehensive statistics on cancers were non-existent in the country.

The report was compiled from data collected from government hospitals, the National Registration Department and private practitioners.

The specialist pointed out that generally, only about 45% of all fatalities in Malaysia are certified by medical doctors while the remaining 55% are documented by non-medical personnel, including the police or penghulu (village chieftains), etc.

Meanwhile, he believed that due to inconvenience in rural areas, a lot of villagers do not seek medical attention and are unaware of the presence of cancers they have contracted. Some of the cancer patients pass away without leaving behind any medical record and have not been included in the statistics.

On the contrary, the Chinese living in urban areas enjoy better medical facilities and are more ready to seek medical attention whenever they fall ill.

He believed those are the major factors contributing to the relatively high occurrence of cancers among the Chinese.

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Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:43 am

Ministry hopes to handle hiring of foreign doctors: ”

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry hopes to take over the process of recruiting foreign contract doctors, its minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said.

“I am not quite happy at the speed in which we have been recruiting these doctors and I have directed the ministry to discuss with the Public Service Commission (PSC) the possibility of letting us recruit the doctors ourselves,” he said.

Speaking to reporters after opening the ministry’s annual health dialogue here yesterday, Chua said delays in getting confirmation of their contract to work in Malaysia was the main reason why only around 10% of the 1,149 posts created for foreign contract doctors last year had been filled.

This was despite the fact that the number of foreign doctors expressing interest in working in Malaysia had been a lot higher than the number of positions available.

“As at June 30, only 135 foreign doctors had reported for duty. Sixty-three were from Pakistan, 40 from India, 16 from Indonesia, 12 from Bangladesh and four from Myanmar,” he said.

Of the total posts available, the PSC had so far only offered 404 contracts.

Chua said foreign doctors had to wait for as long as two years to get confirmation of their recruitment from Malaysia.

Besides these delays, other reasons for the low number of foreign doctors who had taken up their posts were delays by doctors in obtaining “letters of good standing” from their respective medical councils, failure of doctors to obtain release from their employers and requests by doctors to postpone their dates for reporting for duty.

“I believe the ministry will be the most suitable body to handle the recruitment as it knows how many doctors and what skills are needed,” he said, adding that delays did not just occur at the PSC level but also at other agencies, including his own ministry and the Malaysian Medical Council.

On incentives to keep medical personnel in Government service, Chua said that the ministry was in the process of filling 1,034 posts for promotion. Of these, 365 were new posts approved by the Government.

He added that 148 people had already been promoted this year.

“We are also in the final stages of discussion with the Public Service Department (PSD) to allow public health physicians to get a specialist allowance that is at par with that enjoyed by their clinical counterparts.

“If we succeed, the various grades of public health physicians will enjoy a 43% increase in the specialist allowance they are presently receiving,” he said.

The new rates would range from RM1,300 to RM2,400 a month, compared to RM910 to RM1,680 currently.

He added that another incentive that the ministry is negotiating with the PSD for is the fast tracking of promotions for specialists and sub-specialists. This system would allow specialists to be promoted after certain years of service.

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Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:40 am

Compulsory three-year service for pharmacists

KUALA LUMPUR: Newly registered pharmacists will have to undergo a three-year mandatory service in the public sector effective early next year to help overcome the shortage faced by public health institutions, Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said.

He said the Cabinet had approved the ministry’s proposal several weeks ago to amend the Registration of Pharmacists Act 1951, which would be tabled in the next Parliament sitting in September.

“Out of the current 3,234 pharmacists practising in the country, only 583 or 18% are in the public sector, with most of them working with the ministry,” he said.

He also said of the 1,845 pharmacists registered with the Pharmacy Board from 1994 to 2002, only 280 or 15.2% chose to work in the public sector, adding that there were 988 pharmacy posts available in the ministry and more than half of the vacancies have yet to be filled.

Chua said the vacancy rates were high in Sarawak (79.6%), Negri Sembilan (72.1%), Sabah (68.2%), and Selangor (61.5%). “Even the Kuala Lumpur Hospital has a vacancy rate or 63.6%,” he added.

“This poses a problem as the most of the patients are in the government hospitals and clinics and not in the private sector. This affects the effective distribution of pharmaceutical services to patients,” he told reporters after addressing NGOs at the second day of the ministry’s annual health dialogue here today.

Chua said to accommodate this amendment, about 3,000 new posts of pharmacists would be created by 2020, with approximately RM72mil being utilised between 2004 and 2020 on emoluments for them.

“The compulsory service will provide invaluable experience to the young people as it will expose them to a range of professional experience. These include regulatory enforcement and clinical pharmacy practices,” he said.

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