Materia Medica Malaysiana

August 19, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:53 am

Accept mental patients into society: Body

Langkawi: The Malaysian Psychiatric Association, the Health Ministry and a company, Janssen-Cilag, Saturday launched an awareness campaign called “Circle of Care” to eradicate the notion that mental patients are a danger to the public.

Association President Prof Dr Mohd Hussain Habil said the number of aggressive mental patients was low as most adjusted well back into society given the proper medical treatment.

“This programme intends to shift patient care from institutions to the home,” he told reporters after signing a memorandum of understanding in conjunction with the Malaysian Mental Health Convention here.

He said the programme was important – as one in every nine Malaysians suffered from depression to scizofrenia. And between seven to 10 per cent of mental patients committed suicide.

Janssen-Cilag, a company under Johson & Johnson, donated about RM60,000 towards the programme.

The programme kicked off in June when a support group from Hospital Sultan Aminah in Johor Bahru celebrated the return of Hospital Bahagia patients to their respective families.

Meanwhile, the Sultan of Kedah today urged the rakyat and related agencies to ensure the well-being of individuals who suffered from mental illnesses and not merely depend on mental health professionals.

The text of his speech was read out during the launch of the convention by the Raja Muda of Kedah.

The Sultan said efforts by the Health Ministry to promote psychiatric services to all people – in line with this year’s slogan “Mental Health for All” would be successful if there was good support from all concerned.

He urged all parties, including Government agencies and non-governmental organisations, to become a catalyst in actively promoting mental health services and care for patients within society.-Bernama


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:52 am

Open letter to Health Minister Chua Jui Meng

Dear Datuk Chua,

Citizens’ Health Initiative (CHI) wishes to thank you for the reply from officers of the Health Ministry to our email of June 6, 2002 regarding the alleged dumping of HIV-contaminated Factor VIII in Malaysia in 1984/1985 by Cutter-Bayer.

Dr Abdul Rasid Kasri very kindly faxed me a copy of the letter by Dr Yasmin Ayob (dated July 25, 2003) in which she reported that:

Setelah mencari rekod-rekod lama Pusat Perkhidmatan Darah Hospital KL (PPDHKL), didapati memang PPDHKL membeli produk Factor VIII concentrate (Koate) dan Factor IX (Konyne) dari Sykt Cutter/Bayer sejak Julai 1984. Rekod-rekod sebelum ini belum dapat dikesan. Walau bagaimanapun, tidak ada rekod yang mencatitkan samada proses ‘heat treatment’ sebagai langkah mematikan virus dijalankan atau tidak ke atas produk ini, Koata (FVIII Concentrate) dibeli hingga Disember 1989 dan Konyne dibeli sehingga 1997…Melaui perbualan saya dengan Dr G Lopes dan Prof Datin G Duraisamy, FVIII Concentrate dari Cutter memang dibeli sejak 1982. Mengikut Dr Lopes, setelah ‘heat treated’ concentrate dibuat oleh syarikat ini, produk-produk yang telah dibeli ditukar dengan produk yang telah di ‘heat treated’. Memang ada pesakit hemophilia yang menggunakan Factor VIII dan Factor IX yang tidak di ‘heat treated’ sebelum ini.

If we juxtapose what Dr Yasmin reported in her letter to Dr Faisal Hj Ibrahim, against the New York Times article (May 22, 2003) by Walt Bogdanich and Eric Koli:

…At the November [1984] meeting [of Cutter officials], the minutes show, Cutter said it planned to “review international markets again to determine if more of this product [non-heat treated Factor VIII] can be sold.”

And in the months that followed, it had some success, exporting more than 5 million units (a typical vial might contain 250 units) in the first three months of 1985, documents show. [heat-treated Factor VIII was being distributed by Cutter in N. American and European markets beginning February 1984].

“Argentina has been sold 300,000 units and will possibly order more, and the Far East has ordered 400,000 units,” according to a March 1985 Cutter report. Two months later [ie May 1985], the company reported that “in Taiwan, Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia, doctors are primarily dispensing non-heated ‘Cutter’ concentrate.”

By then, while there were still a small number of buyers in the United States, nearly all of the unheated concentrate was being sold abroad, available records show.

All told, Cutter appears to have exported more than 100,000 vials of unheated concentrate, worth more than US$4 million (approximately RM15.2 million), after it began selling its safer product…

The question that immediately arises is whether Cutter/Bayer withheld information on the availability of heat-treated Factor VIII from its buyers (or used various strategems to induce its buyers to continue purchasing old stocks of non-heated Factor VIII, which appears to have been the case in Hong Kong and Taiwan).

Was this also the case in Malaysia? CHI hopes Dr Yasmin’s searches will uncover some documents which can throw light on this.

We appreciate that it may be difficult to establish whether the 11 reported HIV-infected hemophiliacs in Malaysia were infected through contaminated Factor VIII (before or after February 1984), or were infected via cryoprecipitates produced (locally?), or indeed through some other mode of transmission.

What is most important at this juncture, in the context of World Trade Organisation-mandated reductions in ‘trade barriers’, is that we retain adequate national discretion and jurisdiction over imports of potentially hazardous products – and manufacturing processes – as well as tightening up our own internal monitoring and surveillance of products and practices in the international marketplace.

May I also take this opportunity to raise a couple of concerns as a follow-up from last year’s Ministerial Dialogue with NGOs (June 2002):

1) At that dialogue, CHI and the Federation of Consumers’ Association of Malaysia (Fomca) enquired about the representation of organised labour on the Health Ministry sub-committee that was drawing up a fees reimbursement schedule for the National Health Security Fund.

Since salaried workers (and their employers) would be largely bearing the financial burden of national healthcare expenditures under this scheme via payroll deductions, you agreed that it was an oversight that labour was not represented, whilst the Malaysian Medical Association, Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia, Malaysian Employers Federation, consumerists, and other stakeholders were represented.

It has been more than a year, and my recent enquiries with the Malaysia Trades Union Congress and Cuepacs lead me to understand that neither labour confederation has been invited to send representatives onto that sub-committee.

2) At a national conference on ‘Facing the Challenges of Globalisation and the New Trade Agenda’ (October 10-12, 2002, Penang) organised by the Health Ministry, a consultant from Ernst & Young reported on a survey of health tourism prospects for Malaysia, mentioning that cardiological and cardiothoracic services at that time constituted the largest clinical category (by value) of Malaysia’s health tourism earnings. Institut Jantung Negara, according to this consultant, was a key player in this.

CHI believes that the Malaysian public is not against foreign nationals benefiting from our national healthcare capabilities, indeed we can take pride in this.

CHI however is much concerned when more and more of our local health resources are diverted to serving regional (and national) healthcare priorities as dictated by economic (market) demand, rather than on the basis of need.

Reportedly, the queuing time for a stress test at our public heart centres is currently in the region of three months.

At the 2003 Malaysian Health Conference ‘Partners in Health’ (June 23-24, 2003, Kuala Lumpur), organised by the Asian Strategy and Leadership Institute (Asli) I asked Health Ministry Director of Medical Practice Division Dr Ong Chee Leng for some statistics on health tourism services provided by our public hospitals. She said she would get back to me, and we look forward to her further communication.

May I end by thanking you again for your kind responses to our current concerns with the Malaysian healthcare system.

We deeply appreciate these dialogues and exchanges, and we sincerely believe that they can only enhance the performance of our healthcare system and its governance.

Chan Chee Khoon
Citizens’ Health Initiative

August 18, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:14 am

Increase work ethic in hospitals – Chua

KOTA BHARU Aug 17 – Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng has urged the health sector, especially hospitals, to increase their work ethic in an effort to give the best service to the people of Malaysia.

He said the health sector was facing many new challenges due to high expectations and demands from the people who want a quality and ever-improving health service.

“The attitude of emphasising on service, quality and results should be prioritised. We must remember that quality is ever changing, following the needs of the customers,” he said.

Chua’s speech celebrating Kota Bharu Hospital (HKB) staff and management in conjunction with it winning the Prime Minister Quality Award (Public Sector) 2002 last year was read by Ministry secretary-general Datuk Alias Ali.

Chua said the health sector needed to be sensitive to technological innovations and its management should be able to change according to the customers’ needs by being proactive, creative and thinking positively.

Chua also praised HKB for the various awards which it had won, including the Prime Minister’s Award, which was the highest recognition to government agencies and departments for excellent quality management.

HKB was the second hospital to be conferred the award, after the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital in Kuantan received it in 1999, he said.

HKB, which received ISO 9002 certification in 1994, was also accredited by the Malaysia Society for Quality in Health three times since 2000.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:13 am

Health: Dangerous minds

Dr Yen Teck Hoe

According to the Malaysian Psychiatric Association, between 10 and 15 per cent of Malaysia’s population suffer from some form of mental illness. These range from depression to anxiety disorders and substance addiction. While the percentage may not seem alarming, consider this: 15 per cent of Malaysia’s population (24 million) would amount to 3.6 million people.

Compare this to the World Health Organisation’s Global Burden Study projection for year 2020 which revealed that depression, a form of mental illness, would be the second largest cause of disability after cardiovascular diseases. These facts and figures only elevate the need to address mental health and its importance.

However, addressing the issue is an uphill task with the most obvious obstacle being our mindset. The stigma attached to mental illness is so strong that if we know of anyone who is suffering from some form of mental illness – be it a phobia, depression or anxiety disorders, we are quick to label them as crazy. What’s worse is that if that person is seeking medical treatment for his condition, then the uninformed will see it as an endorsement of his so-called craziness.

This vicious cycle repeats itself, so much so that there is a high tendency for sufferers to not seek treatment rather than face discrimination and be ostracised. This will only worsen his/her problem and in serious cases, lead to suicide. A classic example is the late Hong Kong singer Leslie Cheung and local HVD actor Chin Chew Kiong.

Another obstacle is that people themselves don’t even know that they are suffering from mental illness leading to under-diagnosing of the problem. For example, a patient may suffer from dizziness, difficulty in breathing, shakiness, palpitations, chest pain or pressure, numbness, nausea or diarrhoea. To the patient, it may be a physical problem and refrains from telling the attending doctor the levels and patterns of these occurrences. But they are actually panic disorder symptoms.

Therefore, it is important that we equip ourselves with information on mental health. According to the World Health Organisation, mental health is a state of well-being in which the individual realises his or her abilities. They should be able to cope with the normal stresses of life and work productively.

The above definition is an ideal scenario for optimal mental health. However, it is difficult to block out and escape the many additional stresses that life brings us. Even tragic events may have an effect.

Mental illness in itself takes many forms. Some of the more common conditions can be categorised as mood disorders and anxiety disorders.

We’ve all felt sad and down at some point in our lives. But when that feeling of hopelessness and melancholy becomes too much to bear and insufferable, it takes a toll on your life. This persistent sad mood is the first sign of a mood disorder. There are several types of mood disorders with the more common ones being depression, post-partum depression and pre-menstrual stress (PMS).

Feeling anxious is a part of normal human experience. But when your feelings get out of control and its not just an isolated case of sweaty palms and nervousness, but a constant occurence that disrupts your everyday schedule, it could be that you are suffering from some form of illness – an illness of the nervous system which is medically recognised as anxiety disorder.

There are many types of anxiety disorders such as anxiety disorders with anxious mood, generalised anxiety disorder, panic disorder with or without agoraphobia, obsessive compulsive disorder, simple phobia and social phobia.

The above are just a cross section of the many types of disorders and like any other physical medical conditions, mental illness CAN be treated. One need not suffer in silence as there are trained psychiatrists and medication available to overcome this problem. All it takes is more understanding and an informed public.

* Dr Yen Teck Hoe, MD, MPM, is a psychiatrist and a member of the Malaysia Psychiatric Association.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:12 am

Pool facilities, doctors told

KUCHING: Health practitioners in the state should pool their facilities and expertise in view of the rising cost of medical equipment and personnel, Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan said.

This would ensure that the latest medical facilities and know-how would be affordable to all, he said.

“Medicine is now becoming more expensive and Sarawak will not be able to afford the latest equipment and tools if we are divided into different sectors – government, private or teaching institution. So sharing facilities is a step in the right direction,” he said.

Speaking at the two-day joint Universiti Malaysia Sarawak-Sarawak Health Department medical colloquium here yesterday, Dr Chan said medical practitioners should also share their expertise.

August 16, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:45 pm

Daily Express, Sabah, Malaysia –Unqualified students

Kuala Lumpur: Education Minister Tan Sri Musa Mohamad came out with a shocking expose Thursday – that those who failed science subjects and others from the arts stream are among Malaysian students taking up medical courses in Ukraine.

He said this was discovered after the Ministry conducted a study on 100 out of the 650 Malaysian students there.

“We made a survey on 100 students and found that half of them are not qualified for the medical course. This is something serious.

“Some of them failed in the science subjects and some are from the arts stream,” he told reporters after attending the 21st national-level King’s Cup oratory competition here.

Musa said this in response to queries on why the Ministry had tightened the minimum qualifications needed for admission to local and foreign universities.

Musa said the Ministry also discovered the same scenario at one university in Russia.

“This happened and fortunately we know about it early. I think the people in Ukraine or Russia did not do this on purpose, I think they are either confused or made to be confused,” he said.

Asked on how the confusion could have arisen, Musa said it could be due to the different grading systems practised by Malaysia and Ukraine.

“In Ukraine, to them the digit “ 9 “ (which denotes fail in Malaysia) is the highest grade but for us it is the lowest.

“Hence, there is confusion and I believe their recruitment agents here allowed this to slip through,” he said.

Musa said to prevent a recurrence of the situation, Malaysian students who wished to study abroad were advised to use the services of agents registered with the Ministry.

“Otherwise, we will not be responsible if they happen to be cheated,” he said.

News reports Thursday said the Education Ministry had tightened the minimum qualifications needed for first-degree courses.

The move was in the wake of certain foreign universities which admitted students with inferior qualifications, according to the reports. – Bernama

August 13, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:04 pm

All ethnic groups donate blood, says Chua

KUALA LUMPUR: Statistics show that all ethnic groups in Malaysia were donating blood, dispelling the perception that there were communities which were not willing to be blood donors, Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said.

He said in the Klang Valley last year, 45% of donors to the National Blood Bank were Malays, while 43% were Chinese and 8% Indians.

Until July this year, the breakdown was 51% for Malays, 37% Chinese, 8% Indians and the rest made up of other ethnic groups and fo-reigners.

Speaking to reporters after launching the National Association of Malaysian Life Insurance and Financial Advisors’ (Namlifa) Nationwide Blood Donation campaign at his ministry yesterday, Chua said it was clear that the taboos and superstitions linked to blood donation were disappearing.

Chua said that an annual increase of 8% in the blood bank supply would be enough to meet demand.

He said last year, the amount of blood donated increased by 8.7%, with 418,118 units donated, compared to 387,711 units in 2001.

Namlifa president Phang Siang Yang said its nationwide blood donation campaign would be held between Aug 11 and Aug 17.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:03 pm

Stop new tactics, tobacco firms told

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will meet players of the tobacco industry and ask them to stop some of the new tactics that they have adopted to promote cigarettes after the ban on such activities, its minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said.

The ministry was “very aware” of the ingenious tactics used by the tobacco companies to promote their products since the Jan 1 ban on all forms of cigarette promotions, he told a press conference after launching the National Association of Malaysian Life Insurance and Financial Advisers’ nationwide blood donation campaign at the ministry yesterday.

He refused to reveal the new tactics, but hinted that they could involve “going to certain places, getting free cigarettes and seeing lovely girls.”

Asked whether such new tactics included sending attractively-dressed promotion girls to public areas to push cigarettes, he said: “This has been already been going on, but they are now even more ingenious than that.”

All forms of tobacco advertising and sponsorship, including that on brand names, travel and non-tobacco products, had been banned since Jan 1. However, the Cabinet exempted certain sports and sporting events from this ban.

Direct cigarette advertising had been banned much earlier.

On Malaysia’s signing of the World Health Organisation’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control, Chua said he would be presenting a memorandum on the matter to the Cabinet within the next two weeks.

He said it would be up to the Cabinet to decided when Malaysia would sign the convention.

“We have been given one year until next June to sign the convention,” he said.

Chua also said around 10,000 people in Malaysia died from tobacco-related diseases yearly.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:52 am

New Straits Times Online – MTUC: ‘Very, very slow’ PSC needs change of attitude

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 11: The Public Services Commission’s inefficiency in processing work applications involved not only foreign doctors but local workers as well, according to the Malaysian Trades Union Congress (MTUC).

“They are very, very slow even with today’s information technology,” its president Senator Datuk Zainal Rampak said today.

Zainal was responding to a statement by Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng that the shortage of foreign doctors in Malaysia stemmed from the inefficiency of PSC’s recruitment process. On the recommended time needed to process applications, Zainal said it should take about one month.

“There should be guidelines and procedures to speed up the decisionmaking process. A change of attitude is needed,” he said.

Meanwhile, PSC, in a Press release, refuted allegations that its recruitment process was inefficient.

Chairman Datuk Abdul Wahab Adam said the process involved the Foreign Ministry, Health Ministry and PSC.

He said it took about two to four months for the application forms to reach PSC from the two ministries and about a month for the commission to process the applications.

“We have conducted the interviews first and made conditional offers a day after. The offer is made before applicants registered with the Malaysian Medical Council, which is a requirement.

“This shows we speed things up,” he said. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi recently said benefits offered to foreign doctors working in Malaysia would have to be reviewed to alleviate the shortage of doctors.

August 12, 2003


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:42 am

Utusan Malaysia Online – PSC: qualified foreign docs to be hired immediately

KUALA LUMPUR Aug 11 – The Public Services Commission has offered to hire immediately qualified foreign doctors who have been interviewed although they have yet to register with the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), the authorising body for doctors to practice in the country.

Commission Chairman Datuk Abdul Wahab Adam said the offer would be made by the commission either immediately or one day after the candidate, who had been interviewed, is found to be suitable for the job.

“However, the offer is conditional – the candidate must register with the MMC after accepting the offer. This means the commission has relaxed the procedures to speed up recruitment,” he said in a statement on Monday.

He said the easing of the rules was only for the post of doctors due to the critical nature of the problem.

Utusan Malaysia on Monday published a report, quoting the Health Ministry as saying that the shortage of foreign doctors in the country was due to the commission’s delay in recruiting them.

The daily quoted Health Ministry Parliamentary Secretary S. Sothinathan as saying on Sunday that the recruitment process took months from the date of advertisement of vacancies, call for interviews till the offer letters are issued.

Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said on Monday that he had asked the ministry’s secretary-general to ask the commission to revert to the old format which enables the ministry to conduct interviews and offer temporary contracts to foreign doctors.

Abdul Wahab said the blanket approval by the Chief Secretary to the Government Tan Sri Samsudin Osman was also a move to expedite recruitment of foreign doctors.

He said the Foreign Ministry and foreign missions were also involved in the hiring of foreign doctors.

He said the Health Ministry was involved in vetting the applications to determine the applicants’ eligibility, experience and registration with the MMC while the commission issued the interview and offer letters.

Abdul Wahab said the Health Ministry needed 1,149 foreign contract doctors and to fill up the vacancies, the commission contacted the Foreign Ministry to advertise the vacancies in countries like Bangladesh, Indonesia, India and Pakistan.

In Indonesia, letters calling for interviews were issued quickly as the commission received assistance from the country’s health department, he said.

In other countries, the interview letters would take about a month to be sent to the applicants and another 14 to 20 days to decide on the interviews, he added.

« Previous PageNext Page »

Create a free website or blog at