Materia Medica Malaysiana

February 18, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:31 pm

Donors respond to SMS plea for AB+ blood

PETALING JAYA: A week ago housewife Chuwa Siok Hong was at a loss over how to get donors with AB+ blood type for her nine-year-old son’s bone marrow transplant.

However, e-mails and text messages via short messaging service which originated from Chuwa’s friend relating the plight of her son Ang Boon Kit, diagnosed with leukaemia, had brought relief to the family.

Many who received the messages responded to Chuwa’s appeal.

At the University Malaya Medical Centre yesterday, Boon Kit’s father Ang Chek Chau said they now had seven donors on standby for the operation next month.

“We would like to thank those who spread the news and those who responded,” said Chuwa.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 1:10 pm

Pact with Brunei to develop six health sectors

MIRI: Health authorities of Malaysia and Brunei have identified six health and medical sectors to be given greater emphasis in terms of joint venture research and information sharing.

Senior health officials of both countries yesterday gathered here to convene their first bilateral technical working committee conference and agreed that both parties would formulate a joint plan to develop these six sectors.

The six areas earmarked for joint co-operation are communicable disease, health surveillance, food safety control, tobacco products control, cosmetic products control and cross-border movement of patients.

Malaysia’s Deputy Director-General of Health (public health) Datuk Dr Shafie Ooyub said the health authorities of both countries would be able to enjoy tremendous mutual benefits if they could come up with a blueprint for joint co-operation in these sectors.

“This first bilateral meeting of the technical working committee was convened to discuss ways to resolve bilateral issues on health that affect both countries. Whatever health issues in Malaysia will affect Brunei and, likewise, what happens in Brunei also affects us because we share a long border with Brunei.

“The health ministers of Malaysia and Brunei held a meeting on Dec 4 and Dec 5 in Brunei and agreed that both countries should work out a joint formula to resolve health issues on a bilateral basis,” he said after the meeting.

He stressed that the main objective of the meeting was to enhance exchange of information on health services and medical facilities, training to develop human resources, and sharing guidelines and experience in dealing with communicable diseases between both countries so that one would be able to help the other in such matters.

“Both countries have also agreed that we should share our laboratory facilities and services, especially in Sabah, Sarawak and Brunei,” he said.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:55 am

Anti-Smoking Campaign A Hard Sell In Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, February 17 ( – hoping to convince smokers to drop this habit by highlighting the dangerous consequences of smoking, Malaysia has launched an anti-smoking campaign.

Though the campaign – launched Februay 2004 – has rallied anti-smokers with a “Tak Nak” (Say No) slogan, there are fears that all the efforts may fall into deaf ears.

“The campaign is aimed at a large spectrum of the population, including teenagers who are attracted to smoking at an early age, however, there are no certainty of the results of this campaign,” a member of the campaign told Tuesday, February 17.

“We do not want this campaign to fizzle out and the government has stepped in to ensure that it gains enough publicity. Smoking can be stopped if people are pressed to do so,” said Azizuddin while distributing anti-smoking literature at a shopping complex in Kuala Lumpur.

However, it was obvious that those supporting the campaign were mainly people who do not smoke and to reach them is the easiest thing, according to a shop owner who sells cigarettes.

He told IOL that his main business was cigarettes which were selling well despite the price hike registered during last year’s budget presented by Malaysian Premier Abdullah Ahmad Badawi.

The five year national anti-smoking campaign was launched by the Prime Minister a week ago with a big bang, yet the impact is still hard to be gauged.

The government launched the program in a bid to bring the public to understand the dangers of smoking while cigarettes are now considered by the authorities as the ‘gateway’ to Malaysia’s drug abuse problem.

“The country has a huge drug abuse problem and cigarettes are bound to be classified as part of the problem if not the vehicle that makes the problem a persistent one,” said Azzizudin, who told IOL that he successfully helped his own father and brother to give up smoking.

Despite the huge banners and the screaming television debut of the anti-smoking campaign, youth smoking in hiding after school and women seen smoking in public have yet to diminish in Kuala Lumpur.

Evidence of more smoking hazards in Kuala Lumpur frequently comes into the picture when a taxi driver pulls over at a shopping complex, puffing a cigarette and asking a potential passenger where he was heading to.

In busses along the Jalan Ampang, people are still seen smoking quietly in the back seats while others would protest silently.

Before the “Tak Nak” campaign, the authorities took several steps to make smoking in public places, taxis, trains and lifts as well as shopping complexes and restaurants illegal.

A minor campaign to prevent shops from selling cigarettes to teenagers kicked off with mild success and it did not prevent young students from primary or secondary schools to puff their cigarettes behind shop houses in Ampang or in Kuala Lumpur, said Azizzuddin to IOL.

“Virtually all drug addicts are cigarette smokers, and this is a bad situation. I am afraid smoking can lead to other habits, such as (additicting) drugs,” said Zeti, another member of the campaign.

She added that it was high time the country cleaned its act on smoking and the impact it was having on the younger generations.

“Cigarette advertisement too has an impact on children. Though we are lucky that we have regulations against aggressive ads in this industry, we still have a problem on our hands,” she added.

“Wherever we turn our attention to, there is evidence that anti-smoking campaigns are not easy to sell in Malaysia because cigarettes are available everywhere in this country, even in the remotest village,” said young Zeti, a female graduate from a local university.

The tobacco industry in Malaysia earns huge rewards with its sales of cigarettes and despite the high price and the usual warnings by the ministry of health that smoking is hazardous the health, cigarette smoking remains a national sport.

“I will never stop smoking, it’s so fun and I find it crazy that the authorities are going against it,” said a university student who was smoking at a bus stand.

Another pro-smoking citizen told IOL that it was important to crack a pot while busy at work or after having had a bit of a quarrel with his wife.

“It’s a need, an important thing. I wonder why some people says its “haram” – illegal in Islamic terms,” said the businessman who is married to three wives.

Most of the smokers in the country believed that cigarette smoking will not be reduced and that’s it’s a phenomenon that will stay, how much the authorities campaigns against it.

“Whether the “Tak Nak” campaign will be a success or not, we will never know. One thing is certain, the number of smokers are never going to be lesser since each year there are thousands who take up smoking,” said another shopkeeper in Ampang.

February 15, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:10 am

Childhood cancers doubled in past 10 years

Childhood cancer cases in Peninsular Malaysia have more than doubled over the past 10 years, Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said.

He said figures from a report conducted between 1993 and 1995 recorded 475 cases of childhood cancers, compared to 1,163 new cases in 2002 as shown by the National Cancer Registry.

Chua said parents should seek early treatment for cancer and give full co-operation to the medical staff for their children to undergo treatment.

“Childhood cancer is a curable disease, but it is best cured if treated early,” he said.

He said although the diagnosis of cancer was often associated with the grim prospect of death, the good news was that experience in treatment of those illness was remarkable.

Childhood cancers had an average of above 70% chances of being completely cured, compared to a rate of between 20% and 30% in adult cancers, he said yesterday after launching a book entitled Children with Cancer – A Parent’s Guide.

Chua added that in some forms of childhood cancers, 90% of children suffering from the disease could expect a cure.

“It may sometimes take up to two-and-a-half years of treatment but once cured a child may live like any other child, go to school and be successful in life,” he added.

He said the ministry was in the process of studying the feasibility of setting up a National Institute for Cancer and planned to make the proposal in the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

“We know the importance of setting up a specific institute and will have to train our local specialists to conduct research and development for treatments,” he said.

He said the Government would also be upgrading the treatment facilities in Penang, Johor Baru, Kota Baru and Kota Kinabalu in the next few years to turn them into regional centres for treating childhood cancers.

He pointed out that the registry found that blood cancer or leukaemia constituted nearly half of all childhood cancer cases in both sexes.

“The second most common childhood cancers are those of the brain for boys and the eye for girls,” he said.

Among the early signs to look out for are unexplained fever, weight and appetite loss, easy bruising and bleeding for leukaemia, while for eye cancer signs include white spots in the eyes, blindness and bulging eyeballs.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:09 am

70% Cure Rate Among Malaysian Children With Cancer

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 14 (Bernama) — Malaysia has achieved an average of more than 70 per cent cure rate among children with all types of cancer who are treated at an early stage, Health Minister Datuk Chua Jui Meng said.

He said this rate was on par with those of developed countries, and in some cases, the cure rate was as high as 90 per cent.

‘The good news that we want people to know is that childhood cancer can be cured if we can get them early. If the parents and children cooperate during the treatment regimes, then the cure rate is high.

‘Generally the cure rate in Malaysia now is 70 per cent completely cured compared with 20 to 30 per cent among adults,’ he told a media conference after launching a parent’s guidebook on Children with Cancer, here.

Chua said that once cured, these children could go on with their life as normal persons and have families of their own.

He said that although the cancer rate among children in peninsular Malaysia for the past 10 years had increased 150 per cent, the important thing for parents was to ensure tat their sick child went for the early treatment.

‘Leukaemia or blood cancers constitute half of those chilhood cancers, and then, for boys, cancer of the brain is the second highest and the second highest for girls is eye cancer,’ he said.

Chua said there were now three cancer treatment centres dedicated to treating children in the country. One is the Paediatric Centre in the Kuala Lumpur and the others are Ipoh and Kuching.

‘We are planning to upgrade four more treatment facilities in the next few years, namely in Penang, Johor Bahru, Kota Baharu and Kota Kinabalu, for this purpose.’

As for specialists, he said there were now 13 paediatric haematologist-oncologists, five of whom are with the ministry, six in the universities and two in the private sector.

The ministry also planned to propose the setting up of a National Cancer Institute under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:45 am

Bird Flu twice as deadly

Now this is scary.

HANOI (Reuters) – Up to 70 percent of people who have contracted bird flu in the latest Asian outbreak have died from the virus, making it twice as deadly as the last outbreak in 1997, a Hong Kong doctor said Sunday.

Eighteen people have died so far — 13 in Vietnam and five in Thailand — and the virus has been reported in 11 countries.

China confirmed the deadly H5N1 strain of bird flu had been detected in a further six provinces Sunday, while Japan banned chicken imports from the United States after a milder strain of bird flu was discovered in Delaware.

“The data suggests it (mortality rate) is in the range of 60 to 70 percent, so we are quite shocked by this,” David Hui, a specialist in respiratory medicine at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, told Reuters Television. “Last time (in 1997), the mortality rate was 30 percent.”

Hui said there was little evidence that the virus was being spread by anything other than contact with sick poultry, but it was unclear why the H5N1 strain was this time more lethal or why only two countries had reported human deaths.

“This is a puzzle…we are trying to find out: Is the virus changing in structure? Is it becoming more virulent? Is the clinical spectrum different from 1997?” he said.

Hui is one of four experts from Hong Kong who arrived in Vietnam Sunday to join World Health Organization (WHO) efforts to contain the bird flu outbreak.

Let’s hope this outbreak never reaches Malaysia


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:37 am

Malaysia’s Human Resource Ministry checks farm workers at 75 poultry farms

MELAKA : Malaysia’s Human Resource Ministry inspected 75 poultry farms nationwide over the last two weeks to ensure the health and safety of farm workers following the outbreak of the bird flu in surrounding countries.

Dr Fong Chan Onn said his ministry was cooperating closely with the Health and Agriculture ministries to ensure that the bird flu virus is kept out of poultry farms and aviaries.

“My ministry has provided guidelines and the procedures that employers should follow to ensure farmhands are not affected by the bird flu virus, if any,” he told reporters after opening a health seminar on Saturday.

He said the Department of Safety and Occupational Health (DOSH) would continue with its farm inspections in collaboration with the relevant ministries. – CNA

February 14, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:22 am

SARS cost Malaysia $3 billion

According to this report – Economic losses from SARS – quoting the Asian Development Bank :

Singapore lost some $8 billion in business revenue; South Korea, $6.1 billion; Taiwan, $4.6 billion; Thailand, $4.5 billion; Malaysia, $3 billion and Indonesia, $1.9 billion. Vietnam lost only $400 million.
China and Hong Kong, which were hit the worst, lost $17.9 billion and $12 billion in business revenue, respectively.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:32 am

Ensuring poultry farm workers are protected


To ensure workers at poultry farms are not ex-posed to possible avian flu, the Cabinet has roped in the Human Re-sources Ministry.

Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn said his ministry would work closely with the Agriculture, Home, Health and Defence ministries.

“Our role will be to protect workers against the disease,” he said after chairing the ministry’s post-Cabinet meeting today.

He said all workers at bird farms must strictly abide by the directive issued by the Department of Occupational Safety and Health to wear protective gear at all times when handling birds.

“This directive also applies to those in wet markets, zoos and shops,” he said, adding that so far, the depart-ment had checked 75 farms and all had adhered to the guidelines and directives.

He said DOSH enforcement offi-cers in all States have been told to check bird farms and shops and submit a report.

Fong said complacency over the threat of bird flu and other such contagions could lead to a RM50,000 fine and three-year jail term under the Occupational Safety and Health Act 1994.

“No one can afford to be complacent. It’s important that everyone co-operate to ensure that our farms and workers are free of the deadly disease,” he said.

He said anyone entering a bird farm or pet shop must adopt protective measures, irrespective of whether they were members of the public, enforcement officers or operators.

The deadly H5N1 strain of the disease has killed five people in Thailand and 14 in Vietnam, but so far health experts believe humans there have only been infected through contact with sick birds.

Until today, 11 countries — the United States, Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, China, Japan, Laos, Pa-kistan, South Korea, Taiwan and Indonesia — have reported outbreaks of avian flu.

Meanwhile, the Veterinary Ser-vices Department said it would con-tinue checks at bird farms until the avian flu outbreak was contained.

“We will still place Malaysia on high-risk alert,” Veterinary Services Department director-general Datuk Dr Hawari Hussein said.

He said the focus was on the bor-ders and entry points, including airports and ports.

Malaysia has banned imports of all livestock, meat, eggs and poultry-re-lated products from countries affected by avian flu.

Importers have been advised not to import the banned items. If found doing so, the items would be confis-cated and disposed of.

Until yesterday, Dr Hawari said, the department had checked 3,968 establishments — chicken farms (2,612), layer farms (388), cross-bred chicken farms (75), duck farms (195), pet or bird shops (123), bird sanctuaries (five), quail and all other bird farms (237), wet markets (300), and chicken abattoirs (33).

February 13, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:10 am

Penang Hospital starts first patient-run cafe

PENANG: The Perak Road Psychiatric Ward of Penang Hospital has started a cafe run by its patients – the first of its kind in Malaysia.

Penang Hospital consultant psychiatrist and head of department Dr Lau Kim Kah said yesterday that current and former patients running the cafe had been given proper training by the hospital staff.

He added that the cafe, called Kafe Penyayang, was under the Circle of Care programme sponsored by Janssen-Cilag.

The programme conducted in collaboration with the Malaysian Psychiatric Association is organised at psychiatric departments in major hospitals.

“We have two helpers from the hospital guiding the patients to cook and serve customers.

“At any one time we have about four to five patients working in the cafe that is opened from 8am to 1pm,” he told reporters after the hospital’s director Dr Zaininah Mohd Zain launched the cafe yesterday.

Also present were Penang Mental Health Association president Datuk Mary Ritchie, and Janssen-Cilag product specialist Albert See and sales manager Ching Feei.

The cafe, formerly known as the hospital’s Psychiatric Welfare Canteen Body, was tendered to outsiders before the programme was introduced in May.

Dr Lau said patients who worked in the cafe were paid RM5 to RM6 daily, depending on their work functions.

“This cafe would help patients earn some income after they are discharged, when society does not give them a chance to secure a job outside.

“Therefore we want to help them as much as we can,” he said.

He added that by giving the patients a chance to work at the cafe, it also exposed them to a work environment and at the same time allowed them to sharpen their communication skills with others.

See said that under the Circle of Care programme, the Malaysian Psychiatric Association had received US$15,000 (RM57,000) from Janssen-Cilag to carry out national-level programmes.

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