Materia Medica Malaysiana

April 30, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:36 am

Chong praises Kudat hospital

Kudat: Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Chong Kah Kiat has commended the Kudat Hospital for receiving a full three-year accreditation award from the Malaysian Society for Quality in Health (MSQH).

“This is an outstanding achievement by the hospital, and I am proud to see the drastic changes that have taken place,” he said. Chong’s speech was delivered by Kudat MP Datuk Abdul Rahim Bakri.

The example by the Kudat Hospital in delivering high quality and innovative service to the public should be emulated by other government agencies, he added.

Earlier, in presenting the award, MSQH representative and board member Jasimah Hassan said the accreditation award was given in recognition of Kudat Hospital’s compliance with the Malaysian Hospitals Accreditation Standards.

“It focuses on five key areas, namely organisation and management, human resource development, policies and procedures, facilities and equipment, quality improvement activities and safety requirements in providing services,” she said.

The Kudat Hospital is the eighth government hospital to have been accorded the award in Sabah, topping the State in the list of the most number of MSQH recipients in Malaysia.

Also present were Sabah Deputy Director of Health Dr Anil Kumar and Kudat Hospital Director Dr Muhammad Jikal.

April 29, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 2:23 pm

Meet to discuss ways to solve ageing problems

PETALING JAYA: If anti-ageing medicine is not implemented soon, the ageing population will be a burden to the Government, according to the Society for Anti-Ageing Medicine Malaysia (SAAMM).

Its president Datuk Dr S. Harnam said as the ageing population grew the demand for nursing homes would increase and this would involve greater government expenditure.

“Ageing is a disease none of us can escape. At the same time degenerative diseases such as cardiac diseases, strokes, arthritis and cancer increase rapidly after the age of 40,” he said in a statement.

He added that all these diseases led to a massive financial burden on the patient, family and nation, posing a serious socio-economic problem.

To deliberate on such issues and seek solutions to ageing problems, SAAMM will hold the First Malaysian Conference on Anti-Ageing Medicine.

At the conference, to be held at Nikko Hotel from May 1 to 3, it will give information on related medical breakthroughs.

Other topics to be discussed at the conference are internal and external degenerative changes and how to treat them with hormones, nutraceuticals, and aesthetic and cosmetic procedures.

The conference is endorsed by the Health Ministry, Malaysia Menopause Society and the National Sports Institute.

SAAMM is a non-profit medical society formed in 2002 by a group of medical specialists from various fields of medicine dedicated to the prevention and treatment of age-related diseases.

For details and registration, call Dr Aman Kaulsay at 012-215 3210.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 2:22 pm

Private hospitals ready to tackle SARS

Private hospitals nationwide are ready to handle any possible re-emergence
of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome, with many having reactivated
their isolation wards and placed their doctors and nurses on full alert.

Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia president Datuk Dr Ridzwan Bakar said the association had already uploaded to its website the announcement by Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek that the country was back on full alert against SARS, following fresh cases of the virus infection in China.

“The association has also directed its members to abide by the guidelines drawn up by the ministry for hospitals during the last SARS outbreak,” he said in an interview.

He said the hospitals were now familiar with the protocols and, therefore, there should be no problem in their handling of suspected SARS patients.

However, no cases have yet been reported in the country and no passengers arriving from China have been detected with SARS symptoms — high fever, cough and breathing difficulty — through thermal screening at Kuala Lumpur Inter-national Airport and other entry points.

“Private hospitals are on the alert just like public hospitals,” Dr Ridzwan said, adding that it was too early to determine the severity of the new virus in China with two confirmed and six suspected cases, all traceable to one laboratory.

China has also quarantined more than 700 people, including 24 staff of its National Institute of Virology where a medical student was diagnosed with SARS. He is believed to have been doing research on the virus.

Dr Ridzwan assured that private hospitals would work hand-in-hand with the 21 SARS-designated hospitals.

A Reuters report from Beijing said that World Health Organisation teams had arrived in the Chinese capital to launch their campaign to halt a chain of deadly SARS infections, days before hundreds of millions of people set off for the May Day holiday.

Meanwhile, Aida Ahmad reports from Penang that Penang Hospital has established a permanent “Infectious Disease” ward to handle suspected SARS, bird flu and other severe communicable diseases.

Hospital director Dr Zainina Mohd Zain said the ward, in the newlyrenovated Block C, was equipped with four isolation rooms and attached bathrooms.

She said a special team of 70 medical staff, including several doctors, would be assigned to run the ward.

Dr Zainina said the hospital had gained much experience from handling SARS cases last year.

“Members of the special team comprise doctors and nurses who had treated the cases last year. As such, their experience and knowledge will be vital in treating SARS or other severe communicable diseases.” She said the hospital had also been submitting daily reports on any serious communicable diseases detected at the hospital to the Health Ministry.

In Johor Baru, Shahrum Sayuthim reports that State Health and Local Government Committee chairman Datuk Halimah Mohd Sadique has directed that all tourists from Beijing and Shanghai entering the country via Singapore undergo screening for SARS at the Second Link checkpoint.

“They will be barred from crossing into Johor through other entry points, including the Causeway. The new ruling also applies to Malaysians returning to the country via Singapore’s Changi Airport after visiting the two Chinese cities,” she said.

She said the Immigration Department had relayed the directive to their Singaporean counterparts.

“The screening at the Second Link is an additional precauti


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:23 am

Health Ministry’s Eye On SARS: No restrictions on travel to China

Malaysians can still visit China as no travel restrictions have been imposed by the Health Ministry.

However, passengers on flights from Beijing and Shanghai will be screened for fever, said an official from the Ministry’s disease control division.

“They will also be given health declaration forms which require them to notify the quarantine officers at the airports if they have a fever or other SARS-like symptoms or if they had come into contact with SARS patients over the last 10 days.”

Besides that, a health alert card will also be given to passengers from Beijing and Shanghai flights.

“These cards advise them to go to the nearest hospital should they have similar symptoms showing up 10 days after their flight,” said the official, adding that passengers from other parts of China will also be given health declaration forms.

It was reported yesterday that 2,000 people from China and Hong Kong arriving daily in Malaysia are required to fill out health forms and undergo screening.

Thermal screening will be reactivated at airports and hospitals and doctors will be monitoring for symptoms of the disease.

The Ministry’s SARS office has been reopened and doctors have been told to be extra vigilant.

Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek announced this two days ago after China confirmed four cases of SARS and is keeping some 470 people under observation.

April 28, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:24 am

Fighting depression in a child

Depression and mental illness are affecting more children and parents need to recognise the symptoms before they get worse, writes KASMIAH MUSTAPHA.

IF your child is withdrawn, refuses to participate in any activity and is always in a bad temper — and the symptoms persist for at least two weeks — these are signs that he or she is depressed.

Adults will find it difficult to believe that children can be depressed as we have in our mind an idealistic childhood — happy and carefree.

Yet, studies reveal that a child can face emotional problems and depression. Experts say clinical depression has been detected in toddlers, preschoolers and school-aged children.

Depression is one of the most common psychological disorders and is usually referred to as mood disorder. It affects a person’s overall energy, emotions and behaviour.

Although the symptoms of a depressed child are different from those of an adult, the need to address the issue and seek treatment is just as serious. Depressed children can commit violent crimes, drop out of school and even commit suicide.

Dr Edward Chan, principal consultant psychologist at the Malaysian Psychology Centre, says children suffer from mental illness and depression because of low self-esteem and negative messages from adults and peers.

A child who is suffering from depression will display symptoms such as being insecure, withdrawn, excessive crying, irritability, changes in appetite and sleep pattern, he says.

“The child cannot concentrate and does not have the ability to enjoy things and people,” he said after presenting a paper on “Children’s Psychological Development” at a seminar in Kuala Lumpur recently.

He says although studies in Malaysia are scarce, in the US, research has shown that 1.9 per cent of schoolchildren meet the criteria for major depressive disorder while 33 per cent of elementary school children were at least mildly depressed. Every day in the US, six children commit suicide; 342 children under 18 are arrested for violent crimes and 2,833 children drop out of school.

Dr Chan says childhood emotional and psychological problems increase the likelihood of them developing similar psychological problems as adults. “As adults, they will have problems in managing their frustration, are unable to form any kind of relationship and find it difficult to hold down jobs.” The fact that more children are expected to suffer from depression and mental illness is related to their lifestyle. Children growing up in today’s world are exposed to so many negative things, including activities which they are involved in and also the food they take, he says.

“They behave impulsively, they have poor attention spans, display aggressive behaviour, are hyperactive, unable to communicate, are poor academically and are socially isolated.” Dr Chan says children now are commonly exposed to fast-paced television programmes which make them unable to concentrate on slower paced daily activities.

The biggest challenge in raising children in today’s world is to find quality time to inculcate family values amid the constant bombardment of advertisements, he says.

Parents need to become more involved in their children’s activities instead of leaving children on their own most of the time. They should encourage imaginative activities such as drawing, story-telling or creating things with building bricks. “Children’s diets should also be monitored to prevent candida infections which could lead to poor concentration and attention. Children should also undergo a food intolerance and candida test to identify food which can cause behavioural and emotional problems.” Candida is a type of yeast growth found naturally in humans, especially in the stomach. Candida can, however, become pathogenic and abnormally dominant in our body.

Candida infection can result in learning difficulties, poor attention span, lack of energy, fatigue, moodiness, hyperactivity and weight problems.

He added that most importantly, parents should never allow their children to suppress negative feelings because this would also lead to the suppression of positive feelings. “Depression does not only mean that they are being sad but also that they are suppressing feelings. They are keeping everything inside, which is not healthy.

“Parents need to make an effort to spend time with their children and this should be a priority. When you have time with your child, try to arrange for one-to-one interaction, and get into their world.” Parents should also build up their children’s self esteem, appreciating and reinforcing positive qualities and giving constructive criticism rather than criticising, he says.

* The writer can be contacted at

April 27, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 2:05 pm

New alert against SARS

The country is back on full alert against SARS, following fresh cases of the virus in China. From now, thermal screening will be reactivated at airports, and hospitals and doctors will be monitoring for symptoms of the disease.

This follows reports of two confirmed cases and a half-dozen suspected ones during the past week in Beijing and Anhui province, where almost 500 people have been quarantined.

Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the Government would not issue a public advisory against travel to China at this stage.

He added the ministry had reopened its SARS operations room and re-activated its hotline (6-0326989436). Also, 21 hospitals around the country have been directed to set up isolation wards.

Dr Chua said passengers arriving in Malaysia from Beijing are required to undergo thermal scanning to check if they are running a fever, and visitors from Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong are required to fill out health declaration forms.

On Friday, 1,980 tourist arrivals at KLIA and Kota Kinabalu from Hong Kong, Guangzhou and Shanghai were screened for SARS symptoms. None were found positive (See graphic for symptoms on P2).

Speaking to reporters after the first bilateral meeting on health between Malaysia and China at the Institute of Health Management, Dr Chua said all passengers arriving at KLIA from China would also have to submit health declaration cards distributed on board their aircraft.

Dr Chua said doctors and nurses who handled suspected victims during the global outbreak last year would be mobilised at the hospitals.

“Institute for Medical Research and hospital laboratories are also being put on alert,” he said, adding that the ministry would issue daily statements on the SARS situation.

During the global outbreak last year, the SARS virus killed some 800 people and infected more than 8,000. Malaysia reported five cases, with two deaths.

Dr Chua said the ministry would collaborate with China to strengthen surveillance and to facilitate information exchange.

On the SARS alert and the measures put in place, Dr Chua said they would be reviewed from time to time based on global developments and the situation in the country.

Asked whether Malaysia would bar its citizens from visiting China, Dr Chua said: “We are not going to stop anyone from visiting the country. Our advice is to be careful.” China’s Vice-Minister of Health Dr Zhu Qingsheng said Malaysia and China had pledged to work together against SARS and other infectious diseases.

China has stepped up anti-SARS efforts ahead of a major national holiday next week when millions of people will be on the move, he said.

“We have instructed local authorities to take appropriate precautions and measures to prevent the possibility of the transmission of the virus and make the May Day holiday as safe as possible,” he said.

He expressed confidence that “tourists will continue to travel, including out of the country”.

He said China had put in place thermal screening at all exit point


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:30 am

Thermal checks reactivated

The latest Sars outbreak in China has prompted Malaysia to reactivate thermal screening at airports and alert its hospitals and doctors to be on guard for symptoms of the disease.

‘We are on full alert for passengers from China, more so from Beijing,’ Malaysian Health Minister Chua Soi Lek told reporters.

Malaysia escaped relatively lightly when severe acute respiratory syndrome swept Asia last year. Out of 774 people killed globally from 8,000 infected, Malaysia had two deaths from five cases.

Mr Chua said passengers arriving from Beijing were required to undergo thermal scanning to check for fever.

Visitors from Guangzhou, Shanghai and Hong Kong were required to fill out health declaration forms.

About 2,000 people a day arrive in Malaysia from those places, the minister said.

The Health Ministry has reopened a Sars office and a hotline for public inquiries and reports.

Meanwhile, doctors have been reminded to be extra vigilant for signs of Sars when diagnosing illness among their patients. — AP

April 26, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 12:55 pm

Herbal Science to gain from fad in health food

WITH the growing popularity of complementary medicine and health supplements, the future looks bright for herbal preparations, health and personal care products manufacturer Herbal Science Sdn Bhd.

The company, which started operations in 1994, has had to expand its production capacity from a shoplot with one production line to its current premises in Taman Medan, Petaling Jaya, which houses eight lines and a laboratory.

Director Tan Pye Sen said the key to becoming a successful manufacturing company was to continually research and develop new products to create new markets.

“That has always been our strategy. We feel that there is huge potential for complementary medicine and health supplements in Malaysia and around the world,” he said, adding that the company planned to expand its network of clientele locally and overseas.

The front facade of the Herbal Science plant in Petaling Jaya.
Tan said the company, which generated revenue in the region of RM10mil annually, exported about 10% of its products to countries in the Asean region.

“A potentially exciting market for us is China where we are in the final stages of discussion for a significant supply contract.

“China is a huge market and although the local manufacturers are able to produce at a lower cost hence the lower priced products, we plan to leverage on the fact that imports can command a premium,” he said.

In line with the expected growth in demand for its products, Tan said the company would be adding another two production lines in three to four months time.

Herbal Science was founded by Tan’s father, Dr Tan Boon Leong, an Britain-trained pharmacist who became interested in complementary medicine in the 1980s and went to Japan and China to study acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine.

Dr Tan’s inexhaustible passion and interest in developing new products in this field has been the key reason for the company’s success so far.

The company currently has 130 employees, of which 16 are graduates.

Herbal Science also provides services such as product registration, packing services, laboratory testing including microbiology and heavy metals testing, product knowledge training, nutritional analysis and design of brochures and other promotional materials.

Its current production facilities are of good manufacturing practice standards and consists of production lines that can supply products in capsule, tablet, sachet, liquid, powder and gel forms.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:58 am

Mahathir’s daughter in AIDS fight

Extending rights and education for women and giving them choices in their lives is one way the fight against AIDS is being waged in Malaysia, Marina Mahathir said yesterday.

Ms Mahathir, a columnist and president of the Malaysian AIDS Council, is a daughter of Malaysia’s former prime minister Mahathir Mohamad.

She said that knowing about the risks associated with AIDS was not sufficient to change behaviour in women.

Women, particularly young women, were the focus of efforts to reduce an increasing rate of diagnosed HIV-positive cases in her country, she said.

Although women comprised fewer than 1000 of the 57,000 reported cases, their rate of infection was increasing faster than for males, Ms Mahathir said.

At the same time, echoing the experience of other countries plagued by AIDS, the indications were that the virus in Malaysia was starting to move out of the drug population – accounting for 72 per cent of HIV-positive cases – and into the general population, she said.

Ms Mahathir, who also produces a television health program aimed at young women, is one of the speakers at the World Conference on Health Promotion and Health Education that opens in Melbourne today.

“We’ve done a lot to promote women’s rights and options and talk about health because it had been really hard for them to get realistic information,” she said.

“For a long time a lot of women had no idea that they were at all vulnerable. We tried to open their eyes to the fact that women are very vulnerable because you really depend on men using condoms so that you don’t get infected.”

Safe sex was a difficult issue for women to negotiate with their male partners, she said. Although condoms were widely available in Malaysia, there was great reluctance to use them.

“Some people think it is not allowed in our (Muslim) religion or that it doesn’t make it pleasurable,” she said.

It was a myth that condom use was forbidden for religious reasons, “so we are trying to get the people to understand that there is nothing wrong with it”.

One approach was to run training workshops on safe sex for religious leaders, she said.

Ms Mahathir, who is presenting a paper at the health conference on the role of social research in HIV prevention, said Malaysia’s Health Ministry provided strong support for the awareness campaign.

But other government agencies had been slow to realise AIDS was not just a medical problem.

The 47-year-old mother of three became involved in the Malaysian AIDS Council, an umbrella group for 37 non-government organisations, after raising funds for AIDS victims 10 years ago.

She found it hard going because people did not really understand the nature of the problem.

April 23, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:55 am

DPM: Adopt regional response against diseases

Asean countries have to adopt rapid and effective regional response mechanisms to effectively combat any future outbreaks of communicable diseases, Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak said.

He said the SARS outbreak, which had caused the Asian economies to suffer damages in the region of RM40.3bil, had highlighted the need for a more effective and co-ordinated early warning surveillance and communication mechanisms among member countries.

“These mechanisms to warn against threats to public health will contribute much to long-term epidemic preparedness and capacity building for combating any future outbreaks,” he said in his keynote speech at the opening of the 7th Asean Health Ministers’ Meeting and the first Asean + 3 Health Ministers’ Meeting yesterday.

The meeting, themed Health Without Frontiers and held from April 17 and ending today, saw the attendance of heads of delegations from Brunei Darussalam, Cambodia, Indonesia, the Lao People’s Democratic Republic, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, People’s Republic of China, Japan and Republic of Korea.

Two important health related activities, which have been identified for deliberation by the technical groups during the meeting, were the Special Meeting of the Asean Expert Group on Communicable Diseases and the Asean Ad Hoc Working Group Meeting on Traditional Medicine/Complementary and Alternative Medicine.

Najib noted that co-operation between countries in and around the region had contributed to Malaysia’s success in containing the SARS outbreak.

Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek in his address said the experience gained by Asian countries in controlling the SARS outbreak would ensure that the group would be ready when the next new disease strikes without warning, especially diseases with the potential for international spread.

“Past experience has shown that an integrated and comprehensive action plan is crucial in combating communicable diseases, especially those posed by emerging and re-emerging infections.

“Various initiatives under the Asean umbrella are now under way which would provide a long-term framework for the strengthening of surveillance of communicable diseases within the region,” he added.

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