Materia Medica Malaysiana

September 30, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:42 am

Kuala Lumpur Hospital latest casualty of faulty air-conditioning system

KUALA LUMPUR: The country’s premier public hospital has become the latest casualty of a faulty air-conditioning system.

Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL), the national referral centre, plans to have operations scheduled for the next one week moved to the Selayang Hospital while work was being carried out to repair the 13-year-old system.

HKL performs about 1,000 surgeries a month at its 33 operation theatres.

Admitting that there had been problems with the air-conditioners since August, HKL director Dr Jalal Halil Khalil said five of the 15 compressors needed to be replaced at a cost of RM1.5million.

He said work started on Tuesday and was only expected to be completed on Oct 6.

Dr Jalal added that the orthopaedic and urology departments were also affected by the faulty compressors.

Asked why it took so long to replace the compressors, Dr Jalal said this was because the units, costing RM150,000 each, had to be ordered from the United States.

However, he stressed that emergency operations would still be carried out at HKL.

This is the third hospital whose services, including operations, have been disrupted by faulty air-conditioning.

On Sept 15, The Star reported that services at the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital in Klang had been badly hit by faulty air-conditioning. All elective operations were postponed at the hospital, which schedules about 20 daily.

Three days ago, the Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Baru had to be temporarily closed after fungus was found on the walls and in some of the clinical equipment. The fungus was also due to a faulty air-conditioning system (See report).

Dr Jalal said the decision to move the scheduled operations to Selayang was a precautionary measure as the repair work may trip up the electrical system and cause a rise in temperature at the operating theatres.

The temperature must be maintained at between 18°C and 20°C, otherwise it might contribute to a higher risk of infection for patients.

“The operation theatre committees of both hospitals held an emergency meeting this afternoon on the matter.

“It is better to have the surgeries done at Selayang Hospital than to face the risk of getting infected.

“All departmental heads at HKL have been alerted to the potential interruptions for the next one week where the temperature may rise for a while,” Dr Jalal told The Star last evening.

“There is yet evidence on the rise in such infections,” he said on claims that such infection rates had gone up by two- to three-fold in the past two months. Infection rates are usually below 5%.

However, a doctor at the HKL operating unit, Dr A.T. Kumararajah, said his colleagues had been sweating it out due to the air-conditioning problem.

A check at an unoccupied theatre showed that the temperature was at 25°C.

During the same visit to the three-theatre complex, a senior nurse was even heard telling a doctor not to bring too many people inside as it was hot.

Dr Kumararajah said the air-conditioning system at the theatres had been faulty for the past six months.

“The heat has become intolerable. There were even occasions when there were flies inside the operation theatre,” he claimed, adding that it had increased the risk of contamination, making surgeries riskier than they should be.

Dr Kumararajah said he had brought up the matter to the hospital’s support services provider, Radicare (M) Sdn Bhd, who informed him that two of the five cooling units were not in working condition.

“They told me that it costs RM200,000 to repair each unit and that they had submitted a proposal to the hospital a few weeks earlier,” he sai


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:39 am

Places in public medical schools to go up

PUTRAJAYA: More places to study medicine in public universities will be up for grabs from next year.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Shafie Salleh said the total number of places would be increased from the present 4,625 to 6,045 by 2009.

The 31% increase, he said, would provide more top scorers with the opportunity to pursue their dream of becoming doctors.

“We are adopting a strategy of increasing the number of places in public universities incrementally so that our resources, especially lecturers, will not be overstretched,” he told reporters after chairing his ministry’s post-Cabinet meeting on Wednesday.

Next year, the number of places in the country’s six public medical faculties will be increased by 200. The number will go up by another 245 in 2006, 285 in 2007, 335 in 2008 and 355 in 2009.

September 29, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:03 pm

M’sia slaps heavy penalties, fines for underaged smokers

KUALA LUMPUR (dpa) – Malaysia has announced it has amended its laws to allow for heavier penalties for smokers, including a hefty 1,000 ringgit (US$263.2) fine for those aged below 18 who are caught smoking, news reports said Tuesday.

The new amendments, which were tabled in parliament on Thursday, aimed to reduce the number of teenage smokers in the country, said Health Minister Chua Soi Lek.

“About 3.6 million smokers in Malaysia are youths and the government is targeting to reduce the number,” Chua was quoted as saying by the Star daily.

Youngsters caught lighting up now stand to face a fine of up to 1,000 ringgit, while those found to be selling cigarettes to teenagers will be slapped with a hefty 10,000 ringgit (US$2,632) fine, he said.

The new amendments also extended the list of non-smoking areas in the country to include public toilets, internet cafes, places of worship and school buses.

Previously, non-smoking areas included air conditioned shops and restaurants, learning institutions, government offices and shopping malls.

Chua also said those found displaying cigarette advertisements in their premises face a two-year jail term and fine of 10,000 ringgit.

The harsh new laws are part of the government’s plan to cut the high number of smoking-related diseases in the country such as heart and respiratory problems, said Chua


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:36 am

ACA begins probe on hospital

JOHOR BARU: The state Anti-Corruption Agency (ACA) has started an inquiry to determine any irregularity in the construction of the Sultan Ismail Hospital.

Its director Abdul Razak Idris said the case was serious as it involved public interest and “we are not going to wait for someone to come forward to lodge a report.”

“The statement from the minister as reported in the press was sufficient to warrant an inquiry,” he said yesterday, in reference to a statement by Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek.

Abdul Razak said the hospital project was handled directly by the ministry and the Public Works Department in Kuala Lumpur.

“I think our headquarters will continue with what we have initiated,” he added.

The Health Ministry ordered the RM500mil hospital, formerly known as Pandan Specialist Hospital, to temporarily close after fungus was found on the walls and in some of the clinical equipment.

On Saturday, Dr Chua said the fungus, scientifically known as “penicillium” and “aspergillus,” had been detected since two months ago when the hospital was opened to the public.

He said the fungus was caused by the high humidity inside the building due to the inefficiency of the air-conditioning system.

In Kuala Lumpur, the Works Ministry wants the contractor to install heat pumps to reduce the temperature so as to get rid of the fungus.

Minister Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said the heat pump was only a short-term solution and the hospital should hire an air-conditioning technician.

“The problem arises from the air-conditioning system installed by the contractor because the temperature is too high and encourages fungus growth.

“We can rectify the problem using heat pumps but after that, the hospital must hire a technician to monitor and control the temperature in the hospital,” he told reporters at the Parliament lobby yesterday.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:27 am

Doctor loses patience trying to offer services to government

KLANG: General practitioner Dr K. Balachandran wanted to register to work part-time in government hospitals and clinics, so he got on the phone to find out how to go about it.

Instead of getting the help he needed, he spent a frustrating morning yesterday making over 10 calls and being given the runaround by various departments under the Health Ministry.

“By the end, I was really fed up with the whole thing. Here I am responding to the Health Minister’s call to serve but my intention is hampered by lack of information on the ground,” he said.

Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek had expressed disappointment on Sunday that only one private doctor had taken up the RM40 an hour part-time job in government hospitals and clinics since the offer was opened a month ago.

Dr Chua had said private doctors should stop making accusations or giving excuses as to why they could not take up the offer, adding that those interested could contact their respective state health departments.

According to Dr Balachandran, 52, he first called the Klang health office.

“The staff members I spoke to said they did not have the registration form nor did they know the details of the programme.

“They suggested I try the Tengku Ampuan Rahimah Hospital. I did, but it was also not much help there,” he said.

Undeterred, he tried the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) and Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) but found that they were not involved with the registration.

On the MMC’s suggestion, he tried the Health director-general’s office, which referred him to first the Selangor health department and then the minister’s office.

Dr Chua’s office finally told him to try a certain officer at the state health department.

However, when contacted, the officer said he was not in charge of the registration and referred him to yet another officer.

“This other officer also said she was not the right person to talk to. She suggested I call the MMA. By now, I am so angry that I have decided to call The Star for help,” he said.

Dr Balachandran said the ministry should have the proper procedure spelt out and ensure that the relevant departments were informed.

“How many other doctors out there have endured the trouble I went through and have just given up trying?” he asked.

In Petaling Jaya, MMA president Datuk Dr N. Arumugam said many private doctors were willing to offer their services but there must be a definite system for them to do so.

“I personally don’t know who the officer in charge of this is.

“We are still waiting for official information from the ministry on how private doctors can volunteer their services,” he said when contacted on Monday.

Dr Arumugam said many doctors had tried calling for further information but did not know who to talk to.

“People are not going to go out of their way to find out how they can volunteer,” he added.

September 28, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:05 pm

Dead officer’s slimming pills believed to be illegal

KUALA LUMPUR: The slimming pills bought by Health Ministry officer Rosni Mat two days before she died last Friday is believed to be an illegal product.

The ministry’s enforcement unit seized 500 bottles of the herbal-based Bioflush in 500mg pills and other products, which were not registered under the Sales of Drugs Act, from a shop in the Klang Valley.

Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the raid was conducted yesterday morning and the ministry and police were investigating.

Rosni, 24, a part-time research officer, was found foaming in the mouth and gasping for breath early Friday morning by her housemates at their rented house in Taman Bukit Angkasa, Pantai Dalam, here.

She was dead upon arrival at the nearby University Malaya Medical Centre.

One of Rosni’s colleagues said that Rosni bought a bottle of slimming pills on Tuesday evening and was found frequenting the toilet often on Thursday.

Post-mortem results are expected to be out in two weeks.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:02 pm

Radicare aims for main board listing next year

NON-CLINICAL hospital support services provider Radicare (M) Sdn Bhd is aiming for a listing on the main board of Bursa Malaysia next year, said executive chairman Datuk Seri Syed Anwar Jamalullail.

“We would prefer to go for the listing on our own and not through a reverse takeover or by the back door. Radicare is set to expand and respond to the challenges in the public and private healthcare support sector,” he added.

A provider of hospital waste management, cleansing and laundry services, the group was streamlining its operations to become more efficient in preparation for the listing, Syed Anwar said.

September 27, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:49 pm

Chua disappointed by lack of response

KUALA LUMPUR: Only one private doctor has taken up the RM40 an hour part-time job in government hospitals and clinics since the offer was opened a month ago.

In expressing disappointment over the poor response, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) should take up the challenge.

“It is ironic that some private doctors had even pledged to volunteer their services free of charge earlier.

“Some even accused the ministry of not opening to private doctors and I don’t want to hear any more accusations and excuses from now on.

“I hope private doctors will respond to this part-time scheme as a form of social service and a chance to gain more clinical experience.

“The ball is now at the MMA’s feet,” he told The Star here yesterday.

There are about 8,000 doctors and specialists in the government sector and almost the same number in the private sector.

The ministry is trying to rope in private doctors to help the government health sector which treats some 75% of the total number of patients in the country.

In a year, government doctors treat about 48 million people who seek outpatient treatment while another 1.7 million are warded.

Dr Chua said the Treasury had approved the RM40 new rate while government doctors who did part-time in government clinics after office hours would be paid RM30 an hour.

“Some complained that RM30 is too low. We raised it to RM40 but the response from the private doctors is pathetic,” he lamented.

Dr Chua said the flexi-hours under this part-time scheme should be attractive, particularly to female doctors who needed to juggle between family commitments and career and pensioners who wanted to earn some extra money.

He said private doctors could work a maximum of eight hours a day and it was up to 10 hours a week for private specialists.

Those interested could apply through their respective state health departments, he added.

Prior to this, the government’s part-time scheme for private doctors at RM25 an hour only saw seven takers since its implementation in 2002.

Response from private specialists for the RM120 an hour for those in surgical disciplines and RM100 an hour for the non-surgical ones in government hospitals was equally pathetic.

“Only 19 private specialists signed up for a two-year contract beginning last year so far,” Dr Chua said.

The 19 include one in Selayang Hospital, three in Kuala Lumpur Hospital, seven in Johor and eight in East Malaysia.

On the bad response to the part-time scheme, a private medical specialist said there were other deciding factors besides the payment.

He cited the “not-so-conducive setting” in government hospitals and clinics as among the deterrents.

He said some authorities in government hospitals were somehow “ hostile” towards private specialists.

He acknowledged that working in government hospitals would be beneficial for one’s experience, as there were more complicated cases compared with the private sector.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:47 pm

New hospital closed after fungus found on walls

JOHOR BARU: The Pandan Specialist Hospital near here has been temporarily closed after fungus was found on the walls and in some of the clinical equipment.

Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the RM500mil hospital, barely two months in operation, would be closed immediately.

The decision to close the hospital was made by a special committee comprising representatives from the Health Ministry, Public Works Department and scientists from Universiti Malaya, he said on Saturday.

He said the fungus, caused by high humidity inside the building, had been detected on the day the hospital was opened to the public.

“At first, the authorities thought it was a minor problem and they could overcome it without having to postpone the opening.

“But after about two months, the fungus had spread beyond control and the problem needed immediate attention,” he said after launching a lantern festival in Kulai on Saturday.

Dr Chua said initial investigation showed that the high humidity was caused by inefficiency of the hospital’s air-conditioning system.

There were two other serious defects at the hospital which also needed immediate attention, he said.

“The oxygen piping and the sewerage system are also posing problems,” he said, adding that many of the hospital’s equipments did not meet the specifications set by the ministry.

“These problems are serious and we are not taking any risks. We are of the opinion that it is best to close the hospital so that we can carry out remedial work without obstruction,” he said.

Dr Chua said the hospital’s contractor would carry out remedial works, which were expected to complete within three to six months.

September 26, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:18 pm

Chua: Provide statistics or face the consequences

MALACCA: A few private hospitals, which are promoting health tourism, are still not providing statistics on their foreign patients.

Health Minister Datuk Chua Soi Lek said they had until the end of the year to do so or face the consequences.

He said only 20 of the 35 hospitals promoting health tourism since 1988 had been submitting regular returns to the ministry through the Association of Private Hospitals.

“We need the figures and statistics on foreign patients at our hospitals to strategize and plan our activities,” Chua said at the 10th anniversary of Mahkota Medical Centre here.

He said a study by the government in 2002 estimated that the foreign patient market, worth about RM90mil in 2002, grew by about 30% annually.

“This year our foreign patient revenue is estimated to be around RM154mil, with a large percentage coming from Asean, with Indonesia topping the list,” he said.

He added that cardiology topped the list of health services demanded by the foreign patients followed by general surgery, cardio thoracic and orthopaedic surgery.

Replying to a question, Dr Chua said the influx of foreign patients should not lead to a rise in healthcare costs for the locals.

He said the Middle Eastern countries had been identified as a big market for Malaysia’s tourism drive.

He said medical tourism contributed 30% of the revenue of Mahkota Medical Centre

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