Materia Medica Malaysiana

September 26, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 1:32 pm

Sudden death shocks ministry staff

KUALA LUMPUR: Staff at the Health Ministry headquarters here are still reeling in disbelief over the sudden death of their colleague, Rosni Mat, believed to have been caused by herbal-based slimming pills.

Instead of heading home to join their families when work ended at 1pm yesterday, a few of her colleagues huddled together on the second floor of their Jalan Cenderasari office, recalling Rosni’s last few days.

At first, they were hesitant to share their thoughts with The Star but they opened up when convinced that her fate could be an eye-opener for others.

They said the 24-year-old Universiti Malaya graduate – who joined the ministry as part-time research officer on May 24 and whom they described as bubbly, friendly and hardworking – had never taken a day of sick leave.

And yet she was found foaming at the mouth and gasping for breath early Friday morning by her housemates at their rented house in Taman Bukit Angkasa, Pantai Dalam here, and taken to the nearby University Malaya Medical Centre.

“She was already dead when the ambulance arrived at the hospital,” said a colleague.

Rosni, from Tanah Merah, Kelantan, left behind some clues in the last 48 hours of her life that might help shed some light on the tragedy.

“She bought a bottle of slimming pills on Tuesday evening and kept going to the toilet on Thursday,” recalled a colleague.

Rosni, it was learnt, was about 164cm in height and weighed between 80kg and 90kg.

“Her brother said she had never complained of being unwell,” said another colleague, who had helped the family to arrange to send her body back to Kelantan for burial.

The dangers of slimming pills made headlines in 2002 when Singapore television host Andrea De Cruz had to undergo a liver transplant after taking one such product from China.

It has been found that certain herbs can damage the liver and kidneys and some herbal-based products are tainted by dangerous substances like steroids.

The slimming product Rosni had bought is advertised on the Internet.

In the advertisement, 13 different products – said to be herbal-based – have been listed under the brand and they boasted a wide spectrum of health benefits and cures.

Among other things, they claim to promote slimming and youthfulness, enhance sex life, boost the intelligence of children, reduce high blood pressure and prevent cardiovascular diseases.

The Star made a call yesterday to the number listed but it was “not in service.”

September 25, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:11 pm

Renal failure cases on the rise

There is also a dramatic increase in the intake of new dialysis patients during the same 24-year period — from 43 in 1980 to 2,400, adding to the almost 10,000 who had already registered. Nephrologists believe that the number registered may not reflect the actual situation in the country as there could be many suffering in silence due to lack of facilities. Some could also have resorted to traditional or alternative treatment.

It is estimated that There are some about 100 new end-stage renal cases per million population every year. This, however, is a conservative estimate and believed to be “under-provided” as no proper survey has been undertaken thus far. According to National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia (NKF) medical director Dr T. Thiruventhiran, these figures were growing in tandem with the rise in the number of diabetics and hypertension patients — two major contributors to chronic kidney disease.

In Malaysia, he said, the most common cause of kidney disease was diabetes mellitus. About one-third of patients suffering from diabetes mellitus will go on to develop kidney failure.

He added that about 50 per cent of advanced kidney failures were due to diabetes mellitus. Other causes of kidney failures are high blood pressure, stones in the kidney, abuse of painkillers, infections and reflux diseases in children, Dr Thiruventhiran said early detection of kidney disease can prevent progression to kidney failure.

In view of the rising trend, the NKF is now on an aggressive campaign to create awareness of among Malaysians on kidney diseases, its causes and prevention.

NKF Board of Managers vice-chairman Datuk Dr Zaki Morad Mohd Zaher said with the increase in diabetics, the number kidney disease cases was also expected to increase correspondingly. The ageing population is another contributory factor to the high incidence of kidney cases.

According to the World Health Organisation, Southeast Asia will have the highest rate of increase in diabetics, from 35 million in 2000 to 80 million in 2025.

Currently, More than eight per cent of Malaysian adults suffer from diabetes. And by 2010, this figure is expected to reach 12 per cent.

Dr Zaki, a consultant nephrologist with the Ministry of Health, said when more people suffered from the disease, it would be a burden on the country’s resources. In the United States, it costs about US$15 billion (RM57 billion) a year to treat kidney patients. In Malaysia, he said, the Government spent more than RM1 million annually to directly or indirectly provide dialysis treatment to kidney patients.

“Many of these patients now live longer because of good and affordable treatment provided by government hospitals, non-governmental organisations, social security organisations and private centres. The Government is also now focused on managing diabetic and hypertension patients well.” About 40 per cent of patients receive dialysis treatment dialysed in the Government’s 81 centres, 35 per cent in 73 centres run by NGOs and 25 per cent in 76 private dialysis centres. Death rates of patients undergoing haemodalysis have remained at 10 per cent or lower a year for the last 24 years. Continuous Ambulotory Peritonea Dialysis (CAPD) death rates were higher at 10 to 20 per cent.

On renal transplants, Dr Zaki said the number of people coming only about 25 donors, or 1.2 per million population, come forward to donate their kidneys was still small.

“This number is very small compared to the number of people waiting for renal transplants.

“If we can get more people to donate their kidneys, then there will be fewer people on dialysis.” he added.

Dr Zaki said their main concern now was to prevent kidney failure among Malaysians because if the number was big it would be an additional tax burden on the country’s coffers. He also advised those in the high-risk group to go for regular screening to detect kidney diseases early.

Malaysia’s youngest kidney victim is an eight-year-old. And the average survival period of a kidney patient is between eight and 10 years. Meanwhile, NKF Public Education Unit programme adviser P. Sarada Devi said brochures on kidney diseases were available at all their outlets nationwide. She said talks, exhibitions and public forums were also held from time to time. For details call Sarada at Tel: 03-7954-9048 or nkf website:


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:45 pm

4,151 vacancies for doctors

THE Government needs to fill 4,151 vacancies for doctors this year to improve the present ratio of one doctor to 1,755 patients, according to Berita Harian.

Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Lee Kah Choon said the Government needed new doctors as the present 9,313 doctors in service were not sufficient to meet the needs of the people.

“We are presently engaging the services of 93 local medical officers and 723 foreign specialists on contract basis to meet the shortfall,” he said at Parliament House.

Lee was quoted as saying that the highest number of foreign medical officers on contract were from India (268), Pakistan (167), Egypt (122), Myanmar (84) and Bangladesh (29) while the rest were from other countries.

He also said the Government was giving out contracts to specialists and non-specialists who had retired to meet the shortfall.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:55 am

Gov’t to eliminate negative perception against gov’t hospitals

ALOR STAR Sept 24 – The government is endeavouring to improve services in government hospitals to change the public perception that the standard of service in government hospitals is unsatisfactory, said Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek.

He said several approaches had been taken lately to ensure that the standard of services at government hospitals could be enhanced to the satisfaction of the general public.

He said that among the approaches taken was to update the records and pharmaceutical department to reduce the waiting time for patients to 90 minutes compared to two hours previously.

“In addition, the ministry has also transferred manpower from the less busy hospitals to the busy ones so that the workload of the staff at the busy hospitals can be reduced,” he told reporters after visiting Alor Star Hospital, here Friday.

He said the public should also discard the notion that private hospitals provided better services.

Chua said that in efforts to give specialist treatment, the ministry had identified several hospitals which could provide specific specialist treatment.

“Alor Star Hospital, for example, will offer expertise in arthroplasty and spinal surgery,” he said.

On the new Alor Star Hospital, which is being built at Jalan Langgar, he said the project had reached 77 percent completion.

He said the hospital, costing more than RM500 million, was expected to be ready early next year.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:54 am

5 sailors being observed for bird-flu in Sabah

KUALA LUMPUR — Malaysia checked five sailors for bird flu Friday in the first possible cases outside a northern state where an outbreak erupted five weeks ago.

The sailors already were showing signs of recovering at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, capital of Sabah state on the tip of Borneo island, said Ramlee Rahmat, director-general of Malaysia’s Health Department.

The navy personnel fell ill with flu-like symptoms after coming across the remains of dead swallows on Layang-Layang island, part of the disputed Spratlys group, Dr Ramlee said.

The dead birds were being checked for traces of bird flu, said Hawari Hussein, director of the Veterinary Department.

It would be the first time bird flu Malaysian authorities detected bird flu outside the northern state of Kelantan, which was placed under a quarantine a month ago because of an outbreak of the disease.

Test results on the sailors were unlikely before Monday.

Though it was unknown where the birds came from, Malaysia has been dreading the spread of the deadly H5N1 flu strain since the first case was found Aug 17 in a village in the northern peninsular state of Kelantan.

The entire state was placed under quarantine last week after the disease jumped outside an initial 10-km restricted area. The disease came from fighting cocks smuggled from nearby Thailand.

The Spratlys, which are claimed in whole or part by six nations, lie more than 1,000km west of Kelantan.

The World Health Organization says that migratory birds are spreading the disease and believe it is entrenched in parts of Asia after first appearing this year.

No humans have been infected so far in Malaysia, but H5N1 has killed at least 28 people in Thailand and Vietnam.

Veterinary workers have culled more than 7,000 chickens, ducks and pet birds in Kelantan to stop the spread of the disease, touching off a debate in the deeply conservative state over whether the practice is Islamic.

Kelantan Chief Minister Nik Aziz Nik Mat said on Thursday that the cull – in which birds are stuffed into plastic bags and gassed – was as humane as possible but should be done out of public view to avoid upsetting people. — AP


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:51 am

Doctors about to retire will be re-employed, says Chua

SUNGAI PETANI: The Health Ministry will re-employ local doctors who are due for retirement to reduce the shortage in the country.

Minister Datuk Chua Soi Lek said the move would be implemented with immediate effect.

He said they would be recruited on a yearly contract basis and only those with good track records and had done clinical work would be re-employed.

He said there were about 800 foreign doctors employed by the Government now, adding that the new proposal did not mean that foreign doctors would not be recruited.

Earlier, Dr Chua said the operating budget for the public health sector had increased by six-fold this year compared with 1999, adding that the Government could no longer afford bear an increasing operating cost.

The Government had allocated between RM6mil and RM7mil yearly as operating and development budget for the health sector, adding that it had allocated RM7.8bil for the purpose next year.

September 24, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:57 am

Thailand, Malaysia to cooperate to combat bird flu

Thailand and Malaysia have agreed to cooperate to tackle bird flu along their common border and monitor poultry passing between the two countries.

The agreement, following a meeting between officials, included setting up border quarantine posts and a warning system to alert their neighbour of any new outbreak.

The two countries are among six Asian nations hit by a second wave of bird flu since July.

Cambodia has detected its first new cases of bird flu in chickens since March.

The disease has left 28 people dead in Thailand and Vietnam this year and killed millions of birds across the continent.

September 20, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:38 pm

Short breaks for private clinic docs

DOCTORS at 24-hour private clinics should not have breaks that are longer than 30 minutes, said Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr N. Arumugam

According to Sin Chew Daily, the association’s code of ethics stated that private clinics should not accept patients if the doctors are not around.

Dr Arumugam also said the nurses should inform the patients if there are no doctors at the premises.

He was speaking at the launch of the association’s homepage in Kuala Lumpur on Saturday.

Internal Security Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Abu Seman Yusop said private hospitals should not collect payments from patients who needed blood.

He said it was irresponsible of the private hospitals to collect such payments as they are getting their blood supply from government hospitals, adding that he would raise the matter with the Health Ministry.

September 17, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:23 pm

Make sure you have enough blood, hospitals told

KUALA LUMPUR: All hospitals, private or Government, must ensure that they have enough stock in their respective blood banks.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad told The Malay Mail that hospitals can open accounts with the National Blood Bank in case they run short of supply.

Dr Abdul Latiff was commenting on the woman who bled to death after delivering a baby at a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur last Saturday.

“Patients choose hospitals of their liking for many reasons. It is the responsibility of the hospital concerned to see to the patient’s needs,” he said, adding that this death could have been avoided if the hospital had taken steps to deal with any eventuality.

“In this case, the hospital should have ensured they had enough supply in its blood bank.

“Private hospitals should not think of only making profits.”

Dr Abdul Latiff said he is waiting for a report on the incident from the hospital concerned.

He said cases of mothers bleeding to death after a delivery is very rare in Malaysia. Statistics show such incidents occur in about six to seven out of 100,000 deliveries.

Dr Abdul Latiff said Malaysia has among the lowest rate of deaths after delivery in the world.

Last Saturday, Zou Huiyi, 28, died after giving birth to a baby boy, her first child.

It was reported that she bled after the delivery and the private hospital did not have enough supply in its blood bank.

She was rushed to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital but died 15 minutes after admission.

Her baby is said to be healthy.

Zou’s husband, Huang Dexiang, 31, could not be reached for comment.

It was also reported that the couple got married in November last year and was warned by doctors that Zou may not be able to deliver naturally as her uterus was sagging.

Zou was taken to the hospital at 9pm on Friday and doctors said they would have to induce the birth.

About 4pm the next day, nurses told Huang that Zou’s cervix was still not dilated enough. Four hours later, she was ready for birth.

Huang left his wife for about 10 minutes to fetch his mother and when he came back, he was told that the delivery was successful but Zou was in a serious state.

An hour later, he was informed that she had lost a lot of blood and that he should rush her to the KLH.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:00 am

Pharmaniaga enters herbal product market

PHARMANIAGA Bhd yesterday launched its latest product brand – InnoHerb – marking the pharmaceutical company’s maiden entry into the Malaysia herbal products and alternative therapies market worth RM2bil, managing director Azhar Hussain said.

“It’s a huge market and we hope to capture a slice of it,” he told reporters at the launch of InnoHerb, witnessed by Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad, in Subang Jaya.

Azhar said the local market for traditional medicine and alternative therapies was bigger than modern medicine, which was estimated to be worth RM1.2bil.

“We are targeting to achieve RM12mil sales from the InnoHerb range over the next 12 months,” he said, adding that it was still early days for the company in terms of marketing herbal products.

For the financial year ended Dec 31, 2003 Pharmaniaga registered turnover of RM632mil, which was derived mainly from the sales of conventional medicine.

“The introduction of this new range of herbal products in the local market is due to our tie-up with a French company, which took 23 years to develop the technology,” he said.

Pharmaniaga is licensed to produce the new range of herbal products for the Malaysian market and potentially for export in a couple of years.

Azhar said the company also planned to introduce more herbal products over time.

“There is also a possibility we will market our locally developed range of herbal products using Phytogranules technology in future,” he said.

He also said the company was interested in developing Malaysian traditional and alternative medicines in collaboration with local research institutes and centres.

The InnoHerb range of herbal products is available at most pharmacies nationwide.

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