Materia Medica Malaysiana

October 31, 2004

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Hospitals Offer Training To Medical Students

PETALING JAYA, Oct 30 (Bernama) — Major hospitals under the Ministry of Health although non-teaching are now offering clinical training to medical students from public and private institutions of higher learning.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said this was to provide students exposure to patients besides allowing them to understand their roles as medical practitioners.

“We have the criteria …the patient load is sufficient for teaching …only that the current situation is not yet suitable for 100 per cent teaching hospitals,” he said.

He said this to reporters after witnessing an MoU signing ceremony between the Ministry of Health and Monash University Malaysia, here Saturday.

The MoU provides clinical study for the university’s students at Hospital Sultanah Aminah in Johor Bahru.

Sunway Group’s Health and Education Division chief executive officer, Lee Weng Keng signed for the university while the ministry was represented by its Secretary-General Datuk Ismail Adam.

Dr Latiff said besides Monash University, the ministry had also entered into similar agreements with nine public and six private institutions of higher learning.

However, he said the ministry did not issue any certificates for the students on completion of their training.

In line with the development, the capabilities of major hospitals in state capitals would be upgraded in terms of infrastructure and expertise, he said.

This was also to cater to pressing needs by the hospitals besides meeting the needs of learning institutions, he added.

As an example, an allocation of RM40 million had been made to upgrade infrastucture at Hospital Sultanah Aminah, he said.

Meanwhile Monash University Malaysia Pro Vice-Chancellor Prof Merilyn Liddell said that the university will enroll its first batch of 50 medical students early next year.

She said they would undergo their clinical training in Sultan Aminah Hospital in 2007 after completing a two-year initial study at Monash campus in Melbourne, Australia.

— BERNAMA

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Extra health screening for foreign workers

PUTRAJAYA: All foreign workers must undergo an extra full medical check up, a month after their arrival as they have been found to be responsible for the increase in communicable diseases in the country.

The Cabinet Committee on Health and Cleanliness yesterday decided that a more stringent health screening for foreign workers was needed after it was found that tuberculosis, malaria and hepatitis B, diseases which had almost been eradicated, were now back due to the large number of foreign workers.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak said this decision was taken because random checks showed that a high number of them were carrying these diseases.

“Those found carrying communicable diseases will be deported immediately,” he told reporters.

Currently, foreign workers are only required to undergo a second health screening after having been in the country for a year, although authorities do carry out random screenings on between 5% and 10% of the new arrivals.

It was these screenings that uncovered that many of the foreign workers carried health certificates that did not match their health status.

Najib said the Government still required the workers to undergo screening in their home country, as it was part of the memorandum of understanding between the governments.

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Veteran Malaysian doctor spills the beans on illegal beauty treatments

SHE’D had her share of praise and attention lavished on her.

Her friends called her stunning, beautiful, attractive.

And they were bewildered when Malaysia Airlines stewardess Jannie Lew Fong Khun died suddenly three weeks ago outside a Kuala Lumpur clinic – where she had gone for a nose job earlier.

The 35-year-old had gone back for a post-surgery checkup when she collapsed.

A check with the Health Ministry’s online records showed her doctor is a ear, nose, throat specialist who is not licensed to perform plastic surgery.

She’s among a fast-growing number of Malaysians opting to go under the knife.

Dr V Surendranathan, a plastic surgeon for 30 years, said: ‘In the last 10 years, demand has increased 10 times (in Malaysia). About 100 new patients come to see me every month for consultation and surgery.’

The most common requests are for double eyelids, higher or sharper noses, and bigger breasts.

Problem is, there are some people, including doctors hungry for a quick buck, who are not licensed by the Health Ministry and perform cosmetic surgery illegally.

Take the example of beauticians who employ nurses from Taiwan and perform procedures like double-eyelid surgeries.

Dr Surendranathan said: ‘Some beauty centres owned by ‘rich people’ bring in nurses from Taiwan who pass off as plastic surgeons.

‘But you must ask yourself: Why would doctors come all the way from Taiwan when they can earn more money there?

‘These nurses learnt how to do plastic surgery from watching their doctors back home.’

Dr Surendranathan was the former president of the Malaysian Association of Plastic, Aesthetic and Cranio Maxillo Facial Surgeons (Mapacs).

NO SYNDICATES

He added: ‘There are professional beauticians who don’t cross the line to perform cosmetic surgery. But there’s another group that has crossed the line.’

He believes there are no organisations or syndicates involved.

Instead, unethical beauticians and doctors who say they are plastic surgeons tend to work on their own.

Dr R Angamuthu, current president of Mapacs, which represent 35 plastic surgeons, say they need to be gazetted by the Health Ministry.

There are 38 plastic surgeons in Malaysia, but it is not compulsory for a surgeon to be a Mapacs member.

Upon graduation, a doctor needs at least another six years of study and practice before he can be a plastic surgeon, said Dr Surendranathan, who is based in Petaling Jaya.

A nose implant costs about RM3,500 ($1,540) while a breast-enhancement surgery can cost RM11,000.

Ms Lew reportedly paid RM33,000 for a nose job before her death.

But some Malaysians who don’t want to fork out more for a qualified surgeon end up paying dearly instead.

Dr Surendranathan saw a woman in her early 30s whose abdomen was scarred by laser treatment two years ago.

She went to a beautician to remove stretch marks on her tummy after she gave birth.

He recalled: ‘She came to me for help, but I told her I couldn’t do anything as the burns had already changed the colour of her skin.

‘She had no choice but to live with the scars. Now, she can’t wear clothes that show her belly button.’

Miss Christine Choy, a cosmetic surgery consultant with Murall Beauty House at Petaling Jaya, has seen about 10 cases of botched jobs by beauticians since April alone.

Miss Choy, 29, has five years’ experience in the cosmetic surgery industry, although she is not a plastic surgeon.

Her 20-year-old company started the consultancy service this year, advising customers on the risks of plastic surgery.

Three plastic surgeons conduct at least 30 operations a month, or one operation a day.

TRUST DEVELOPED OVER TIME

The bulk of her customers are female professionals, including lawyers and businesswomen, aged between 28 and 45.

But some people still go to beauticians for cosmetic surgery because ‘trust’ is developed between them and their beauticians over a period of time, said Miss Choy.

But they end up suffering for their misplaced trust.

One of her clients is so terrified of surgery that even after her nose swelled to twice its original size, she’s still considering whether to go for corrective surgery.

Miss Choy said: ‘Her nose-head is now twice its normal size and the region around the nose is blue-black.

IN PAIN FOR A MONTH

‘She was in pain for a month.

‘As she had lost all confidence in cosmetic surgery, she’s still deciding if she wants to go for surgery to correct the problem.’

The woman, a Chinese Malaysian in her early 30s, went to a beautician in Singapore for a nose job six years ago.

In one year, the beautician injected her nose with liquid silicone four times.

She wanted the bridge of her nose to be straighter and sharper.

Two years later, her nose-head started to droop and swell like Pinocchio’s, Miss Choy said.

She went back to the beautician, who removed only 20 per cent of the silicone.

The beautician even spilled the liquid silicone during the procedure.

Desperate, she went to see Miss Choy two months ago for advice.

Miss Choy said the woman should have gone to a plastic surgeon in the first place, as the surgeon would have surgically sharpened her nose bone instead of injecting her with silicone.

But operations done by plastic surgeons are not without risks too, as one out of 10,000 procedures fail, said Miss Choy.

‘She had breast job done before nose job’

MISS Jannie Lew Fong Khun had gone to the Kuala Lumpur clinic on Oct 9 for a check-up, five days after a nose job.

Bystanders brought her back to the clinic after she collapsed on the first storey of the building at Jalan Raja Laut.

The clinic is on the second storey.

But it’s not clear if the death of Ms Lew, who had worked as a flight stewardess for 14 years, was connected to the recent plastic surgery on her nose – or perhaps to other plastic surgery.

A source told The New Paper: ‘The medical examination on her body found puncture marks on both her breasts.

‘Before she came to this clinic, she’d had plastic surgery on her breasts by a beautician.’

As the case is still under police investigation, the source did not want to disclose the identity of the beautician.

Also, the source did not reveal if the beautician is in Malaysia, or when the alleged breast surgery took place.

NO PLASTIC SURGERY BEFORE

But a police spokesman said Ms Lew had not had any other plastic surgery before she visited the doctor at Jalan Raja Laut.

He confirmed the 53-year-old doctor is helping police in investigations, but he couldn’t confirm if there are puncture marks on Ms Lew’s breasts.

The case has been classified as sudden death, and Ms Lew’s family is thinking of getting legal advice.

Two days after Ms Lew’s death, the Health Ministry raided the clinic and found eight types of unregistered drugs, The Malay Mail reported.

If found guilty of possessing unregistered drugs, the doctor can be jailed up to three years and fined RM25,000.

When The New Paper visited the clinic two weeks ago, the doctor and his staff were not there.

A tall, well-built man standing outside the clinic said he was ‘helping out’ at the clinic while the doctor and his staff were with the police.

Miss Lew left behind a 7-year-old son.

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Study on clinics in densely populated areas

JOHOR BARU: The Health Ministry is conducting a study on the ability of clinics and polyclinics in densely populated areas to cope with the increased demand for health care.

Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said some clinics and polyclinics here and in Jinjang and Kepong in Kuala Lumpur could no longer function effectively because of rapid population growth.

He said his ministry would have to identify places to build bigger clinics while upgrading existing facilities and services.

“The increasing development in residential areas could be the reason the clinics are overcrowded as more and more residents are seeking medical attention.

“The problem is due to a weakness in planning. We will look into the matter and take this into account in planning the 9th Malaysia Plan,” he told reporters after visiting the site for the new Taman Universiti clinic here on Friday.

The RM10mil clinic, which would be equipped with facilities such as an X-ray unit, pharmacy and laboratories, is expected to treat up to 500 patients daily.

Dr Chua said the imbalance in provision of health facilities resulted in some areas having a single polyclinic and only one doctor serving a population of 150,000 while other areas with a similar population were served by a hospital.

He cited the Taman Ungku Tun Aminah clinic here as an example of a clinic that was seeing too many patients a month.

He said he had met the state executive councillors and asked them to compile a report on the health needs in their states.

There are about 4,000 government clinics and polyclinics in the country which serve people living within a 5km radius.

“By paying RM1 at these clinics, a person can benefit from the health services there, which is evidence of our success in providing affordable health care,” Dr Chua said.

October 30, 2004

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Varsities to face shortage of lecturers

KUALA LUMPUR: Local universities will face a shortage of medical lecturers when the terms of service of some 40 doctors seconded from the Health Ministry expires over the next few months.

Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Shafie Salleh said seven government doctors lecturing at the Universiti Sains Malaysia would be the first batch to leave at the end of the month and return to their duties.

“We are still negotiating with Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek to extend the secondment period but Dr Chua said his ministry is also facing shortages.

“If an extension is not possible, then, we will have to fall back on Plan B, which is to employ foreign lecturers,” he said at a buka puasa function with public universities’ student council representative last night.

Dr Shafie said the leaving of these Government doctors would have a great impact on the quality of medical courses in eight local universities.

At the dinner, Dr Shafie announced that his Ministry planned to set up a foundation named YES (Yayasan Ehwal Siswa) to promote inter-universities activities in an effort to curb racial polarisation, promote integration and unity among undergraduates.

He said YES also aimed to organise extra curriculum activities to equip university students with “soft skills”, such as leadership training and character building.

“It is not enough to learn solely from the books, we hope to strengthen the confidence and character of our graduates through the YES programme.”

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Pharmacists in private sector told to register

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah Health Director Dato’ Dr Zainul Hamzah said pharmacists wishing to work in the private sector in Sabah will be required to register themselves with the Pharmacy Board of Malaysia, under Type A Licence.

The ruling, which comes into effect on Nov 1, empowers the Sabah Health Director as the licensing officer, under Section 26(4) of the Poisons Act 1952 (Revised 1989).

It does not apply to any pharmacist who has been previously issued with a Type A Licence before Nov 1.

Further details are available from the Pharmacy Board of Malaysia Secretariat (tel. 03-7968 2200) or Sabah Pharmacy Enforcement Office, tel. 088-231609/231610/257258 (Kota Kinabalu), 089-668671 (Sandakan), or 089-775094/759379 (Tawau).

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Government orders steps to control dengue

PUTRAJAYA: Concerned over the drastic increase in the number of dengue cases in the last three years, the government has directed all the relevant agencies to immediately take steps to control the situation and destroy all aedes breeding grounds.

Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak who issued the directive Friday said the government felt that the situation was serious enough to warrant immediate attention from all parties to prevent more deaths from dengue fever.

“There have been a serious increase in the number of dengue cases in the country since 2000 where 3,723 cases was reported. By last year, the number had jumped to 15,442 cases with 72 deaths, including 24 schoolchildren.

“This year, a total of 53 people died of dengue fever to date and 12 of them are schoolchildren. All parties, particularly the local governments, education departments and schools must work together to tackle this problem,” he told reporters after chairing the meeting of the Cabinet Committee on Health and Cleanliness Thursday.

As a long-term effort to curb this problem, Najib said the local governments had been directed to ensure that the designs for all future projects in their areas must not have any potential mosquitoes breeding grounds like open gutters, tanks and sand-traps.

He said the local governments could work closely with the Malaysian Architects Association.

October 29, 2004

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Plant extract may have properties to treat cancer

KUALA LUMPUR: A local pharmaceutical company will carry out tests on mice for a plant extract that can possibly treat cancer.

This follows results of a preliminary cancer research by Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) on the extract, which has shown to kill cancer cells and slow down cell replication.

Autoimmune Sdn Bhd signed a research and consultancy agreement with the university in July to evaluate the company’s 35 herbal extracts for anti-cancer activities.

Lecturer Dr Johnson Stanslas of the Biomedical Sciences department of UPM’s Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences, said the preliminary research began with the testing of nine extracts.

Dr Stanslasa, who led the research under UPM’s Cancer Research and Drug Discovery Group, said the extracts were tested for their anti-cancer activities against three different cancer cells in an artificial environment (in vitro).

“We chose to test them against the breast, prostate and lung cancer cells as these cancers are the number one killers for men and women in Malaysia.”

He said ASB001 was also tested on mice, and the results showed no toxicity as there was no reduction in the body weight of the mice.

“This is a positive sign as anti-cancer agents with minimal toxic effects will benefit cancer patients,” he said.

Autoimmune managing director Patriek Yeoh said if the results from the animal trials are positive, the company may register the extract as a herbal supplement by next year.

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1,200 can qualify as doctors every year

KUALA LUMPUR: The country can produce about 1,200 doctors a year, compared to 950 previously, following the increase in the number of local colleges and universities offering medical courses.

Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said the figure includes foreign-trained doctors, too.

The number is small compared with the country’s needs but the Government could not raise the number of medical graduates without taking quality into account, he said.

Dr Abdul Latiff said Universiti Malaya and Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia produced about 300 medical graduates in 1980.

“Now we have other universities, including private institutions of higher learning (offering medical courses),” he told reporters after witnessing the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the ministry and Kolej Universiti Islam Malaysia (KUIM).

The MoU is for the use of several hospitals under the ministry for the college’s clinical programme for medical students.

Under the MoU, the Ampang, Temerloh, Tampin and Jelebu hospitals and 12 health centres in Negri Sembilan will be used as training centres for KUIM medical students for 15 years. – Bernama

October 28, 2004

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Chua: Operation theatres shut down for cleaning

KUALA LUMPUR: All operation theatres in public and private hospitals are shut down from time to time for cleaning and disinfections if the level of germs and fungus exceed the permissible level, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said.

He said they would be shut down only for a day or two for this purpose.

As such, he said he did not see why the Alor Star Hospital director Dr Juita Ghazali had to announce the cleaning and disinfections for two of the seven theatres in the hospital as highlighted by a few major newspapers yesterday.

“The reports were confusing and these can trigger panic reaction,” he said, describing such reports as irresponsible.

Speaking to reporters in Wisma MCA after the party’s central committee meeting here yesterday, Dr Chua said he had directed his ministry’s secretary-general to investigate the matter.

In Alor Star, Dr Juita said there was no need to close two operating theatres at the hospital here as the fungal spores found in the rooms were not dangerous.

“It is a saprophytic type of fungus and would not cause any infection. The two theatres are now operating normally.”

Dr Juita revealed that the spores were found after air sampling on Saturday.

She said the hospital began air sampling at its first, second and third operating theatres on Oct 16, adding that the three theatres were found to be free from any fungus or bacteria.

“The second test, at theatre four, five and six, was conducted on Saturday morning. The results, which we get on Sunday, showed the presence of fungal spores in theatre four and six.”

Dr Juita said the hospital’s specialists and administrator concluded at a meeting yesterday that the fungus was not dangerous and all surgeries would be conducted as scheduled.

She said a sample of the fungal culture was sent to the Health Ministry for type verification.

The hospital is now conducting a thorough cleaning of the two theatres, including doctors’ surgical boots. Another air sampling of the two theatres would be carried out on Oct 30.

Dr Juita said the spores could have been brought to the theatres by various people, including nurses and doctors undergoing training there.

She added that another possibility could be the change of the vinyl flooring in one of the two affected theatres last week.

Dr Juita said the hospital initiated the air sampling after reading about the fungal outbreak at the Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor Baru on Sept 26.

She also denied that the hospital’s centralised air conditioning system caused the problem as each theatre had its own filter, which was changed every six months.

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