Materia Medica Malaysiana

October 26, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 4:27 pm

Policy needed to safeguard children with HIV

PENANG: An HIV-positive boy grew up lonely at a hospital in Penang after his parents abandoned him seven years ago when he was a baby.

The hospital authorities kept him in isolation because of his medical condition, said Community AIDS Service Penang (CASP) chairman Dr Ismail Baba.

“He grew up in such a sterile and lonely environment for seven years before he was placed in a children’s home several months ago,” he said.

It was an uphill task for CASP volunteers to enrol the boy in a primary school earlier this year. The boy was only accepted into Year 1 in April.

In another case, a nine-year-old girl with AIDS died alone last year.

“No one from her school or village visited her when she was sick and dying. Even the teachers did not call her parents to find out the reason for her prolonged absence,” he said, adding that such indifference would have lasting psychological effects on the affected children and their families.

Another pre-schooler had a hard time enrolling at a kindergarten because the operators demanded a medical report after hearing rumours that her parents were HIV positive.

“Schools have no right to make such demands,” he said.

Dr Ismail urged the Government to draw a national policy to protect HIV/AIDS children against discrimination and neglect.

“There is an urgent need to formulate a legal policy to protect the 6,000 children who are affected by HIV/ AIDS,” he said, adding that the Health Ministry had until last December recorded 598 HIV/AIDS cases among children under 12.

October 25, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:23 pm

Raffles Medical Group expands into Malaysia

SINGAPORE : Raffles Medical Group has expanded into Malaysia by buying the Island Hospital in Penang for 110 million ringgit or S$48 million.

The move is in line with its strategy to broaden its geographical presence and transform itself into a significant regional player for healthcare services.

Raffles Medical Group owns Singapore’s largest network of private clinics, with more than 60 of them throughout the island.

Besides that, it also owns and operates the 380-bed Raffles Hospital.

But until now, its foreign operations have been quite limited – just five clinics in Hong Kong and a representative office in Indonesia.

Buying Island Hospital will enable Raffles Medical to gain an immediate foothold in Malaysia, as it is a profitable operation with an established market share.

And it has growth potential as well.

Dr Loo Choon Yong, Executive Chairman, Raffles Medical Group, said, “We are buying something with a view to grow even more. And indeed there are possibilities of acquisition of some land nearby so that we can expand the physical facilities. We have confidence in Malaysia. That’s why we are making this investment. We have confidence in Penang and we want to make greater investment.”

The 240-bed Island Hospital has an occupancy rate of 70 percent.

It serves Northern Malaysia, Thailand and Sumatra.

Some 30 percent of its patients come from abroad, mainly Medan.

Raffles is buying the hospital at under two times book value and will be paying for it in cash, which it intends to finance mainly from reserves.

Meanwhile, Raffles says it is also looking at expanding into China, Indonesia and the Middle East, but has not set a timetable yet.

Dr Loo said, “Raffles does not just go out and acquire whatever comes in sight. We have been actually quietly looking at many, many opportunities. And we have our own internal hurdle. We have to see if something is worth acquiring, and whether it’s synergistic and whether we can add value and whether it can add value to Raffles and its shareholders. If we are not confident of these things we will not acquire.”

The group however says it is committed to becoming a regional player for healthcare services. – CNA

October 23, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:49 am

Cop laments treatment at govt hospitals

Kuala Lumpur: Corporal Zahari Husin’s left thigh was swollen and infected, the pain was almost unbearable and he could hardly walk.

But the Kuala Lumpur Hospital (HKL) and the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital (HUKM) refused to get him admitted, the 45-year-old policeman said Wednesday.

Zahari claimed that a medical officer at HUKM even went to the extent of telling him to wait for the swelling to turn blue before he could be admitted. “I was only given outpatient treatment. I requested to be admitted because my thigh was very painful and I could not walk … but my request was turned down,” he said at the private Sentosa Hospital, here.

An x-ray taken at the Sentosa Hospital showed two two-cm shrapnel of a booby trap embedded in Zahari’s thigh. He had stepped on the explosive device in 1979 when serving with the Police Field Force in an operation against communist terrorists along the Malaysia-Thailand. He underwent surgery then at the Alor Star Hospital.

The scar had now become swollen and infected. Zahari, who is now a detective at the Dang Wangi district police headquarters, said he was disappointed with what he claimed was the unprofessionalism of staff at the two government hospitals who had failed to take care of a patient in severe pain.

He was only given an injection and pain killers at both the hospitals, he said, claiming that he had waited from 2pm to 10pm to be admitted to HUKM. Zahari said that at the Sentosa Hospital he was told that surgery to remove the shrapnel would put him at risk of paralysis.

He said he had paid RM2,000 to the Sentosa Hospital and owed RM2,000 more, adding that he was forced to seek private medical treatment though it was beyond his means because he wanted to save his leg.

“I had to pay up first before claiming from my health insurance,” he said, but added that money was not the point but the indifferent attitude of the government medical staff entrusted with the responsibility to administer treatment to patients professionally. – Bernama

October 22, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:48 pm

Nurses feel cheated by University Hospital board

WE are a group of retired nurses of University Hospital writing to appeal to the Board of Management of the University Malaya Medical Centre to reconsider its decision to terminate our free medical benefits.

We were the pioneer batch of nurses of the hospital since its inception in 1967 and have dedicated our lives to caring for the sick despite the acute shortage of professional nurses and frequent night duties.

Our pay was relatively low with no overtime, critical allowances or bonuses.

In 1986, the staff morale was at its lowest as large numbers of experienced nurses and paramedics were leaving for higher pay overseas and in the private sector.

As an incentive to retain the nurses and healthcare personnel, the board promised to reward the long-serving employees on EPF scheme free medical benefits only at University Hospital.

We have fulfilled our part by staying on until retirement and as promised were given a pension card, Kad Pesara KWSP, which entitled us to free medical treatment at the hospital upon retirement.

However, a circular dated April 7, last year, was given to the counter staff in the polyclinics to invalidate our Kad Pesara KWSP.

We, the retirees, were never informed of this personally or via any public announcement.

The present board has the moral obligation to honour a promise that was made 17 years ago.

It is a most cruel act to deprive a handful of elderly nurses in their twilight years of the free medical benefits that they rightly deserved.

October 21, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:21 pm

Blood Bank seeks more platelet donors

PETALING JAYA: The National Blood Bank needs more non-Muslim platelet donors in Ramadan, as most Muslims would not be donating blood when they observe their month-long fast.

National Blood Bank medical officer Dr Vaani Valerie said the number of platelet donors had gone down by about 75% after the fasting month started on Oct 15.

“The shortage is also due to the increased number of dengue cases recently,” she said, adding that Muslim donors usually made up 50% to 60% of the donors. The platelets can be kept for five days.

Dr Vaani said the blood bank provided platelets to at least 30 patients at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital as well as patients at other hospitals in the Klang Valley.

Patients with dengue fever and leukaemia were those who needed the blood product most, she said when met at The Star’s blood donation drive at Menara Star here yesterday.

Dr Vaani said platelet donation could only be done at the blood bank as donors had to go through the aphaeresis process that extracted platelet and plasma from one’s blood.

“Donors can choose to donate either platelet or plasma (the watery, yellowish fluid in which the blood cells are suspended and move through veins and arteries in the body) or both.

“The red blood cells (which contain haemoglobin, a protein that carries oxygen to body tissues) are returned to the donors in the process,” she said.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 4:06 pm

‘Fungal’ hospital: Chua says Samy’s explanation unacceptable

Health Minister Dr Chua Soi Lek has described the explanation given by his colleague in the Works Ministry on the fungal problem at the Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor as “unacceptable”.

“We can’t accept this accusation,” Chua was quoted as saying in the Sin Chew Daily and Nanyang Siang Pau today.

Works Minister S Samy Vellu explained on Tuesday that his ministry handed over the Sultan Ismail Hospital to the Health Ministry in March but blamed the latter for only appointing a contractor to oversee the hospital six months later and that the delay had resulted in the fungal problem.

But Chua has a different version of what actually happened.

He told the vernacular dailies that his ministry had immediately pointed out numerous “weaknesses” pertaining to the structure of the hospital building after they took over from the Public Works Department (PWD) in March.

“The cause of the fungal problem was due to the flaws in the building structure during its construction process.

“PWD’s responsibility is to monitor the project development and ensure no problem will arise from its construction. The Health Ministry is a consumer in this case,” Chua added.

Briefing in cabinet

Sin Chew also quoted sources in a frontpage report as saying that the works minister has been “advised” during the cabinet meeting yesterday to exercise extreme caution when giving media statements in future.

He was also requested by his cabinet colleagues to take stringent action against contractors who failed to carry out their tasks and that none of them should be ‘protected’.

The cabinet, however, has yet to state its stand on whether to accept Samy’s report pertaining to problems of six government projects under his ministry. The report was handed over to Prime Minister Abdullah Ahmad Badawi on Tuesday.

Two Barisan Nasional backbenchers, MCA Kota Melaka MP Wong Nai Chee and Gerakan Puchong MP Lau Yen Peng together with opposition DAP Seputeh MP Teresa Kok also expressed their dissatisfaction with Samy’s explanation as reported by Sin Chew.

Wong opined that the works minister’s explanation was insufficient and did not address the main issues such as why the problems occurred repeatedly and why it could not be avoided.

Lau agreed on the inadequateness of Samy’s explanation and felt that the latter should provide an in-depth statement to the media and public, not just to the premier and cabinet.

DAP’s Kok argued that Samy just cannot wash his hands over all that had happened.

“As the minister in charge of the projects, he should have brought it up in the cabinet as soon as he is aware of such problems,” she said.

October 19, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:37 pm

Move to win doctors’ hearts

PONTIAN: The full payment service, to be introduced at government hospitals soon, is not expected to stop doctors from leaving the public sector, said Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek.

Instead, he said the service was aimed at “winning the hearts” of doctors.

“The plan will see the creation of an environment similar to that in private hospitals.

“We are talking about facilities and support staff that would all be just like in private hospitals,” he told reporters after visiting the Pontian hospital yesterday.

Dr Chua said many doctors craved for such an environment in the workplace.

“Now we are working towards creating that environment which we hope will win their hearts and encourage them to continue working in government hospitals,” he added.

Dr Chua said it was not impossible to keep doctors in government service.

“The scenario where doctors leave public hospitals is happening everywhere even in developed countries.

“This is a reality we must face. But at the same time, we are trying everything we can to make them stay (in public hospitals) and the introduction of the service is one of these efforts,” he said.

On the Pontian hospital, Dr Chua said its services would be upgraded to cater to the rapid development in the area, including the construction of the Tanjung Bin power plant and a petrochemical plant.

He said the hospital would be equipped to treat injuries caused by petrochemical incidents.

“I hope to be able to implement the upgrade within three years, which will coincide with the completion of the projects,” he added.

October 18, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:18 pm

Pay for doctor of your choice scheme soon

JOHOR BARU: Full payment service will soon be available at government hospitals in which patients will be put in first-class wards and be able to choose the doctors and specialists to treat them as in private hospitals.

Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the plan would see services equivalent to private hospitals in government hospitals and was aimed at improving efficiency, services and increase competition in the healthcare industry.

Speaking to reporters after attending the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) Johor branch annual dinner on Saturday, he said this would be implemented instead of the earlier proposed private wing at government hospitals, which would have required a high cost to set up.

He said these patients would be required to pay the full amount and the fees would be compatible to that charged by private practices, according to the schedule drawn by the MMA.

He said the ministry would work out the division of fees and payment to specialists, doctors and workforce providing services under the scheme, adding that the service was targeted at those with insurance coverage and patients whose medical expenses were borne by their employers.

“This way, we can help increase the Government’s revenue in medical services which is heavily subsidised.

“For instance, delivery charges for those whose medical treatment is subsidised costs only RM100 while the full paying patients who engage the services of a gynaecologist and obstetrician of their choice will pay around RM500,” he said.

Dr Chua said the Cabinet made the decision last Wednesday and Putrajaya and Selayang hospitals had been selected to start the service next year.

“However, I would like to stress that services provided to other patients will not be affected by this and we assure those seeking treatment in government hospitals that their medical needs will not be overlooked.

“I would also like to emphasise that full paying patients will not be given the priority in the waiting list for surgery and treatments merely because they are paying in full,” he said.

“Any consideration to speed up treatment or an operation will be strictly based on the medical condition of a patient.”

He said hospitals found suitable for such service would have their first-class wards renovated for the purpose, adding that this would involve a large number of the 1,683 beds in first-class wards.

Dr Chua also said that the Cabinet had agreed to allow public doctors to do locum in government hospitals and clinics in view of the shortage of doctors.

He added this initiative would also prevent them from leaving Government service.


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:01 am

Medical practitioners ‘abuse’ usage of pill for profits

SEGAMAT: An agonistic pill, used as an alternative to cut down the cravings of drug addicts undergoing rehabilitation, has been abused by certain medical practitioners and pharmacists to gain profits.

Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the pill was prescribed by doctors and administered as a detoxification treatment for drug addicts hooked on morphine and heroin.

“When used as a treatment, the pill may help reduce drug cravings. However, if the pill is mixed with other drugs, it can produce a euphoric effect.

“This means that instead of cutting down the cravings, it enhances the ‘high’ feeling of the addict,” Dr Chua told reporters after visiting the Segamat Hospital here Saturday

October 17, 2004


Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:40 pm

Private hospitals to be available in government hospitals soon

JOHOR BARU: Services equivalent to those in private hospitals will soon be available in government hospitals with the introduction of the full payment service, aimed at improving efficiency, services and increase competition in the health industry.

Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek, in making the announcement, said under the proposed service, patients would be warded in first-class wards and could choose the doctors and specialists to treat them, similar to the option available when seeking treatment in private hospitals.

Speaking to reporters after attending the MMA (Johor branch) annual dinner on Saturday night, he said this would be implemented instead of the earlier proposal for a private wing at government hospitals, which would incur a high cost in setting up.

He said instead of paying the subsidised fees, these patients would be required to pay the full amount and the fees would be compatible to that charged by private practices, according to schedule drawn by the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA).

Dr Chua said the Cabinet had made the decision last Wednesday and Putrajaya and Selayang hospitals had been selected to start the service next year

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