Materia Medica Malaysiana

June 30, 2005

43 Health Products Withdrawn Up To May, Dewan Rakyat Told

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:57 pm

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A total of 43 health products out of 895 sold by direct-selling companies were withdrawn from the market between January and May this year for not meeting standards, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said Thursday.
He told the Dewan Rakyat that within the same period, 3,922 unregistered health products were seized.
Replying to Raime Unggi (BN-Tenom), Dr Chua said 150 out of 2,147 health products were withdrawn in 2004 for the same reason.
He said products sold by direct-selling companies must be analysed by the Drug Control Authority before they are put on the market.
To a supplementary question, by Datuk Dr Rahman Ismail (BN-Gombak), Dr Chua said the ministry had enough experts to carry out the analysis.

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Govt Will Not Entertain Appeals On CSMU – Dr Chua

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:40 pm

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The government will not entertain appeals on de-recognition of the medical degree from the Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) in Ukraine.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the door for appeals was closed as the CSMU had not appealed or replied to the enquiries made by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) on the issue despite of the long period given to them.
The government regretted the university’s attitude which had remained silent all this while, especially when the de-recognition issue was hotly talked about in the country for the past two weeks.
“Till now, we have not received any reply or appeals from CSMU. Only the Ukraine Ambassador to Malaysia made a statement and he tried to turn the matter into a political issue.
“Hence, the cabinet, in its weekly meeting yesterday, decided not to entertain any appeals from the university. The decision is final,” he told reporters at Parliament lobby Thursday.
On education quality at CSMU, Dr Chua said the quality of its graduates was suspect, especially their understanding of medical terminologies in English.
“This is because CSMU still used Russian language as the medium of instruction although it was asked to conduct the medical degree programme in English.
“The government is actively promoting Malaysia as a medical tourism destination. This effort will not succeed if people questioned the quality of Malaysian doctors,” he said.
Earlier, replying to Lim Kit Siang (DAP-Ipoh Timur) in the Dewan Rakyat, Dr Chua said the decision to withdraw the recognition was made based on professional assessment without any political or racial undertones.
Therefore, he said, the decision should not be exploited by political parties to fish for votes.
He also said the decision was made taking into account the safety concerns of students following reports of students being raped and threatened not to report the crime to the authorities.
“Besides safety, corruption is also an issue. The MMC sent a letter last year seeking an explanation on the matter but there has been no reply till today,” he said.
Dr Chua said the MMC also wrote in to the Ukraine Medical Council seeking clarification that the Ukraine government through its medical council did not recognise Malaysian students who are graduates of CSMU and there has been no reply till today.
He also said CSMU graduates have shallow knowledge and weak skills due to their poor command of English.
“Therefore, we decided to withdraw the recognition. We want quality doctors. We endorse MMC’s decision,” he said.

HIV/AIDS drug contract

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:38 pm

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Duopharma Biotech Bhd expects to ink a two-year contract with the Health Ministry likely in August to supply drugs for HIV/AIDS patients, said its managing director Chia Ting Poh.
“We were called by the ministry for a price negotiation and we believe the contract will likely be officially signed by August,” he told FinancialDaily after the company’s AGM in Klang on June 29.
The contract, which may be renewable every two years, will allow Duopharma to supply SLN 30 and SLN 40 tablets, which are three-in-one fixed dose combination (FDC) anti-retroviral drugs, to government, teaching and army hospitals and city halls across the nation.
The new FDC, a life-prolonging drug recommended by the World Health Organisation, will be the first to be introduced in Malaysia.
According to Duopharma’s 2004 annual report, the government intends to fully subsidise the new drug at an estimated cost of between RM15 million and RM26 million, which it says is only 20% of existing treatment costs.
Chia said Duopharma would have exclusive patent rights for SLN 30 and SLN 40, which were waived by UK-based pharmaceutical research firm GlaxoSmithKline.
Chia said the costs to treat an HIV/AIDS patient would be reduced by 80% to RM2,000 per year from RM10,000 per year. Based on official figures, there are 60,000 HIV/AIDS patients in the country with almost 20 new cases reported daily.
HIV/AIDS patients are now paying RM3,000 per year for medication with the remaining RM7,000 subsidised by the government.
“With the government’s intention to fully subsidise the drug, it will encourage more patients to come forward for treatment,” Chia added.
Duopharma is also working closely with the ministry on a pilot project expected to begin by September on the usage of Methadone to cure drug addiction. The government estimates there are 300,000 addicts but unreported cases could be more than that.
“For every one known addict, there are four unknown addicts. The pilot project was initially targeted for six months but it is now indefinite,” Chia said, adding that the pilot project would initially involve 1,300 patients.
“It’s the question of how fast the government can mobilise. There is meticulous paperwork, ensuring appropriate controls are monitored, and doctors are adequately trained to handle the drug,” he said.
He said the government was formulating new guidelines. “The old strategy of criminalising drug addicts and putting them in detention centres is not useful and is costly.” He said private sales of Methadone to general practitioners had increased.

Medical degrees of 333 varsities up for review

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 2:58 pm

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The status of medical degrees from 333 foreign institutions currently recognised by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) will be reviewed.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said this was decided by the Cabinet yesterday.
He said a panel comprising representatives from MMC, the Health and Higher Education Ministries and the Public Services Department would visit these institutions.
“We will be assessing their standards and quality of education, including student-lecturer ratio, living quarters and internal security. This is because standards and quality of education tend to improve or deteriorate over time. The review will be implemented as soon as possible,” he said here yesterday.
The decision, stressed Dr Chua, was not related to the recent MMC’s decision to revoke its recognition of the medical degree from Crimea State Medical University.

June 29, 2005

CSMU Medical Degree De-Recognition Not An Ethnic Issue, Says PM

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:36 pm

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The government’s decision to de-recognise the medical degree from the Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) in Ukraine is not an ethnic discrimination issue, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said Wednesday.
“There is no such intention at all from any party involved in making the decision to be influenced by ethnic considerations,” the prime minister said when commenting on the cabinet’s decision to endorse the decision of the Malaysian Medical Council to de-recognise the medical degree from the university.
“Students affected by the decision are Malaysian students of all races — Indians, Malays and also Chinese…they will together face the difficulties,” he told reporters after visiting the Malaysian Integrity Institute.
In announcing the cabinet’s decision in Putrajaya today, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said the de-recognition would not affect 247 Malaysian students currently taking pre-medical course at the university.
Abdullah said the government decided to allow the students to continue their studies until their graduate with a medical degree.
“Those who are in the preparatory level, we will allow them to continue till they complete their degree.
“To the others, including those who have just applied, we have decided not to allow them to go ahead with their plans,” he said.
Meanwhile, MIC President Datuk Seri S. Samy Vellu said he was happy with the Cabinet’s decision.
He thanked the Prime Minister, his deputy, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, and his Cabinet colleagues for agreeing to MIC’s request to allow the 247 pre-medical students who are already at the CSMU to continue their studies.
The Works Minister agreed with the Prime Minister that there was no racial discrimination in the MMC’s decision to withdraw the recognition.
“The MIC has never perceived the matter as a racial issue,” he added.

Question Time: Opportunity in adversity for Sothinathan

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:51 pm

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By P Gunasegaram
Datuk S Sothinathan’s suspension as a deputy minister for three months raises the question of whether the “punishment” reflects the “crime”. But it does nothing to answer the older question of the debacle over the decision to stop recognising medical degrees from Crimea State Medical University (CSMU) of Ukraine.
Let’s take the first issue first.
The unprecedented step of suspending a deputy minister, also Member of Parliament for Telok Kemang and MIC secretary-general — positions that he will keep — was taken because he criticised the government while being a member of the government.
Sothinathan had last Tuesday interrupted Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad, who was speaking in Parliament over the decision by the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) to stop recognition of the CSMU medical degree.
Relying on the Hansard, the official record of Parliamentary proceedings, Sothinathan’s interruption came soon after Abdul Latiff said: “If a leader of a component party in the Barisan Nasional says that the decision [to withdraw recognition] was to reduce the capacity of the Indian community to produce doctors, it is not true at all.” According to earlier press reports, MIC president Datuk Seri S Samy Vellu had alleged as much.
Abdul Latiff proceeded to provide statistics and said that over 200 Malay students are in CMSU but “our friends in Umno support [the decision to withdraw recognition] because Umno is the custodian of quality”.
It was at this juncture that Sothinathan, feathers obviously ruffled, asked for permission to speak. He explained that since over 500 students or more than 50% of the students involved were Indians, MIC was obliged to offer its views.
But he did not stop there. He questioned why the MMC, if it were professional, had recognised CSMU in 2001. He went on to ask why the Higher Education Ministry issued no-objection certificates to applicants to the university. This was probably in reference to earlier reports that part of the reason for withdrawing recognition was the poor quality of candidates.
Admittedly, Sothinathan was behaving like a backbencher here rather than a member of the administration. But he could have been excused for that, considering that another administration member made a barely disguised reference to MIC and the party boss.
Could the view not have been taken — considering the heat of the moment, the emotive content in the issue, some provocation to boot and the need to have constructive debate — that Sothinathan could have been excused for his behaviour? What good comes out of making him an example?
Also, others besides Sothinathan were more to blame for emotionalising the issue and when he questions the decision of the MMC, he is not questioning an arm of the government but a body set up under an Act of Parliament. In this instance, however, the government supports the decision of the council in stopping the recognition of CSMU degrees.
In the ensuing melee, the question that started it all has been relegated to the back burner — should the recognition for medical degrees from the CSMU be withdrawn? If so, why?
If there are good reasons for this, the MMC has certainly not articulated them well. MMC president and Health Ministry secretary-general Datuk Dr Ismail Merican attributed the withdrawal of recognition to the dubious qualifications of students, the number of students per lecturer, and a possible drop in quality of teaching because of a sharp increase in students, amongst others.
As it turns out, it was the Higher Education Ministry that issued no-objection certificates to some of these students, implying they had the minimum qualifications to undertake the course. Such a situation understandably gave the perception that the decision to stop recognition may have had other motives.
But to be fair to the MMC, it made it clear that the current 1,119 students who have already enrolled in CSMU classes could continue as they are not affected by the move to stop recognition of the medical degrees.
This was glossed over as the situation got politicised. Those who would be affected are those planning to study in CSMU rather than those who are already there and therefore, the fallout from the so-called de-recognition will be a lot smaller than the figures suggest. This point was reiterated by the deputy health minister in his reply in Parliament last Tuesday.
The MMC on its part should be a lot more transparent over its recognition procedure. In the haste to de-recognise, it can close the door to lower-income Malaysians, not just Indians but those from other races as well, obtaining medical degrees cheaply, considering the highly limited places in Malaysia and the very high cost of and limited places in developed countries.
The council and the government should certainly do a lot more to produce doctors locally by setting up more facilities in the country. That will reduce dependence on foreign countries and give more highly qualified Malaysians of all races opportunities to obtain medical degrees. Why is the government not doing that?
Meantime, the only victim of this latest Crimean war, which has been blown out of proportion, is Deputy Minister Sothinathan. But this bit of adversity may give his political career a welcome opportunity and boost.
Now everyone knows Sothinathan. Hope his boss is not too discomfited.

P Gunasegaram is group executive editor at The Edge.

CSMU sends appeal letter to Abdullah

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 12:32 pm

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The Crimea State Medical University in Ukraine has submitted an appeal to the Prime Minister against the Government’s decision to de-recognise its degrees from Jan 1 next year.
Ukrainian Medical Education Sdn Bhd, which represents CSMU, said in the appeal that the university was not informed of the Malaysian Medical Council’s pending decision and had no chance to take steps to rectify outstanding issues.
Dr Subendran Arumugam, a director of Ukrainian Medical Education, said a grace period or at least a warning should have been given to the university.
“A total of 25,000 doctors from 38 different countries have graduated from CSMU,” he pointed out.
“Does this count for nothing? MMC is willing to recognise medical degrees from Indonesia, Bangladesh, Egypt and Jordan, and yet has de-recognised CSMU as lacking in quality.”
He said the large increase of Malaysians at CSMU from 53 to 1,061 in recent years had not affected the institution’s one-to-10 teacher-to-student ratio and the students were spread over six to seven years at various levels of enrolment

Doctors only need to do hospital and clinical duties

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 12:20 pm

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Government doctors will soon no longer be required to take up administrative jobs to be considered for promotion.
Those concentrating on hospital and clinical work would have similar chances.
This follows the Government’s plan to release doctors from being tied up in administrative work, either as hospital administrators or in other administrative capacities, to enable them to concentrate fully on their hospital or clinical work.
Announcing this, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said, for the purpose, a separate service called the hospital administration service would be introduced.
“This new service must be filled up by professionals with medical background.
“But instead of being filled up by doctors, it will be opened to experienced medical officers and nurses with the required years of service.
“They can be trained either locally or overseas and can take over the administration of hospitals so that doctors, whose service is more needed in hospitals and clinics, will not be burdened with administrative jobs,” he told reporters after an official visit to the Health Ministry yesterday.
This, Abdullah said, was one of the approaches identified by the Government to overcome the shortage of doctors in the country.
The other measures include encouraging Malaysian doctors currently working overseas to return and taking in contract foreign doctors.

June 28, 2005

Doc gets Putrajaya posting to intensify HIV/AIDS fight

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:21 pm

Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) director Dr Jalal Halil Khalil will be transferred to the Health Ministry’s office in Putrajaya from Friday.
He has been appointed as the new deputy director for disease control for HIV/AIDS. Replacing him as HKL director is Penang state health director Dr Azmi Shafie.
Dr Jalal, who has experience in disease control, said the transfer was in line with the Government’s fight against HIV/AIDS.
“We are taking a serious approach in combating the disease as even the World Health Organisation has said that Malaysia is on the verge of an HIV/AIDS epidemic,” he said.
Dr Jalal, HKL director for 21 months, had served as disease control director in Malacca and also as deputy director in Pahang, Selangor and Negri Sembilan.
To help curb the spread of HIV/AIDS, the Government recently announced that it would provide free condoms and syringes to drug addicts.
On HKL’s recently launched life support course, Dr Jalal said it was to train staff on disaster and emergency procedures, as well as cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR).
“We hope it can be conducted nationwide as all hospital staff, including security guards and telephone operators, need to know how to handle emergency situations.”

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Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 4:43 pm

MoUs on quality education signed

Universiti Malaysia Sabah is co-operating with three institutions, two of them foreign, to raise the quality of education at its School of Medicine.
This follows the signing of three memorandums of understanding on sharing expertise in clinical research and transfer of knowledge.
The institutions are India’s Manipal Academy of Higher Education (MAHE), Universitas Hasanuddin Indonesia, and the Palliative Care Association (PCA) of Kota Kinabalu.
UMS Vice-Chancellor Datuk Prof Dr Mohd Noh Dalimin, who signed the MoUs today, said in the short term, international scientific seminars could also be arranged. With the understanding reached, he said discussions on experiences in medical education and training would also be held.
He said the understanding with PCA would ensure that their medical students have the right attitude and empathy in caring for the ill.
UMS School of Medicine enrolled its first batch of students in 2003, and they are expected to graduate in 2008.
Noh said a building for the School of Medicine and a training hospital were among the facilities to be constructed with funding from the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

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