Materia Medica Malaysiana

July 31, 2005

Shallow understanding of HIV

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:20 pm

Everyday 19 Malaysians are infected with the HIV virus and the Government has spent millions of ringgit raising awareness on the disease.
But most people have a shallow knowledge of the disease, a survey on behavioural risks that could lead to HIV infection shows. About 18,805 people aged 15 and above were polled last year by Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Following are some of the findings:

Sixty per cent of respondents believed or were unsure whether a mosquito bite could give them the virus.
Interestingly, 40 per cent of those surveyed said a healthy-looking person, a beautiful woman or a handsome man could not be infected with the virus.
The lack of awareness is surprising considering wall-to-wall media coverage, government activities and effort by non-governmental organisations to highlight the threat of AIDS.

This level of ignorance is more so disturbing because the World Health Organisation recently said Malaysia could have an epidemic on its hands.
Associate Professor Dr Lekhraj Rampal of Universiti Putra Malaysia said he found the survey findings surprising.
“We say we are spreading the awareness message but it is not reflected on the ground,” he said.
The study was funded by the Intensification of Research in Priority Areas, under the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry.
It also showed that 48 per cent of those surveyed did not know whether a HIV-positive woman could transmit the virus while breast-feeding her baby.
Also, 56 per cent of respondents said HIV could spread through sharing of meals while 20 per cent said they did not know.
“Although it was heartening to know that 92 per cent of the people polled knew the definition of HIV, it is more important to know how it is transmitted,” he said.
Someone who comes face to face with ignorance daily is Dr Kamarul Azahar Mohd Razali, a consultant at Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s Institute of Paediatrics.
He said many teenagers do not realise that the virus could be transmitted through unprotected sex, breast feeding.
Nor do Malaysians realise that if someone who is HIV positive consumes marijuana or heroin, the virus multiplies by 200 times.
Dr Kamarul said he believed that sex education should be taught to children.
“It is not about glorifying the act but teaching them about the anatomy and the responsibility associated with sex.”

UKM offers programmes in safety management

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 2:04 pm

STEPS taken to reduce problems in occupational safety and health are usually reactive, that is, they are taken following an accident.
Ideally, these steps should be taken proactively, before accidents happen.
To enhance awareness on the need to manage industrial safety, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s Pusat Kembangan Pendidikan (PKP UKM) or Centre for Educational Advancement is offering 17 programmes including Occupational Health and Industrial Safety Management. Other courses offered are Counselling, Applied Finance and Investment, Manufacturing Systems and Intellectual Property.
PKP UKM is committed to ensuring that the quality of programmes conducted is of equal standard to those run directly by the university.
To this end, entry requirements outlined by the faculties involved are strictly observed, and teaching and supervision standards as well as examination procedures are followed.
The postgraduate diploma in Industrial Safety Management, first offered by PKP UKM in 1995, aims to produce managers who have the knowledge and capability to manage safety and health issues at the workplace.
Classes are conducted on Sundays. Participants will only be conferred the diploma if they have a minimum 70% attendance and complete all required assessment.
To date, a total of 71 people have graduated from the programme, with at least 10 more expected to graduate this year.
Currently, there are 26 students in the 2004/2005 academic session. Many of those enrolled in the programme have an average of eight years’ working experience at managerial level.
Fees, inclusive of textbooks, is RM11,900 for programmes of one and a half years’ duration and may be paid on an instalment basis. Students may withdraw their money from the relevant EPF account.
Entry requirements are either a bachelor’s degree from UKM, or from any university recognised by the Senate of UKM, or a diploma from public institutes of higher learning or private institutes of higher learning accredited by the National Accreditation Board, plus at least five years’ working experience in the field of industrial safety or occupational health.
High achievers from this programme may be considered for credit exemptions and fee reduction when they sign up for UKM’s master’s degree in Industrial Safety Management.

Friendly pharmacists

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 2:02 pm

PHARMACISTS deal with both people and medicine. In line with this, University College Sedaya International recently organised the 4th Annual Public Health Campaign at Sunway Pyramid.
Themed Health is Wealth, Your Say? the campaign aimed to enhance public health awareness about geriatric diseases such as arthritis, diabetes and hypertension amongst senior citizens.
Selangor state director of health Dr Ang Kim Teng officially launched the campaign which aimed to educate the public about the importance of health as well as reinforce the public’s positive perception of the pharmacy profession.
Guests who attended the event included Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society president John Chang and Universiti Sains Malaysia’s School of Pharmacy deputy dean Assoc Prof Dr Abas Hussin.
UCSI Pharmacy Students’ Society president Erik Tan said response from the public towards the campaign was very good.
UCSI’s School of Pharmacy head Assoc Prof Dr Yeong Siew Wei said another of the campaign’s objectives was to instill the importance of customer care into pharmacy students to prepare them for their future career.
The public was also offered subsidised screening tests such as blood pressure, body mass index and body fat tests throughout the three-day event.
“Our students also gave a demonstration on how emulsions and suppositories are prepared,” said Dr Yeong.
Counselling sessions were also held to educate the public on various ways to prevent and manage common lifestyle-related diseases.

Malaysians losing virginity before marriage

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 1:59 pm

Most Malaysians lose their virginity by the time they turn 22, a year before most of them get married.
“It appears that Malaysians overall are having sex before marriage,” said Universiti Putra Malaysia’s Associate Prof Dr Lekhraj Rampal, who led the study last year on the behavioural risks that could lead to HIV infection.
The study, which polled 75 per cent (14,121) of the 18,805 respondents who were or had been sexually active, also found that by age 15, 8.4 per cent of respondents had sex for the first time.
From ages of 16 to 18, 34 per cent of the respondents had their first sexual experience.
“The initial feeling was that many Malaysians would not want to discuss their sexual history but people are quite open about it,” Dr Rampal said.
The study also revealed that 22 per cent had either sought the company of prostitutes or had non-regular partners, including one-night stands in the 12 months before answering the study’s questionnaire.

Provide Breastfeeding Facilities To Working Mothers

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:02 am

KUALA LUMPUR, July 30 (Bernama) — Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Jalil Saturday urged working establishments to support a breastfeeding drive by providing facilities for working mothers to practise breastfeeding.
She said working areas like factories should provide a room and facilities for mothers to store their milk before they were being fed to their babies.
“If we don’t give the proper support system, there is a possibility that these mothers wean off breastfeeding prematurely and indefinitely,” Shahrizat told a press conference after launching the World Breastfeeding Week 2005 at Pantai Medical Centre here.
She said more mothers in this generation had succumbed to the stringent requirements of their working establishments by depriving their babies of breastfeeding.
“For these simple reasons we need to encourage both mothers and employers to understand the logic of breastfeeding by providing a room for mothers to exercise this need,” Shahrizat said.
Meanwhile Pantai Medical Centre had produced a 140-page Breastfeeding Management Manual as an integral part of the implementation of the Ten Steps of Successful Breastfeeding.
It had been recognised as the first private hospital in Malaysia to be awarded the Baby Friendly Hospital status.
The success in achieving this accreditation since 2001 was from the compilation of practicing all the Ten Steps of Successful Breastfeeding as required by the World Health Organisation, United Nations Children’s Fund and the Ministry of Health Malaysia.
Shahrizat said that she would ensure that all the 53 National Population and Family Development Board (LPPKN) clinics throughout the country would be equipped with the manual.

July 30, 2005

50pc of all buildings are sick

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:28 pm

Half of the major commercial and office buildings in the country are “sick” and pose a health hazard.
A survey by the Human Resources Ministry shows that these buildings do not meet international indoor air quality standards.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn said a survey on 2,000 workplaces showed that 50 per cent of the buildings were contaminated with chemical and mechanical pollutants.
This, he said, resulted in the “sick building syndrome” which affected work quality and performance.
He said the representative survey reflected the overall state of commercial and office buildings in the country.
“The ventilation systems in these buildings — offices, restaurants, entertainment and commercial centres — is so poor that toxic pollutants such as carbon dioxide, carbon monoxide, respirable particulates, formaldehyde and volatile organic compounds are easily inhaled by the workers.
“These are emitted by diesel engines powering generators, air-conditioners, tobacco smoke and photostating machines. Formal- dehyde is found in office furniture and carpets,” Fong said, adding that the work environment composed a large part of a person’s life.
From the surveyed buildings, the ministry’s Department of Occupational Safety and Health discovered that carbon dioxide levels exceeded 1,000 parts per million (ppm), the respirable particulate was over 150 micrograms per cubic metre, carbon monoxide levels over 10 ppm and formaldehyde exceeded 0.1 ppm.
Fong warned that tobacco smoke contained more than 1,000 chemicals, 20 of which were toxic and caused cancer, cardiovascular diseases, stroke and chronic lung illnesses.
To address the issue, the ministry has come out with a Code of Practice on Indoor Air Quality, giving employers and building operators a two-year trial period to meet the required standard.
“This has worked in countries such as Singapore and Australia. We hope there will be voluntary compliance or we will have to invoke the powers vested under Section 15 of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, 1994.”
Fong was launching the Code of Practice on Indoor Air Quality at the Hotel Sheraton Subang.

JPJ 's move surprises MMA

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:10 am

The apparent appointment of a private company to monitor the medical examination proposed for commercial drivers has come as a surprise to the Malaysian Medical Association.
Voicing concern over recent newspaper advertisements taken out by a private company calling on doctors to register with it, MMA president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said the Road Transport Department (JPJ) must explain the rationale behind the award of the contract.
It should also review the contract, as the MMA had not been in any discussion on this matter of a third party being involved in the process of annual medical examinations for commercial drivers, he said.
He said doctors were disturbed by the lack of public disclosure on the appointment of a company that might have a negative impact on road safety and increase the cost of medical examination for drivers.
“It’s alarming to the medical profession as to how the tender process was done, and the capability of the new agency being involved in this vital role,” he added in a statement here yesterday.
The MMA, he said, appeals for caution and accountability and calls upon JPJ to reveal the rationale of the award of the contract.
Dr Teoh said the MMA was responsible for initiating the study and survey of drivers as a prelude to establishing an annual standard medical examination for commercial drivers.
MMA’s involvement at that stage was much appreciated by the Transport Ministry, which had also recorded the implementation procedures at official meetings, he added.
However, the introduction of a “third party” into the screening process was without the knowledge of the MMA.
“The policy makers and other stakeholders must engage in open and direct discussions to explore the issues involved if there is to be any suggestions of change,” he said, adding that the involvement of MMA and examining doctors must be a pre-requisite in any discussion or change.

July 29, 2005

Action to halt rising dengue cases

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:16 pm

A ten-fold increase in dengue cases within the last 10 years is worrying the government, prompting it to order all relevant government agencies to take measures to halt the upward trend.
This should result in closer monitoring, greater enforcement, enhancement of prevention measures, and better public education in schools.
A nationwide campaign to clean up schools will be launched in September to encourage full participation from students and teachers to ensure that their schools are aedes-free.
Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Najib Razak said the current statistics showed that 156.1 out of 100,000 people had dengue, up from 132.5 out of 100,000 people last year.
“Last year over 33,000 people were hospitalised with dengue and the upward trend is continuing this year.
“In the last decade, 599 people had died of dengue and this is worrying,” he told reporters after chairing the Cabinet Committee meeting on Health and Cleanliness at his office yesterday.

More than medicine for doctors

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:52 am

Doctors will have to take part in “various activities” that can help their professional development before they are given medical practising certificates in the near future.
Attending workshops, seminars, downloading latest methods from the Internet or even listening to music to de-stress, are some of the activities that doctors could participate in.
“For example, if the doctor is seeing a patient and does not know how to treat, he can straight away browse the Internet for some help,” said Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Ismail Merican.
The move, which would be enforced in five years, is to ensure doctors, including specialists, were up-to-date with new treatment, technologies and knowledge in their respective fields.
Dr Ismail said they were still working on the details but “doctors must get used to the idea now as a time will come when they must show evidence that they have engaged in meaningful continuing professional development (CPD) activities.”
He said it was up to the professional medical bodies, such as the Malaysian Medical Association, Malaysian Medical Council and the Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia, to decide on the amount and type of CPD activities or courses required.
He said each activity participated by the doctors would carry certain points which would be accumulated throughout the year.
“It’s up to the stakeholders to agree on the required set of points per year – whether 30 or 100 – and what areas or courses would be covered,” he said when opening the Malaysian Cardiovascular International Symposium, with live transmission from the National Heart Institute, here yesterday.
He said CPD was the only way to stay relevant, as “the public wants to get the latest treatment and not second or third hand-me-downs.”
“There has been a case previously where a general practitioner told a patient that there was no cure for Hepatitis. This is no longer true,” he said.
On another matter, Dr Ismail warned stand-alone cardiac facilities that they risk facing action if they misuse superlative words, such as “world-class treatment” when promoting their services.
“This is a worrying trend as a lot of centres are being set up. They should not mislead the public by using such words if they are not offering such services.
“We have identified certain centres and they know who they are. We don’t want the public to be duped, as medicine is not a business where you just make money. It deals with people’s lives,” he said.
Event organising chairman and cardiologist Datuk Seri Dr Robaayah Zambahari welcomed the move to make CPD compulsory, as “it’s important to keep abreast because some things we learnt in medical schools are not used anymore.”

Fatwa Council To Discuss Proposed Supply Of Syringes, Condoms, And Methadone To Drug Addicts

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:51 am

PUTRAJAYA, July 28 (Bernama) — The National Fatwa Council will discuss the government’s plan to provide free syringes, condoms and methadone to drug addicts to check the spread of HIV/Aids.
Johor Mufti Datuk Mohd Nooh Gadot said state muftis and Islamic scholars would look at the programme from the perspective of Islamic law in an effort to avoid confusion and misconception among Muslims.
A comprehensive study on the programme was needed besides thinking of the alternatives to overcome the drug abuse and HIV/Aids problems, he told reporters after attending a dialogue on the controversial issue at the Putrajaya International Convention Centre (PICC).
The dialogue, organised by the Islamic Development Department of Malaysia (Jakim) with the collaboration of the Health Ministry, was attended by state muftis, syariah judges, religious officers of government departments, officers of statutory bodies and representatives of non-governmental organisations.
They were briefed by Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Dr Abdullah Md Zin and Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latif Ahmad.
The methadone supply programme is scheduled to begin in October while the provision of syringes in exchange for used ones and condoms is to start next January.
Perak Mufti Datuk Seri Harussani Zakaria was supportive of the programme if it were to be carried out properly to prevent the supply of syringes, condoms and methadone from being misused and regarded by the drug addicts as an encouragement for them to continue with their habit.
“If the implementation is done correctly, say for example a husband has HIV and he is given condoms – it’s not wrong,” he said.
“Similarly with the supply of methadone. I agree because it’s a way of treatment, like giving insulin to people with diabetes under the supervision of doctors,” he added.
He also welcomed the briefing and said that it was the first time he was briefed on the programme.
At the briefing, Dr Abdullah said the supply of syringes, condoms and methadone to HIV/Aids sufferers for free did not mean that the government was encouraging drug addiction.
Rather, it was aimed at curtailing the spread of the HIV/Aids virus and saving the lives of the innocent members of the public, especially the families of people infected with the dangerous disease, he said.
“The government feels compelled and responsible to do something to overcome the problem,” he said.
Dr Abdullah said the programme had received criticism from various quarters, prompting the government to deal with the issue intelligently and equitably in the interests of the public without raising negative perceptions among them.
He said each disease had its remedy, so the government would not lose hope in efforts to help HIV/Aids and drug victims.
“The government hopes the decision or action taken can be understood by the people,” he said.
Dr Abdul Latif said in his speech that public perception that the programme would only raise the number of drug addicts and people testing positive for HIV and promote free sex was incorrect.
He said the World Health Organisation (WHO) had concluded after a 20-year study that there was no strong evidence to show that such a programme had brought about an increase in the number of new addicts or increased the frequency and period of addicts taking drugs.
The “harm reduction” approach was a new approach to prevent HIV infections which had risen many fold since it was detected in 1986, Dr Abdul Latif said.
“If the problem is not checked comprehensively from now, the number of HIV-Aids victims will reach 300,000 by 2015,” he said.
He said the current rate of 18 new HIV cases daily would double as long as people kept sharing needles when taking drugs and had sex with partners whose HIV status was unknown.
Up to last year, 65,000 Malaysians were detected to have been infected with HIV and almost 9,500 of them were diagnosed to have Aids and 7,500 deaths were reported.
“The most saddening part is that 47,000 or 72 per cent of the HIV/Aids sufferers are Malays,” Dr Abdul Latif said.
Chairman of the Health Ministry’s HIV/Aids Programme Datuk Dr Faisal Ibrahim said the ministry was in the process of drafting a set of guidelines to ensure that syringes provided to the addicts were not abused.
“We are not going to distribute the syringes and go home. We will give out the syringes and at the same time give them counselling and advise them to return to the right path,” he told reporters after the briefing.

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