Materia Medica Malaysiana

August 31, 2005

TB cases on the rise in Sarawak

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:24 pm

Borneo Bulletin: KUCHING – Tuberculosis cases has alarmed Sarawak as not only the number has increased but the disease could be brought in by foreign workers working in the state.
There are about 400,000 to one million illegal immigrants in Malaysia and 3,000 have been detected for having the disease.
Public Health and Environment Minister Datuk Micheal Manyin said here that the increase to 765 cases from Jan to June this year could also be the “result of poor hygiene” among the locals.
Last year, 1,594 cases were reported compared to 1,685 cases in 2003, 1,748 in 2002, 1,885 in 2001 and 1,766 in 2000.
He said in comparison, there were 16,000 new TB cases with 1,200 deaths reported in the country last year compared to 12,062 cases and 1,116 deaths in 2003.
Manyin also urged health care workers to provide better awareness to the general public on the need to be more vigilant against AIDS.
He said the accumulative number of HIV cases reported to the Sarawak Health Department from 1989 to May 2005 were 504 cases.

Warnings on fast food

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:47 am

NST: Potato chip and french fry packages may soon sport warnings that they could cause cancer.
It appears that the culprit is a chemical called “acrylamide”, which is created when starchy food is cooked at high temperature.
The Health Ministry, which has been monitoring international research on the matter, is moving fast on the issue following research findings last week by the Harvard Medical School in London.
The prestigious institution revealed that under-fives who ate a portion of chips a week increased their risk of breast cancer in adulthood by 27 per cent.
Those who ate it daily doubled their chance of developing the disease.
The danger of acrylamide has been compounded by concern within the World Health Organisation and among food experts, scientists and researchers of its cancer-causing properties.
Health Ministry Public Health Department Food Quality Control division director Dr Abdul Rahim Mohamad said Malaysia had been studying the danger of acrylamide for several years.
“We did not take proactive measures to warn consumers of its danger as there was no concrete evidence to prove the claims.
“But with more researchers and scientists proving its dangers to humans, we may study the possibility of warnings on potato chip and french fry containers,” he told the New Straits Times today.
Another cancer danger in potato chips and french fries comes from the fat in which it is fried.
The researchers believe that the fat also makes children vulnerable to breast cancer in later life.
California Attorney-General Bill Lockyer filed a lawsuit on Aug 28 to force top producers of potato chips and french fries to warn consumers about acrylamide.
In the complaint filed in a Los Angeles Superior Court, Lockyer sought an injunction to stop restaurant chains such as McDonald’s Corp and Wendy’s International Inc from selling french fries without some form of warning.
Also named in the action were producers of potato chips and other packaged potato products like PepsiCo’s Frito-Lay Inc and Procter & Gamble Co, makers of Pringles Chips.
In an immediate reaction, the Penang Consumer Association’s Uma Ramaswamy said the debate on the dangers of acrylamide had been going on for several years.
She said the association had written to the ministry five years ago expressing its concern on the matter.
“We want to know the cumulative effect of acrylamide on humans, especially those who snack on potato chips and french fries daily,” she added.
Uma welcomed the possibility of making it mandatory for manufacturers of these snacks and fast-food outlets to place warnings on packages containing the items.

MARC reaffirms Radicare rating

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:49 am MARC has reaffirmed the rating of MARC-1 on Radicare (M) Sdn Bhd’s (Radicare) RM49 million Commercial Paper Programme; a reflection of the secured cash receivables from the Ministry of Health (MOH) backed by invoices issued to the MOH; a 1.25 times security cover of invoices issued; stringent requirements of the issue structure; sheer dominance of Radicare’s services in the central and eastern region of peninsular Malaysia.
Radicare’s principal activities are providing hospital support services, which include, clinical waste management, cleansing services, linen and laundry services, facilities engineering maintenance and biomedical engineering maintenance.
Radicare’s other activities are in designing, constructing, equipping and commissioning of hospitals.
Pursuant to the privatization of hospital support services by the Government of Malaysia (GOM), Radicare was awarded by the Ministry of Health (MOH) in 1997, a concession to provide certain non-clinical support services to public hospitals located in the Federal Territory, Selangor, Kelantan, Pahang and Terengganu for a period of 15 years.
The Concession Agreement (CA) covers a total of 37 public hospitals (Contract Hospitals) and the government may designate new hospitals to the existing list of Contract Hospitals from time to time.
To date, the government has designated an additional 11 (including 4 in 2004) new hospitals to Radicare. Fees for services rendered to the Government are payable by the Government monthly, in accordance to the CA.
The CP issuance acts as a bridging tool to accommodate Radicare’s working capital requirement.
The drawdown of the CP is based on approved invoices issued to MOH; the issued amount of these shall be equivalent to 80% of the approved invoice value, thus giving a security cover of 1.25 times to the proposed issue.
An approved invoice is one which has been acknowledged by MOH and is net of demerit deductions. Monies received from the MOH will be remitted directly to a Sinking Fund Account, predominantly for the purpose of redeeming the CPs and covering any shortfall for rollover.
The company made a turnaround in fiscal 2003 with both revenue and profit registering growth of 16.5% and 284.4% respectively.
In FY2004, on the back of 9% growth in revenue, profits increased by 6.5% from the previous year, whilst maintaining the double-digit operating profit margin of 11.9%.
Going forward, Radicare is expected to record revenue growth of between 5%-11%, driven mainly by increased demand for hospital support services.
Radicare’s debt leverage ratio as at end 2004 was 0.23 times. Pro-forma debt leverage ratio assuming full drawdown of the CPs is 0.63 times, well below the covenanted level of 60:40.

August 30, 2005

Amber helps create awareness on breast cancer

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 12:59 pm

The issue of breast cancer is close to the heart of popular celebrity and model Amber Chia.
“Breast cancer is very scary and I’ve seen the suffering it inflicts on those I know,” she said.
“But don’t forget I’m also a young woman who can become a victim of breast cancer,” she told a press conference yesterday to announce the Wear It Pink breast cancer education and awareness drive.
The campaign, themed Educate, Empower and Encourage is jointly organised by the Pantai Medical Centre and Asia Assistance Network (M) Sdn Bhd.
Amber, whose popularity soared after becoming a co-winner of the Guess’ International Model search last year, advised breast cancer survivors to be strong and not be afraid to live their lives.
To help raise funds, 200 limited edition T-shirts designed by Bernard Chandran, will be on sale at RM129.90 each.

Shorter wait at IJN

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:17 am

The National Heart Institute (IJN) hopes to cut waiting time for surgery from nine months to just three months by 2008.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said this would be possible under IJN’s RM209 million expansion project, which will kick off in October.
The move will involve the refurbishment, renovation and upgrading of existing facilities and construction of a new block.
On completion, IJN will have an additional 158 beds, bringing the total to 428.
Other facilities will in- clude an additional 20 cli- nics for outpatient treatment, five general wards comprising a variety of rooms including suites, two fully-equipped operating theatres and an invasive cardiovascular laboratory.
Dr Chua said the project would increase IJN’s capacity by 20 per cent.
IJN currently performs 6,000 cardiology intervention procedures and 3,000 cardiothoracic operations annually.
“Ten years ago, the institute handled some 50,000 outpatients.
“Last year, the number rose to 122,346 with inpatients for the same period rising from 8,000 to 11,296,” Dr Chua told reporters after witnessing the signing of a letter of award appointing a UEM Construction Sdn Bhd- Intria Bina Sdn Bhd joint-venture for the project.
Since being established in 1992, IJN has treated 924,126 outpatients and 107,482 inpatients.
On average, about 10,000 patients are referred to IJN every year for outpatient treatment and 9,000 as inpatients from government and private hospitals.
Countering allegations that consultants and specialists were leaving IJN, Dr Chua said only three consultants and eight clinical specialists had left between 2000 and last year.
“There are 65 doctors in IJN and this is expected to increase with the project,” he said.
He said government subsidies for IJN had increased from RM35 million in 1992 to RM144 million last year.
He said treatment at IJN was affordable, as 70 per cent of patients were government servants and their dependents, with the rest being locals.
Asked whether IJN would be engaging foreign consultants, Dr Chua said: “There are foreign fellows who come and share their expertise and experience with local consultants, especially on new procedures.”
IJN chairman Tan Sri Mohamed Khatib Abdul Hamid said financing for the expansion project would be through the issuance of Islamic bonds.
He said the Sukuk Musyarakah bond was valued at RM209 million and rated AAA by the Malaysian Rating Corporation Berhad for RM100 million over seven years.
It had been rated AA+ for another RM109 million over seven years.
“This is proof of confidence by financial institutions in IJN’s capability and its future as the premier cardiovascular and thoracic centre in the region,” Khatib said.
He gave an assurance that the cost of the project would not be passed on to patients.
Dr Chua later handed RM128,000 from the IJN Foundation to 10 patients to fund part of their treatment.

Chua: Tak Nak campaign must be realistic

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:24 am

The Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Try convincing the 13,000 tobacco farmers to switch to other crops to help in anti-smoking campaigns, non-governmental organisations were told.
Referring to the Cabinet’s decision to defer the sale of cigarettes packed in 14s to safeguard the livelihood of the farmers, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said:
“The Cabinet felt that while some farmers have shifted to other crops, not all were successful in doing so.
“It is not a question of planting apples today and oranges tomorrow. Resistance by the farmers has not made it easy.
“I welcome NGOs, which have a lot of suggestions, to please go and face the 13,000 farmers and tell them what crops to plant other than tobacco.”
“NGOs can help in the anti-smoking campaigns but they should not target the Health Ministry as if we are their enemy,” he told reporters after witnessing the signing between the National Heart Institute (IJN) and UEM Construction Sdn Bhd-Intria Bina Sdn Bhd for the IJN expansion project.
He was responding to criticisms by NGOs that the Government was not doing enough in its anti-smoking campaigns.
According to Dr Chua, an average farmer has 4.2 family members, thus some 65,000 people are dependent on the tobacco industry.
Asked on the help given to the farmers to switch to other crops, he said: “There is no inter-ministry co-operation, but the Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry and Health Ministry are very clear that we are not promoting smoking.
“The Federal Government and the state governments have to look after these 65,000 people.”
He said Malaysia was one of the few countries that had signed and ratified the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, and would attend the World Health Organisation meeting in Geneva in February as a full member, not an observer.
“The Government is so committed that the tax increase for tobacco in the last Budget was one of the steepest,” he said.

Heritage building to be cancer centre

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:02 am

NST:MALACCA, Aug 28: The century-old heritage building on Lorong Bunga Raya that was the Majestic Hotel may soon become a cancer centre.
The stately colonial building, now dilapidated and used as a car park for the neighbouring Southern Hospital, was built in early 1900.
It was one of the most prestigious hotels in the State in the 1950s and 60s, and drew the likes of ministers and foreign artistes as guests.
“All the who’s who would stay there when they came to Malacca back then,” 93-year-old Datuk Sim Mow Yu, a pioneer of Chinese education in Malaysia, told the New Straits Times.
Situated in the heritage buffer zone next to the Malacca river and opposite Kampung Morten, the hotel was closed when the building was bought by the State Government in 2000.
Although acknowledged by many as a beautiful building, no one knows exactly when or how it came to be built.
Sim, who has witnessed most if not all important historical events that have taken place in modern Malacca, could only recall as far back as the 1920s, when he said the place was owned by one of the richest men in Malacca then — a Guangdong contractor whose name he could not remember.
“It was his family home. The place around the building was not developed back then, so few people would go there. But all Malaccans knew about the grand mansion this rich Guangdong man was living in.”
Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam said yesterday that the building would be turned into a RM20 million oncology centre. An agreement with a private company in Kuala Lumpur, AIH Group (M) Sdn Bhd, would be signed early next month.
Ali stressed that the old building would not be torn down. “We will try to preserve the building as much as possible,” he said.
Despite his assurance, non-governmental organisations and some locals who got wind of the project protested.
Malacca Heritage Resource Society committee member Josephine Chua was concerned that the interior of the building would be gutted.
“It is not enough to preserve the building’s facade,” she said. “What is precious is the building’s interior design. I don’t know how AHI can turn it into a modern cancer centre without extensive renovations.”
Malacca Historic City Council mayor Datuk Zaini Md Nor had promised to ensure at least the facade of the building was retained.
Lim Jit Pung, 66, who used to operate the Majestic Hotel, believes it should be restored and turned into a museum or remain a hotel.
“Visitors would love it here,” Lim said. “In its days of glory, visitors from Kuala Lumpur would come down the coast by boat and then go up the Malacca River because they knew of the Majestic Hotel by the riverbank.
“Throughout the years I managed the hotel, occupancy never fell below 80 per cent.”
Lim took over the management of the hotel from his father in 1969, and ran it until it closed down in 2000. His family had been managing the hotel since 1950.
Many believe that with the beautification of the Malacca River, on which the State Government has spent nearly RM150 million to date, restoring the heritage building as the Majestic Hotel would add to the area’s old-world charm.
“It was once furnished with 24 rooms complete with high ceiling fans, old bamboo furniture, stained glass windows and sturdy wooden parquet flooring upstairs and beautiful flowered tiles downstairs,” said Lim.
Sim recalled that the hotel came into being when the building was sold by the Guangdong man’s family after the Japanese Occupation ended in 1945.
When Lim took over the hotel, Sim was invited to write the hotel’s name above its front entrance in his popular and sought-after calligraphy.

As Of 2008 Heart Patients Need Not Wait Long

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:53 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 (Bernama) — Heart patients who currently have to wait anything from six months to a year to receive treatment or undergo an operation at the National Heart Institute (IJN) need not wait long by 2008.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said that under the expansion plans for a new block of the IJN building, estimated to cost RM209 million, heart patients will only have to wait three to six months.
“Ten years ago, IJN only received 50,000 outpatients a year and 8,000 warded patients. Now, IJN has 122,000 outpatients a year and 12,000 patients in the wards,” he said at the agreement signing ceremony for the appointment of the project contractor, here Monday.
IJN was represented by Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Mohd Radzif Mohd Yunus and Medical Director Datuk Seri Dr Robaayah Zambahari, whereas the construction companies, UEM Construction Sdn Bhd and Intria Bina Sdn Berhad Joint Venture, were represented by Datuk Mohd Nor Idrus and Abdul Hamid Abdul Rahim, respectively.
Speaking to reporters later, Dr Chua said that the government had subsidised RM144 million last year to cover the medical expenses of civil servants and the needy, compared to only RM35 million in 1992.
“When the expansion project is completed, IJN will have an additional 158 beds, 12 in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU). After this IJN should receive more outstation patients, with health tourism being a source of income,” he said.
He also complimented the IJN for its decision to obtain funding by creating what is called Islamic Bonds (Sukuk Musyarakah), rated by the Malaysian Rating Corporation Berhad (MARC) as “AAA”, for RM100 million to mature in seven years or less.
Dr Chua also denied claims that in the last three years a large number of IJN staff had resigned because only three consultants and eight clinical specialists had resigned during that period.

August 29, 2005

UM Offers Masters In Nursing Course

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:10 pm

PETALING JAYA, Aug 29 (Bernama) — Universiti Malaya (UM), the only university in the country to offer a degree in nursing, plans to extend the course up to the Masters level.
Higher Education Minister Datuk Dr Shafie Mohd Salleh Monday said that if it was agreed by the ministry, UM could begin offering the course from the 2006/2007 academic year.
“The country is short of nurses, government hospitals alone have 12,110 vacancies,” he said when opening the 2005 International Nursing Research Conference here. The two-day conference is organised by UM’s Medical Faculty.
Shafie said the nursing career offered many opportunities locally and abroad and that when he was in Saudi Arabia recently he met Malaysian nurses there who were earning between RM10,000 and RM15,000 a month.
He added that Malaysia had also agreed to send more nurses to the kingdom and hoped more males would take up the profession.

Anti-Smoking: Be More Proactive, NGOs Told

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:28 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 29 (Bernama) — Non-Governmental Organisations (NGOs) should not blame the Health Ministry but be more proactive in ensuring the success of the anti-smoking campaign, said Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek Monday.
“The NGOs should not target the Ministry of Health as if we are their enemy…they should persuade the tobacco planting farmers in Kelantan and Terengganu to convert their crops so that their livelihood won’t be affected once the cigarette sales go down.
“The government is not compromising on its anti-smoking campaign, which is an ongoing process,” he told reporters after witnessing the signing of an agreement between the National Heart Institute (IJN) and appointed contractor UEM Builders Berhad for the expansion project of the institute.
The RM209 million project would begin next month and is expected to be completed by the end of 2008, with capacity of the institute expected to be expanded by 20 percent upon completion.
Dr Chua said Malaysia, being one of the few countries which had not only signed and ratified the Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, would be present as a full member at the WHO (World Health Organisation) meeting in Geneva in February next year.
“Under this Framework Convention for Tobacco Control, there is this question of how to reduce smoking. We increased taxes for smoking, what we called the sin tax and it was very obvious in the last budget, the increase for tobacco products was one of the most steep,” he said.
Dr Chua reiterated that there was a disagreement between the sale of tobacco by tobacco companies and their buying of tobacco products planted by farmers in Kelantan and Terengganu.
“There is this cross-subsidy element, if the sale goes down, they will buy less from our local people. The cabinet felt that not all farmers had been successful in converting their crops, which takes time to get used to.
“I welcome all NGOs who have a lot of suggestions, please face the 13,000 farmers and tell them what other crops to plant other than tobacco. Taking the family members into account, we are talking about 65,000 people. The government in power has to balance everything,” he said.
The government had recently put on hold its decision to withdraw the 14 pack cigarettes from the market until 2010 to protect and enable the some 13,000 farmers who depended heavily on tobacco to switch to other crops.

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