Materia Medica Malaysiana

September 30, 2005

72 Died From Dengue This Year

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:07 pm

PUTRAJAYA, Sept 30 (Bernama) — Dengue has claimed 72 lives from January to yesterday, Health Ministry’s Disease Control Division director Dr Ramlee Rahmat said.
He also said the number of suspected cases over the past week rose to 752 from 682 a week earlier.
From Sunday to yesterday, Penang registered 154 cases, Kuala Lumpur 71, Johor 38, Perak and Negeri Sembilan 28 each, Sarawak 22, Sabah 17, Pahang 13, Perlis six and Terengganu two.
There were no cases in Putrajaya and Labuan while the reports from Kedah, Melaka and Kelantan had not been received yet.
“Even though 25 cases were reported in Selangor within the period, I believe the number there is higher,” he told reporters here Friday.
Dr Ramlee said of 27,569 cases reported up to Sept 24, a total of 7,992 were found to be dengue positive.
He said the areas considered dengue hot spots were still the southwest and northeast districts of Penang, Johor Baharu, Subang Jaya, Setapak, Gombak, Shah Alam, Kajang, Cheras and Ampang Jaya.
The ministry had re-deployed 225 health officers and staff from the less-affected states of Kedah, Pahang, Terengganu and Kelantan to Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Penang and Johor to help contain the outbreak, he said.
He said that besides fumigation, the ministry was trying out a biological method that used a “larvicidal Bti” insecticide in several dengue-affected areas to stop the breeding of aedes mosquitoes.
If the method was found to be successful, it would be expanded to other areas, Dr Ramlee said.

Hospitals sign MoU for smart partnership

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:11 am

Star: Two long-established hospitals here have signed a pact to form a smart partnership and avoid duplication of their specialised services.
Tung Shin Hospital (TSH) will provide traditional Chinese medicine and Western prescriptions while Chinese Maternity Hospital (CMH) will focus on women and children.
Both hospitals inked a memorandum of understanding yesterday aimed at optimising resources, costs and enhancing competitiveness.
The MoU was signed by TSH president Tan Sri Teo Soo Cheng and CMH chairman Tan Sri Tee Hock Seng. It was witnessed by Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek.
Both TSH, founded in 1881, and CMH (1913) are charity hospitals, supported by community leaders and philanthropists, with the aim of providing free or affordable treatment to poor patients regardless of race, creed or religion.
“We believe this cooperation will bring tremendous benefit to the community. We are committed to providing affordable services and care,” said Teo.
He also said that the completion of a Chinese Medical Department would allow further research on integrated western and traditional Chinese treatment.
Dr Chua said the cooperation would benefit both hospitals as they could reduce administrative costs, and ensure quality service.
“The Health Ministry supports this effort and hopes the public will continue to help them raise funds as they’re both non-profit centres,” he said.

Rise in dengue cases in Subang Jaya worrisome

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:10 am

Star: The incidence of dengue cases in the Subang Jaya municipality has risen by 34% in just the first nine months of this year compared with figures for the whole of last year.
Subang Jaya Municipal Council (MPSJ) president Mohd Arif Abdul Rahman said there were 385 confirmed dengue cases in the municipality from January to December last year but the council had already recorded 517 confirmed cases this year.
“Based on the statistics the council has identified five dengue-prone areas – Taman Universiti Indah, Taman Pinggiran Putra, Taman Puchong Perdana, Taman Subang Mewah and Putra Heights.
“The rise in the number of confirmed dengue cases is worrying and the council is going all out to combat the problem.
“We have already started conducting door-to-door checks to issue fines to owners of premises where mosquito larvae are found,” he said adding that recipients had to pay the maximum RM500 penalty.
He said the council was also getting tough with the offenders and those who chose to ignore the fines had been taken to court.
He said 69 cases had already been referred to court this year.
Mohd Arif said paying the fines also did not get the offenders off the hook as he had now instructed the council’s enforcement unit to revisit the premises after a short period to ensure that the areas had been cleaned up.
“We have also been conducting monthly checks at construction sites, especially abandoned projects, to ensure there are no mosquito breeding grounds there,” he said.
He said there were seven stalled or bandoned projects in the municipality but all except for two were being revived either by the original developer or after being taken over by another company.
Mohd Arif said he would be meeting with members of the MPSJ residents representative committees this Sunday to call for their help in increasing awareness programmes among residents on ways to eliminate mosquito- breeding areas.
“Committees throughout the municipality will have to carry out these dengue awareness programmes and those that fail will see their annual budgets slashed,” he said.

Scientists: Bring in insect-eating bats

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:09 am

Star: The long-term fight against the dengue outbreak can be improved with the introduction of more insectivorous bats into urban areas, according to scientists.
Each bat, which can consume as many as 600 insects an hour, would have the capacity to eat at least 3,000 insects a night.
“We should explore natural and biological means to contain the dengue epidemic,” said Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Professor Dr Zubaid Akbar Mukhtar Ahmad.
There are some 105 species of insectivorous bats in the country.
He said there had been reports in Europe of bats seen heading for mosquito-infested swamps to feed.
“We have done research on crop pests in Perlis and found that bats played an important role in keeping the number of pests down.
“Our team found remnants of insect parts on the cave floors,” he added.
Dr Zubaid Akbar said specially designed bat boxes commonly used in Europe could be used to attract bats into urban areas.
“These boxes, which are almost similar to bird boxes, can be placed in recreational areas and at the edge of cities,” he said.
Malaysian Bat Conservation Research Unit researcher Christine Fletcher said a single bat consumed between 50% and 100% of its total body weight in bugs each night.
“It eats almost 5gm of insects a night and that accounts for a lot of mosquitoes and agricultural pests,” she added.

Panel set up to fight bird flu

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:08 am

Star: A national avian flu committee has been set up to take measures such as stocking up on anti-viral medication, vaccination and protective gear to tackle a possible outbreak of the disease.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said some RM500mil would be needed for the necessary medicines and gear.
Among the medicines needed are Tamiflu tablets for the patients and Fluarix vaccine for medical staff coming into contact with patients.
“In the event of an outbreak, we will normally need a stockpile of medicines to cover 20% to 30% of the population but the cost involved is very high and this will need the Cabinet approval,” Dr Chua said after opening the Seventh Asian Congress of Dermatology.
He said while the ministry has enough protective gear for its staff, it had to train more personnel to handle patients with symptoms of the virus.
He said hospitals and clinics should alert the committee of any suspected cases of avian flu and treat the patients in isolation.
Dr Chua said the Cabinet has directed his ministry to work with the Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Ministry to prevent the avian flu from spreading here.
The Agriculture and Agro-based Ministry would monitor birds that are reared for consumption or as pets while the Health Ministry would focus on poultry farmers and chicken sellers, who come into contact with the birds daily.
He said the Institute for Medical Research, Public Health Laboratory at Sungai Buloh and Universiti Malaya would be involved in carrying out research work on the disease.
“I will meet Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin next Thursday to finalise the scope and duties of the committee,” said Dr Chua, adding that surveillance would be carried out at all levels.

Nafas Baru Ramadan Campaign Gets Smokers To Quit Habit, Slowly But Surely

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:32 am

ALOR STAR, Sept 29 (Bernama) — The “Nafas Baru Ramadan” campaign which persuades smokers to quit the habit during the Muslim fasting month of Ramadan has been successful, slowly but surely.
Deputy Director General of Health (Public Health) Datuk Dr Shafie Ooyub said the number of smokers nationwide who had given up smoking had increased by 20 to 30 per cent after the launch of the campaign, which is into its third year.
“We have no information on the number who quit smoking but from the feedback received by the Health Department, the campaign proved effective in promoting awareness,” he told reporters after launching the national-level World Heart Day 2005, here Thursday.
Hence, he said, in the coming fasting month, the campaign would proceed on a medium-scale and he called on the smokers to take the opportunity to quit the habit during that month.
Dr Shafie said the campaign would only be publicised over the media and through Friday sermons nationwide.
“Those who have problems in quitting smoking could obtain advice from the Stop Smoking Clinic found in every district nationwide,” he said, adding that smoking could increase the risk of a smoker suffering from heart disease.
Dr Shafie said it was easier to quit smoking with the availability of the clinic and with the help of medication as opposed to the previous “cold turkey” approach.

All Healthcare Equipment Must Be Registered, Says Dr Chua

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:30 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 (Bernama) — All healthcare equipment must be registered with the Health Ministry when the Medical Device Bill is enforced in 2007, said Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek, Thursday.
He said the cabinet had agreed with the completed draft of the Bill which was now under the scrutiny of the Attorney-General’s Chamber.
“Even though this Bill will only be enforced in 2007, voluntary registration will begin by year end,” he told reporters after opening the Seventh Asian Dermatology Congress here.
Dr Chua said under the Bill which was aimed at protecting patients, a monitoring body under his ministry would be set up, mainly to ensure that all healthcare equipment were safe to use.
“The body will be responsible for the registration, enforcement and monitoring of all laser equipment and healthcare equipment including haemodialysis machines,” he said, adding that the ruling was in line with those in other Asian countries.
Dr Chua said the adjustments were made in view of the fact that most Malaysian healthcare equipment were exported to countries in the Asian region, with an estimated export value of RM4.6 billion.
“The Bill will also monitor the lifespan of the equipments, starting from the factory, the consumers and its period of usability,” he said.
Besides that, Dr Chua said the Cosmetic Bill, which monitors over 10,000 health care centres including beauty salons, spas and skin care centres, would also be passed to provide a more comprehensive protection to consumers.
“The Bill is being legislated and is expected to be enforced in 2007 after several issues are solved such as those concerning the definition of “health care services”.
“For now, there is no control over these centres. Anyone can offer services, and claim that they have the required qualifications to provide their services,” he said, adding that one would only need to obtain a licence for business premises from local authorities to start their business.

September 29, 2005

Laws afoot to regulate beauty and health care industries

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:16 pm

Star: Some 10,000 beauty and health care centers in Malaysia will be come under new laws to weed out illegal practitioners and protect consumers, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
The government is preparing two legislative bills, which are expected to get parliament’s approval by 2007, Chua said.
Skin diseases are seldom life-threatening but can be stigmatizing, causing a growing number of patients to turn to centers offering aesthetic medical procedures such as dermatologic and laser surgery and drugs to treat their conditions, he said.
But there are concerns that unregulated use of such devices and treatments could threaten patients’ health, he said.
“We are now doing a detailed study and are in the process of drafting two bills to address this issue,” Chua said when opening a regional dermatology conference here.
“The Medical Devices Bill will regulate all aspects of medical devices in the country while the Cosmetic Bill will regulate the practitioners, facilities, services, equipment, products, advertisements and training in cosmetic practice.”
Chua later told reporters that beauty and health care industries are booming with some 10,000 centers nationwide now offering services ranging from health spas to skin care and slimming salons to breast enhancement.
They are not governed by any laws.

Only 80 skin specialists for whole country

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:14 pm

NST: The figures on skin diseases nationwide are staggering, and getting worse.
More than a million Malaysians seek treatment for skin diseases from only 80 dermatologists at both public and private hospitals nationwide. This translates to a dermatologist-to-population ratio of 1:300,000.
Health authorities are worried about the future, as the number of people seeking treatment is expected to increase annually without a concurrent increase in dermatologists.
The top skin diseases treated in both the public and private sectors were psoriasis, eczema, allergies, occupational dermatitis and acne.
League of Asean Dermatological Societies secretary-general Dr Steven Chow said at least 30 per cent of Malaysians seeking treatment at clinics suffered from skin diseases.
This is supported by a World Health Organisation Human Resource report, which states that work-related skin diseases account for about 50 per cent of occupational illnesses.
Dr Chow said those suffering from psoriasis and eczema reported a greater detrimental impact on their quality of life than patients with other health problems like high cholesterol, hypertension, angina or asthma.
He said most skin patients, especially those with physical abnormalities, became outcasts due to personal shame or fear of being rejected by society, which usually judged people by their appearance.
The challenges faced by skin specialists will be discussed at a regional conference on dermatology to be opened by Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek tomorrow.
The 7th Asian Congress of Dermatology will see skin specialists and researchers from 32 nations meeting to share the latest medical advances.
Dr Chow, the organising chairman, said dermatologists in the region were looking for ways to incorporate significant medical advances into clinical practice.
“Providing better dermatological services will help reduce the burden on the local health care system and the economy due to doctors’ visits, over-the-counter and prescription medical costs and lost productivity.”

Health Ministry To Stockpile Anti-Viral Medicine

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:10 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 (Bernama) — The Health Ministry is stockpiling anti-viral medicine in preparation for the possibility of an avian flu outbreak.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said Thursday that the anti-viral medicine, which is expected to cover 20 to 30 per cent of the population, included Tamiflu which costs RM7.70 per tablet.
The ministry would also stockpile vaccine such as Fuarax, which costs RM22 per dose, for the usage of the medical personnel in the event of an outbreak, he told reporters after opening the 7th Asian Dermatology Congress here.
Dr Chua said the ministry had already stockpiled some of the anti-viral medicine but it would cost more to have enough for at least 20 to 30 per cent of the population.
“We are still discussing (the total allocation with the government) as it costs between RM400 and RM500 million,” he said.
Dr Chua said the cabinet, at its weekly meeting yesterday, directed the ministry and the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry to work together in preparing for the possibility of an avian flu outbreak and to take measures to prevent it.
He and Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin would be meeting next Thursday to discuss the preparation and joint prevention efforts.
However, the Health Ministry had set up a national committee on Avian Flu to come up with measures and guidelines to fight the avian flu outbreak.
“These include surveillance for the ‘influenza-like illness’ at all government and private clinics and any cases detected will be reported directly to the ministry,” he said.
Laboratories at the Institute for Medical Research (IMR), Institute of Public Health (Sg Buloh) and Medical Faculty at Universiti Malaya had been designated to conduct the testing of the samples identified, he said.
Dr Chua said: “After we have been informed of any influenza-like illness cases, the Health Department will increase their surveillance, conduct house-to-house checks, conduct patient tracing and identify the hospital that will provide a designated ward for the patients.”
He also said that the health authorities in Malaysia, Singapore, Indonesia, Thailand and Brunei had close cooperation to inform each other on any Asian Flu cases detected in their respective countries.

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