Materia Medica Malaysiana

January 31, 2006

Work-safety and health programme for schools

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:29 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: Two schools have begun running the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) in School Programme to make schools a safer and healthy places to be in.
National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said SM Convent Kajang, Selangor, and SMK Seri Manjung, Perak, had been selected for the pilot project, jointly-organised by Niosh in cooperation with ExxonMobil and TNB Janamanjung Sdn Bhd.
He said the programme’s objectives were: ensure safety, health and welfare for teachers and supporting staff and protect students against risks to safety and health.
The third objective was to establish a safe and healthy working environment (office, laboratory, canteen, toilets, hostels and playing fields), which would fall in line with a person’s at-work psychology and physiology, he added.
“The OSH in School programme will benefit students who are going to make up the nation’s future workforce and contribute towards making safety at work our life culture,” he said in a statement yesterday.
Lee added that the OSH in School programme would be the core Niosh programme for this year.

January 30, 2006

Helping Hands

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:29 am

Malay Mail: KIOKU isn’t Japanese despite the way it sounds. Instead, it is a homegrown non-governmental organisation committed to serving the needs of disabled persons, particularly those who are wheelchair-bound.
Its name is the Malay acronym for Perkhidmatan Keluarga Interaksi Orang-orang Kurang Upaya, or the Services for the Whole Family and People with Disabilities.
Under the patronage of Deputy Prime Minister, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak, Kioku’s main objective is to build bridges between disabled people from various societies and members of the public.
“We are a fully voluntary service without racial, religious or political bias,” said its president Chris Thasan, who is wheelchair-bound himself. “Our earnest hope and cry is for the public to recognise and support the disabled in their struggles, efforts and determination to continue living an ordinary life, and strive for better quality of life. Please lend us a helping hand to help the disabled community.”
Under the Constitution, a person with disabilities is a full citizen. Said Thasan: “We want to be treated with dignity. Sympathy is not what we are looking for, but the opportunity to live our lives to the fullest like any other citizens.”
One way of achieving its objectives is by organising the Kioku Family Day. “Our role is mainly to give motivation and to raise the spirits of the disabled people,” said Thasan. “We seek to improve the perception of society towards the disabled community as a whole, being disabled persons ourselves.”
Every year, the Kioku Family Day is organised to bring together the disabled people, their family members and members of the public. Said Thasan: “We are looking for a main sponsor to support our Family Day this year which will be held in September,” he said.
“At the same time, we are looking for investors who are willing to help start up small workshops for the disabled people to do tailoring and repairing of television sets.
“We are providing training for the disabled people to help them live as independent people,” he said. “We urge members of the public to look into the transportation problems faced by our disabled friends.”
In July 2004, Kioku started its One-Stop Centre in Taman Sri Sentosa for the rehabilitation of the disabled people. The centre provides advice, counselling and assistance for other technical problems faced by disabled people.
Kioku’s One-Stop Centre is located at Taman Sri Sentosa, Jalan Kelang Lama, Kuala Lumpur. Chris Thasan can be contacted at (016) 360-3527 or (03) 7782-7640.

First oral iron chelator approved

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 7:57 am

Star: Novartis announced the approval of Deferasirox – the first and only once-daily oral iron chelator – by the US Food and Drug Administration. It has been approved for the treatment of chronic iron overload due to blood transfusions in adults and children age two and older.
Iron overload is a potentially life-threatening and unavoidable consequence of frequent blood transfusions used to treat certain types of rare chronic blood disorders, including thalassemia and sickle cell disease, as well as other rare anaemias and myelodysplastic syndromes.
Signs of iron overload may be detected after transfusion of about 20 units of blood. If left undiagnosed or untreated, the excess iron in the body is likely to lead to damage to the liver, heart and endocrine glands. The body has no inherent mechanism to remove excess iron, so iron chelation is used as an effective treatment for transfusion-related iron overload.
Deferasirox is the only iron chelator administered as a drink (the tablets are dispersed in a glass of orange juice, apple juice or water).
This is much more convenient for patients than the current standard of care, which often requires a subcutaneous infusion lasting eight to 12 hours per night, for five to seven nights a week for as long as the patient continues to receive blood transfusions or has excess iron within the body.
As a result, many patients may have stopped or avoided iron chelation therapy, thus risking the toxic effects of iron overload.
“The oral chelating agent will actually help,” says Prof Dr Zulkifli Ismail, President of the Thalassaemia Association of Malaysia, “making it so patients don’t have to have infusions any more. They don’t have to be stuck with tubes to their tummies eight hours a day. They can stop having needle phobia that they had before.”
Prof Dr Zulkifli adds: “It is long awaited. We have been waiting a long time for a once-daily oral chelator. A once a day oral medication is a great help.”
The approval of the drug is expected to greatly enhance the acceptance of iron chelation therapy, especially for children, and offer a new alternative to continuous infusion therapy.
“The approval by the US FDA is extremely good news for the Malaysian thalassaemia community. What we have been hoping for and waiting for has finally come to fruition, i.e. an effective oral chelator which will replace the burden of needles and daily infusions,” says Prof Chan Lee Lee.
She continues: “All the problems with patient refusal and poor compliance will dramatically change. As doctors we look forward to seeing happy thalassaemia patients who experience effective iron chelation leading to improved lifestyles and extended life spans.
“The drug should also prove to be useful for other patients who receive regular blood transfusions like patients with myelodysplastic syndromes.
“We hope that in the near future, many of our patients will be able to benefit from this new oral iron chelator.”
Designated an orphan drug in the US, Switzerland, Australia and the EU, Deferasirox has also been granted a priority review in Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Additional regulatory submissions have been made around the world.

January 29, 2006

JE: Health Inspectors On House-to-House Check

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:05 pm

TANAH MERAH, Jan 29 (Bernama) — The Tanah Merah Health Office has launched a house-to-house operation to find out whether there are others who have contracted Japanese Encephalitis (JE) after a woman was confirmed to have been infected with the disease last Tuesday.
District Health Officer Dr Mohd Nordin Safiin said the operation began last Friday within a two-kilometre radius of the woman’s house, here.
At the same time, about 100 health officers including from other districts in Kelantan, had been deployed for a seek and destroy campaign on breeding grounds of culex tritaeniorhynchus mosquito – JE virus carrier, he told Bernama.
“We also get the cooperation of the Veterinary Services Department and Tanah Merah District Office. Besides, we also carry out fogging,” he said.
Fliers on JE were also distributed to the people, he said.
So far, only Norhayati Awang, 27, was confirmed to have contracted the disease. Her condition was reported to be serious. The Health Ministry is waiting for the test result of two other persons who have shown symptoms of JE infection.

Health Minister : No result on blood test of woman suspected with JE

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:44 am

The Star KUALA LUMPUR: There is no confirmed result of blood test for a woman suspected with Japanese Encephalitis (JE) in Kelantan, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said here.
Speaking to reporters at the MCA Chinese New Year open house, he said the ministry was monitoring the situation.
Chua was commenting on press reports that a woman in Tanah Merah, Kelantan has been confirmed to have been infected with JE while two other cases were also being investigated.
Kelantan Health director, Datuk Dr Ahmad Razin Ahmad Maher said Saturday the woman, Norhayati Awang, was now being treated at the High Dependency Ward at Hospital Raja Perempuan Zainab II and her condition is reported to be quite serious.
The JE virus is spread by the culex tritaeniorhynchus mosquito.
Among the early symptoms of the JE infection are fever, headache, tiredness, nausea and vomitting for several days.

Protecting young victims of sex abuse

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:53 am

NST: Tracey (not her real name) was only 14 but she was labelled a slut in her small town of 5,000 people.
She was a friendly and average-looking girl who could easily be forgotten or even ignored.
But news of her first pregnancy flew fast around the town and the people reacted. They shunned her.
She stopped going to school when her pregnancy became obvious. Two more pregnancies followed, and the town was swirling with rumours about her “wild” life. They never talked to her but always talked about her.
In the first two pregnancies, no hospital staff enquired about how she became pregnant at such a young age. Nor did they ask who the father was.
They just assumed he was someone she slept with during her “wild nights”. Tracey also never gave any explanations.
It was during her third pregnancy, when she was 16, that the truth of her pregnancies became known.
A new doctor at the hospital who took her case, noticed that she had been pregnant two times before. He asked her who the baby’s father was.
“The father is my father,” she answered. It was later learnt that Tracey’s father raped her whenever he fancied.
It is still unclear if her siblings knew what happened to their sister or if they were victims themselves. Nothing is known about her mother.
The hospital reported the case to the Social Welfare Department. Her father was detained.
Tracey, who is now in her 20s, never knew the gender of her babies. They were taken away for adoption.
Her case was highlighted by the Protect and Save the Children Association of Selangor and Kuala Lumpur, an organisation that counsels sexually-abused children and creates public awareness on such abuse.
Aggy Hooi, a counsellor with the organisation, said most of the cases reported showed that the victims were sexually abused by someone they knew.
“It could be their father, uncle, brother, baby-sitter, bus driver or neighbour,” she said.
The victims are usually stigmatised and blamed by the culprits.
“The victims are told they deserve to be raped because they are not good,” said Hooi.
The culprits also use material or emotional rewards to lure children to have sex with them.
“They will say to the child, ‘I love you, you are special’ to draw the children closer to them. Or they are given gifts.
“The child grows up believing that if she wants love and attention, she just needs to have sex,” said Hooi.
Police statistics showed two thirds of the 1,760 rape cases reported in 2004 involved children.

Girl, 13, may have died of JE

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:50 am

NST: Japanese Encephalitis is rearing its ugly head again. A 13-year-old girl is dead, believed to be a victim of the deadly disease. Two others are battling for their lives.
Tests on one of those warded, Norhayati Awang, 27, has conclusively shown that she has contracted JE.
While hoping the three cases detected in separate villages here are isolated ones, health authorities are not taking chances and have sent a team of about 50 to contain its spread.
Dr Marzukhi Md Isa, the Health Ministry’s deputy director of disease control (vector-borne diseases), said they might cordon off the area if more people showed JE symptoms.
JE, transmitted by the culex mosquito, is one of several mosquito-borne virus that can affect the central nervous system and cause severe complications and death.
Last year, there were 32 reported JE cases, with seven deaths. In 2004, the number of cases were the same but there were three deaths.
In 1999, another strain of the JE — the Nipah virus — claimed more than 100 lives and forced villagers in Bukit Pelandok, Negri Sembilan, to evacuate, turning the area into a ghost town.
More than 600,000 pigs were culled to stop the spread of the disease.
Health officials confirmed that Siti Mardiana Mohd Ramli died on Thursday morning, two days after being admitted to Tanah Merah Hospital.
She was suffering from high fever, headache and discomfort, the symptoms of JE.
Her blood sample has been sent to the Institute of Medical Research for testing.
“We hope to get the results within a day or two,” said Dr Marzukhi.
He confirmed tests showed that Norhayati, who has been warded at Kota Baru Hospital, had contracted JE. She is battling for her life.
Norhayati, an epileptic from Jalan Klinik here, was first admitted to Tanah Merah Hospital on Tuesday with symptoms of fever, headache and bodily discomfort.
She was transferred to Kota Baru Hospital when her condition worsened.
Hasnira Hussien, 13, from Kampung Bukit Pauh, was admitted to Tanah Merah Hospital on Thursday and later transferred to Kota Baru Hospital. Her condition is also critical.
Local health authorities are baffled that the JE has surfaced in Kelantan as there are no pig farms in the State.
Previous outbreaks, in Perak and Negri Sembilan, were mainly linked to pigs reared in farms.
After analysing the three cases and interviewing the victims, medical workers here are working on the theory that the disease could have spread from wild boars.
There have been many sightings of wild boars at the back of the victims’ homes, which are surrounded by thick jungle.
The 50 Health Department workers began a large-scale operation today in the Jalan Klinik area in Tanah Merah town, Kampung Air Kerala and Kampung Bukit Pauh.
They spent hours visiting houses on a fact-finding mission and to check on the surroundings.
Villagers were told to clean their surroundings and clear stagnant waterways, ponds and puddles, especially those with keladi (yam) growing in them.
“Some of these villagers have the tendency to allow the keladi plant to grow in these ponds. This is dangerous as culex mosquitoes breed underneath this plant,” said an official.
“The teams are also doing a mosquito survey to check if there are many culex mosquitoes in the area,” the official said.
Dr Marzukhi said the initial JE symptoms were a flu-like illness with fever, chills, tiredness, headache, nausea, and vomiting. Confusion and agitation can also occur.
The illness can progress to a serious infection of the brain (encephalitis) and can be fatal in 30 per cent of cases.
Among the survivors, another 30 per cent will have serous brain damage and paralysis.
He said symptoms usually appeared six to eight days after being infected by the culex mosquito.
At Siti Mardiana’s home in Kampung Air Kerala, an air of sadness lingered as her family tried to cope with their loss.
Her father, Mohd Ramli Mohd Zaid, 34, said Siti Mardiana, the eldest of six children, had high fever for days but kept it from the family until she vomited in school on Monday.
“It was only after her teacher sent her home that I knew about it,” said Ramli.

Sick shots in hospitals

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:50 am

Star: Visitors will no longer be able to use mobile phones in hospital wards following cases of the “sick” preying on the sick.
The ban comes in the wake of voyeurs snapping shots of patients in various state of undress or answering the call of nature in bed.
Patients who undergo medical procedures that require removal of clothing have also been photographed.
The voyeurs usually try to cover their actions by pretending to speak on their phones but Datuk Dr Ismail Merican, director-general of Health, is wise to their tricks.
“I am directing all hospital directors to immediately ban the use of mobile phones in hospital wards,” he said.
Dr Ismail, who has personally seen visitors snapping shots of patients in their private moments, said: “We have to protect the rights of patients.”
He said senior ward staff would monitor the situation and advise visitors to use their mobile phones outside wards.
He said doctors and hospital staff should also not use mobile phones in the intensive care unit, coronary care units and other areas where its usage could affect the equipment.
On security in hospitals, he said CCTVs may be useful but it gave people a false sense of security.
“If somebody walked into a ward and told the sister-in-charge that a patient needed to be taken for an ultrasound, the sister should check whether that person is a member of the hospital staff who recommended the procedure.
“If the sister does not check, the patient could be a victim of a crime.”
This screening extends to medical students and health personnel going into the wards.
“We have many students and allied health personnel walking in and out of hospitals.
“It’s important that they identify themselves to the sister-in-charge of wards before seeing patients.”
Dr Ismail said hospital directors should carry out surprise checks to ensure that staff observed security requirements.
He also advised people not to wear jewellery when seeking treatment in hospitals.
This follows cases of patients losing jewellery in hospitals.

Anti-firecracker squads set for action

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:47 am

Star: Light a firecracker and you may just find a group of policemen waiting to arrest you, warned state police chief Deputy Comm Datuk Christopher Wan.
“Anti-firecracker squads have been formed in all the police stations statewide this Chinese New Year to catch revellers beating the government ban on such items.
“These squads will patrol their areas to ensure that the ban is not defied. Gurney Drive and the Esplanade, which are revellers’ favourite spots, will be patrolled nightly.
“I have also directed the OCPDs to ensure that the banned items are not sold by the roadside or at markets. Those caught selling are also liable to be charged.
“We will not tolerate such blatant disregard of the law. More than 20 people were arrested and charged in the courts last year,” he said when met at his office yesterday.
DCP Wan said all fireworks, except for the happy boom, magic pop and the pop pop types, are banned, adding that the public can call the police hotline (04-2691999) if the noise gets to be too much.
Administrator Goh Su Yen, 33, said for the past few years, she has been having sleepless nights caused by the din from firecrackers which would sometimes last up to 2am in her neighbourhood.
“I welcome the police’s crackdown against those selling and playing with such items. It is good that the police have formed these anti-firecracker squads,” she said.

January 28, 2006

Touched by the nursing ‘angels’

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:58 pm

Malay Mail In time of need, compassion can be a rare commodity.
But this was not the case with the staff of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital (HUKM) who went beyond the call of duty to help the wife of a Tenaga Nasional Berhad (TNB) security guard who was injured in a sub-station explosion on Jan 22.
Wan Affendi Wan Ali, 25, suffered 50 per cent burns when the sub-station exploded in Bukit Changgang.
His wife, Fauziah Arbangi, 25, said nurses and doctors from the burns unit passed the hat around to help her. Fauziah, who has been sleeping at the burns unit the past five nights, said the staff would chip in daily to buy her breakfast, lunch and dinner.
“The nurses also brought me some change of clothes from their homes. I want to go home and see my kids but I don’t have the money for transportation,” said the homemaker as she fought back tears.
She said her parents were taking care of her two children, aged three and five, at their family home in Banting.
Fauziah is also three months pregnant.
Her spirits were lifted when she received a RM2,000 donation from the American International Assurance (AIA) yesterday.
Its vice-president of corporate communications department, Mala Patmarajah, told The Malay Mail that the donation was for the family’s immediate expenses.

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