Materia Medica Malaysiana

February 28, 2006

Foreign Doctors Don’t Have Expected Expertise, Says Dr Latiff

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:55 pm

JOHOR BAHARU, Feb 28 (Bernama) — Some of the approximately 700 doctors serving in the country do not meet the expected service quality, said Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad.
Some of the doctors were also found to be without the expertise which they claimed to have, he said.
Speaking to reporters after presenting aid amounting to RM411,519 under the Medical Aid Fund to 12 patients at the Sultanah Aminah Hospital here Tuesday, he said the government had however ceased to employ foreign doctors since two years ago.
Also present at the function were Johor Local Government and Health Committee Chairman Datuk Halimah Mohammed Sadique and State Health Director Dr Daud Rahim.
On the shortage of doctors in government hospitals, Abdul Latiff said the ministry was considering making it compulsory for medical graduates to serve with the government for a certain period before they could seek employment with the private sector.
He said the matter would be discussed with the Public Service Department.

Sharp rise in infertility

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:17 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: Late marriages, modern-day stress and a lower sperm count have led to a high number of infertility cases in Malaysia.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said there was an estimated 300,000 couples in Malaysia in the 20 to 40 age group experiencing some form of infertility, which could be a contributing factor towards the nation’s declining birth rate.
Thus, there was a potentially large demand for fertility services, as there was only about one fertility specialist to every 7,500 infertile couples, he said.
“According to the Department of Statistics, our birth rate has dipped to 19.6 babies per 1,000 persons last year compared with more than 20 babies previously.
“To date, we have three public and 20 private centres offering test-tube baby services in one way or another. Of the 450 practising obstetricians and gynaecologists, about 40 have had training in assisted conception procedures, which represents the 1:7,500 ratio,” he said at the Tropicana Medical Centre (TMC) groundbreaking ceremony here yesterday.
The fertility centre is expected to be operational in 2008.
According to a 2002 World Health Organisation report, infertility affected 80 million people worldwide and an estimated one in 10 couples.
“One of the key criteria in determining the selection of a fertility treatment centre is the pregnancy rate, which served as an acceptable measure of its success,” said Dr Chua, who urged local in-vitro fertilisation centres to have transparency by reporting their pregnancy rates.
Dr Chua said health tourism had been identified as one of the economy’s growth catalysts but cautioned of stiff competition from countries such as Thailand, Singapore and Hong Kong.
“Health tourism has great potential here due to our skills and expertise, reasonable prices and our multiracial environment but it is important to have a centre that offers a niche market, which gives us an advantage over the others.
In the first three quarters of last year, foreign patient arrivals increased by 33% over that in 2004 to 172,313.
Income from these arrivals went up by 13% to RM109mil.
“But this is a gross underestimate of the health tourism’s economic value as some private hospitals refused to cooperate with us by furnishing data on patients, treatment and revenue, which we need to formulate strategies for health tourism,” he said.
“Some say they do not have the time or any foreign patients but we do not believe them. Maybe they are worried that their information will be shared with their competitors.”
Dr Chua hoped that an administrative condition could be placed in the Private Healthcare Facilities Act to require private hospitals to provide such information.
Owned by TMC Life Sciences Bhd, TMC is a specialist centre for women and children that focuses on obstetrics and gynaecology.

All 15 admitted cleared of bird flu

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:16 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: All the 15 people who were admitted to the Kuala Lumpur Hospital last week for suspected avian flu tested negative for the H5N1 virus and have been discharged.
There were, however, two new admissions since Sunday. One was a 13-year-old girl who lives within the 300m radius of the area in Jalan Genting Lama, Setapak. She was admitted yesterday afternoon after she showed flu-like symptoms.
The other case involved a 17-year-old girl from the Klang Valley who voluntarily checked into the hospital on Sunday after she became sick and was worried because she had been in contact with chickens.
“Although she is not from the affected area, we have isolated her and are testing her for the virus as a precautionary measure,” Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said at the Tropicana Medical Centre ground-breaking ceremony here yesterday.
Dr Chua said so far, no one had been infected with the deadly H5N1 virus and urged the public not to overreact.
The ministry is now entering its second phase of monitoring, which involves passive surveillance.
“Our first phase of going from house to house within the 300m radius of the affected area has been completed. We are now in the second passive phase where we monitor residents of certain houses, such as those admitted into hospital and discharged,” he said.
Dr Chua said the Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Ministry would make an announcement when the country was free of bird flu.
In Sabah, the police and Customs Department were intensifying efforts to prevent smuggling of poultry into the state to ensure the state remained free of bird flu.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Mangsor Ismail said overland smuggling trails in the southern part of the state, such as at remote Pagalungan in Keningau district, were being closely watched.
“Our personnel manning roadblocks at entry points have been extra vigilant in checking the smuggling of any type of fowl into Sabah,” he said.

Smelly water irks residents

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:14 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Star received hundreds of complaints of smelly tap water over the past two days from residents in the Klang Valley.
They phoned to say they couldn’t drink, wash or cook with the water and some of them also said the water smelled of faeces.
The calls came from all over the Klang Valley, including Gombak, Kuala Lumpur, Petaling Jaya, Klang, Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor, Hulu Selangor and Kuala Langat – areas where water is supplied from Sungai Selangor.
In response to the complaints, Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor (Syabas) said that dirty water from rivers and ponds, which overflowed into Sungai Selangor following the heavy rain on Sunday morning, caused the problem.
In a statement yesterday, Syabas said the overflow had caused an increase of ammonia in the raw water source from Sungai Selangor.
The operators at the three water treatment plants in Sungai Selangor had to increase the level of chlorine to bring down the ammonia level in the raw water – and the high chlorine content was what made the water smelly.
Syabas chief operations officer Lee Miang Koi said Syabas has informed the Selangor government of the source of the polluted raw water, since the supply of raw water was under the state’s jurisdiction.
Lee said Syabas has urged the state government to conduct a thorough study of Sungai Selangor and determine the cause of the sudden increase of ammonia in the river.
“Consumers need not worry. Based on tests done, treated water supplied to consumers is safe as it followed the standards set by the Health Ministry,” he added.
Currently, the ammonia level at the water source is back to normal and the overall situation is expected to return to normal in a day or two.

Centralised Poultry Slaughtering And Storage To Prevent H5N1 Spread

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:45 am

KUALA LUMPUR, 27 Feb (Bernama) — The Federal Territories Ministry will propose to the government the setting up of a centralised slaughtering and storage of poultry to contain the future spread of the Avian Influenza H5N1 virus.
Its minister, Datuk Zulhasnan Rafique said at present, the poultry could be taken anywhere in the city to be slaughtered.
“Perhaps, one pro-active measure which we can take is by having a centre for slaughtering of poultry,” he told reporters after a visit to the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) Avian Influenza Operation Room at Setapak here Monday.
Zulhasnan said he would raise the matter to the Cabinet.
Meanwhile, Kuala Lumpur Mayor Datuk Ruslin Hasan said City Hall did not have problems to allocate space for Bumiputera traders to operate at Jalan Petaling adding that this was done in the 1970s.
“There were about 10 to 20 Bumiputera traders but they were unable to carry out their business then.
“Perhaps, time has changed. If there is room and they (Bumiputera) want to, it will not be a problem for us,” he added.
He was commenting on a statement by the Malaysia Dakwah and Welfare Organisation (Pekida) a few weeks ago which wanted other races to also be given space to carry out business at Jalan Petaling to overcome the problem of gangsterism.
Ruslin said he would meet representatives of Pekida to get clarification on the matter.

Water Smells Bad Due To Chemical Reaction, Says Syabas

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:42 am

KUALA LUMPUR, 27 Feb (Bernama) — The unpleasant smell in piped water in Kuala Lumpur, Gombak, Petaling Jaya, Klang/Shah Alam, Kuala Selangor and Kuala Langat is due to the high ammonia content of water from Sungai Selangor which is the main water source to the affected areas, a statement issued by Syarikat Bekalan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Syabas) said Monday.
The situation is attributed to heavy rain which caused dirty water, including from ponds, to flow into Sungai Selangor.
The company said action had been taken to overcome the problem by increasing the chlorine content in the treatment of raw water.
“The chemical reaction resulted in the water to smell such,” it added.
It assured consumers that the water was safe for use and that the company was monitoring the situation.
It also said the situation would return to normal in a day or two.

February 27, 2006

Clinics pushing drugs

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:33 pm

Star: It is becoming increasingly easy for drug addicts to get their “fix” from certain clinics in Kuala Lumpur instead of from pushers. Many are turning to these new sources too because the supplies are cheap, constant and convenient.
“Of the 10 new inmates at our centre, at least three that I know of used to buy their fix at clinics,” said Kevin (not his real name), 41, who is undergoing rehabilitation at a centre in Cheras.
He showed StarMetro three types of pills he bought from a clinic in Kajang recently. These were in green, blue and white and each was about the size of two rice grains. They were packed in white plastic packets that did not bear the clinic’s name.
According to Kevin, the blue pill sold at RM2 to RM3 each. “It is a normal sleeping pill, but when consumed in large quantities – about 10 at a time – it will make one go on a ‘high’ as though he has taken Ecstasy pills,” he said.
The green pill also sells for RM2 to RM3 each. It is normally taken with methamphetamine crystals (also known as Ice).
The white pill sells at RM11 for a 2mg pill and RM30 for a 8mg pill. It makes one feel as though he has taken drugs. Kevin said some addicts were prescribed medicine to help them rid of the habit.
“They are cheaper than the ones sold by pushers, and the effect is almost the same,” he said. “Addicts know of the clinics by word of mouth.”
The clinics are enjoying sudden surge of income. “Once when I was at a clinic, about 20 addicts were waiting for the doctor,” said Keven.
It is easy to buy the pills, too.
“We need to write down our particulars the first time we visit the clinics. Then we see the doctor; he will sometimes hypocritically scold us and advise us not to take too much. Nevertheless, he will still sell the pills no matter how many times he has scolded us,” he said.
“For larger quantities, we need to see the doctor. If it is less than three pills, we can get it straight from the nurses at the counter.
“They know who we are.”

Malaysian Medical Association (MMA)’s Substance Abuse Committee chairman Dr George Fernandez said the association was aware that the drugs were being abused and viewed the practice as serious breaches of the ethics and the Medical Act.
“The MMA has no punitive powers and can only expel a member if found guilty of such breaches. The Malaysian Medical Council (MMC), however, has the punitive powers. For the MMC to act against a registered medical practitioner, a complaint must be lodged against the medical practitioner and action will be taken against him,” Dr George said in an e-mail.
“The Health Ministry is aware of the abuses and it is a matter of time before these errant doctors are brought to book. Doctors found violating the Medical Act 1971 are punishable under Regulation 24 Dangerous Drug Act 1952 and are therefore liable to disciplinary proceeding under section 29(2)(a).”
“The MMC has already charged several general practitioners under this regulation.”
According to Dr George, the association was working closely with the Health Ministry in tackling the issue. It is also involved in the training of general practitioners in the treatment of substance abuse and addiction.
“So far, my committee has trained 480 general practitioners in substance abuse addiction and abuse. This, by the way, is the record highest number of doctors trained in substance abuse treatment in the world.”
The blue pill is midazolam. It is a psychotropic drug that can be prescribed only by a registered medical practitioner. This drug is prescribed for insomnia in correct (small) doses. The MMA is aware that drug addicts are abusing this drug by crushing it and injecting it into their veins in combination with Heroin and other Amphetamine Type Substances for a quick fix.
The white pill is buprenorphine. It is being abused similarly. This is used in the treatment of heroin addiction in doses of between 2mg to 32mg a day.
It is still available but only in the 2mg strength. Doctors prescribing this and other psychotropic drugs have to follow strict guidelines and if caught in violation of the regulations, they will be severely punished by the MMC and even risk being struck off the register.
The green pill is not identifiable and is suspected to be a pill produced by backyard manufacturers to be sold to the drug addicts.

More People Exposed To Risk Of Cancer, Mental Illness

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:32 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 (Bernama) — Studies done locally and abroad have shown that more people will be exposed to the risk of cancer and mental illness in the future, Human Resources Minister Datuk Seri Dr Fong Chan Onn said Monday.
Among the main causes were unhealthy lifestyle, stress at work and exposure to toxic materials due to increased industrialisation, he told reporters here.
He said that last year, 4,750 or 25 per cent of 19,000 applicants for Social Security Organisation (Socso) benefits were found to have cancer by its panel of doctors while 950 applicants (five per cent) suffered from mental illness.
In view of this, the ministry would launch a healthy lifestyle awareness campaign in collaboration with the Health Ministry to educate workers on the dangers of cancer and other work-related illnesses, he said.
“We’ve got awareness campaigns like those on road accidents and now we’re looking for a healthy lifestyle awareness campaign on how we can alert workers on how to reduce the cause of the cancer. The workers are also coping with stress due to the working environment,” he said.
Earlier, Dr Fong launched the second edition of “Guidelines On Impairment and Disability Assessment of Traumatic Injuries, Occupational Diseases and Invalidity”, published by Socso’s Medical and Rehabilitation branch.

Chua Chides Private Hospitals

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:31 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 (Bernama) — Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek is disappointed with several private hospitals that have withheld the number of their foreign patients.
He said their refusal to divulge the information would retard the government’s effort to promote medical services as one of the country’s tourism products.
This should not have happened because the medical tourism sector had a high potential as Malaysia had expertise and skills that were on par with that of developed countries like the United Kingdom, United States and Singapore, he said.
“In terms of costs, it’s cheaper and the fact that our country’s population comprises various races means that we can accommodate people from any country,” he said told reporters at Kota Damansara Monday.
Dr Chua said the ministry had not made it mandatory for private hospitals to disclose details like the number their foreign patients and the type of medical services they sought.
But a healthcare legislation that would be enforced this year would require private hospitals to do so comprehensively, he said.
He said the information would enable the government to draw up strategies to promote medical tourism.
According to the data provided by the Malaysian Private Hospitals Association, 174,189 foreign patients sought treatment at 27 private hospitals nationwide and generating revenue of RM104.98 million in 2004.
The number had since grown tremendously as in the first quarter of 2005 alone, the hospitals received 172,313 foreign patients and raked in RM109.0 million.
“A study conducted by the government in 2002 has forecast that the foreign patient market in the country will be worth RM2.2 billion by 2010,” Dr Chua said.
Earlier, Dr Chua performed the ground-breaking ceremony for the construction of TMC Life Sciences Berhad’s the Tropicana Medical Centre in Kota Damansara.
The medical centre on a 2.4ha site is expected to be completed in early 2008. When completed, it will house the Damansara Fertility Centre, among others.

Bird flu virus in KL confirmed subtype of the one found in Indonesia

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:49 pm

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Tests by the Veterinary Research Institute in Ipoh has confirmed that the H5N1 strain of avian flu affecting the area in Jalan Genting Klang is a subtype of the one found in Indonesia.
Agriculture and Agro-Based Industry Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin said a reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction was carried to determine the DNA sequencing of the virus detected in chicken and fowl in the area.
“We confirmed that the virus is a subtype of the one affecting free range chicken (ayam kampung) in Indonesia,” he said.
However, Muhyiddin declined to speculate if the virus had been brought into the country through smuggled chicken or fowl smuggled in from Indonesia.
“Our policy is that the Government has banned any importation of chicken or other fowls from countries affected by the H5N1 strain of avian flu,” he pointed out.
There are squatter areas around Jalan Genting Klang – Kampung Pasir Wardieburn, Taman Danau Kota, Pekan Danau Kota and Kampung Belakang JPJ has been known to harbour illegal immigrants.

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