Materia Medica Malaysiana

July 30, 2006

Herbal industry identified as a money spinner

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:40 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The local market for herb-based products is worth about RM6.2 billion annually but 85 per cent of the products are imported.
International Trade and Industry Deputy Minister Ng Lip Yong said the Government had taken steps to rectify the anomaly.
He said the herbal industry had been identified as a potential money spinner, with small-and medium-sized enterprises taking the lead under the Third Industrial Master Plan.
“In terms of herbal production, our SMEs so far are only engaged in low value-added activities. This is set to change under the master plan,” he said at the second international Women’s Health and Asian Traditional (WHAT Medicine) conference at the Putra World Trade Centre here.
The three-day conference was closed by Raja Permaisuri Agong Tuanku Fauziah.
Ng said with the world market valued at a staggering US$80 billion (RM300 billion) and the great demand for herb- based health supplements, cosmetics, and fragrances, Malaysia should seize the opportunity to become a major player.
Conference organising chairman and Tropical Botanics chief executive Dr Rajen M. said the time had come for local herbal players to fully tap the industry’s potential.
He said Malaysia was the fourth largest producer of herbs in the Asia Pacific region and 12th globally and the industry here possessed all the “ingredients” needed for it to go big.
“We have plenty of herbs in our own backyard, the people are not strangers to using them and the Government is supporting the industry.
“What’s needed now is proper funding and facilities to further develop the industry.”
Rajen said there were 15,000 species of herbs identified in the country but only 2,000 were known to have medicinal value.
He said the country should also think about “renting” foreign expertise to maintain and develop the industry.
“We should not be satisfied with merely being a herb-growing country. We should strive to commercialise them.
“We should not repeat the mistake we made with rubber where we became the largest producer but ended up paying 10 times more for tyres.”
He said herb growers should also concentrate on the branding of their own products.

The harbour of last goodbyes

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:40 am

NST: JOHOR BARU: Shunned by society and kicked out by their families, people with full-blown AIDS often die a painful and lonely death.
But it need not be so. Dignity, a charity home here, offers care and comfort during the last days of their lives.
The project, an offshoot of the Intan Life Zone (ILZ) home for the “rejects” of society, was started in October last year and now has 17 patients.
Most of them were languishing in government hospitals, with no family support.
Staff at ILZ, who are dedicated to reaching out to the homeless, ex-prisoners and others struggling to kick their addiction to drugs and alcohol, came to their rescue.
A special facility was set up on the 2nd floor of ILZ’s shophouse premises on Jalan Tun Abdul Razak here, to provide a home, meals and medical and nursing care for those suffering from HIV/AIDS.
The idea, said project founder Abraham Prathap, was to provide a place of recovery in a drug-free environment, with counselling to try and reconcile them with their estranged families.
“Most were thrown out of their homes when they had HIV and this later developed into full-blown AIDS. They had no one to turn to,” said Prathap.
“Nobody wants anything to do with them. We try and give them care, support and love.
“We offer personalised attention during the last moments of their lives. We help them die with dignity.”
These people, said Prathap, would otherwise end up dying in some dark street alley.
Dignity reaches out to people of all religions, with Muslims, Christians, Buddhists and Hindus volunteering time and effort.
“When you talk about rejects in society, there is a tendency to write them off as mere statistics and forget that we are dealing with real people,” said Dr Vanassa Ratnasingam, one of the volunteers. “To spend your last days alone with no loved ones to support and comfort you is a terrible thing. I try to give them hope by sharing my love and care for them.”
The volunteers are assisted by two full-time workers.
The project, which is financed through public donations, is supported by a monthly grant from the Malaysian AIDS Council. But this is often short of the RM8,000 to RM10,000 a month needed to run the Dignity programme.
ILZ’s other projects, which are all housed in the same premises, includes a charity soup kitchen for the homeless, which serves between 80 and 100 a day.
Once a week, staff and volunteers distribute food parcels to vagrants, ex-prisoners and addicts who live on the streets.
ILZ has also started a harm reduction programme, financed by the Health Ministry, under which addicts can turn to the centre for treatment, counselling, testing and help with job placements.
Said Prathap: “Our work at ILZ is not about numbers. If we can reach out and help just one person to make the change for the better, that in itself is a success story.
“All they need is a little love, understanding and kindness.”
ILZ is located at 26A Jalan Tun Abdul Razak, Susur 1, 80000 Johor Baru,
For telephone enquiries, call Prathap at 016-7355939 or 07-2281885.
The email address is abraham_

Chinese not too keen on nursing

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:38 am

Star: SEREMBAN: Chinese are reluctant to become nurses and this is cause of concern to the Health Ministry.
Deputy Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said government and private nursing schools trained some 5,000 nurses yearly and only 10% were Chinese.
“I am not happy with the situation.
“If this continues, Chinese patients may face communication difficulties in hospitals.
“Patients feel more comfortable when conversing in their mother tongue or dialects,” he said after attending the convocation ceremony of 271 nurses at the Seremban Nursing College.
All the graduates were non-Chinese.
There are now 27,000 nurses, a ratio of one to 600 people, serving at government and private hospitals in the country.
Dr Abdul Latiff said the ministry hoped to have a ratio of one to 200 by 2010.
He said the public must change their perception that nurses only help the sick.
“Nurses also promote healthy living to help the fit-and-well maintain a healthy lifestyle.
Dr Abdul Latiff also said the Government could not stop nurses from working overseas such as in the Middle East and Europe due to the better pay there.
“It is a good sign, showing that our nurses are well trained and recognised internationally,” he said.

Heart patients as young as 15

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:37 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: One-third of heart patients in the country are under 45 years old.
Universiti Malaya Medical Centre’s (UMMC) cardiology division head Prof Dr Wan Azman Wan Ahmad said more young people were getting heart disease compared to 30 years ago.
This could be due to an unhealthy diet, higher level of stress and a change in lifestyle.
“Thirty years ago, heart patients were aged between 50 and 55 for males and 60 and 65 for females. But today, we get patients as young as 15.
“There are various factors that cause heart disease. One of them is eating unhealthy food, which young people are doing because they eat a lot of fast food and deep fried Western food,” Dr Wan Azman told reporters after the opening of the Love Your Heart forum at UMMC here yesterday.
About 200 people attended the half-day forum, which also had free health screening.
Dr Wan Azman said heart disease was now also more common among Malays.
“This could be due to the fact that more Malays have migrated from rural areas to the city, giving them more choices of unhealthy food,” he said.
He advised the public to go to the hospital for an immediate check-up if they felt pain in their chest.
“Many people who experience chest pain are afraid to go to the hospital because they would rather not know the result of the symptom, which is usually angina (chest pain caused by reduced blood flow to the heart)
“They would rather go to a general practitioner or traditional physician to seek treatment. But when they find out (subsequently) that they have heart disease, it might be too late,” Dr Wan Azman said.

July 29, 2006

Community rehab for addicts not working

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:20 am

Star: PADANG BESAR: Attempts to rehabilitate drug addicts using the community-based concept are not yielding good results.
National Anti-Drug Agency treatment and rehabilitation director Zuraidah Muhamad said this was because of lack of participation from non-governmental organisations (NGOs), parents, and community-based organisations.
She said 17 community-based service centres were set up to provide counselling for those who had completed their two-year training at drug rehabilitation centres.
“But many NGOs have yet to extend their cooperation to make this programme a success,” she said.
“Even those who have completed their training at drug rehabilitation centres do not show up at the service centres, although it is compulsory for them to do so,” she said.
She said parents and the public were also not keen to help out at the service centres aimed at helping former drug addicts return to society.
“We must find ways to get the NGOs, parents and the public interested in helping out in the rehabilitation process,” she said after opening the Dataran Keinsafan at the Bukit Chabang rehabilitation centre here yesterday.
The agency plans to set up 93 service centres nationwide by 2008, Zuraidah said, adding that they would be strategically located for easy access.
She said close cooperation between Pemadam, Pengasih, village development and security committees, rehabilitated drug addicts and their family members was important to check relapse.
Bukit Chabang rehabilitation centre commandant Nazer Mustafa said the centre was using the Islamic method to rehabilitate drug addicts.

HIV-positive GROs

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:19 am

Star: KUANTAN: Irresponsible nightspot operators here are hiring HIV-positive guest relations officers, an Umno Youth leader alleged.
Kuantan division chief Mohamed Suffian Awang said there were at least three HIV-positive GROs working “somewhere here.”
He said he obtained the information from the Pahang state health authorities.
He added, however, that due to the nature of the matter, he could not divulge details of those involved.
Mohamed Suffian, who is a Kuantan municipal councillor, told The Star yesterday: “This is privileged information, which I brought to the attention of the local council during a recent full-board meeting.
“What worries me is that the number of those inflicted with HIV or AIDS may be higher than expected.
“Worse, they are working in a service industry which encourages close and personal contact with the public.”
He said he was upset that unscrupulous operators were employing such people.
“By right, those who work in the services industry such as eateries, entertainment centres and barber shops, must possess a health card to certify they are fit for work and free from any sickness,” said Mohamed Suffian.
“I have proposed that stern action be taken against operators who put the health of their clients at risk,” he said, adding that at the moment those found guilty of hiring workers without a health card could be fined RM80 and could even appeal for a reduction.
Mohamed Suffian said those who know they are carrying the deadly AIDS virus should stop doing any work that requires physical contact.
“There are many job opportunities, such as being a telephonist or receptionist,” he said, adding that he was not against them earning a living, but it should preferably be a job that did not put the public at risk.

Traditional medicine draft Bill ready by year’s end

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:14 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Traditional and Complementary Medicine Bill 2006 draft will be ready by the end of the year, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
The law will bring unethical practices and the use of low quality traditional and complementary medicine (T/CM) products under control, he said while opening the 2nd Women’s Health and Asian Traditional Medicine Conference yesterday.
The law will not only ensure practitioners are registered but also have government-approved education and training on T/CM, he added.
“We are discussing with the Public Services Department, the National Accreditation Board and the Higher Education Ministry on how to come up with accreditation and certification of courses provided in Indonesia, India and China,” he said.
“We also hope local universities will provide courses on traditional medicine which are recognised worldwide.” Such a course is conducted in RMIT, Australia.
Last year, more than 7,000 T/CM local practitioners were registered. They included 4,900 Chinese practitioners, 175 Malay, 69 Indian and 691 homeopathic practitioners and 1,200 complementary medicine practitioners. There were 219 foreign practitioners registered.
“Herbal products have great potential in Malaysia,” Dr Chua said.
“Malaysia is nestled in the oldest rainforest of the world and has a lot to offer to the world. It is listed as number 12 in the world for its biodiversity, and one in eight herbs on the planet grow on our soil.”
The Malaysian Industry Government grouping for High Technology 1999 study showed that the local market for herbal products is valued at RM4.5bil and growing at 10% to 15% a year, he said.
“Sadly, based on traditional medicine products registered with our Drug Control Authority up to last year, almost 40% of these products are imported, mainly from China and Indonesia,” he said.
To integrate T/CM into the country’s healthcare system, the ministry is carrying out a pilot test at the Putrajaya, Kepala Batas and Pandan hospitals over the next five years, at an estimated cost of RM1.8mil.

Cosmetics Law Controls Botox Use

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:11 am

KUALA LUMPUR, July 28 (Bernama) — A bill on cosmetics, including the use of botox, is being drawn up and is expected to be tabled in Parliament next year, Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said Friday.
He said the draft would be submitted to the Cabinet at the end of this year.
The bill would seek to prohibit the use of equipment for the application of botox in beauty houses if they did not receive sufficient training on its use, he said to reporters after opening the Women’s Health and Asian Traditional Medicine conference here, Friday.
Chua said botox use should be controlled in view of the indiscriminate use of the treatment, especially among women.
“We have no problem with people going for injection of botox. What we are worried about is that people who administer botox are not trained or qualified to do so,” he said.
The National Fatwa Council said in Kota Kinabalu Thursday the use of botox as cosmetics was “haram” or prohibited for Muslims.
The council also said its use might have side-effects on the users.

July 28, 2006

Government considering recognition for courses in TCM

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:26 pm

NST: The Government is considering giving recognition for courses in traditional and complementary medicine (TCM), Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said today.
“The ministry has held preliminary talks with the Higher Education Ministry and the National Accreditation Board regarding this matter and further talks have been approved by the Cabinet,” he said.
Dr Chua said the Government was also considering giving accreditations to several universities in China, India and Indonesia.
“The upcoming Traditional and Complementary Medicine Control Act will also enable us to better regulate the field,” he said.
“With the Act, we will be able to register TCM practitioners so that we can ensure that they have proper training approved by the Government and the code of ethics they have to follow.”
The Bill for the legislation is expected to be tabled in Parliament next year.
Chua said there were 219 foreign TCM practitioners in Malaysia, mostly in the field of Ayurvedic medicine, massage and reflexology.
Dr Chua urged local universities to offer courses in the TCM.
“Even the Royal Melbourne Institute of Technology in Australia is offering courses in TCM. Local universities should look into this,” Chua told reporters after opening the Women’s Health and Asian Traditional Medicine Conference and Exhibition.
Chua also called on local companies to expand their operations in the herbal and traditional medicine sector.
“There is a big potential for this sector in Malaysia, considering that we are ranked 12th in the world in terms of biodiversity,” Chua said.
A total of 14,385 herbal and traditional medicinal products have been registered with the ministry, 60 per cent of which is local and 40 per cent imported from China, Indonesia and India.
TCM practitioners have hailed the Government’s move. Dr Thomas Ong, the president of the Malaysian Association of Chiropractic Practitioners, said there was a need for accreditation to weed out bogus chiropractors.
“At the moment, anybody can offer the service even though they do not have the qualifications to do so,” he said.
Ong said chiropractic is a well-regulated field at the international level as the World Health Organisation and the World Federation of Chiropractic only recognised chiropractors who graduated from 33 institutions worldwide.
“In Malaysia, there are only 25 chiropractors who graduated from these institutions,” he said.
Nik Omar Nik Daud, president of the Malaysian Homeopathic Medical Practitioners Association of Malaysia, called for full accreditation to be given for TCM courses.
“We want to ensure that those planning to take a course in homeopathy, for instance, are not required to get a degree in another field first,” he said.

Botox fix forbidden

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:54 am

NST: KOTA KINABALU: The rich and famous, artistes and a growing number of young professionals will have to give up on their Botox fix.
The National Fatwa Council ruled yesterday that Muslim men and women are forbidden from reaching for this treatment to slow the ageing process, keep their skin wrinkle-free and other cosmetic purposes.
It said that Botox injections — a growing rage among the upper-middle class and rich in Malaysia — contained prohibited substances, including those from pigs.
It also said that this treatment could also result in negative side effects.
The fatwa does not carry the force of law but those who ignore it are committing a sin.
Council chairman Prof Datuk Shukor Husin said: “The council arrived at the decision after studying reports from abroad, local specialists and fatwas (decrees) made in Middle Eastern countries.”
Speaking to the New Straits Times after the council’s three-day meeting here, he noted that the use of Botox injections to treat medical conditions such as cerebral palsy was allowed.
But even in medical cases, it must be used only when the patient is in a dire situation and the treatment is provided by a specialist.
“This decision refers to situations when there are no alternatives for medical treatment.
“Since its introduction, there have also been many fake products in the market and that is another reason why it is haram,” Shukor said.
Botox, a powerful neurotoxin introduced two decades ago, is widely used to cure facial problems but is best known for its cosmetic qualities. It paralyses facial muscles, giving foreheads a relaxed, wrinkle-free appearance.
Several plastic surgeons interviewed by the NST said that Muslims only accounted for between 10 and 15 per cent of their clientele. This is not surprising as many well-heeled Malaysians prefer to get their Botox injections at clinics overseas, where a whole suite of anti-ageing treatment is available. Also, obtaining treatment outside the country gives them more privacy.
Dr Angamuthu Rajoo said for every 15 Malaysians coming to see him for a Botox procedure, fewer than five are Muslims.
“Most want to improve their facial features, with the most popular treatment administered to the forehead and crows feet to get rid of lines. Some also wanted to firm up their jaws,” he said.
Consultant dermatologist Dr Ko Chung Beng, said about 10 per cent of the 100 patients he sees monthly are Muslims.
Each treatment of Botox costs between RM400 and RM700.
The council’s decision to forbid the treatment for cosmetic purposes was supported by several individuals and non-governmental organisations.
Television personality Azwan Ali welcomed the council’s ruling.
“People should learn to accept their looks and come to terms with ageing instead of altering what God had given them,” he said.
The Women Section of the Jemaah Islah Malaysian noted that the council arrived at the decision after much deliberation and consultation with experts.
“So the Muslim community should respect the ruling,” said its president Dr Harlina Halizah Siraj.
But there were also signs that not everyone was going to toe the line.
Kalsom (not her real name), 48, said that she was going to continue getting Botox injections to keep her face wrinkle-free.
“I did it to look good and not necessarily to look young,” she said.
Television personality Nurfarahin Jamsari said she did consider jumping on the Botox bandwagon.
“I did not see any problem using it. Every woman wants to look beautiful and have a face free from lines and wrinkles,” she said.
But she did not take that final step after her husband told her that she already looked beautiful.

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