Materia Medica Malaysiana

August 30, 2006

Locally-cultivated herbal supply to be increased to meet growing demand

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:38 pm

NST: The local herbal market is expected to be worth RM333.7 million a year by 2010, but is lacking sufficient supply locally.
As a result, herbs have to be imported to meet local demand, said Agriculture and Agro-based Industry Ministry parliamentary secretary, Datuk Rohani Abdul Karim.
She added that local traditional herbal medicine manufacturers imported 65 per cent of their herbs which could be planted locally.
The balance comes from the 35 local factories which process the herbs.
Replying to a question by Datuk Ronald Kiandee (BN-Beluran), she said that at present, only 1,500 hectares, of which 50 per cent comprise small-holdings, are planted with the crop.
She also said that steps will be taken to ensure a constant demand for the herbs processed by local factories, while growers will be encouraged to practise “contract farming” to avoid any wastage.
She was replying to a question by Tan Sri Hew See Tong (BN-Kampar) who wanted to know the efforts being made to encourage and widen the market for herbal medicine at the national and international levels.
She said the herbal industry has good prospects in the local market, especially in the perfume, toiletries and cosmetics’ industries.
“Herbs are also supplied to health centres and spas which are increasing in number,” she added.

Malaysian men overweight and unhealthy

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:37 pm

Star: PETALING JAYA: More than three-quarters of urban men in Malaysia are heavily overweight, with some even morbidly obese.
This troubling conclusion was drawn from the Subang Men’s Health Research, a randomised, community-based study jointly conducted by University of Malaya and the Malaysian Society of Andrology and the Study of Ageing Male to look at the health status of men in Subang Jaya, an urban community in the Klang Valley.
The results of the study that have just been released reveals how unhealthy many of these men are.
Of the 1,050 men above 40 who responded to the study, 76.7% of them fall into the Body Mass Index categories of overweight, obese and morbidly obese (using Asia-Pacific criteria).
More than half of them also have large stomachs, measured as a waistline of more than 90cm or 35 inches, said Datuk Dr Tan Hui Meng, the lead researcher for the study and a consultant urologist.
“This is shocking. Abnormal waist circumference is so important because it independently increases the risk of cardiovascular disease,” said Dr Tan.
He was also alarmed to find that almost 30% of the men were found to have diabetes and pre-diabetes. This means that about one in three men have high blood glucose and are at risk of heart attack, stroke, kidney disease, nerve problems and eye problems.
“The risk of a male diabetic dying of a heart attack is double that of a non-diabetic,” Dr Tan warned.

Illegals Are Human Too, Says Health Ministry

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:37 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, Aug 30 (Bernama) — Government hospitals will continue to provide treatment to foreign nationals, including illegal immigrants, on humanitarian grounds.
Health Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said this was part of the ministry’s duty which included ensuring that illegal immigrants were not the source of infectious diseases.
“At the Health Ministry, we adopt a humanitarian policy because when sick people come to our hospitals, we have to give treatment to them no matter if they are illegal or legal immigrants.
“Secondly, we have to treat immigrants with communicable diseases like malaria or cholera. Otherwise, they will become the source of outbreak of the diseases,” he said in reply to Donald Peter Mojuntin (BN-Penampang) in the Dewan Rakyat Wednesday.
Lee said that 78,177 illegal immigrants or 4.4 per cent of the total number of patients received treatment in government hospitals in Sabah in 2004. Last year, the number was 77,114 or 4.8 per cent.
Three government hospitals in the state which treated the most foreign nationals were the Duchess of Kent Hospital (18,863), Tawau Hospital (14,558), and Lahad Datu Hospital (9,977).

August 29, 2006

Khazanah to take control of Pantai

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:33 pm

Business Times: KHAZANAH Nasional Bhd moved yesterday to take control of Pantai Holdings Bhd, the country’s biggest healthcare firm, from its Singaporean shareholder and help cool a political hot potato for the Government.
Matters became hot when politicians and lawmakers started questioning Singapore-based Parkway Holdings Ltd’s takeover of Pantai and its two government concessions in the medical field.
The politicians from the ruling political party said they were unhappy that the concessions – one for health screening of foreign workers and another for the provision of state hospital services – had fallen into foreign hands.
Parkway moved into Pantai last year after buying the bulk of its shares from Pantai’s chief executive officer Datuk Lim Tong Yong.
Lim had acquired a 32.85 per cent interest in the company from former Prime Minister Tun Mahathir Mohamad’s son, Mokhzani Mahathir, in 2001.
This prompted Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi, two weeks ago, to say the government was seriously studying the matter, and resulted yesterday in Khazanah’s sudden strategic move.
For a start, Khazanah has bought a 6.6 per cent stake, or 30.92 million shares, in Pantai through its wholly-owned unit Pantai Irama Ventures Sdn Bhd for an undisclosed price.
It will then buy the entire 26 per cent stake owned by Parkway for RM2.65 a share. Pantai Irama will then make a general offer (GO) to purchase the rest of the shares at the same price, which values Pantai at RM1.25 billion.
“We believe the strategic interests of the nation will be protected in this manner, and the commercial interests of Pantai and its investors – including both major and minority investors – will also be served with this partnership,” Khazanah said.
Pantai closed at RM2.51 last Friday. The shares were suspended from trading yesterday. Trading will resume today.

Pantai recently turned down offers from two consortia of investors to acquire its subsidiaries – Pantai Medivest Sdn Bhd and Fomema Sdn Bhd – both of which hold the concessions.
Fomema holds a 15-year concession to carry out medical check-ups for all foreign workers in the country. The concession expires in September 2012.
Pantai Medivest holds a 15-year concession from October 1996 to provide hospital support services in Negri Sembilan, Malacca and Johor.
Medivest and the Fomema group of companies are Pantai’s main sources of income, accounting for about half of Pantai Holdings’ group sales and over 40 per cent of the group’s operating profit.
Parkway, however, will not exit Pantai completely. It will buy 49 per cent of Pantai Irama from Khazanah and will manage hospitals under Pantai.
Under the GO, Pantai Irama will also make an offer of RM1.53 each for all outstanding warrants and RM2.53 per irredeemable convertible unsecured loan stocks.
For the GO to proceed, Pantai Irama must have more than 50 per cent of Pantai. Due to the small premium in the offer, Pantai is unlikely to be taken private, some analysts said.
“What is interesting is to see Khazanah and Parkway coming in together to manage Pantai. Khazanah’s move is good in a sense that it helps to calm the political storm swirling around Pantai.
Khazanah said its investment in Pantai is strategic.
The deal complements its other healthcare ventures in India and allows it to tap further into the Malaysian hospital market.
It currently has shares in Malaysia’s pharmaceutical firm Pharmaniaga Bhd and India’s Apollo Hospitals.

Cuba-Malaysia cooperation to develop vaccines

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:27 pm

Star: PENANG: Cuba may be best known for its fine cigars, old-world charm and Cold War past but it is also a hotbed of biotechnology activity.
Realising the potential for collaboration, Universiti Sains Malaysia is now working with Cuba’s Finlay Institute to develop vaccines for tuberculosis (TB) and meningitis.
USM vice-chancellor Prof Datuk Dzulkifli Abdul Razak said: “Finlay is teaming up with our medical school in Kelantan to produce the vaccines.
“We are currently waiting for RM127mil funding from the Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry to undertake the five-year project.”
The partners would work on producing a TB vaccine first, he added.
“Cuba’s biotechnology is second to none even among developed nations. It has produced 12 vaccines, of which three are first in the world,” said Prof Dzulkifli.
He said although diseases such as TB, meningitis, malaria and cholera were rife, research on the ailments was lacking because pharmaceutical giants could not make money out of such Third World diseases.
Thus, USM would take on research in this areas even if they were not viable ventures, he told newsmen after opening the aerodynamics laboratory at USM’s engineering campus in Nibong Tebal on Tuesday.

Ministry To Issue Guidelines On Formula Milk For Older Babies

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:27 pm

PUTRAJAYA, Aug 29 (Bernama) — The Health Ministry will issue guidelines on the sale of formula milk for children aged more than a year.
The move was to ensure they met the needs of growing children, especially in terms of the vitamin, mineral and protein content, said Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek, Tuesday.
He said the ministry would discuss the matter with formula milk producers next month to get their views.
“The guidelines are based on the World Health Organisation’s standard. They are important because some children totally depend on baby formula when in fact, a child aged above one year needs more than this,” he told reporters after launching the ministry’s Merdeka Month celebrations here.
He said the move did not mean that baby formula contents were not according to the children’s needs, but they might not be sufficient.
“That is why we want to meet with the producers to tell them what our requirements are,” he added.
Anyway, no baby formulas could replace breast milk, he said.
On the hand, foot and mouth disease (HFMD), Dr Chua said the disease in Sarawak differed from the one in the Malaysian peninsula.
“In the peninsula, it is an endemic disease which means it is always there and normally, it does not cause death, but in Sarawak, for some unknown reasons, it can result in death.”
He said he had discussed the matter with Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr George Chan and the ministry might cooperate with the state government in studying the uniqueness of the disease in the state.

Chua: Matrons must focus on teaching trainee nurses

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:14 am

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Matrons and nursing sisters must concentrate on their core business, which is to train nurses on probation during ward rounds, said Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek yesterday.
He said a study by the ministry last year showed that 80% of them were doing more administrative work and had neglected their main role of supervising and teaching trainee nurses.
“They are not doing their core business but side business now, which is probably easier than doing ward rounds,” he added.
“It is now compulsory for them to go on ward rounds. Their failure to do so results in failure to monitor and supervise new nurses, which will also affect the quality of our future nurses,” he said.
He said trainee nurses were inexperienced and should be taught the finer skills of nursing during their practical training in hospitals.
Dr Chua was speaking to reporters after witnessing a signing of agreement between the Health Ministry and Nilam Healthcare Education Centre Sdn Bhd to make use of facilities at hospitals and community polyclinics to teach and train students pursuing diploma courses at Nilam College of Nursing and Allied Health Sciences.
Dr Chua said that starting this year, matrons and nursing sisters had been given the task to be mentors to trainee nurses and to assess their performance before they could register as qualified nurses with the Nursing Board.
“All the new nurses will be subjected to this new mentor system,” he said.
He added that the move was part of the Government’s plan to develop and upgrade human capital under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.

August 28, 2006

There’s life after breast cancer

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:02 am

NST: KUALA TERENGGANU: To matron Chong Chee Yong, the diagnosis of breast cancer seven years ago was too much to bear. Depressed, the 63-year-old believed she had been given a death sentence.
It was a visit by a group of survivors while she was being treated in Kuala Lumpur that made her realise that there was life after breast cancer.
That experience led to Chong’s decision to help other women diagnosed with breast cancer.
“It’s critical to have people around you at such a time. Patients are afraid. They’ve heard the horror stories and worry, especially about the chemotherapy and its side-effects. You seldom hear the stories of survivors,” she said.
After returning home from her treatment, the matron with over 30 years of nursing experience founded Rakan Cakna in 2003. The breast cancer support group now has 40 members. Cakna is local slang for caring.
Every year, the group gives emotional support to about 50 women. it holds regular gatherings, including high-tea three times a year.
Chong visits the hospital three or four times a week to offer support to new patients.
“You can see the effects of your visit on a patient, and as you talk to them you learn from them too. In a way, it’s a form of therapy for me, and I’m happy I can stand by them at such a trying time.”
She recalls a patient named Maimun, who was diagnosed when her cancer was in an advanced stage.
Chong says Maimun was lying in bed sobbing when she introduced herself as a breast cancer survivor.
Maimun immediately sat up, grabbed Chong’s hand, and bombarded her with questions and vented her frustration.
“Cancer can be frightening, but I told her there was hope. This is why I encourage survivors to make themselves visible,” she said, adding that she still kept in touch with Maimun.
She also volunteers at Persatuan Hospis Terengganu, which cares for terminal cancer patients.
She would love to see more survivors come forward as volunteers.
It could be something as simple as holding someone’s hand and talking to them, she said.
“I take solace in Mother Teresa’s words, ‘The whole world is like a drop in the ocean. But if you don’t put a drop in, the ocean remains one drop less’,” she said.

August 27, 2006

Para-counsellors for first line of treatment

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:43 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: From next year, neighbourhood counsellors will help ease the emotional burden of those facing psychological problems after tragedies.
Under pilot projects to be carried out by the Welfare Department, community leaders and volunteers will be trained in the first-stage of counselling.
The department’s deputy director-general (planning), Meme Zainal Rashid, said the “para-counsellors” would do their best at their level to help people, especially those who have lost loved ones.
“When someone in the community loses a loved one, these para-counsellors can step in and provide counselling. And if they feel that the person needs professional help, they can refer them to us and we can take over,” she told the New Straits Times.
She said the department will train core groups of people “and we will then see where it goes from there”.
Although the project is still on the drawing board, the department is confident that it will be a success.
Meme Zainal said the department would identify several communities for the pilot projects. The department is currently over-extended in efforts to deal with those needing psychological counselling as it only has 40 trained counsellors nationwide.
With para-counsellors, the full-time counsellors will be able to provide more indepth assistance to patients.
The department’s counsellors work on a referral basis, with patients having come themselves or been referred by family members. The department does not have a unit which proactively identifies people in need of counselling.
The exception are cases where the department is conducting social intervention programmes and feels that a person is in need of help.
Meme Zainal said the department conducts social intervention programmes when large numbers of people are affected by catastrophes such as fire, floods and landslides.
“We provide various types of help including financial assistance. If we feel that someone needs counselling, we will conduct sessions for that person to reduce the trauma,” she said.

Living on edge from grief, depression

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:42 am

NST: They are among modern-day heroes, picking up the emotional pieces after personal tragedies — without professional help. Many pull through with innate courage, determination and strength. But things are set to change next year when “para-counsellors” make their appearance.
KUALA LUMPUR: They may appear fine on the outside but grief and depression are tearing them apart inside.
If nothing is done to help them, they may descend deeper into a psychotic state that may eventually lead to suicidal feelings.
Those most susceptible to this are people who have lost their loved ones, especially in tragic circumstances.
According to Prof Dr T. Maniam of Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia’s psychiatry department, they are likely to experience a myriad of emotions and psychological trauma.
He said they needed to be counselled by trained professional counsellors, psychologists or psychiatrists.
More often than not, however, they are given no such help.
In a society where a stigma is still attached to the act of seeking psychiatric help, many go through life after suddenly losing a loved one without professional help.
Some seek solace in family members while others distance themselves from those around them.
In most cases, Dr Maniam said, people who lost a loved one to disease or old age only needed the support of family and friends.
However, in some cases, especially where the death occurs in tragic and especially horrendous circumstances, there was every possibility that the experience may be psychologically traumatising.
There was also the possibility of the person feeling guilty for having survived if indeed they were involved in the incident.
“All this can give rise to what is called acute stress disorder. They may have anxiety attacks or feel fear.
“They may try to avoid any situation which bears any sort of resemblance to the traumatic experience.
“They may have flashbacks and intrusive memories.
“In most cases, they get over this in a few weeks.
“But if it continues for more than a month, then psychiatrists will diagnose this as post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which needs professional assistance,” he said.
Dr Maniam said grief sometimes led to depression.
“Those suffering from PTSD or depression should seek some sort of counselling.”
He said family members and friends need to recognise certain tell-tale signs of people under psychological stress.
There may be bouts of depression, the person may not be able to function properly or may have psychotic symptoms such as hearing voices or suicidal tendencies.
“If these should happen, then it is not just normal grieving any more. It has become an illness,” he said.

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