Materia Medica Malaysiana

September 30, 2006

Air quality drops in Klang Valley and Sarawak

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:47 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: Scattered rain and thunderstorms are expected early next week bringing much needed respite to the current hazy situation.
The haze worsened in parts of the country yesterday as Indonesia continues to record a high number of hotspots causing transboundary haze, according to the Department of Environment website.
Air quality deteriorated in parts of the Klang Valley and Sarawak yesterday with Sri Aman in Sarawak and Nilai in Negri Sembilan recording unhealthy Air Pollutant Index (API) levels of 106 and 101 respectively.
As of 5pm yesterday, 38 locations recorded moderate air quality and only 10 had healthy readings. On the brink of hitting unhealthy API readings were Petra Jaya (92), Sarikei (92) and Kuching (93) in Sarawak, Bukit Rambai (91) in Malacca and Kuala Selangor, which recorded 96 on the API.
Healthy API readings are between 0-50, moderate 51-100, unhealthy 101-200 and very unhealthy at 201-300. Air quality is deemed to be hazardous once the API hits above 300.
A Meteorological Services Department forecast officer said that this weekend was expected to be dry as the inter-monsoon season was only expected to arrive early next month.
More rain is expected throughout the country when the wet season commences in the later part of next month.
The situation, he said, was expected to improve as the south westerly wind direction should change over the next few days.
On Thursday, 554 hotspots were recorded in southern Sumatra, he said. Satellite pictures yesterday recorded 629 hotspots in Borneo, mostly in Kalimantan.
As at 9pm yesterday, the department recorded very poor visibility levels of 5km and less in Labuan, Kuantan, Malacca, Kuching, Sri Aman, Bintulu and Miri. Sri Aman recorded the poorest visibility at 2km. Normal visibility is more than 10km.
Meanwhile, those who feel eye or throat irritation are advised to get treatment.
“Other common symptoms include flu, cough and cold but will only be felt after a few days. The haze will especially affect asthmatic patients and those with low immune-resistant such as children and the elderly.
“Try and avoid outdoor activities, drink lots of fluids and refrain from smoking,” said said Dr J. S. Deo, chairman of the Malaysian Doctors Co-operative Society.
Meanwhile, the Sarawak Natural Resources and Environment Board (NREB) feels that the haze in parts of Sarawak is believed to have originated from fires in Indonesia.
NREB state enforcement chief Dania Goyog said: “We have conducted intensive checks all over the state.
“The slash-and-burn shifting cultivation in the state’s interiors had already stopped for this year.”
“Our finding is that the haze is transboundary,” he said after a visit to central Sarawak.
Goyog said the NREB’s statewide ban on open burning imposed three months ago was still in place and was being strictly enforced in all divisions.
Department of Environment Miri chief Norina Frederick said the department had earlier in the week detected a few local sources of fires in central Sarawak, but they were not serious and did not cause the haze.
The state Meteorological Services Department said southern Sarawak was expected to continue experiencing hazy conditions because of the prevailing dry spell. The monsoon will begin in the middle of next month.
“For Kuching, Samarahan and Sri Aman divisions, the dry weather will last until the monsoon starts, while the central and northern Sarawak regions are expected to have isolated showers in the afternoon and late evening in the next few days,” a forecaster said.
Parts of Singapore were also shrouded in haze caused by smoke blown from burning forests in southern Sumatra.

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September 29, 2006

Consumer Body Seeks Govt Probe Into Meat Sold At Fast Food Eateries

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:28 pm

SHAH ALAM, Sept 29 (Bernama) — The Consumers Association of Subang and Shah Alam (CASSA) Friday called on two ministries to investigate and determine if meat sold in fast food eateries is free from “a dangerous carcinogenic” substance.
CASSA President Datuk Dr Jacob George said the Ministry of Health and the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs should conduct the probe because CASSA has received a report from its international counterpart that a group of doctors in the United States found that every sample of grilled chicken products from seven US fast food restaurants tested positive for a dangerous carcinogenic compound called PhIP during analysis at an independent laboratory.
He said in a statement that CASSA was informed that the doctors had sued the seven fast food chains over the substance in the grilled chicken products.
He also said that CASSA has been informed that the Washington-based Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) has filed a suit in California to compel fast food restaurants in the United States to warn unsuspecting consumers.
Carcinogenic is any substance or agent that promotes cancer, and it may cause the disease by altering cellular metabolism or damaging the DNA directly in cells, which interferes with the normal biological process, he said.

IJN Recognised As World’s Best Heart Centre, Says Outgoing Chairman

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:28 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 (Bernama) — The National Heart Institute (IJN) is recognised as the best heart treatment centre in the world and its expertise has gained international recognition, said Tan Sri Mohamed Khatib Abdul Hamid, who completes his term as IJN chairman after four years.
IJN’s achievements in heart treatment were recognised by many people even during his visit to Britain, Germany and Austria recently, he said.
“We went over there to seek their co-operation but, as it turned out, they were more eager to join hands and wanted to use the IJN brand to provide heart treatment services to other countries,” he told Bernama Friday.
He also revealed the case of an Indonesian millionaire whose heart condition was detected only at the IJN and was later corrected.
“I leave IJN full of pride of its many achievements,” said Mohamed Khatib, a former diplomat with 36 years in the foreign service.
Mohamed Khatib, 68, who hails from Perak, was chairman of the Universiti Malaya Medical Centre from 2003 to 2006.
He was also the special representative to the prime minister from 1992 to 2002 before being appointed IJN chairman.
He was also happy that he was able to fulfill the wish of former Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad that IJN serve the poor as well as ensure that the specialist workforce did not leave the institute.
“Now, more than 82 per cent of IJN patients are sponsored as they are either retired or poor. In fact, even the rich get the best service from IJN and at a low price too.
“I am proud to say that in four years, only three doctors left IJN and that too for specific reasons,” said Mohamed Khatib.
He added that the desire of Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi to see IJN achieve excellence globally has also been achieved.
In the four years at IJN, Mohamed Khatib was proud to have been of service to the public, including many friends, who came for heart treatment.
“I am proud to have been a part of IJN. Everybody here works as a team. Even the sweeper has a role at IJN,” said Mohamed Khatib.

Fat Nation: Can Malaysians stomach this?

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:56 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: There is too much fat in the Malaysian waist. But that’s not the frightening part.
This is: Malaysia has the most number of fat people in the Asean region. In fact, the number of fat people here exceeds that in many developed countries, including Germany and France.
In the last 10 years, the number of fat people has more than doubled, resulting in more Malaysians falling ill and diseases such as hypertension and diabetes shooting up.
A survey shows that 54 per cent of the adult population is either obese or overweight. Ten years ago, it was only 24.1 per cent.
The MySoN (Malaysian Shape of the Nation) survey also shows that 48 per cent of Malaysian men and 62 per cent of Malaysian women are fat.
By contrast, in Singapore, about 24 per cent of men and 48 per cent of women are fat. Only eight per cent of men and 13 per cent of the French are fat.
Malaysian Indians are the fattest at 63.4 per cent followed by Malays (53.5 per cent), Chinese (50.8 per cent) and others (45.2 per cent).
National Heart Institute senior consultant cardiologist and department of cardiology head Datuk Seri Dr Robaayah Zambahari said fat Malaysians were at risk of getting cardiovascular disease, hypertension, lipid disorder and diabetes mellitus.
“Our study also shows that 13.5 per cent of the adult population is diabetic, compared with only 8.3 per cent in 1996,” she said at a joint Press conference with consultant nephrologist Datuk Dr Zaki Morad, University Malaya Medical Centre consultant endocrinologist Professor Dr Chan Siew Pheng and Sanofi Aventis medical director Dr Muruga Vadivale.
The MySoN survey was conducted over two days — in May and June — and involved 1,985 patients (926 men and 1,033 women) and 90 doctors across the country.
The test for obesity — termed abdominal obesity — was how large a waist the patients had.
Anyone with a waist circumference of more than 90cm (35.4 inches) for men and more than 80cm (31.5 inches) for women is considered obese.
Dr Robaayah, the national co-ordinator of the survey, said: “The MySoN survey confirms the importance of measuring waist circumference, alongside current measures such as body mass index, blood pressure, blood glucose and lipid levels, in identifying patients at an increased risk of serious diseases such as diabetes and heart ailments.”
The reason why Malaysia is a fat nation, according to Dr Robaayah, is the good life and unhealthy lifestyle.
Among these, she said, were eating too much, especially fast food and carbonated drinks; the preference for lifts and escalators to staircases; and little or no exercise.
The MySoN survey, the first of its kind in the country, was initiated by Sanofi-Aventis.

Hospital closes patient care section

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:56 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Chinese Maternity Hospital in Jalan Pudu has temporarily closed its patient care facilities.
Board of Directors’ chairman Tan Sri Tee Hock Seng said the closure was to facilitate the upgrading and refurbishing of the facilities to meet the requirements of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 and Regulations of 2006.
“The temporary closure is also for the conversion to a Women and Child Care Centre with more modern facilities and equipment to meet the needs of the public.
“However, all out-patient consultants’ clinics will be open as usual,” he said in a press statement yesterday.
Tee also said that patients who had been scheduled for admission would be admitted to the Tung Shin Hospital located next door.
The labour ward, operation theatre, wards and support services have also ceased to operate since Sept 16.
The upgrading works are scheduled to be completed within a year.

17 pharmacists selling drugs without prescription

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:55 am

Star: ALOR GAJAH: Seventeen pharmacists have been found selling psychotropic pills without prescriptions this year, with two of them having been charged in court.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said: “We even caught a pharmacist exporting 400,000 psychotropic pills, a drug that can be processed into syabu and amphetamine, to Australia by forging documents stating that they were vitamin B complex (supplements).”
“Their actions have tarnished the image of the profession in the country,” he said after visiting Alor Gajah Hospital yesterday.
He added that cases of pharmacists dispensing drugs without doctors’ prescriptions were on the rise and they should stop at once.
Calling such pharmacists irresponsible, he stressed that it was not for a pharmacist to take on the role of a medical practitioner.
The minister proved his point with figures – the licences of five pharmacies were suspended for selling prescription drugs without medical prescriptions up to June this year.
Over the same period, five pharmacists were caught selling antibiotics without prescriptions, matching the figure for the whole of last year.
Dr Chua, a medical doctor, said his ministry had received many complaints from the public of pharmacies dispensing prescription drugs illegally.
“They are not only selling the drugs, but have also taken over the role of medical practitioners in advising (patients) and dispensing drugs,” he said, warning of more follow-up action by the ministry.
Offering some of his own advice, the minister said pharmacists, as professionals, should be clear about their role and responsibilities.
The sale of antibiotics, psychotropic pills and dormicum (sleeping pills) must be controlled and pharmacists must record accurately every prescription drug that was sold and closely monitor stocks, Dr Chua said.“I’ll never entertain appeals from any pharmacy that is suspended for selling prescription drugs inappropriately,” he warned.
Dr Chua also said that a new RM50mil hospital with 50 beds would be built in a different location in addition to existing one in Paya Datuk, Alor Gajah, to cater to increasing healthcare needs there.

List Of Clinics For Mammogram Out In A Month

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:54 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 28 (Bernama) — The list of clinics that offer a subsidy of RM50 on the charge for a mammogram to determine breast cancer will be announced by the government in a month’s time, Women, Family and Community Development Minister Datuk Seri Shahrizat Abdul Jalil said Thursday.
She said the ministry was identifying the clinics which would participate in the programme and was determining how the test would be carried out.
“We also hope more government clinics would be provided with the equipment to conduct the test,” she told reporters after launching an insurance scheme for women, “MZ Ladycare”, here.
The government has provided for a RM50 subsidy for a mammogram in the 2007 Budget to encourage women to take the test in a move to increase awareness and to help detect breast cancer early.
Shahrizat said private clinics charged between RM100 and RM120 for a test.
She said the ministry was drawing up programmes to instil awareness among women, especially in the rural areas, on the importance of taking the mammogram.
Shahrizat advised women to invest their money in buying health insurance and going for health tests instead of purchasing household decorations.

September 28, 2006

Don’t play doctor, pharmacists warned

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:13 am

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Pharmacists: Don’t play doctor.
This advice also goes to private laboratories which sometimes run a battery of tests with misleading results.
Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican is especially fed up with such practices as they continue to occur despite advice from the ministry.
In fact, there has been an increase in such cases due to poor enforcement, he said.
“The role of the pharmacist is to dispense medicines prescribed or recommended by doctors and not to examine and prescribe medicines,” he told the New Straits Times.
The only things they are allowed to recommend are vitamins and supplements.
He knows of a case where a person collapsed after being prescribed a medicine by a pharmacist. The danger, as he sees it, is that some pharmacists are prescribing medicines for people with high cholesterol, diabetes and high and low blood pressure which are serious medical problems.
“They are playing with fire as wrong medication can lead to disastrous results,” he said.
Dr Ismail warned pharmacists that they were treading on dangerous ground as even doctors were extra careful when treating patients with these complaints.
He also took private laboratories to task for charging exorbitant fees for tests that sometimes gave “absolutely wrong” results.
Dr Ismail personally handled a case where a patient came to him with a laboratory test that stated he had hepatitis B. But tests at Kuala Lumpur Hospital revealed that he did not have the disease.
“Screening is not just doing the test and saying hello and goodbye. It involves talking to the patient, counselling about the prospect of the test being false or positive, if positive what are the implications.
“One test does not conclude that a person should be put on a particular medication. Only doctors will know when to start medication for patients.”
Dr Ismail said it was unacceptable for a person to be told that he had cancer or hepatitis B when he actually was healthy.
“It is totally unethical for laboratories to do a tumour marker test and conclude that a patient has a terminal illness like cancer.”
Dr Ismail said the ministry was awaiting the Pathology Bill to be passed to make sure that tests were not done in a haphazard manner by unlicensed people and unscrupulous laboratories. He urged the public to file complaints with the ministry if they come across pharmacists prescribing medicines.
Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society president John C.P Chang admitted there were black sheep among the 4,500 pharmacists in the country.
“We are aware of it and we have informed all pharmacists to refrain from prescribing medications to people.”
He said they were trained to carry out tests for cholesterol, blood sugar and blood pressure but not allowed to prescribe medicines.
“It’s the black sheep who are spoiling our name. They should be more responsible. I am very angry with irresponsible pharmacists and pharmacies,” he added.
He urged the ministry not to let up in its efforts to bring such pharmacists to book.

Corporatise ambulance services, says MMA

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:06 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Corporatisation of emergency services in the country is an alternative the Government should consider to improve the ambulance services in the country, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said.
Its president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin said the MMA agreed with the Health Ministry that the emergency services needed drastic improvement.
However, outsourcing the ambulance services to the private sector, as proposed by the ministry, had its own woes because the private sector was primarily about the bottom-line and profit, Dr Teoh added.
“Unless there is very close monitoring and enforcement, we may see the day when the one with the deepest pockets rather those with the greatest needs command the ambulances.”
He was responding to Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek’s statement on Tuesday that the ministry faced a “big problem” with the ambulance services and had proposed outsourcing the services.
“We would suggest the corporatisation route – much in the manner of the National Heart Institute.
“The entity is still owned by the Government but operates like a market-oriented service,” Dr Teoh added.

September 27, 2006

M’sia To Set Up Road Safety Research Institute

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:51 pm

LINKOPING (Sweden), Sept 27 (Bernama) — Malaysia will set up a road safety research institute, the first of its kind in Southeast Asia, by the end of this year to carry out road safety-related research, said Transport Minister Datuk Seri Chan Kong Choy.
Describing Malaysia as having a unique situation which warranted its own road safety research institute, Chan said the facility, to be located at Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM)’s main campus in Serdang would allow the government to have better references when formulating road safety policies in the country.
“The government has approved RM50 million to set up the institute under the Ministry of Transport, which will be headed by a director-general with appropriate number of researchers,” he said.
The institute, he added, would be tasked with carrying out all kinds of road safety-related research, including in road engineering, design, vehicle design, human behaviour, legislation and road accidents.
Chan was speaking to Malaysian journalists after spending a day visiting the Swedish Road and Transport Research Institute (VTI) here, together with Melaka Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Ali Rustam and Sarawak Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Alfred Jabu, who is also chairman of the state Road Safety Council.
VTI, located about 250km from Stockholm, is one of the leading research institutes in Europe.
It was established 80 years ago, with its research findings having direct applications in Swedish and European transport policies. VTI is also a world leader in the field of simulator technology for passenger cars and lorries, besides having its own laboratory, a tyre-testing facility and a crash track.
Chan said the Malaysian institute would be given an annual grant by the government for 30 years to carry out its research activities. However, he declined to reveal the amount of the grant.
He said the institute would be temporarily located outside the campus until the permanent structure at UPM is ready.
“We are looking for a director-general now. It will be confirmed soon. The government has someone in mind,” he said but declined to name the candidate.
However, it is widely speculated that UPM deputy vice-chancellor (Academic and International Affairs) Prof Dr Radin Umar Radin Sohadi is the main candidate as he has been described as an expert on road safety, not only in Malaysia but internationally as well.
Dr Radin is part of Chan’s 16-member delegation visiting Sweden.
Chan also said the setting up of the road safety institute was part of the Ministry of Transport’s Road Safety Master Plan (2006 – 2010) which involved fields such as engineering, education, enforcement and environment protection or better known as the 4E master plan.
“We can see a lot of changes in road safety (after this),” he said.

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