Materia Medica Malaysiana

October 31, 2006

It’s that season again to get your flu shots

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:26 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: It is influenza season again, so it is important to make sure your flu shots are up to date.
Health authorities say vaccination once a year is sufficient for most, but people in high- risk groups should be vaccinated twice a year.
Institute of Respiratory Medicine head Datin Dr Aziah Ahmad Mahayiddin said people with the highest risk of serious complications from flu include those above 65 years of age, adults with diabetes, chronic heart or lung conditions, including asthma, and those suffering from chronic kidney and blood circulation diseases and organ damage, and children six months and older.
Those who live with or care for people at high risk should also have two flu shots twice a year.
The symptoms may be similar, but flu should not be confused with the common cold.
“The flu is a highly contagious, serious viral illness that can lead to pneumonia. It can be life threatening in some cases,” said Dr Aziah.
But, if you are allergic to chicken eggs, if you’ve have had a severe reaction to a flu shot in the past or developed Guillain-Barre syndrome (GBS) within six weeks of a previous shot, you should consult your doctor before having a flu shot. Babies under six months old should be taken to see a doctor first as well. If you are ill with a fever, you should wait till your symptoms lessen.
Malaysia has two flu seasons — June and October. The viruses keep changing so the vaccine is changed as well. Medical experts choose the three most common strains of the virus circulating globally each year.
They are grown in chicken eggs, then killed and purified before being made into vaccine.
“No vaccine is 100 per cent effective,” says Dr Aziah. “But studies have shown the flu vaccine to be 70 to 90 per cent effective in preventing illness.”
And if you do come down with flu, she adds, the infection will be less severe if you are vaccinated.

Brain-dead Fikry’s legacy of hope

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:26 am

NST: ALOR STAR: In life, Mohd Fikry Fazail was an ordinary kampung boy with modest ambitions. His death, however, has given life to others.
After he was declared brain dead on Sunday, Fikry’s grieving father agreed to donate his organs.
Fazail Mat says he was taken aback when the doctors at Alor Star Hospital broached the subject of organ donation.
The 51-year-old tin mine worker feared that by allowing his 18-year-old son’s internal organs to be harvested and placed in strangers’ bodies, his body would be “incomplete” and he would face problems in the afterlife.
But after much discussion with his family and reading a booklet on organ donation issued by the religious department, he agreed.
He described his decision as “amal jariah (charity)” for his son’s soul.
“My son dreamed of becoming a mechanic. In death, he became a hero, as his organs will now save other lives. When I saw him for the last time to say goodbye, I told him why I did it and that I was very proud of him. I hope his soul will be in peace,” he said.
The operation to harvest Fikry’s liver, heart valves, kidneys and corneas was carried out at Alor Star Hospital by doctors from Kuala Lumpur around 10.30pm.
“This is Lin’s legacy,” said Fazail. “He helped give those who need it a chance to live again.”
“Lin”, as Fikry was affectionately known to his family, was studying automotive engineering at a private institution in Ipoh.
He was on his way to Pengkalan Hulu to buy food six days before Hari Raya when he crashed and was flung from his motorcycle on the Pengkalan Ulu-Gerik road.
He was in a coma till his death.
He was buried yesterday in Kampung Bukit Buloh, Klian Intan in Pengkalan Hulu, his home town.

High-tech research centres to entice experts to return

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:25 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Government will embark on a programme to provide high-tech research facilities, in a move to attract foreign-based research experts to return home.
Human Resources Minister Datuk Dr Fong Chan Onn said the programme, which will be carried out under the 9th Malaysia Plan, would include providing research facilities with state-of-the-art equipment and government grants to conduct research.
“Research scientists are disappointed that we do not have state-of-the-art equipment when they return, and the Government will try to provide it to them,” he said.
He said high-tech research equipment was costly, so the Government would need to come in to provide the necessary facilities.
“We will continue to talk with the Multimedia Development Corporation so we can jointly build the necessary research infrastructure to support the needs of the returning scientists,” he said.
Fong said many of the returning research scientists were top professors earning high wages overseas so they were often not keen to join local universities where they would be paid much less.
He said they preferred to work as contract researchers and the government grants would help them conduct their research here.
The minister said about 300 experts had returned to work here since 2001 and 100 of them were medical experts who had joined local universities and private medical centres, while the rest had finance, accounting and information technology experience.
He said there was high demand especially in the private sector for experts from these fields, which was why more of them were willing to come back to work in Malaysia.
“Medical specialists who have returned have made a significant contribution in the universities as medical professors and lecturers, and by serving as specialists in private medical centres,” he said.
He said they had been instrumental in transforming Malaysia into a medical tourism hub, adding that many tourists from the Middle East, Thailand and Indonesia had been visiting private medical centres in Penang and Kuala Lumpur for plastic surgery, medical examinations and treatment.

October 30, 2006

Magic of youth woven in gold

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:39 pm

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Angelina Lum is a lady with a “golden” secret.
Two months ago, the 43-year-old businesswoman had pure gold threads surgically inserted under the top layer of skin on her neck.
Now it is smooth, with none of the saggy skin or wrinkles associated with aging. Lum is one of hundreds of people who have had the procedure.
Over 400 such surgeries have been performed in South Korea in the past three years.
And in the past 18 months, about 30 people in Singapore have undergone gold thread implantation.
The concept is similar to the Malay practice of susuk in that it involves inserting a precious metal under the skin to look young.
But unlike susuk, the procedure is backed by science.
The Singaporean heard of the non-invasive procedure from her plastic surgeon.
The gold encourages the growth of collagen which firms up the skin.
Once the procedure is completed, a gradual rejuvenation process begins, according to Lum’s surgeon Dr Tan Kok Leong.
Results can be seen within two months, and the rejuvenation continues over the first two years.
The final effects will last eight to 12 years, after which the procedure can be repeated.
Lum is happy with the results and considers the S$2,000 (about RM4,600) well-spent.
Here in Malaysia, a full face job costs about RM20,000 and the side effects are minimal.
The gold thread technique was introduced to Malaysia by South Korean plastic surgeon Dr Kim Won Seok, who conducted a workshop here earlier this year.
“No surgery is without side effects,” said Dr Kim in an email interview, “but most are transient and easily corrected.”
Ivy Ng, a manager of a company involved in surgical gold threads in Malaysia, said: “Given its gradual rejuvenating process and the minimal recovery time, this procedure is expected to be popular in Malaysia.”
But, says Dr Yap Chung Mui, the first local plastic surgeon to learn the technique, it may take a while for Malaysians to accept gold thread implantation because of its similarity to susuk.
The gold thread implantation technique was developed in France about 30 years ago.
The procedure involves the insertion of thin 24-carat gold threads, less than 0.1mm thick, into the dermis layer of the skin in a grid-like pattern over a specified area, said Dr Tan Kok Leong.
Dr Tan has performed over 30 surgeries in Singapore in the last one-and-a-half years.
According to Malaysian consultant plastic surgeon Dr Yap Chung Mui, the skin accepts pure gold as it is a biologically inert matter and there is less risk of infection compared to other metals.
Each gold thread is 25cm long and is attached to a needle which is used to puncture the skin to the dermis layer where the stitching is done.
“It is important that the procedure is carried out on the right layer,” said Dr Yap.
Since the dermis layer has very small blood vessels, the bruising is minimal.
The insertion of gold threads helps to restore the lost of tension and elasticity of the skin.
It also eliminates drooping of the skin and it smoothes out wrinkles.

Malaysian scientists: Working conditions drive them away

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:38 pm

NST: PUTRAJAYA: When scientist Dr Song (not his real name) returned after being wooed by the government, he expected a decent research environment.
This was not unrealistic as it was what he had in mind when he returned under the Returning Scientists Programme.
But what actually happened was totally unexpected: His employer was more concerned with living benefits and relocation than his research potential.
To make matters worse, he was asked to teach at the university that employed him instead of carrying out research. It was not surprising that he packed his bags after his contract ended.
This was also the case with the other 22 Malaysian scientists who had come home under the programme.
In fact, Dr Song’s complaints were somewhat similar to that of 70 foreign scientists who came to Malaysia to work under the same programme.
They did not renew their contracts despite overtures by the then Science, Technology and Environment Ministry, which oversaw the programme.
The Malaysian scientists had been employed by Universiti Malaya, Mimos, Universiti Putra Malaysia and International Islamic University.
The 23 were from Canada, the United States, Singapore, Germany and the United Kingdom and were experts in pharmacology, medicine, semiconductors and engineering.
According to a Science, Technology and Innovation Ministry internal report on the exodus of the scientists, their complaints generally involved working conditions.
One of those interviewed said he had to wait a year for his grant to be approved and another three months for payment to be made.
Another complained that maintenance of research infrastructure was lacking while one respondent said his employer lacked the attitude for commercialising research.
“Collaboration between universities is difficult. It isn’t easy to exchange information and ideas,” a scientist had said.
The programme, launched in 1995, was considered a failure by 1998 when the scientists left.
“Most of them, Malaysians and foreigners, left after finishing their one-year contract. They were given the option to renew, but did not,” a ministry official said.
The programme ensured allowances for housing, relocation and schooling for scientists’ families.
Other perks included return airfares to their home country and medical benefits.

But while the scientists might have appreciated these perks, according to the report, they complained about:
• a lack of commercialisation focus;
• low awareness of intellectual property rights, laws and funding;
• poorly-maintained and scattered research infrastructure;
• cumbersome administrative procedures to procure research equipment;
• a “perceived gap” in the availability and sustainability of research funds;
• slow disbursement of research funds;
• a critical shortage of scientists and support staff with required research experience;
• a closed environment with scientists focusing on their own research and reluctance to share experiences with other scientists outside the team or department; and,
• insufficient collaboration between the industry and academia.
Ministry officials could not provide an estimate on the amount spent on the programme.

Introduce Guidelines For Mental Health At Workplace, Govt Told

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:37 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 29 (Bernama) — The government should introduce guidelines to promote mental health care in workplaces, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (Niosh) said Sunday.
Its Chairman Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said the present working environment was very competitive and stressful and many workers would likely suffer from anxiety and depression in relation to their jobs.
“Attempted suicide cases involving workers are on the rise in recent years,” he said in a statement today.
Lee said suicide has become the third leading death among Malaysians aged 15 to 34 and the number of people contemplating suicide in the 18 to 40 age bracket was also on the rise.
He said it was important to ensure happiness and well-being among workers and their families through initiatives to promote good mental health in workplaces from the viewpoint of the sound mental and social development of the country.
“It might be timely to consider introducing guidelines for mental health care promotion to enable implementation of basic measures by employers at workplaces, suited for the practical conditions of each enterprise,” he said.
Lee said Niosh suggest that employers focus on the following areas when drawing up the mental health care programme:
+ Identify problems at workplaces related to poor mental health.
+ Secure the necessary resources to develop mental health care programme
+ Take measures to protect workers’ privacy
+ Take other measures necessary for mental health promotion among workers and improve work environment
Lee said a healthy and educated workplace would ensure improved productivity.

October 29, 2006

Forum on women’s health issues

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:30 am

Star: IN NOVEMBER, medical experts from the world over and in Malaysia will be focusing on women’s health, in conjunction with the XVIII FIGO World Congress of Gynaecology and Obstetrics that will be held in Kuala Lumpur from 5-10 November.
To kick off this congress that is being hosted by Malaysia for the first time, FIGO (International Federation of Gynecology & Obstetrics) is working with the Ministry of Women, Family and Community Development, the Obstetrical and Gynaecological Society of Malaysia, Partners in Health and OH! Only Health magazine to organise a public health forum for women in Malaysia.
The forum, themed “The Truth Women Should Know”, will be held on Saturday, 4 November in Kuala Lumpur.
Local and international experts will talk about current women’s health issues. Among the topics to be explored are: “Women’s Health – Issues and Interventions”, “Individualisation of HRT” and “Cervical Cancer and HPV – Reducing the Burden and Prevention”.
Forum participants will have the opportunity to have their questions answered by the speakers during the Ask Your Doctor session.
Concurrent activities that will be held during the forum include health checks, skin tests and product sampling.
Note: The forum will be held on Nov 4 at Hotel Equatorial, Kuala Lumpur, from 9.30am to 1pm. A registration fee of RM20 (to be donated to Yayasan Kebajikan Negara) is required. To register, visit or call Ms Veni at 03-20933384.

HIV-positive children victims of discrimination

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:29 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: When Sarimah (not her real name) and her husband adopted a baby girl, they knew she was the child of a sex worker and a drug addict.
Four years later they found that their daughter was HIV-positive.
The little girl began vomiting constantly and had terrible diarrhoea. Their family doctor recommended screening her for HIV.
After the initial shock and thoughts of giving her up, their love for their daughter reasserted itself.
“We accepted her as a gift, a blessing from God to look after. Not everyone gets the chance to help God to help others,” Sarimah said.
It has been 11 years since the diagnosis, and Sarimah says she and her husband have told no-one about her condition.
“I’m afraid that other parents won’t allow their children to mix with my daughter.”
Sarimah says they have not informed her daughter’s school that she is HIV-positive either.
She is worried the teachers might talk about it and her friends will tease her, and it could affect her studies.
Chuah (not his real name), and his wife only found out their adopted son was HIV-positive when he was six years old.
Their immediate family members are aware of his condition and are slowly coming to terms with it.
But they are afraid of what will happen if they make their son’s condition more widely known.
“Our conservative society may discriminate against our son,” says Chuah.
Charumathy (not her real name) and her family have been more open about the fact that the little girl they adopted is HIV-positive, and they have felt the consequences.
“Many of my neighbours say I am stupid to accept the girl as my daughter, knowing that it isn’t easy to look after her and that she may die.”
Charumathy says her relatives don’t allow their children to play with her daughter, fearing she may pass on the virus that causes AIDS while talking or laughing with them.
Malaysian AIDS Foundation (MAF) are aware of 651 children below the age 12 infected with HIV/AIDS who have been abandoned or orphaned.
Fewer than 15 have been adopted. The rest are being taken care of in 10 homes nationwide.
Besides the medical challenges of raising an HIV-positive child, people fear discrimination from family, friends and society in general.
Associate Prof Dr Norlijah Othman, head of paediatrics of Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at University Putra Malaysia, says Malaysians must change their mindset on HIV-positive children.
“We must accept them just like any other children,” she says.
“They are not to blame for being HIV-positive. They are like, but unlike, other children. They are counting their days.”

Pharmacists unlikely link to beta-agonist

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:28 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: It is unlikely that pharmacists are involved in supplying beta-agonist to feed millers or farmers, said the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society.
President John Chang said he had not heard of any reported case of pharmacists supplying the banned drug to be mixed into livestock feed locally.
“Our shorelines are so exposed. Illegal drugs can easily enter the country and farmers can easily buy beta-agonist direct from the black market or smuggle it in without needing to go through pharmacists,” he said.
He was responding to a statement on Friday by MCA Traditional Agriculture and Agro-based Industries Bureau chairman Datuk Dr Lee Chong Meng, who urged the Health Ministry to go after pharmacies that smuggled in beta-agonist.
Chang said those in the pharmaceutical industry were unlikely to bring in the banned drug because they were already making good profit with medication for people and did not need to depend on the illegal drug.
“Why is the beta-agonist issue still persisting after all these years? The issue is about continuous enforcement and vigilance,” Chang said.

October 28, 2006

Honey to heal diabetic wounds

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:55 am

NST: KOTA BARU: Diabetics and honey may seem an unlikely combination.
But the sweet liquid from bees is working wonders for those being treated at the Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital, Kubang Kerian, for wounds caused by the disease.
The best results have been seen on those suffering from ulcers of the foot.
USM orthopaedic department head, Dr Mohd Iskandar Mohd Amin, said the antiseptic properties of honey made it a potent salve.
“We found honey to be just as effective as modern antiseptics. It was less painful for patients and wounds appeared to heal faster.”
A clinical trial in 2002 showed that honey worked as well as modern dressings, was cheaper and caused less pain when dressings were changed. “There was also less smell from the wound and no allergic reaction. Honey is now a necessary part of our regimen in treating diabetic wounds,” he said.
HUSM treats an average of three patients per week with honey, and it has treated more than 1,000 diabetics this way since 1996.
Diabetic wounds are washed with saline, smeared with a thick coat of honey and wrapped with gauze. The dressing is changed every three days.
“We used to apply local honey but patients complained of discomfort, probably because local honey was impure. This was solved by using imported honey from supermarkets.”
Dr Iskandar is now making arrangements to obtain pure local honey.
Patient Fatimah Che Mat Ali, of Setiu, Terengganu, said she would probably have lost her right foot if not for honey.
The 54-year-old cut a foot in August, leading to swelling and gangrene. Doctors amputated a toe but the problem was not resolved.
They then used honey to treat her wound. “It worked wonders on me,” she said.

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