Materia Medica Malaysiana

January 31, 2007

One In Five Malaysians Believe Their Life Is Highly Stressful

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:29 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 30 (Bernama) — One in five Malaysians believe their life is highly stressful and the difficulty in balancing life with work is making the situation worse, according to global market intelligence company, Synovate.
Its managing director (Malaysia) Steve Murphy said based on a survey carried out by the company on 10,000 Peninsular Malaysians, 28 per cent of the Chinese respondents said they had been feeling the strain compared to 22 per cent Indians and 18 per cent Malays.
“Despite the increased pressure, Malaysians feel that the sanctity of marriage still holds firm,” he said in a statement issued here Tuesday.
“With with two-thirds of respondents agreeing that ‘married life is better than being single’, the survey shows that Malaysians value marriage and the sense of family it brings.
“Malaysia should be proud in being a country that nurtures family bond, with the inherent family unity to likely help maintain a strong foundation for the country and its people.
“However, although most Malaysians believe that being married is better than being single, more than one-third of them think a successful career and a happy family life are not compatible.
“And although Malaysians have strong family ties and believed in marriage, many are struggling to find a balance between their work and family life.”
He said Malaysians were united in their view towards family values but were finding it increasingly difficult to incorporate these values into their busy, modern lives.
“Almost three-quarters (72 per cent) said they were interested in hearing their parents’ opinion, and the majority believed strongly in the role of the family and building one of their own.
“However, with just under one-third (31 per cent) of Malaysians surveyed believing that ‘you cannot have a successful career and a happy family life at the same time’, it is clear that many are finding it difficult to maintain their family commitments alongside their demanding work obligations.”
Murphy said the Chinese were the most independent group with 56 per cent ready to listen to their parents compared with 79 per cent Malays and 77 per cent Indians.
When it came to a successful union, the Malay (72 per cent) and Indian respondents (62 percent) were particularly wedded to the idea of a blissful marriage, while respondents over 30 years old (72 per cent) were convinced that “marriage is better than being single” compared with 48 per cent among the younger generation (15 to 19 years) and 57 per cent among those aged 20-24.
The survey, under the Synovate Media Atlas, a media consumption, lifestyle and attitude study conducted in Malaysia, Hong Kong, the Philippines and Thailand, was carried out via face-to-face and telephone interviews.

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Sarawak To Set Up Mobile Eye Clinics

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:28 am

KUCHING, Jan 30 (Bernama) — Sarawak is looking into the setting up of mobile eye clinics in collaboration with the Health Ministry and non governmental organisations to enable better access to public health care, especially in the remote and rural areas, Chief Minister Tan Sri Abdul Taib Mahmud said Tuesday.
He said the State Health Department could consider utilising boats for such mobile units besides complementing the Flying Doctor Service as people in the rural areas, scattered over 5,000 settlements state-wide, had to travel great distances for basic eye screening and treatment.
“Based on the ministry’s national eye survey, which shows that the population in Sarawak has the country’s highest blindness prevalence of 0.33 per cent compared to the national level of 0.29 per cent, the need to create greater public awareness on its prevention and eradication through smart partnerships is acutely felt,” he said the Orbis International Flying Eye Hospital at the Kuching International Airport here.
While 93 per cent of the people living in the peninsular had basic health care services within five km, Sarawak’s eye care was particularly under resource with only one ophthalmologist or eye specialist for every 140,000 people in the state at present.
Later, Taib told a news conference that the state government was also looking into the possibility of setting up an eye bank here through concerted efforts with the ministry at the federal level.
He also said the government was also receptive to future smart partnerships with the Tun Hussein Onn National Eye Hospital in establishing a satellite hospital here to act as the hub for the Sarawak and Sabah region.
Meanwhile Orbis International Flying Eye Doctor Service Director Drew Boshell said the world’s only flying eye hospital, a converted DC-10 aircraft with state-of-the-art medical and academic facilities, was conducting its two-week programme for the first time here in East Malaysia from yesterday.
During the programme, about 70 free eye surgeries would be carried out with the participation of 60 ophthalmologists from Sarawak and other South East Asean countries besides 50 local nurses and local medical assistants, he said.
He said the non profit-making organisation, which would be flying to its next destination in Subic of the Philippines, had treated one million patients worldwide and conducted treatment and training programmes for over 90,000 eye care professional in 85 countries since 1982.
This is its fourth programme in Malaysia in efforts to achieve the World Health Organisation Vision 2020 goal of eliminating unnecessary blindness by 2020, he said.

January 30, 2007

IJN Performs Open-Heart Surgery Without Blood Transfusion

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:43 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 29 (Bernama) — The National Heart Institute (IJN) recorded another success Monday when it conducted an open-heart surgery without blood transfusion on a 56-year-old retiree.
The four-hour aortic valve replacement operation on the man started at 8am. IJN had performed three similar operations before this — the last one about 10 years ago.
Today’s operation was conducted by a 10-member team led by IJN’s consultant cardiothoracic surgeon, Dr Pau Kiew Kong.
The team comprised two surgeons, three anaesthetists, two perfusionists (persons who monitor the heart-lung machine), two staff nurses and one operation theatre technican.
Speaking to Bernama after the operation, Dr Pau said the patient, who suffered from aortic stenosis, had asked him to conduct the operation without blood transfusion due to certain reasons.
“He does not want any blood to be given to him. We respect his wish but he must fill up the “no blood” consent form before the surgery took place,” he said, adding that such an operation would only be carried out on the patient’s request.
Blood transfusion which is regarded as a safety net is always practised in major surgery. However, according to Dr Pau, heart surgery without blood transfusion was quite safe if carried out properly.
Dr Pau said prior to the surgery, certain measures would be taken such as maximising the patient’s blood by using drugs.
The team must also minimise the patient’s blood loss during the surgery.
The local cardiac surgeon said IJN had the expertise to carry out such an operation if requested by the patient.
“We can do cardiac surgery without blood transfusion, safely,” he said.

Specialist Doctors Attempt To Cheat Private Hospitals Foiled

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:43 am

PUTRAJAYA, Jan 29 (Bernama) — Attempts by two specialist doctors to cheat two private hospitals by claiming to possess false qualifications and working experience had been uncovered.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said their activities were traced after the two hospitals referred their credentials to the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC).
He added implementation of the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 last year made it easier for the ministry to cross-check academic qualifications and working experience of specialist doctors with MMC.
“The main condition for those vying to become doctors is three years experience upon graduation and for specialists at least five years after passing as specialists,” he told reporters after receiving a cheque for RM50,000 from Pantai Holdings Berhad in aid of Johor flood victims, here Monday.
Earlier, Chua who had a dialogue session with private hospitals said if found guilty the specialist doctors could be fined a maximum RM300,000 or six months jail or both.
The Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 that became effective on May 1 last year compelled private hospitals to be responsible in ensuring that their specialists have the necessary qualifications.
The Act also listed the fees charged by doctors nationwide.
Chua said since enforcement of the Act, the ministry received 46 complaints on the quality of services by private hospitals last year with more expected this year.
He added this was because patients were aware of their rights and action to be taken by the ministry.
Most of the complaints were regarding the charges, poor services and inadequate facilities.

On aid to flood victims, Chua said non-governmental organisations (NGOs) that wished to help in health services should contact the ministry to facilitate aid work.
“For example there was an NGO that gave flu injections to 1,000 people while there were 200,000 people. This is something not needed as it led to dissatisfaction among flood victims,” he added.
Chua said flu was not important as during flood it was necessary to ensure personal hygiene and that drinking water was boiled.

Set up visitors board in hospitals

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:42 am

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Private hospitals with 50 beds and above are required to set up a Board of Visitors, failing which their licences will not be renewed.
The Health Minister will choose the board members from among active and respectable members of the community.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the board would look into patients’ grievances and bring them to the attention of the hospital.
“We are finalising the terms before the members of the boards are selected,” he said, adding that such facilities were among the terms spelled out for the renewal of licences.
“It is part of private hospitals’ corporate social responsibility; other types of services to society can be in the form of offering discounts and free health screening.”
Dr Chua said the licence renewal was not automatic as the hospitals had to follow guidelines under the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998 which came into force last year.
“They must tell us their social responsibility programme, and it must be acceptable to us,” he said after attending a second dialogue with the management of private hospitals here yesterday.
Dr Chua, who said 46 complaints on inadequate facilities, bad services and high fees were received last year, reminded patients that they were entitled to itemised billing under the Act.
He noted that two doctors from separate private hospitals had submitted false curriculum vitae to the management while one hospital that was given ISO accreditation did not have a certificate of fitness.
He said investigations would be carried out on all complaints before licences for the affected hospitals were renewed.

January 29, 2007

Malays more prone to genetic form of eye cancer

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:44 am

NST: KOTA BARU: It is estimated that at least one in 15,000 children here are prone to develop a genetic form of eye cancer.
Most die by the time they are six years old because they are diagnosed too late, or not at all.
Retinablastoma is caused by an abnormality in the gene of the same name.
And the sad thing is that most of these deaths are preventable with a simple test at birth.
Many parents take their children to traditional healers when they start to show symptoms, so they are treated too late.
Researchers at Univeriti Sains Malaysia have also found that the rate of retinablastoma is higher in the Malay population.
USM Human Genome Centre director Dr Zilfalil Alwi said: “We discovered that the Malay genetic make-up is more prone to single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP), an abnormality in the Retinablastoma gene which causes the disease.”
This was discovered in a two-year research project involving 36 retinablastoma patients aged three months to seven years. Twenty-nine of them were Malay.
“The disease is easily detected after birth with a simple eye scan. But many of our hospitals are not told to do this.
“When the symptoms start appearing and the child’s eyes start to look strange, parents, especially in rural areas, take them to a bomoh instead of the hospital.
“By the time they bring these kids to the hospital, it’s too late,” Zilfalil said.
Based on Western estimates, one in 15,000 Caucasian children are afflicted, but the figure is probably much higher here.
The genetic abnormality is more common in Malays, and there are few statistics because most cases go undiagnosed.
Zilfalil added that early detection could save lives. The disease can be treated with radiotherapy or chemotherapy. Children diagnosed in time have gone on to lead healthy, fulfilling lives.
“All that is needed is for more rigorous screening of babies at birth.
“And the retinablastoma test is very simple. It can be performed by a general practitioner.”

Cancer survivors provide empathy, strength to other patients

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:43 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: As she was being wheeled into the operating room for her second cancer surgery, Goh Siew Fan made a promise to God.
“I promised that if I am cured, I would quit my job to be a full-time volunteer working with cancer patients,” she said in a strong voice, that belied her slight stature.
The former teacher was sharing her experiences as a cancer survivor during the National Cancer Council’s (Makna) annual volunteer appreciation get-together at the International Youth Centre.
The gutsy lady hopes to educate the public on the importance of early detection, and lend her ear to other cancer patients.
“Most patients don’t want sympathy, they want empathy and I can help them. I’ve been there myself, twice,” she said.
Five years after she successfully battled ovarian cancer, she was diagnosed with cancer of the rectum.
She still has to wait one agonising year before her doctors declare her free of cancer.
“I hope by the end of this year, I’ll be given a clean bill of health. Then, I can really concentrate on helping people during my ‘bonus years’,” she said.
Jacob P.C. Mathews said he didn’t see his cancer diagnosis as a death sentence. For him it was a wake-up call.
Months away from his retirement in 1998 he was diagnosed with Malignant Fibrous Histeocytoma, a cancer of the soft tissue, in his right leg.
“At first it was like the end of the world. I was very active and I didn’t see it coming,” said the 63-year-old retired teacher. He has coached athletics and cricket since 1973.
Mathews said he became more and more mindful of others in the same situation.
In 2005 he became a volunteer after discovering that his children were contributing monthly to Makna.
“I felt as an ex-cancer patient that my words could encourage others to live on,” he said.
Kamarulbahrain Shaharudin’s wife was diagnosed with stage three breast cancer in 2004.
The 42-year-old factory technician gave up his job of 22 years to support and look after his wife.
“The doctor gave my wife a 30 per cent chance to live. I didn’t want to leave her alone with her thoughts,” he said.
Every morning Kamarulbahrain, who now operates a bicycle shop in Kulim, Kedah, and his wife cycle 24 kilometres to keep her mind off her illness and build her strength.
Against all expectations Rosmawati Mohd Yusof is improving. Surprised doctors said her cancer is down to stage two.
“My wife is a model for other cancer patients,” Kamarulbahrain said proudly.
During the event, Makna president Datuk Mohd Farid Ariffin presented certificates of appreciation to 44 volunteers, and awards to two outstanding volunteers.
The Volunteer Leadership award went to Mathews, who also got a Special Recognition Award along with Goh.

So what meat is safe?

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:43 am

NST: IPOH: Pigs are not the only farm animals fattened with banned growth boosters. Beef, mutton and duck meat have also been found to contain beta-agonist in tests conducted by the Universiti Sains Malaysia Doping Control Centre (DCC).
The Ministry of Health’s food control division has detected it in beef.
Random tests by the DCC confirm that cattle, goats and poultry have been fed with Salbutamol, the most commonly used beta-agonist.
DCC science officer Mohd Azman Ibrahim told the New Straits Times that about two per cent of over 100 samples received monthly by the laboratory had traces of Salbutamol.
Beef, mutton, and buffalo and duck meat make up 20 per cent of the monthly samples.
“This is worrying as the samples were taken at random. Many more would have gone undetected.
“Since the DCC was set up 10 years ago, things have taken a turn for the worse,” he said.
“Even duck farmers use Salbutamol while those rearing chicken inject their livestock with banned cancer-causing antibiotics such as chloramphenicol and nitrofuran.”
Only one spoonful of Salbutamol is needed for each tonne of animal feed, which made the growth enhancer economically attractive to livestock farmers, Azman said.
A kilogramme of the easily-available Salbutamol costs RM1,500.
“It is easy to smuggle Salbutamol into the country in powder form. It will be difficult for the Customs to restrict it.”
Two other types of beta-agonist, Terbutaline and Clanbuterol, though more effective, were not as widely used due to their high prices, he said.
Although beta-agonist, a drug listed under the Poisons Schedule, was banned in 1996, the ministry acknowledges that farmers use it to produce more marketable lean meat and speed up the growth of pigs.
Dr Abdul Rahim Mohamad, director of the food control division in the Public Health Department, said beta agonist was detected in beef recently.
“Following the findings by the Doping Centre, we will act and start testing other meats sold in the market,” he said.
Dr Rahim said although the ministry conducted random checks, it was crucial for the division to be informed of meat samples containing banned substances.
Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said the ministry had not received an official report on the use of beta-agonist in beef, mutton and duck meat, but he would instruct the ministry’s food division to immediately check on meats sold in the market.
The Veterinary Services Department will also step up inspections on cattle, goats and poultry in response to the DDC findings.
Director-general Datuk Dr Abd Aziz Jamaluddin said the same action taken against pig breeders would be started on other livestock farms.
“We will go hard on those found using the growth enhancer on animal feed,” he added.
The lack of testing on meats, other than pork, worries the Perak Veterinary Services Department, whose deputy director (health) Dr N. Krishnan said it was time random checks were instituted for other animals apart from pigs.
“We have never monitored these farms but maybe something needs to be done,” he said.
Beta-agonist is a bronchodilator traditionally used to dilate airways to relieve shortness of breath in patients with asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.
Pigs fed with the substance mature 20 days earlier and produce an additional 4kg of lean meat.
In 2004, the Health Ministry said between 70 and 84 per cent of pork contained the drug and a recent check on 656 pig farms nationwide confirmed the figures.
Now, 31 pig farms are under quarantine after their animals were found to have high levels of beta-agonist.
The farmers in Malacca, Selangor, Perak and Penang can only slaughter pigs certified free of the growth enhancer.
So far only four farms, whose quarantine period expired on Jan 14, have applied to the Veterinary Services Department to test their pigs.
Azman warned of the long-term dangers of eating meat containing the banned substance, which includes heart-related diseases, headaches, dizziness, breathing difficulties and palpitations.
“Those who are weak can see their hands trembling shortly after eating tainted meat,” he said.
Now, livestock breeders are only allowed to use ractopamine hydrochloride, known by its trade name Paylean.
Ractopamine hydrochloride is a pharmaceutical product that causes the pig’s metabolism to shift nutrients from fat to muscle growth.
In 1999, Paylean became the first beta-agonist approved by the United States Food and Drug Administration for use in food-producing animals.
Azman said the biggest target in the government’s campaign against the use of beta-agonist remained illegal pig farms.
Dr Krishnan said the lack of punitive measures might be a reason for the rampant abuse of beta-agonist by pig farmers.

Enough Medical Schools In M’sia For Now

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:43 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 28 (Bernama) — The eight public medical schools and nine private ones producing about 1,400 new doctors annually is enough for the country’s needs for now, Malaysian Medical Association (MMA)’s Medical Education sub-committee chairman Datuk Dr N. Athimulam said.
“At the moment that is enough for the country’s present 22 million population. Definitely we would need more (medical schools) in future, but let the growth be in tandem with future needs and availability of resources.
“There is also not enough big hospitals, logistical support, lecturers and other facilities to train more medical students now,” he told reporters after attending Russia’s Kursk State Medical University and Magaram Enterprise students briefing here Sunday.
He also advised students who wanted to pursue medicine overseas to check thoroughly the institutions’ recognition status and reputation with the Malaysian Medical Council, Public Service Department and Higher Education Ministry in order to avoid being duped by fake agents.

January 28, 2007

Home care eases burden on hospital beds

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:51 am

NST: Home nursing is getting popular as patients would rather leave the hospital earlier, writes ANNIE FREEDA CRUEZ.
CHINESE New Year is around the corner but it only brings painful memories for Susan Ngew. It was a terrible occasion for 49-year-old Susan last year when an accident left her with a fractured left leg and a badly smashed right leg.
“My legs were pinned to the bumper of a stationary vehicle when a car rammed into me in Sunway,” said Susan, a kindergarten teacher.
“I was rushed to Universiti Hospital by ambulance and later transferred to a private hospital where emergency surgery was done on both my legs,” she said.
If the seven-week hospital stay was painful, the mounting medical bill was another headache for Susan.
“I decided to seek home nursing care on the recommendation of my doctor,” she said.
It’s not just the financial consideration that both patients and the hospitals, especially public hospitals, look at when they consider home care.
Kuala Lumpur Hospital’s Head of Medicine Department Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai said: “Discharging patients early from hospitals allows the beds to be used for more urgent cases.”
The nurse who makes home visits can always refer to the doctor who treated the patient if there are any complications, added Dr Jeyaindran.
“Psychologically, patients also feel better when they are with their family members.”
Susan’s decision to seek home care is not an isolated case that goes against the traditional view that patients should only leave hospital when they are completely cured, or that all treatment be given in hospital.
“There are certain treatments that can be done without admission and this will reduce the cost of healthcare,” said Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican, director-general of Health and chairman of the Nursing Board.
Dr Ismail announced recently that by 2010, some 70 per cent of nursing care would be given in homes.
“The trend now is also to promote ambulatory care (for patients who need no longer be confined to bed or who are able and strong enough to walk).”
The ministry, said Dr Ismail, will be introducing several types of home nursing care in stages.
While the authorities are promoting home care, Dr Jeyaindran warned against unscrupulous people, with profit uppermost on their minds, setting up companies to provide substandard services.
“We do not want unqualified people providing home nursing. It can be dangerous.”
Dr Jeyaindran said patients who want home nursing must ensure they get qualified nurses and not retired hospital attendants, nursing aides and untrained personnel to give injections and medications, do dressing and provide other services.
“It must not be forgotten that old people who need home care could also be suffering from heart problems, hypertension, diabetes and other health complications.
“They need trained personnel to take care of them.”
Consultant urologist Datuk Dr Tan Hui Meng, adjunct professor at University of Malaya’s Faculty of Medicine, said it is important for a patient seeking home nursing to discuss it with his doctor.
As home nursing is a “new” concept in Malaysia, Dr Tan said there should be more home nursing service providers.
“Patients and their families should be given the choice and they should consider factors like quality, reliability, cost and proximity.”
Susan arranged for a nurse from the “Nurses At Home” service, operated by Sunmed@Home Sdn Bhd, to come three times a week to dress her wounds from April until last month.
She also visited her doctor during this period and had minor surgery done to her right leg.
An independent study conducted in Malaysia by Nurses At Home shows that as many as 40 per cent of patients in hospitals don’t really need to be there and don’t need the full range of costly and acute services that a hospital provides.
“We’re all aware of escalating healthcare costs and we need to explore ways of coping with this without compromising standards,” said Simon Tan, a director at Nurses At Home.
This is care that can be delivered in the comfort of home by a state-registered nurse with a annual practising certificate.
And not all nurses can provide home nursing. For instance, said Tan, a nurse who had worked in the maternity ward may not be be able to deal with aged patients or dress complex diabetic wounds.
Tan, whose company charges between RM65 and RM100 a visit, said: “I must stress that home care does not replace the visits made by the patient’s doctor. We complement the treatment protocols prescribed by the doctor.”
Tan said there is a broad range of conditions that can be treated at home but they generally fall under two categories: Rehabilitating patients who can be safely discharged from hospitals to receive home nursing care, and patients needing long-term care, including the aged.
He said one interesting development was that major insurance firms were a lot more receptive to covering home nursing expenses if there was a clear economic advantage and if the service is provided by a reputable firm.
“We have cases where the insurance firms covered home nursing costs beyond the limit stipulated in the policies, including some where no such benefit existed.”

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