Materia Medica Malaysiana

February 28, 2007

Device helps stroke patients finger their needs

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:19 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Fingers that talk. A small group of stroke victims has finally been able to indicate its needs using finger configurations on a device invented by four post-graduate students at University of Malaya.
All they have to do to show that they are, among others, hungry, want to pray, or have their bed lifted is to repeatedly place their fingers on different sensors on the device.
A small LCD screen above translates the configurations into English.
Group leader Ahmad Khirrullah Mansor, 25, said: “I came up with this device that can help victims ‘tell’ their care-givers and companions what they want.
“It is targeted at severe stroke victims where the patient’s movement is limited to a few fingers.”
Ahmad Khirrullah, who is completing his final semester in master’s degree in engineering in telecommunications, said the device detected variations in the shape or form of the fingers placed on it.
The device, costing under RM500, is targeted at hospitals, nursing homes and patients at home.
Sharifah Nur Anthasha Syed Ahmad, 35, who lectures in the Faculty of Creative Multimedia, was the brains behind the device’s language.
The invention is on exhibition at the three-day Engineering Invention ’N Innovation Challenge (EINIC) 2007 at Dewan Tunku Canselor, University of Malaya.

Doctors need certification to test new drugs on patients

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:19 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Some doctors are testing new drugs on patients without getting Health Ministry certification.
Pleading ignorance would not save doctors from having to do so, said Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Hospital (HUKM) medical research and ethics committee chairman Prof Dr Raymond Azman Ali.
Some doctors who wanted to do clinical trials were not aware they had to undergo a three-day course on Clinical Practice Guidelines (GCP), banking on their qualifications instead, he added.
Dr Raymond said two cases were detected in HUKM this year and one in 2005.
“But the patients were okay. No one died and no side effects were reported. In fact, in one situation, a patient’s life was saved,” he told the New Straits Times.
Life-saving trial or not, HUKM now wants all its doctors to obtain GCP certification.
Doctors who don’t have the certification will have to stop their research immediately and sit for the GCP course before they can conduct another.
“Sometimes, when doctors come with research proposals, they don’t even know what a GCP certification is.
“More often than not, doctors plead ignorance, saying they did not know they needed a GCP certificate.
“But they can’t plead ignorance in court,” he said.
The Health Ministry made it a requirement for all those doing research involving humans to have GCP certification seven years ago to ensure patient safety at all phases of a clinical trial.
Ministry statistics show there are nearly 300 GCP-trained clinicians in the country.
Last year, HUKM approved an average of one research proposal a day. Of this, between 15 and 20 per cent went through clinical trials.
“Recognising the importance of research, the ministry and the university are trying to get all doctors who conduct trials certified,” he said.
HUKM conducted trials in medicine, including cardiology, neurology, nephrology, diabetes, dermatology, obstetrics and gynaecology, paediatrics and cancer, he said.
Director-general of Health Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican said the ministry introduced GCP training to make sure the rights of patients were protected and to make sure credible and authentic data was produced.

Restaurants vow cleaner loos

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:18 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Restaurant associations have pledged to provide cleaner and better-serviced toilets for the comfort of customers and tourists.
Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Seri Ong Ka Ting said clean toilets in restaurants were like a “value added” service as customers not only want good food but also clean facilities.
The move, he added, was also timely for Visit Malaysia 2007.
However, local authorities would continue to enforce laws to ensure the cleanliness of restaurants, despite restaurant associations urging members to upgrade their toilets, he said.
“This is just an additional effort to ensure that the places are clean. Enforcement will continue,” Ong told reporters yesterday after witnessing a memorandum of co-operation signing ceremony by the Malaysia Singapore Coffeeshop Proprietors Association, Malaysian Indian Restaurant Owners General Association and Malaysian Muslim Restaurant Owners Association.
The three associations, with 20,000 members between them, urged members to carry out basic repairs as soon as possible to ensure toilets are in working order, clean, and equipped with tissue paper and soap at all times, without imposing any charge for usage.
“Sometimes when I go into a toilet, I find only a small scoop and a pail of water. You need to have a clean toilet,” Ong said.
The memorandum also requires restaurants to have staff to keep toilets clean.
It was signed in cooperation with the National Toilet Cleanliness Committee, Quality Restroom Association Malaysia and local authorities.
Ong also urged Malaysians to make it part of their culture to keep public toilets clean.
He added that the ministry intended to continue its awareness campaign instead of creating laws to punish those who soil public toilets.

Tainted peanut butter recalled

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:18 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry has issued a directive to recall two brands of peanut butter allegedly contaminated by the salmonella bacteria that can cause food poisoning and fever.
North American-based ConAgra Foods Inc – manufacturer of the brands Peter Pan and Great Values – had last week found that its products were tainted.
The two brands, with the code number 2111 on top of the jar, had been blamed for getting 329 people in the United States sick.
The ministry’s food safety and quality division director Dr Abd Rahim Mohamad confirmed the recall.
“We immediately alerted our offices in every state to be on the lookout after we received information about the recall.
“We also have health officers going around stores and shopping complexes to check whether the contaminated peanut butter is still being sold,” he said.
“If we find any of these products on the shelves we will confiscate them,” he added, advising consumers to alert the nearest health office if they noticed these products.
“Our men cannot be everywhere all the time but if we have the public notifying us about these contaminated products we can reduce the risk of people being infected,” said Dr Abd Rahim.
“Fortunately, salmonella normally does not pose a very serious health condition. It usually causes diarrhoea, mild fever and abdominal pains,” he said, adding that there had been no reported outbreak.
Meanwhile, retailers Jusco and Carrefour confirmed that they had recalled all the tainted products.
Jusco merchandiser for nutritious food Harfiza Harun said they completed the process by Feb 16.
“We are well informed of this matter and all tainted peanut butter have been withdrawn,” she said, adding that they had not received any complaint from customers about the tainted items.

Slash the red tape to make Malaysia a research hub

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:17 am

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Millions in pharmaceutical industry money are bypassing Malaysia. And the reason is not hard to find – red tape.
Although Malaysia is ideal for clinical trials for new or improved drugs due to its diverse population, the big players are skirting the country.
They are spending their money in countries such as Singapore, India and China instead.
This year, clinical research on drugs and equipment in Asia is expected to be worth nearly half a billion ringgit.
Last year, the clinical trials industry was worth about RM25 million in Malaysia. The Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia estimates that this will grow by 20 to 30 per cent this year.
Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Mohd Ismail Merican said this was a very small amount compared with the total being spent by the industry in the region.
Dr Ismail said too many ministries and departments were involved in the approval process. There were too many officials to meet, too many forms to fill and a general sense of suspicion of the clinical trial methods.
Giving an example, he said a multinational company, which wanted to set up a research centre in Malaysia, went to Singapore after it was eyed with suspicion.
The company had faced great difficulty in obtaining approvals from various ministries.
“We should not frustrate such efforts. We have to look at the bigger picture. Everyone concerned should walk the extra mile if we want to promote Malaysia as a research hub,” he told the New Straits Times.
On its part, he said, the Health Ministry last week decided to speed up approvals for conducting trials, cutting waiting time from four months to two.
It is also working to improve government hospitals and clinical research centres in the country, some of which have been found lacking in standard operating procedures, facilities and equipment.
This is to assure these firms that they could be certain of high standards and that the centres had been approved by the ministry.
The ministry also plans to make it compulsory for every trial to be registered with the Clinical Research Centre to give the pharmaceutical industry access to expert clinical researchers.
“The online register will contain information on researchers, the number of trials conducted and how many have been completed. If a drug company wants to use a particular researcher, all the necessary information will be available,” he said.
Researchers will be monitored to ensure that funds, especially from the government, were properly utilised.
“Once a trial is registered, the ministry will check with the researchers every three or six months to ensure the trial is on track.
“Millions are spent, but nobody keeps track of the trials and many of these trials are not even published. I’ve always said that if you don’t publish, you perish.”
There are four main phases to a clinical trial. These include testing the drug on a small group, on larger groups and the post-marketing evaluation.
Dr Ismail said the prestigious National Institutes of Health in the United States (NIH) wanted to join forces with Malaysia on cancer research.
“We told them that we were excited to work with them because cancer is high on our priority list. We are planning to visit some of these international centres’ exhibitions to tell them of our capabilities.”
Dr Ismail has been in touch with several NIH directors, including the director of the Cancer Institute.
Meanwhile, Dr Sharmila Ramachandran, the medical director of a pharmaceutical giant, said Malaysia could attract more companies to conduct research and development projects in the medical field.
“Because of its capabilities as a developing country, it is able to cater to those who want to do state-of-the-art research and development.”
Dr Sharmila said clinical trials in Malaysia had become more sophisticated over the last 10 years.

Marked Drop In Dengue Cases Last Week

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:17 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 27 (Bernama) — Dengue cases in the country dropped by 20.9 per cent over a one-week period from last Saturday.
The Health Ministry’s Diseases Control director Datuk Dr Hasan Abdul Rahman said the drop was the result of concerted efforts by the government and various parties to check the menace.
He said that during the period (Feb 18-24), 783 suspected dengue cases were reported compared with 990 cases the preceding week, a drop of 207 cases or by 20.9 per cent.
“In the same period, there were two dengue-related deaths, one each in Selangor and the Federal Territory, bringing to 25 the total number of deaths due to dengue this year,” he said in a statement issued here Tuesday.
Dr Hasan said that of the 783 cases, 729 cases or 93.1 per cent were suspected to be dengue fever while 54 cases or 6.9 per cent, dengue haemorrhagic fever.
He said lesser dengue cases were reported that week in all states except Penang and Terengganu and the Federal Territory of Putrajaya.

25 Per Cent Of Orang Asli Children In Kuala Kangsar Have Weight Problem

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:17 am

IPOH, Feb 27 (Bernama) — The obesity problem which is often linked to modern lifestyles in big cities, seems to have spread to the Orang Asli communities due to progress and changing lifestyle.
A survey conducted on the diet of Orang Asli children aged below seven years in Kuala Kangsar, showed that 25 per cent of them were having weight problems and of those, two per cent were categorised as obese.
The finding was tabled by Habibullah Mohd Khatib of the Kuala Kangsar Health Office at the Second Perak Health Conference, here Tuesday.
He said the survey involved 1,263 Orang Asli children below seven years of age in 14 settlements in Kuala Kangsar, namely Pos Bawong, Bekor, Bukit Chermin, Chenein, Jong, Kajang, Kenang, Kuala Mu, Legap, Perwor, Piah, Poi, Sungai Pelantuk and Yum.
“Of the total, 637 children (50.4 per cent) were boys while 626 (49.6 per cent) were girls. The percentage of subjects categorised as normal was 37.9 while 62.1 per cent were categorised as stunted.
“The survey found that 41 per cent (514 children) had moderate body weight, 34 per cent (433) normal, 23 per cent (289) severe and two per cent (26) obese,” he said.
He said the demographic data for the study was collected through questionnaires while the anthropometric and clinical data were through measurements using certain equipment and observations by the dieticians and nurses involved.
Habibullah said the study that was aimed at obtaining information on the diet of Orang Asli children aged below seven in Perak, showed that the subjects’ routine diet consisted of rice, tapioca, fish or chicken (protein group) and tapioca shoots (vegetable group).
“The food was prepared by boiling or frying,” he added.
He said the problem of malnutrition was still serious among the subjects and among the clinical signs often seen was their sparse and reddish-brown hair.
“The hair condition is a symptom of insuffient protein that is quite a serious public health problem in several developing countries, especially in areas of low socio-economic level,” he said.
The three-day health conference began yesterday. It is attended by 350 participants from all over the country.
It was opened by Perak Health, Environment and Human Resources Committee chairman Datuk Tan Chin Meng. Also present was deputy director-general of Health Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat.

February 27, 2007

Sale Of “Kintop” Slimming Capsules Suspended Immediately

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:26 am

KUALA LUMPUR, Feb 26 (Bernama) — The Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) has suspended the sale of slimming product “Kintop Capsules” until the Ministry of Health confirmed that it is safe for public consumption.
Its secretary-general Mohd Zain Mohd Dom said the ministry in cooperation with the Ministry of Health and local authorities would be checking and monitoring outlets nationwide to prevent its sale.
“The suspension and cancellation of this product is effective immediately,” Mohd Zain said in a statement, here Monday.
The Health Ministry had cancelled registration of the same product in Aug last year for containing “Sibutramine”, a poison that can give serious side-effects to the blood pressure and cardiovascular.
Possession of the product for sale is an offence under the Drug and Cosmetic Regulations 1984 and first offenders can be fined, jailed three years or both.
For subsequent offences, the fines could reach RM50,000 or five years jail or both.
Mohd Zain urged the public to cooperate by reporting to the ministry should they find shops selling the slimming product.
The report can be made by calling the toll free line 1-800-886-800 or made online at http://e-aduan.kpdnhep.gov.my or at any ministry office.

February 26, 2007

Dengue fever cases still high

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:40 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: The number of dengue fever cases in the country is still at a worrying level and the situation should not be taken lightly, said the Health Ministry’s deputy director-general Datuk Dr Ramlee Rahmat.
“Although the number of cases dropped to 990 last week from about 1,200 the previous week, it is still at a high level,” said Dr Ramlee yesterday.
Last week, three people – two from Kuala Lumpur and one from Johor – died of dengue fever.
This brought the total number of dengue-related deaths to 23.
Dr Ramlee said the drop in the number of cases was due to intensified efforts and more frequent community gotong-royong to help get rid of the mosquito’s breeding grounds especially in Kuala Lumpur and Selangor which account for some 30% of total cases.
Of the 990 cases, 357 were in Selangor – the highest number of cases in the country – while 224 were in Kuala Lumpur.
Other states with a high number of cases were Johor (88 cases), Perak (79), Sarawak (45), Kelantan (45) and Pahang (30).
“We have intensified our efforts and there is community involvement but each individual must do their part especially when it rains.
“We need everyone’s total commitment. Take a look around your garden and home and make sure that there is no stagnant water around especially in pots, drains and vases,” said Dr Ramlee.
He said fogging was still ongoing and authorities would continue to distribute free larvicide especially to schools and health clinics to reduce breeding grounds.
Dr Ramlee said the number of dengue cases was still high compared to last year over the same period.
“Although we are finally seeing a reduction in cases, it is still on the high side which is also due to heavy rain and floods we experienced recently,” he added.

Fomca: Ad hype has eclipsed healthy lifestyle drive

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:39 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: The hype involving fast food advertisements has overshadowed the Government’s efforts to promote a balanced diet as part of healthy living.
Fomca secretary-general Muhammad Shaani Abdullah said it was an irony that while the authorities were promoting wellness programmes, fast food adverts have become more widespread.
“Fiercer efforts by companies to advertise fast food has led to the failure of the authorities’ campaigns to promote a balanced diet and healthy lifestyle among Malaysians,” he said.
Muhammad Shaani said Fomca welcomed the Health Ministry’s proposal to ban fast food advertisements and also the Information Ministry’s willingness to ban such adverts, which provided “inappropriate education” to young consumers.
“Fast food does not provide a balanced diet and although their menu contain certain ingredients, it is not a proper meal.
“For instance, fast food such as fried chicken and burgers contain too much preservatives, colouring, salt and fat. The beverages contain a lot of sugar.
“Fast food intake occasionally will not be a problem but it can be harmful to workers in major towns and cities who consume fast food as main daily meals,” he added.
Muhammad Shaani said banning fast food adverts was timely in view of the rising number of Malaysians suffering from heart disease and high blood pressure.
“There are now fast food outlets along every street and lane. It shows the culture of Malaysians favouring fast food,” he added.
He called on fast food operators to be responsible in providing the nutritional content of their products. “Even after the Health Minister talked of the idea to ban fast food ads, there are still companies claiming their fast food products provide a proper main meal,” he said.

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