Materia Medica Malaysiana

March 27, 2007

Ministry seeks answers for ambulance delay

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:21 am

NST: GEORGE TOWN: The Health Ministry wants to know why the ambulances at Kepala Batas Hospital had run out of petrol, possibly costing a 31-year-old woman her life.
The ministry has begun investigating the tragedy after it was highlighted by the New Straits Times on Friday.
State Health Committee chairman P. K. Subbaiyah said the hospital director briefed the ministry about the incident following the newspaper report.
“I understand officials will be going to the hospital soon to conduct a thorough investigation and find out what happened there,” he said yesterday.
Subbaiyah said he had been briefed about the case by the Kepala Batas Hospital director Dr Mohamad Sabri Othman following the report.
Factory worker Ghafur Mohd Ibrahim had that said his wife Yusnita Abas’ death could have been avoided if she had received prompt treatment.
Ghafur said Yusnita developed a severe headache and went to Kepala Batas Hospital for treatment about 1pm last Oct 10. He said no one attended to her till 6pm when she lapsed into semi-consciousness.
She was rushed to the Seberang Jaya Hospital for a CT scan, where it was found that she had a blood clot in the brain, and needed to be sent to Penang Hospital for treatment.
The ambulance driver said he had to take her back to Kepala Batas first, because his ambulance could not make the trip from Seberang Jaya to Penang.
Ghafur said they were in for another shock. When they arrived back at Kepala Batas, none of the ambulances had petrol, and more precious time was wasted in going to get some.
He said the shocking state of affairs was confirmed by Dr Mohamad in a letter dated March 2.
Ghafur said no one had contacted him since.

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Ambulance deaths not recorded

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:20 am

NST: THE Health Ministry does not keep records of deaths in ambulances. Its parliamentary secretary, Datuk Lee Kah Choon, said the ministry did not have such details.
He said the standard operating procedure was to ascertain if a patient was fit to travel from one hospital to another in an ambulance.
His answer stunned Datuk Dr Mohamad Shahrum Osman (BN-Lipis).
“I am shocked that the ministry does not keep records of ambulance deaths.”
Shahrum said he sought the statistics as he had read of accident victims dying in ambulances on the way to hospital.
Lee said the ministry did, however, have statistics for ambulances involved in accidents. There were 46 accident cases involving ambulances last year, in which two deaths were recorded.
Opposition leader Lim Kit Siang later told reporters that Lee’s answer was proof that all was not well with the Health Ministry.
“The insensitivity demonstrated in Lee’s answer is unacceptable,” he said citing the case of Yusnita Abas, 31, who was pronounced brain-dead upon arrival at the Penang Hospital in October last year after her transfer from the Kepala Batas Hospital was delayed because its ambulances were out of petrol.

Government needs bigger health budget

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:20 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia’s current annual health budget of RM10bil is not enough and should be doubled so that the people can enjoy better healthcare.
And even after doubling the budget, the amount would still be below the World Health Organisation’s recommendation of RM25bil or 5% of the country’s gross domestic product, according to the Coalition Against the Privatisation of Healthcare secretary Dr D. Jeyakumar.
The coalition is a composition of 81 non-governmental organisations.
“The increase in allocation for the improvement of health facilities can come from taxation and Petronas revenue of RM50bil last year.
“It is the responsibility of the Government to ensure that all citizens and other residents have access to safe and adequate healthcare.
“There should not be any general services tax to supplement the health budget,” Dr Jeyakumar said at a recent healthcare seminar organised by Fomca at Universiti Malaya.
He said it was ironic that the Government was the largest shareholder of groups managing private hospitals.
“On one hand, the Government is in charge of building and maintaining public hospitals and, at the same time, the Government, through the Finance Ministry owns a major stake in private hospitals.
“It is not proper for the Government to have its feet in the public and private sector. More of the public can be served if the Government cuts its commitments in the private sector,” Dr Jeyakumar said.

March 26, 2007

Dealer of deadly herbal sex booster to be charged soon

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:36 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: It was promoted as a herbal health supplement especially for men. Those who consumed it found that it gave them something extra — it boosted their libido.
Introduced in the local market four years ago, MaxonHerbs, after it was registered with the National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau as a health supplement, became a hot topic among the men since it was claimed to be completely herbal.
It even became lucky draw prizes at golf competitions replacing traditional prizes such as “Boston” bags and putters and was also widely distributed in goodie bags.
On Jan 10, MaxonHerbs was deregistered by the bureau when it was found to contain two chemical adulterants which can cause numerous health problems.
Tests carried out on samples sold in the market found aminotadalafil, a US Food and Drug Administration-approved drug used as treatment for erectile dysfunction.
A bureau official said aminotadalafil can interact with nitrates contained in some prescription drugs and may lower blood pressure to dangerous levels.
“Consumers with diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol or heart disease who often take nitrates can suffer other health problems, especially since they are not aware that aminotadalafil was present in the product,” he said.
Tests on MaxonHerbs also disclosed a second compound called hydroxy-homosildenafil which is also used to treat erectile dysfunction.
The Kuala Lumpur enforcement branch of the Health Ministry’s Pharmaceutical Services Division conducted raids in the city in January and seized 343 boxes of MaxonHerbs worth a few hundred thousand ringgit.
MaxonHerbs was initially registered with the bureau as a traditional herbal health supplement said to, among others, increase energy, reduce fatigue, improve men’s health, ease urination and relieve backache.
Health Ministry pharmaceutical services division deputy director Ershah A. Rahman said this was the first time the division had come across a product which contained two Scheduled Poison substances used for erectile dysfunction.
“This is dangerous and poses a high risk to consumers.”
She advised consumers not to use the de-registered product as the concentration of the adulterates was unknown.
Aminotadalafil and hydroxy-homosildenafil, she added, were safe to use under doctor’s prescription and with the patient taking them closely monitored.
“Those who take the product can suffer breathing difficulties and even heart failure,” said Ershah.
Among the other side effects are headache, facial flushing, upset stomach and blurred vision.
“Long-term users of this de-registered product can also lose their vision due to the high dose of the scheduled drugs in them.”
Ershah advised members of the public to report to the authorities if they come across anyone selling MaxonHerbs, in outlets or through direct sales.
The distributor of the product will soon be charged in court under the Poisons Act 1952 and if found guilty is liable to a fine not exceeding RM5,000 or two years’ jail or both.

Hospitals to adopt HIS

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:35 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry may settle for HIS (hospital information system) after THIS (total hospital information system) did not work out too well in Selayang and Putrajaya.
THIS was touted as an information technology concept, which integrates the clinical, management and financial systems of a hospital.
The so-called paperless system is designed into modules to cover all aspects of a patient’s record from clinical to administrative.
HIS is a partially paperless system that also covers in-patient and outpatient management, pharmacy, patient billing and medical records tracking.
“It will not truly be paperless, which would be nice if it were.
“But in a practical sense THIS may not be easy to implement,” Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican told The Star.
The Selayang Hospital was the first hospital to apply THIS in 1999 to create a “paperless and filmless” work environment.
Several types of software were combined to create THIS.
Its main software stores medical records of patients and is linked to other medical sections such as laboratories.
Since then, other hospitals have been designed on the THIS concept, including Putrajaya Hospital, Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital in Sungai Petani and Temerloh Hospital.
Dr Ismail said the Selayang and Putrajaya hospitals revealed “challenges” in the software, mindset change among healthcare providers and the system itself.
“We are not saying that Selayang Hospital was not successful.
“It was a bit of a learning curve for us to be truly paperless. THIS might not be doable. We may settle for HIS,” he said.
He added that while 13 government hospitals with THIS would remain, the ministry would, in stages, implement HIS in all other hospitals.

March 25, 2007

Male support for breast cancer screening for women is now here

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:20 am

Daily Express: Kota Kinabalu: Men Care or Male Support for Breast Cancer Screening for Women, a breakthrough programme, is now in Sabah.
In a nutshell, it is a matter of getting the support of husbands, brothers, sons – in the fight against breast cancer.
An all-encompassing programme, it was initiated last year to encourage men to become more knowledgeable about breast cancer, adopt a new attitude of care and be supportive of breast cancer screening in women.
To get the programme off the ground, a three-day Training Workshop on “Male Support for Breast Cancer Screening for Women” for service providers of women’s health is being held in the State capital.
This is to address the lack of education and knowledge in men regarding breast cancer.
Launching the training workshop at the Likas Square, State Director of Welfare Services, Datuk Hj Mastor Samin was happy to note that this was the first time it has been held in East Malaysia since the inaugural one was held in Shah Alam by the National Council of Women’s Organisations (NCWO) and Federation of Family Planning Associations, Malaysia in Selangor last November after the official launch of Men Care.
He reminded the participants that breast cancer is the Number Two killer among women in the world.
“It is the Number One cancer among Malaysian women and the leading cause of death from cancers.”
Mastor, who is Chairman of the Sabah Council of Social Services, said Men Care aims to educate and gain the support of husbands, fathers and other members of the male community in this endeavour.
“Essentially, we want the involvement and participation of men to provide support for early detection and timely treatment of breast cancer.
That way, it will reduce the suffering associated with the disease and improve prognosis and chances of survival.”
Calling on men not to take breast cancer lightly, he said: “The important message to women and men is that breast cancer can be cured if detected and treated early. Early screening and treatment saves lives.
“Thus the men in women’s lives, especially husbands, play a decisive role in ensuring that the women go for screening at the nearest centres where breast screening options are available.” The methods of early detection are mammography, breast self-examination (BSE) and clinical breast examination.”
The Director urged husbands not to leave their wives in the lurch if the latter are diagnosed with breast cancer.
“Your support and help is very crucial in each and every step of her journey to recovery.”
Men Care is a collaborative effort by NCWO, Pfizer Malaysia and Asia Foundation.
In Sabah, this project is jointly organised by the Sabah Family Planning Association (SFPA) and NCWO, and sponsored by Pfizer Malaysia.
Pfizer Malaysia Corporate Affairs Manager, Noor Yang Azwar Kamarudin said Pfizer Malaysia supports the project through a grant of RM170,000 in partnership with The Asia Foundation.
NCWO Health Commission member, Piaro Kaur said NCWO embarked on the project to involve Malaysian men in providing appropriate support to women for early screening and treatment of breast cancer.
Despite the many breast cancer awareness campaigns in Malaysia, the uptake of screening among women is still low, she pointed out.
“For some women, especially in the rural areas, it is simply a matter of lack of awareness and information about breast cancer.
For a large number of women, their greatest fear is the reaction of their husbands, and that the husbands may neglect or abandon them.
“Hence, there is a need for men to play a more prominent role in breast cancer screening and awareness.”
According to Piaro, a series of training workshops for healthcare service providers will be rolled out in five regional centres in Malaysia.
“The road show begins in Sabah, followed by Sarawak (April), Kelantan (May), Penang (August) and Johor (September). These providers will in turn cascade the information down to the menfolk within their respective areas.”
More than 36 service providers of women’s health and male advocate groups are attending the training workshop which ends on Sunday.
The training facilitators are Dr Anita Boay, Piaro and Balbir Bhabra Kaur.
The participants were introduced to a comprehensive training manual and handbook for service providers as tools in their breast cancer awareness programme.
Speaking on behalf of SFPA President, Dr Teo Tu Huah, the association’s Council Member, Dr Philip Yap said breast cancer is still very much a stigmatised disease.
“Many still associate it with bizarre beliefs and values such as ‘Éa suffering on earth for the atonement of sinsÉ’ or ‘Éa curseÉ’, and the list goes on.”
He said the RTR Breast Cancer Support Group is grateful to the Sabah Council of Social Services for its financial support since 2001.
“We (SFPA) look forward to the support of more honourable bodies towards our RTR Support Group in terms of fiscal means or donation of related equipment for training and education such as breast models.”
Also present were SFPA State Manager, Yong Su Fung and MPMS Executive Secretary Joanne Lee.
Pzifer Malaysia’s Medical Advisor, Dr Alaster Allum, who also spoke, said due to the stigma of the disease, some women are left with uncertainties and without support.
“Hence the importance of this project – Men Care – as it addresses the vital need for a patient’s support network, where partners are equipped with adequate knowledge on breast cancer and how to help their loved ones deal with it.
“An initiative of this nature serves as a reminder that there is an ongoing need for breast cancer education to keep the disease at bay. Secondly, with untiring support from men, women need not walk the path to recovery alone because Men Care.”
Dr Alaster described the partnership with NCWO as one of shared dedication and commitment to the community, saying “This is a fine example of how Pfizer is ‘Working for a Healthier World’.”
Quoting the Ministry of Health, Pfizer Malaysia’s Medical Advisor, he said it is estimated that 27,000 new cancer cases are detected each year and breast cancer is the leading cause of death among Malaysian women.
“In 2003 itself, 3738 new cases of breast cancer were reported. This means one in 20 women will develop cancer in her lifetime.
On a personal level, we have all been affected by breast cancer either having someone close to us diagnosed of the disease or are survivors of breast cancer.”
Meanwhile, breast cancer survivor Unis @ Hasnah Yabi, 48, who is a housewife, gave a testimony of her experience during the “Sharing of Experiences” session. Willeze Matambun, 41, a medical assistant from Kudat, also related his encounter with at least four cases of breast cancer since his training days at a college in Sarawak.

Impulsive teens make for many problems

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:24 am

NST: SERI KEMBANGAN: More than a third of adolescent girls admitted to government hospitals end up there because of pregnancy or problems with childbirth.
And nearly half of the boys in the same age group sought treatment for accidental or self-inflicted injuries or poisoning.
These statistics show that a large number of adolescents, those aged from 10 to 19, are suffering from much more than teenage angst.
According the Health Ministry figures in 2005, 48,000 adolescent girls were admitted to government hospitals, and close to 41 per cent were there for pregnancy and related problems.
Forty-six per cent of the 65,345 boys admitted had hurt themselves either on purpose or accidentally.
“We cannot afford to play the blame game when addressing issues such as accidental pregnancy, abortion, Mat Rempit and others,” said Health Ministry director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican at the launch of the Fifth National Adolescent Health Symposium.
“It’s time we got together and addressed their needs. Their mindset, environment and expectations are different from those of our generation. It’s a whole new ball game.”
Dr Ismail said adolescent health issues had long been neglected because they were generally physically fit and rarely had organic disorders.
He added that hospitals may soon have wards specifically for adolescents.
“Adolescent health is a new area of medicine in Malaysia, and there is a big gap between the demand and supply for specialised services to address the unique needs of adolescents.”
Malaysian Association of Adolescent Health (MAAH) president Dr Nazeli Hamzah said adolescents did things impulsively, craving instant gratification with little regard to the long-term effects of their actions. “This is because the adolescent brain is still being developed, and the emotional side of the brain is not properly connected to the thinking side.”
Dr Ismail said the definition of health was not merely the absence of disease, but a complete state of well-being. With the emerging interest in mental health, adolescent issues are gaining prominence.
He said the number of adolescents who received counselling had increased from 11,887 in 2004 to 21,216 in 2005.
Additionally, 2,499 were referred to hospitals or other agencies for further management.
The symposium was jointly organised by MAAH, Mal- aysian Medical Association (MMA), Health Ministry, National Population and Family Development Board, Federation of Family Planning Associations and the Malaysian Pediatrics Association (MPA).
Present were Health Ministry’s Family Health Development Division director Dr E.G. Palaniyappan, MPA president Professor Dr Zulkifli Ismail and MMA president Datuk Dr Teoh Siang Chin.

Breast Cancer Survivors Help Create Public Awareness On Disease

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:24 am

KUCHING, March 24 (Bernama) — The number of breast cancer cases in Sarawak can be brought down further with the support of the disease survivors in creating public awareness on prevention.
State Social Development and Urbanisation Minister, Datuk Seri William Mawan, said about 70 new cases were reported and admitted to the Sarawak General Hospital (SGH) here every year for treatment.
“There has been a substantial decline in the number of cases over the years and the people telling the stories are the breast cancer survivors themselves, who feel the need to share their personal experiences through the spirit of voluntarism,” he told reporters after opening the Sarawak Breast Cancer Support Group (SBCSG) Centre here.
The centre, named “Matahari” is run by the SBCSG, which has 154 registered members, and provides resources and a helpline, especially to women newly diagnosed with cancer.
As was the case worldwide, Mawan said, breast cancer was the second biggest cause of morbidity and mortality among women in the country, with the Health Ministry investing a lot money to provide the necessary infrastructure and manpower to combat it and other types of cancer.
However, the government’s efforts effort alone were not enough to deal with the potentially curable yet lethal disease as the public must be made aware of the importance of its early diagnosis, understanding and acceptance of modern treatment modalities and their side effects, he said.
Earlier, SBCSG president Suriani Rapaiee said the support group was initiated by one of the survivors together with the oncologist and staff of the SGH radiotheraphy unit in 1993.
“The survivors felt they needed their own ‘little nest’, where they would be able to interact, seek psycho-social support and share in a more comfortable and private environment at their own time and pace,” she said.
Besides reaching out to other isolated survivors, the group organises talks on breast cancer and prevention as well as exhibitions with the support of non-governmental organisations and the community.
Suriani said it would also target the village security and development committees and secondary schools as part of its voluntary community programme in Sarawak.

March 24, 2007

Plan to woo tourists to medical centre

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:06 am

NST: KLANG: Medical tourism may soon feature as an attraction here with a proposal to build a multi-million ringgit medical centre in Teluk Gadong.
An international conglomerate, comprising local and foreign investors, has purchased a 2.5-hectare site for the project, which is awaiting approval from the Klang Municipal Council (MPK).
The plan includes a 14-storey medical centre, inclusive of a five-storey car park, which will cater to affluent and foreign patients.
Among the treatments to be offered are plastic surgery, dentistry and treatment for chronic diseases.
Klang councillor Alex Thiagarasan confirmed that MPK had been mulling over details of the proposed development for two years.
“The quality of the medical treatment and services proposed by the investors has the potential to put Klang on the world map in terms of medical tourism.
“They are looking to provide services equivalent to, or better than, what is being offered by hospitals in Thailand which is known internationally for medical tourism.”
When approved, the project would take up to two years to complete.

Plan for better medical facilities at camps

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:06 am

NST: PASIR PUTIH: Each National Service camp will have its own medical staff, and ambulances will be stationed at isolated camps.
These are among the proposals by a joint technical committee from the NS Department and the Health and Defence Ministries that must be approved by the Cabinet.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said each camp clinic would have a doctor, three medical assistants and two trainee nurses. At the moment, they are staffed by two community nurses.
“We will also suggest adding more stretchers, inhalers for asthmatic trainees and other basic medications,” he said after a surprise visit to the NS camp at Kisana Beach Resort yesterday.
“The technical committee has also found that several camps were too far from a hospital. They will need an ambulance as part of the medical services upgrade,” he said.
The estimated cost of this alone is RM20 million.
“The technical committee also plans to look into the physical exercises the trainees must do.”
Dr Chua also discussed the criticisms of the National Service. He said the majority of the 100,000 trainees who had gone through the programme had no complaints.
“On claims that diseases are spread through the camps, such things happen outside as well. The outbreaks reported in the camps, such as chicken pox, have not been that serious. There has not been one report of an outbreak of serious illnesses like dengue fever.”
On conditions at the Kisana Beach Resort camp, Dr Chua said everything was in place although there was room for improvement.

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