Materia Medica Malaysiana

April 30, 2007

Concern over rising obesity

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:15 am

NST: GEORGE TOWN: Malaysians are eating more and exercising less. This has led to rising obesity, diabetes and high cholesterol, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
He said the time had come for Malaysians to get their act together.
“Our problem is that we are eating more and exercising less. Malaysians love to eat.
“After we have finished lunch, we plan on what and where to eat dinner,” he said in a speech during a health clinic organised by the Lions Club of Tanjung yesterday.
Dr Chua said statistics revealed that about 40 per cent of Malaysians were overweight.
He said a series of health activities would be organised by the Health Promotion Board this year under the leadership of Bakti welfare chairman Toh Puan Aishah Ong.

Chua: Apply for funds to promote healthy living

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:15 am

Star: PENANG: The Health Promotion Board wants NGOs and professional health associations to apply for funding to organise health-related activities.
The board, chaired by Toh Puan Dr Aishah Ong, is in the process of appointing a CEO, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
“Last year, the Cabinet approved RM37mil to help organisations promote healthy living among Malaysians.
“We hope more organisations will be encouraged to participate in the ministry’s Healthy Lifestyle Campaign,” he told reporters after launching a blood donation drive at Prangin Mall here yesterday.
Dr Chua said the ministry would double its efforts to combat the spread of diseases but added that the people must contribute too.
“We are now focusing on exhibitions and promotions through the media.
“Malaysians are aware of the need for a healthy lifestyle but they are not doing anything about it.
“My ministry has done all it can. What else can we do?” he asked.
Dr Chua said most non-transmittable diseases like diabetes, heart ailments, stroke and cancer were linked to unhealthy habits and obesity.
“Malaysians eat too much. Coupled with the lack of physical activity, obesity sets in,” he said.
The minister said that over the last seven years, obesity among Malaysians had increased from 20% to 39%, with the number of women smokers was also on the rise.
“More women are picking up smoking because they think it is cool. Because men smoke, some women think they should too in order to be perceived as equals,” he said.

Include donor pledge in MyKad

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:15 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Chief High Priest of Malaysia Ven Rev K Sri Dhammaratana has suggested that information on organ pledges be included in MyKad to expedite organ extractions upon death.
“This is necessary as many organ donors have the tendency of losing their organ pledge cards.
“The information in MyKad would help to expedite organ extractions upon death and leave little room for objection or doubt from the next of kin,” he said yesterday.
Rev Dhammaratana said a donor would still need to sign a consent form to empower the authorities to extract his or her organs and another form to allow information of the pledge be made available to the National Registration Department.
“It would be better that a family member or relative be present when donors make their pledges.
“Upon death, it would be mandatory for the attending doctor to swipe the MyKad to verify if the deceased is a donor.
“If family members contest, the hospital authorities can always show them proof that someone in the family was aware of the voluntary pledge,” he said.
As of September last year, 99,000 people had pledged to donate their organs but Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said many pledges had “gone to waste” due to family objections.
Council of Churches of Malaysia president Tan Sri Bishop Dr Lim Cheng Ean concurred with Rev Dhammaratana’s suggestion, saying “how it is done is up to an individual.”
Selangor exco member for religious affairs Datuk Abdul Rahman Palil said the third party witness of the organ donor should be her/his spouse or parents.
Hindu Sangam president Datuk A. Vaithilingam said donors should have an alternative option if they did not want information about the pledge be available on MyKad.

April 29, 2007

Commit to safety, please

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:16 am

NST: PUTRAJAYA: Over 730 people were killed in work-related incidents last year, Deputy Human Resources Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Bakar said yesterday.
Statistics from the Social Security Organisation show that to date, 43,000 people have died at work. Another 22,000 people either died on their way to work or leaving their work places.
Rahman said there was a need to instil the “preventive culture” at workplaces to minimise risks.
He called on employers and employees to implement and abide by the Hazard Identification Risk Assessment and Risk Control (HIRARC) guidelines.
“Risks at work premises must be identified and assessed.
“This must be followed by the implementation of a hazard control system where hazard prevention measures are put in place,” he said at the World Safety and Health at Work Day celebrations here.
Under the law, employers who fail in their responsibility to ensure a safe and healthy workplace can be fined up to RM50,000 or be jailed up to two years, or both.
Employees are liable for a fine of RM1,000 or a three-month jail term or both, should they contravene the Occupational Safety And Health Act 1994.
The ministry has targeted to reduce the death rate to 3.5 per 100,000 workers by 2010.
The ratio now is more than 5.5 deaths per 100,000 workers, more than double the International Labour Organisation’s ratio of three per 100,000 workers.

TB, brought in by foreigners, a big threat again for Malaysians

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:15 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Tuberculosis or TB is a prominent disease among foreign workers, making it a big threat again for Malaysians.
Foreign Workers Medical Examination Monitoring Agency (Fomema) chief executive officer Dr Mohamed Ali Abu Bakar said many of the 1.3 million foreign workers who underwent health screenings by the agency last year were found to have TB.
“We’ve received various reports of foreign maids, for example, who passed TB on to the children of their employers.
“This alone gives us reason to regularly monitor and examine foreign workers as there is also the risk of foreign workers carrying other diseases such as Hepatitis B and C, as well as HIV.
“With more workers from Myanmar, China, Vietnam, India and Indonesia coming into the country each year, we are working closely with the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) to identify and solve potential problems,” said Dr Mohamed Ali.
He declined, however, to provide statistics of foreigners in the country suffering from TB, stressing that it was the Health Ministry’s prerogative to disclose the figures.
Since 2005, foreign workers have been required to undergo three health screenings during their stay in Malaysia – in the first month, after one year and during the second year.
MMA private practitioners chairman Datuk Dr N.K.S. Tharmaseelan voiced concern that three screenings were not enough.
“Many diseases lay dormant in the carrier until triggered by some external factor. This is especially true for TB, which is why foreign workers must regularly have checks,” he said after chairing the Second National Working Committee of Private Practitioners section meeting yesterday.

Chua concerned over cord blood storage ‘hype’

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:15 am

Star: PENANG: People should not get carried away with the current trend of storing the umbilical cord blood of newborns for future medical treatment, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said.
He said although the medical world did not recognise any treatment technique using the stem cells of umbilical cord blood, storing the blood had become a craze in Malaysia.
“The ministry is concerned about the craze and increasing demand for cord blood storage. The misunderstanding among the public has become quite serious. If there is a potential (for its use), the ministry will study it.
“But right now there is no medical evidence on the use of the blood’s stem cells for treatment of diseases and conditions,” he said after chairing a meeting with representatives from 25 private Penang hospitals at Dorsett Hotel here yesterday.
Dr Chua said claims that it had the potential to treat heart diseases and control the ageing process were only “hype.”
He said three or four companies in Malaysia offered storage services for umbilical cord blood with some charging RM500 a year for the service.
“None of the companies are linked to any hospital,” he said, adding that the companies run on normal business licences and did not have to get any special permit.
With 480,000 births a year in Malaysia, Chua said it was not practical to keep storing cord blood.
“This is similar to the craze in the past when people stored their sperm in sperm banks but now people have stopped storing their sperm,” he added.

Hospitals need to itemise bills

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:14 am

Star: PENANG: Private hospitals are now required to itemise bills for patients and set up an inquiry committee whenever a complaint is lodged against them or the hospital staff.
Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said these requirements are stipulated in the Private Healthcare Facilities and Services Act 1998, which his ministry was now enforcing.
He said private hospitals are also required to give emergency treatment to anyone who seeks it, adding that they should not turn away critical patients.
He added that the Act gives patients the right to question and complain.
“They have the right to know the details of treatment accorded to them.
“All information pertaining to patients must also be kept confidential under the Act,” Dr Chua told reporters after meeting representatives of 25 private hospitals in Penang here yesterday.
Regarding the inquiry committee, he said it should provide answers within two weeks of receiving the patients’ complaints.
“If the committee fails to do so, the patient can appeal to the Health Ministry director-general,” he added.
Dr Chua said the ministry had received 47 complaints against private hospitals, mostly about exorbitant charges, unsatisfactory treatment and being treated by doctors who were not trained in the relevant field.
On “health tourism,” the minister said that of the 31 private hospitals that serve foreigners, seven are in Penang.
He added, however, that the Penang private hospitals were collecting almost half of the country’s health tourism revenue.

East-West medication at hospitals

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:13 am

Star: BUTTERWORTH: It will be East-meets-West at selected hospitals soon when the Health Ministry introduces a special project to offer traditional medicine and services to complement Western medicine.
Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the pilot project would initially involve three local hospitals and Chinese medicine practitioners from universities in China.
“The Cabinet has recently approved the integrative hospital project, which is expected to start in July,” he said.
Under the project, he said Kepala Batas Hospital would tie up with University of Beijing, Putrajaya Hospital with University of Shanghai and Sultan Ismail Hospital in Pandan, Johor with University of Nanjing.
Dr Chua said the traditional medicine practitioners would set up offices at the hospitals.
“My ministry has identified several modules and treatment methods such as acupuncture, massage and wellness programmes to be introduced at these hospitals,” he told reporters after opening the North Malaya Patent Medicine and Herbs Dealers Association’s new office in Jalan Raja Uda here yesterday.
“We will also send our medical team for training courses at the Chinese universities,” he said, adding that the ministry would later look at introducing Indian and Indonesian traditional medicine at local hospitals.
Chua said there were presently many untrained and unqualified individuals who provided traditional medicine services.
“Traditional medicine practitioners in the country must have a certain code of ethics to earn public confidence,” he said.
He said the ministry had so far registered 4,900 Chinese traditional medicine practitioners, 175 Malay traditional medicine practitioners, 69 Indian ones and 1,200 other practitioners offering complementary services such as massage and acupuncture.
On the escalating price of medicine, Dr Chua said the Government could not control the price of every single drug.
Asked about the recent food poisoning cases in Kedah involving children who consumed milk under their schools’ food subsidy programme, Dr Chua said the ministry was still investigating the source of contamination.

April 28, 2007

Course on toilet upkeep

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:03 am

NST: KOTA KINABALU: A college that teaches toilet upkeep and cleanliness?
With the deplorable conditions of some of our public toilets, there’s no denying that experts in this field are sorely needed.
And it may soon be a reality if plans by the Ministry of Housing and Local Government to introduce such a college gets the nod.
The proposed curriculum, said Deputy Housing and Local Government Minister Datuk Robert Lau Hoi Chew, is aimed at producing qualified and skilled manpower to handle toilet maintenance and cleanliness.
“Participants of the course will receive a certificate recognised by the government,” Lau said after launching the Sabah branch of the Quality Restroom Association Malaysia, here.
Lau said the proposed college was expected to begin operation within the next two years.

Don’t simply use antibiotics, doctors told

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:02 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Stop prescribing antibiotics for viral infections.
Director-General of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican advised doctors to only prescribe antibiotics for bacterial infections.
He said the ministry was concerned over the increase in anti-microbial resistance as a result of antibiotics being used to fight viral infections.
“If we do not contain the problem, we will soon have a situation where patients will not be treated effectively looking at the fact that we do not have many new antibiotics being produced worldwide,” he said.
Dr Ismail was speaking to reporters after delivering his keynote address themed “The resurgence of infectious diseases” at the Academy of Family Physicians of Malaysia and the Royal Australian College of General Practitioners inaugural joint general practice conference.
“Not all infections, including fever, are bacterial infections. Antibiotics are meant for bacterial infections. Many cases coming to doctors are viral infections which do not require antibiotics,” Dr Ismail said.
He said patients should not go “clinic hopping” when they were not prescribed antibiotics.
“Even if a patient is suffering from upper respiratory tract infection, it does not mean he has to be given antibiotics,” he added.
He advised doctors to be very careful in prescribing antibiotics as little could be done in the event of resistance.
In his keynote address, Dr Ismail said infectious and parasitic diseases were the second highest cause of death worldwide.
Dr Ismail said Malaysia had been hit by several infectious diseases like Nipah Virus, SARS, dengue, typhoid and leptospirosis.
“We now face the Avian flu and a probable forecast of a pandemic,” he added.
He said Malaysia was prepared with its National Strategic Plan to face the Avian flu.
“We have initiated simulation exercises nationwide in the event of outbreaks here,” he said.

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