Materia Medica Malaysiana

April 25, 2007

Simple test to check for 25 disorders in newborns

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 12:28 pm

NST: GEORGE TOWN: The country’s first metabolic screening service for newborns was unveiled yesterday by Universiti Sains Malaysia’s Doping Control Centre (DCC)
The service can detect about 25 disorders in four different categories — amino acid metabolism, urea cycle, organic acid and fatty acid oxidation.
All it takes is a single test, with results in fewer than three days. The test is most effective if carried out within 72 hours of a baby’s birth and after the first proper milk feeding.
DCC director Professor Dr Aishah A. Latiff said with early detection, conditions such as mental retardation and severe disability could be promptly treated.
She said doctors had started analysing samples from newborns at Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia in Kubang Kerian, Kelantan.
“We hope all parents will send their newborns for a screening.
“The test has proven to be reliable and highly beneficial in most countries that have implemented it,” she said at the centre here yesterday.
The Health Ministry revealed that there were 200 metabolism disorder cases among newborns in general hospitals in 2005 and the figure rose to 300 last year.
To date, no hospital in Malaysia offers such a comprehensive testing.
However, the Institute of Medical Research had, for the past 15 months, conducted a pilot study on a similar screening test. The two-year study ends in August.
Although such testing is not mandatory in Malaysia, Saudi Arabia and a number of states in the US have made it compulsory for newborns to undergo such tests.
Aishah said DCC would make the test available to all private and public hospitals as well as clinics throughout the country. Each test costs RM85.
Elaborating on the service, Aishah said a few drops of blood would be placed on a filter paper and sent to a laboratory for testing using a highly sophisticated equipment.
The DCC has three such instruments, costing RM1.5 million each.
USM vice-chancellor Professor Datuk Dr Dzulkifli Abdul Razak assured users of the service their confidentiality would not be compromised.

Younger people can have stroke, too

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 12:27 pm

Star: PETALING JAYA: Hypertension and stroke, the silent killers, are not “old folk’s” illnesses any more.
Such cases have been recorded among those in the prime of their lives, some in their 30s.
Malaysian Society of Hypertension vice-president Dr Azani Mohd Daud said: “Younger people are getting fatter because they are not eating right and many are working longer hours, therefore they do not exercise much.
“This puts them at a higher risk of getting hypertension which can lead to stroke. More disturbingly, such illnesses do not have any warning signs. They are really the silent killers,” he said.
Dr Azani explained that the exact cause of stroke was not known but the interplay of risk factors such as hypertension, obesity and smoking contributed significantly to the condition.
Dr Azani advised the people, regardless of age, to regularly check their blood and sugar levels.
Stroke survivor Yap Kon Kooi, 66, remembers how his face went numb suddenly after a game of badminton more than eight years ago.
He later felt extreme exhaustion and when he slept, he had difficulty breathing.
“I couldn’t feel my face. It felt like my throat had narrowed and it was difficult for air to pass through.
“Later, after waking up, I tried to eat something. This only worsened the situation because I started to vomit,” he said.
Yap was forced to quit his business as his condition prevented him from doing strenuous activities.
Yap admitted that his uncontrolled diet and hectic lifestyle had contributed to his condition.
“Although I don’t smoke, I must admit that my diet was unhealthy, resulting in my high blood pressure. I was taking medication for that but I still had a stroke,” he said.
Yap is now more careful with his lifestyle and his diet.

USM Creates History With Parkinson’s Disease Surgery

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 12:27 pm

KOTA BAHARU, April 24 (Bernama) — The Universiti Sains Malaysia Hospital (HUSM) in Kubang Kerian here has achieved a landmark when it successfully treated a long-suffering Parkinson’s disease (PD) patient.
The feat was achieved last March 21 when an electrode implant was placed in the brain of a 54 year-old patient, HUSM consultant neurologist Professor Madya Dr John Tharakan K.J. told a media conference here today.
Retired Telekom Malaysia Berhad employee Che Idris Che Yusoff had been suffering from Parkinson’s disease for 17 years.
Dr Tharakan said other than the electrode implant, the surgery which took about three hours also involved placing a battery in the patient’s chest.
He added that the patient gave positive reaction during treatment signalling that HUSM had successfully treated other PD symptoms like essential tremor (ET) and dystonia which caused tremors and stiffness that lead to movement disabilities.
Seven specialists were involved in the thirty minutes surgery where the patient was not injected with anaesthetic except when the battery was placed.
They included neurosurgeon and neuroscience senior consultant Professor Dr Jafri Malin Datuk Abdullah and neurosurgery specialist surgeon Dr Abdul Rahman Izaini Ghani who is also a USM lecturer.
Dr Tharakan said the treatment involved placing a 0.8mm or 10mm wire (electrode) to a sensitive part of the brain and is connected with an electrical wire to a battery placed in the patient’s chest.
“The 1.2mm wire can last a lifetime while the battery has to be changed once every five years at a cost of RM5,000.
“As soon as the electrode wire was in place and the switch at the battery was activated, the patient started to respond and the hand tremors then stopped,” he added.
Dr Tharakan said the Parkinson’s disease surgery at HUSM cost about RM90,000 compared with between RM200,000 and RM250,000 charged by private hospitals.

April 24, 2007

Dengue fever strikes mainly in towns

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:12 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Research by the World Health Organisation has revealed that dengue haemorrhagic fever is found predominantly in urban and semi-urban areas.
It said that it was a misconception that dengue was a “low income” problem and only occurred in slum areas where there was a lot of stagnant dirty water.
The Division of Control of Tropical Diseases and Communicable Diseases of the WHO in Geneva said in a statement over 100 countries, with millions of people, were at risk of contracting the disease.
“Annually there are millions of infections and at times tens of thousands of deaths. Dengue has now become the most important mosquito-borne virus disease in the world. It affects young and old, rich and poor alike, especially those living in densely crowded urban areas throughout the tropics,” it said.
Research conducted in Singapore revealed that condominiums and high-rise apartments were also not spared and it was discovered that Aedes mosquitoes could fly as high as 60 metres (21 storeys high).
Another popular misconception that mosquitoes only breed in dirty water, has also been found to be untrue as Aedes mosquitoes have been known to breed in clean water, including stagnant water with a circumference of a 20 cent coin.
The studies have indicated that if the water dries up, the eggs deposited there can survive up to six months and all it takes is a new water source to activate them.
Statistics showed that in the first five weeks of this year there were 16 dengue related deaths compared to 264 dengue cases and 72 deaths, last year.
Aedes mosquitoes breed indoors and outdoors and regular fogging, including spraying insecticides inside the home, can help break the breeding cycle of Aedes mosquitoes.

Stroke: You may be next… it’s the nation’s No. 4 killer disease

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:10 am

NST: PETALING JAYA: At least six Malaysians are hospitalised with stroke every hour.
But the news gets grimmer. There was a 300 per cent increase in the number of people with stroke between 2005 and last year.
In 2005, 17,909 were admitted to government hospitals. Last year, the figure rose to 52,000.
But what worries Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek most is the fact that many victims die within a month with only 10 per cent fully recovering.
“The number of Malaysians suffering from stroke is increasing rapidly and this is worrying,” he said at the launch of the National Stroke Association of Malaysia’s (Nasam) stroke book Understanding Stroke at Nasam House yesterday.
Stroke is the fourth largest killer of Malaysians. The other killer diseases are heart disease, cancer and diabetes.
“It is becoming common because of our ageing population and our unhealthy diet and sedentary lifestyle. Hypertension is another factor.”
He said hypertension, a predominant risk factor for stroke, was becoming more prevalent among Malaysians.
“Some 30 per cent of the adult population suffer hypertension and this is a frightening figure,” said Dr Chua, adding that other risk factors that led to stroke were heart disease, high cholesterol level, diabetes, smoking, alcohol, obesity and physical inactivity.
In Malaysia, stroke hits the health budget in the form of long and costly rehabilitation process. Stroke occurs when a blood vessel in the brain cells bursts or is blocked.
More than 10,000 people in Malaysia die each year from diseases linked to hypertension, such as stroke, heart attack and renal failure, including 6,000 deaths due to coronary heart disease.
Three million suffer from high cholesterol while another 2.1 million have diabetes. Malaysia also has the highest number of overweight and obese people in Asia with 25 per cent of the population falling into this grouping.
“The risk factors for stroke can be reduced if Malaysians consumed healthy food, quit smoking and exercised.”
The other factors which increase the risks of stroke were age (older people), gender (men) and hereditary.
Dr Chua said two-thirds of Malaysians suffered haemorrhagic stroke with the rest falling victim to ischaemic stroke.
Haemorrhagic stroke occurs when a blood vessel in or around the brain bursts and bleeds, while ischaemic stroke occurs when a blood clot blocks an artery serving the brain, disrupting blood supply.
Dr Chua said the most efficient way to prevent stroke was to educate the public on the disease, its causes, signs and symptoms.
He said the ministry had lined up a number of strategies under the Ninth Malaysia Plan to reduce stroke cases.
One measure was health promotion activities through the newly-established Health Promotion Board.
“The government has allocated RM37 million for the board to provide funding and capacity-building to health-related NGOs and health associations, so that they can act as catalysts to promote healthy living.”
Dr Chua, who is Nasam patron, pledged RM100,000 to boost its educational activities and programmes.
Nasam has six centres nationwide providing rehabilitation services, including speech, physical, occupational and recreational therapies and group activities to 300 victims daily.

RM800mil for rural health clinics

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:09 am

Star: IJOK: A total of 350 health clinics, including one in Batang Berjuntai, will be built in rural areas nationwide under the Ninth Malaysia Plan to cater to the healthcare needs of Malaysians.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said the project, costing RM800mil, had been approved by the Finance Ministry and tenders would be called in June.
“There are healthcare facilities in the rural areas even now but these are still not enough,” he said when visiting a health screening programme at SRJK(C) Ijok here yesterday.
The new health clinic in Batang Berjuntai will cost RM16mil while another RM4mil will be spent to upgrade several other clinics here.
Dr Chua said the projects would be carried out in stages, with clinics costing less than RM5mil monitored by the ministry while those above this amount would come under the Works Ministry.
Earlier in his speech, Dr Chua said that Selangor received more than RM1bil, which was the highest allocation from the Health Ministry, under the 9MP.
He also said that Malaysia was the only country in the world where the Government charged a minimum RM1 for consultation. Dr Chua added that the Government also absorbed 90% of the total expenditure for public healthcare.
“This year, the expenditure for administration alone in public hospitals and clinics, including salaries and medicine, is expected to cost RM8.5bil.
“The RM1 collected from the patients for the whole year will only come to RM200mil.
“This is the commitment of the Government to the people to provide quality healthcare,” he said.
Dr Chua said that since Independence, the healthcare sector had improved tremendously and this was evidenced from the increase in the average lifespan of Malaysians – from 56 years in 1957 to 71 years for men now and 76 years for women.
He added that other health indicators had also shown improvement, with the infant mortality rate dropping from 75 for every 1,000 births 50 years ago to just 5.5 now while the death rate of children aged five and below was 8.8 per 1,000 now compared to 57 previously.
Dr Chua, who is also MCA vice-president, said every election, including by-elections, were very important.
He added that the power-sharing principle and mutual respect within Barisan Nasional had ensured social and political stability in the country.

Chua Supports Suggestion To Set Up Specialist Panels

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:09 am

PETALING JAYA, April 23 (Bernama) — Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek has supported a suggestion for the setting up of specialist panels to reduce the number of medical negligence cases brought to court.
He said it was a good suggestion and one in conformity with the Private Health Care Facilities and Services Act 1998.
A provision under the act states that all private hospitals should set up a grievance committee to look into complaints by patients and give a satisfactory reply within 14 days.
If the private hospitals failed to give a satisfactory reply within the period, the complainants could forward their complaints to the Director-General of Health who would initiate an investigation before the case was brought to court, he said.
Chua was responding to retired High Court judge Datuk R.K. Nathan’s suggestion on Saturday which was seen as being able to lessen the trauma on doctors, patients and their families.
Nathan had said that medical specialists should form their own guilds according to their discipline and each guild would then set up a panel of its own specialists to look into complaints of negligence to ascertain whether there was a need for a particular doctor to settle the case or fight it out in court.
Chua said private hospitals should initiate their own investigation before the director-general acted against them.
“We hope patients will avail themselves of these facilities under the Act but not many of them are doing it,” he added.
He said the ministry was still amending the Medical Act 1971 on the role of the Malaysian Medical Council (MMC) to make it more transparent, democratic and fair to the patients.
Under the amendments, the MMC’s board, which currently comprises practising doctors only, should also have representation from laymen to give it more credibility.
The amendments would also allow complainants to intervene in the legal proceedings before the Preliminary Investigation Committee (PIC).
“Previously, the complainants can be present with their lawyers at the proceedings but cannot intervene,” he said.
Under the new act, the jurisdiction of the MMC would be enhanced where it would be able to look into professional issues besides ethical issues and infamous conduct of doctors as is the case now.
“This is important as we can see more patients coming to file their complaints on the services rendered which do not meet their level of expectation,” he said.
Complainants would also be able to appeal to the civil court should their complaints be rejected by the MMC.

A Lot Of Details To Classify Ketum Under Dangerous Drugs, Says Chua

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:09 am

PETALING JAYA, April 23 (Bernama) — Many details have to be looked into before ketum leaves and drinks can be classified under the Dangerous Drugs Act, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said Monday.
For instance, he said, the cultivation and possession of the leaves used as traditional medicine by the village folk were not illegal.
“It is only illegal if a person owns ketum products or ketum powder. So these are the things that the police and the Attorney-General should look into before classifying the leaves under the act,” he said Monday.
He was commenting on a statement by Deputy Internal Security Minister Datuk Mohamed Johari Baharum yesterday that the amendment to the law should be speeded up to curtail the increasing incidence of ketum abuse.
Ketum, which is classified under the Poisons Act, contains mipragyniene — a psychotropic drug used by addicts.
It is used by villagers as a medicine for fever, cough, sexual enhancement and to increase one’s appetite.
Dr Chua said that the other things the police and AG should also look into were the quantity and quality of ketum and whether a person possessing the leaves was liable under the Dangerous Drugs Act.
Earlier, he launched the National Stroke Association of Malaysia’s (Nasam) stroke book, “Understanding Stroke”.
He said hypertension, a predominant risk factor for stroke, had become more prevalent among Malaysians.
The number of people admitted to the government hospitals would increase from 17,909 in 2005 to more than 25,000 in 2020 if the country’s populace did not practise a healthy lifestyle, he added.
He said there were now six cases of stroke reported every hour and 52,000 cases per year.
Fatalities due to stroke had increased from 2,257 in 1990 to 3,245 two years ago.
“The most efficient way to prevent stroke is to educate the people on the causes, signs and symptoms of the disease,” he said.
Dr Chua commended Nasam for the publication of the book to create greater awareness among the people about stroke. The book in Bahasa Malaysia, Chinese and English is available at the Nasam centres in Petaling Jaya, Ampang, Ipoh, Melaka, Penang and Sabah.

Better Treatment For Erectile Dysfunction

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:09 am

KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 (Bernama) — Malaysian men with erectile dysfunction (ED) can now have more control over the management of their condition via a new diagnostic tool called Erection Hardness Score (EHS).
Consultant urologist Dr Peter Ng Eng Pin from the Subang Jaya Medical Centre said the results of the treatment using the EHS had shown a significant improvement in sexual satisfaction, confidence and self-esteem in such men.
“In Malaysia, men with erectile dysfunction do not normally seek immediate treatment. But the new tool, which is based on a four-point scale to identify the different grades of erection as the optimal treatment goal, will enable them to bravely talk about their sexual performance,” he told a press conference here organised by Pfizer Malaysia.
The EHS, as the first-target level for the treatment of ED, was launched at the European Association of Urology annual meeting in Berlin, Germany last month.
Based on the Pfizer Global Better Sex Survey, published in the Journal of Sexual Medicine in December last year, he said 35 percent of the Malaysian respondents were found to have moderate ED and another 11 percent with severe ED.
The survey of the sexual habits of 12,558 men and women in 27 countries, including Thailand, Japan, Finland and the United States, also revealed that Malaysian women rated the importance of hardness of erection with sexual satisfaction, he said.
Erectile dysfunction, which becomes more common with increasing age, affects between 13 and 28 percent of men, aged 40 to 80 years, worldwide.
Widely recognised as a couple’s issue as it equally affects the partners of those suffering from the condition, it is projected that by 2025, a prevalence of about 322 million men worldwide will experience ED, an increase of 170 million in 1995.
It can also arise as a consequence of drug therapy, major surgery or radiotherapy, besides being a feature of a wide range of diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular disease, hyperlipidemia and hypertension.
Meanwhile, visiting British Association for Sexual and Relationship Therapy vice-chairman Victoria Lechmann said it was important for couples to develop dialogues and sexual intimacy and not being critical of their partner with ED symptoms by adjusting to the changing lifestyle. “In the United Kingdom, such couples smile more, have a better relationship and listen to each other’s point of view as they have less anxieties after undergoing therapy together,” said Lechmann, who runs two sexual dysfunction clinics back home.
She said many relationships suffered because partners did not talk more openly about their sexual needs or problems, which also affected their physical health in the long run.
Apart from medication, she did not rule out sex tools including vibrators, which are readily available in the UK of being useful, especially for women, to spice up a couple’s sex life.

RM17.12 Million In Aid To Treat Chronic Diseases

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:08 am

KUALA LUMPUR, April 23 (Bernama) — The Medical Aid Fund (TBP) had approved RM17.12 million to assist 1,199 patients with chronic diseases to pay for their treatment since its inception in 2005 till the end of last year, the Dewan Rakyat was told Monday.
Health Ministry Parliamentary Secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon said the Federal Territory topped the list with 234 recipients followed by Selangor (226), and Kelantan and Sarawak (122 each).
The applications were processed between one week and six weeks, he said when responding to a question from Datuk Shaari Hassan (BN-Tanah Merah).
On a suggestion that the fund management beef up its manpower, Lee said the ministry had to ensure that the fund was not misused while speeding up the distribution of aid to deserving cases.
“The applications are vetted by a technical medical committee which will discuss with the specialists on the kind of treatment or medical equipment required to treat the cases.”
Replying to a supplementary question from Junaidy Abd Wahab (BN-Batu Pahat), Lee said the government had approved a RM50 subsidy for a mammogram for early detection of breast cancer and this was being managed by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry.
“We are helping women who could not afford to pay for the check-up by introducing the subsidy,” he added.

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