Materia Medica Malaysiana

July 24, 2007

1.5 million blood donors sought

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:11 pm

Star: SUBANG JAYA: The Health Ministry has targeted 1.5 million donors to provide a constant blood supply throughout the year, said Health parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon yesterday.
Currently, the National Blood Bank collects 450,000 units of blood a year from 1.8% (about half a million) of the population, with some people donating several times a year, he said during a press conference to announce the National Association of Malaysian Life Insurance and Financial Advisors’ donation campaign on Saturday.
“We hope with the help of NGOs, we’ll be able to achieve the 1.5 million and 100% volunteer donors.”
The number of blood units donated has increased from 200,000 in the 1990s to the current number of units because NGOs have stepped forward to promote and organise blood donation drives, he said.
He said 99% of blood donors were volunteer donors, and that less than 1% of the blood donated was tainted.
The Health Ministry has 110 blood banks throughout the country.

Leaky Ceiling Again At Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:11 pm

SUNGAI PETANI, July 23 (Bernama) — The ceiling of the Sultan Abdul Halim Hospital (HSAH) cafeteria leaked again today, believed to be the fifth incident since the hospital started operations in December last year.
Clogged sewage pipes which run above the cafeteria is blamed for the leak.
HSAH director Dr Hariff Fadzilah Che Hashim said the pipes were clogged with sanitary pads and disposable napkins by inconsiderate people.
“We regret this irresponsible attitude because it is creating problems and causing inconvenience to others. The public should use the rubbish bins to throw away the disposable items,” he told reporters here.
He said the cafeteria had to be closed temporarily to enable repair work to be carried out.
The hospital, built at a cost of RM468 million, is still under maintenance by the contractors, TH Universal Builders Sdn Bhd and Bina Darul Aman Berhad (THUB-BDB JV) until August next year.
Early this month, the cafeteria was closed for several hours due to leaking pipes which subsequently flooded the floor.
Similar incidents were reported twice in May. The first was on May 26 when the ceiling panels at the men’s ward at the hospital collapsed and the following day, eight ceiling panels collapsed at the children’s nursery and at the Intensive Care Unit.

Automation Of Daily Chores Contribute To Obesity Among Women

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 3:11 pm

KUALA LUMPUR, July 24 (Bernama) — The switch from the physical way of doing household chores to automation has been cited as factors that contribute to obesity among women, said Parliamentary Secretary to the Health Ministry Datuk Lee Kah Choon.
“At home, most of the work handled by women like washing is done by machines while at the office men usually take the lift rather than the stairs although it is only for one floor,” he said when replying to a question from Senator Datuk Soon Tian Szu in the Dewan Negara here Tuesday.
Soon wanted to know reasons for overweight and obesity among Malaysians where some one milion or 18.8 percent of the 1.85 million saddled with the problem are women.
Lee said the intake of an imbalance diet high in fat and sugar content just add to the problem.
“The intake of food far outweighs the energy needed for daily activities. If left unchecked, this will lead to weight gain,” he added.
Statistics showed that women over 40 years-old have weight problems because office work and family commitments left them with little or no time at all for exercises.
Lee said a study on the food intake by adults in 2003 found that overweight Malaysians had increased by 26.71 percent and that the obesity rate had increased by 12.15 percent or by three fold.
The healthy lifestyle campaign by the ministry is among steps taken by the government to overcome overweight and obesity among Malaysians.

July 23, 2007

Doubts over health screening of foreigners

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:58 am

NST: KOTA KINABALU: Health Minister Datuk Dr Chua Soi Lek said yesterday there were discrepancies in the health screening of foreign workers in Sabah.
His suspicion was based on statistics which showed there were 50 per cent fewer workers getting health check-ups this year compared with last year.
“Based on our monitoring, there were 52,000 foreign workers screened by Fomema from January to April last year,” he said. During the same period this year, only 26,000 were screened.
“Why was there such a drastic reduction, especially since policies and procedures for foreign workers have not changed at all?”
Dr Chua said they were worried about the huge discrepancy as it could mean that there were recruitment agencies bringing in foreigners without undergoing the stipulated health checks.
“This is dangerous because from our experience, about 6.8 per cent of foreign workers are deemed unfit to work, sometimes carrying infectious diseases like Hepatitis B.
“This could easily spread and endanger the people.”
Speaking at the annual state MCA assembly here, he said: “I’m not playing the blame game. I just know that there are leakages somewhere, but I do not know where.”

More people going for traditional medicines

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:58 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: While the country may be marching towards developed status by 2020, Malaysians, it seems, will continue to opt for the old and tested ways when it comes to their health.
They are expected to spend more than RM1 billion on traditional and complementary medicines in 2020.
Director-general of Health Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said this was based on the trend which showed that consumer expenditure for traditional and complementary medicines had risen from RM272 million in 2000 to almost RM400 million now.
“Malaysians, just as in many other countries, are turning to traditional and complementary medicines and the industry is growing fast,” he told the New Straits Times.
Dr Ismail said the government was aware of the importance of the industry and would ensure that all plans to integrate traditional and complementary medicines would be carried out carefully.
This includes giving due consideration to the safety and medico-legal aspects, religious sensitivities and local culture.
Dr Ismail said the move to integrate traditional and complementary medicines into the Malaysian healthcare system was timely as it would result in a more holistic approach.
However, he stressed that traditional and complementary medicines needed to be introduced in a regulated way.
In Malaysia, traditional and complementary medicines have been divided into five groups with the formation of five practitioner bodies — Malay, Chinese, Indian, Complementary and Homeopathy.
More than 7,000 traditional and complementary medicine practitioners were registered with their respective bodies last year.
“Malaysia’s approach is now towards integrated medicine where people can benefit from both systems.”
Integrated medicine, he said, focused on health and healing, rather than disease and treatment.
Following the cabinet’s approval last year for integrated hospitals to be set up, the pilot project is set to kick off in October this year at the Kepala Batas Hospital in Penang.
This will be followed by the Putrajaya Hospital and Sultan Ismail Hospital in Pandan in Johor in December.
Herbal preparation, acupuncture and traditional massage are the three elements which would be introduced in the hospitals conducting the pilot projects.

Medical colleges’ high fees surprise MMA

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:58 am

Star: THE Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) is surprised that private colleges are charging their medical students exorbitant fees, when they are using facilities at government hospitals.
According to the Malaysia Nanban report, the MMA said specialists from the public hospitals are furthermore engaged at these colleges on a part-time basis and paid a nominal fee.
The MMA claimed the charges at the nine colleges providing medical programmes are be-tween RM200,000 to RM310,000 per student for a five-year course.
It added that the eight government hospitals that are allowing the use of their medical training facilities are only collecting between RM15,000 and RM20,000 from each college.
The association hopes to meet the Education and Health ministries soon to discuss the issue and fix a ceiling fee for those pursuing medicine in the country’s private colleges.

July 22, 2007

Two healthier fats should be included in diet

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:59 am

NST: GENERALLY, polyunsaturated and monounsaturated fatty acids tend to lower people’s risk of heart diseases.
Called the healthier fats, these two fats should be included in our diet.
Many common vegetable oils (like soy bean, corn and sunflower), fatty fish (salmon, mackerel, smelt, herring and trout), fish oils, flaxseed, sunflower seeds, soybeans and some nuts (for example, walnuts) contain high proportions of polyunsaturated fatty acids.
Olive oil, canola oil, high oleic sunflower oil, avocados and nuts like cashews, pecans, almonds and peanuts, contain high proportions of monounsaturated fatty acids.
Saturated and trans-fatty acids are the “unhealthy fats” that raise people’s risk of heart diseases.
Saturated fat has traditionally been known as “the bad fat” because it raises the blood levels of bad cholesterol (LDL), although it also ups the blood levels of good cholesterol (HDL) at the same time.
It is mostly found in coconut, palm and palm kernel oils, animal fats (for example, pork, lamb and beef), butter, cheese and other dairy products.
But trans fat has been shown to be worse than saturated fat; it raises LDL and lowers HDL simultaneously.
Lim Ai Leng, the chief dietician of a private hospital in Kuala Lumpur, described trans fat as “about 10 times worse than saturated fat as a risk factor of cardiovascular disease”.
Dr A.H. Lim, a general health practitioner in the Klang Valley, said trans fat quickened the rate of ageing and increased the risk of birth defects in newborn babies.
“Malaysians are ignorant of its dangers because they don’t pay attention to these things.”
Most trans fat comes from margarine (especially hard margarine), bakery products that are made with shortening, and margarine or oils containing partially hydrogenated oils and fats.
These include local and imported cookies, crackers, instant noodles, doughnuts, cakes, pastries, muffins, croissants and potato chips.
The Health Canada website said up to 45 per cent of the fat content in these products might be trans-fatty acids.
Ai Leng said food which was labelled “low in trans fat” should not contain more than 1.5g per 100g (solids) or more than 0.75g per 100ml (liquids). And food labelled as “free of trans fat” should not contain more than 0.1g per 100g (solids) or not more than 0.1g per 100ml (liquids).

It’s bad, you should know

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:58 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Trans fat and hydrogenation are bad words in nutrition and the Health Ministry wants you to be aware of it.
The ministry is reviewing the need to make it mandatory for trans fat, which is linked to increased risk of cardiovascular diseases, to be listed in the nutrition label of all foods.
Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Ismail Merican said the ministry would also increase efforts to educate the public about trans fat and its dangers.
Trans fat is the ultimate “bad fat” as it is said to increase the bad cholesterol in the body while simultaneously lowering good cholesterol.
It is also linked to certain forms of cancer and diabetes.
Dr Ismail said Canada, Denmark, India and the United States had mandated the listing of trans fat.
New York’s Board of Health voted unanimously last December to ban these artery-clogging artificial trans fat in all restaurants in the city. The restaurants have until July next year to eliminate trans fat in their food.
Dr Ismail said: “Most Malaysians use palm oil (in their cooking) and it doesn’t have this (trans fat) problem.
“But because of the possibility of people using imported products and other types of oils, the ministry will review the need for mandatory labelling of trans fat in foods.”
He said this would be carried out after consultation with food producers and nutritionists.
Fats and oils are made mostly of four types of fatty acids: Polyunsaturated, monounsaturated, saturated, and trans fat.
Trans fat is found naturally in small amounts (dairy products, beef and lamb).
Small amounts of trans fat are also formed during the refining of liquid vegetable oils like canola and soy bean oil.
But mostly, artificial trans fat is created when manufacturers use a process called “hydrogenation”.
This process turns liquid oil into a semi-solid form when hydrogen is added to the oil under intense heat to produce products like shortening or margarine.
Hydrogenation is used to stabilise the flavour, as well as increase the palatability and shelf life of food.
The ministry, said Dr Ismail, was concerned about fast food, margarine and other hydrogenated oil-based products.
Malaysia’s food regulation does not require mandatory labelling of trans fat or any of the three fatty acids for all foods.
However, where a food label highlights any of the four fatty acid components, it will have to list all of them.
So, should Malaysians avoid food that has trans fat?
“I think if you consume in the defined allowable amount, you need not worry about it,” said Dr Ismail.
He said some studies showed that trans fat was not dangerous if the amount consumed was less than one per cent of a person’s total daily calorie intake.
If you consume 2,600 Kcal a day, it is permissible to take 2.6gm of trans fat.

Cancer vaccine trials for 230

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 8:57 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Some 230 advanced-stage lung cancer patients in the country will take part in clinical trials for a therapeutic cancer vaccine.
Deputy Health Minister Datuk Dr Abdul Latiff Ahmad said the vaccine, Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF), was the first of its kind in the world and produced here with the cooperation between Malaysia and Cuba.
“The second and third phases of the clinical trials would be conducted on 230 patients who volunteered to undertake the trials at 14 hospitals nationwide.
“They have been told they have about six months to live,” he told a press conference.
Dr Latiff said the trials would be conducted by a local biotechnology company and Cuban researchers.

July 21, 2007

Leprosy centre to become heritage, tourist attraction

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:42 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Part of the Sungai Buloh Leprosy Centre may be made a heritage site and tourism attraction under a Health Ministry’s proposal to redevelop the area under the Ninth Malaysia Plan.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said it was decided to preserve some parts of the centre because of its historical significance.
“We planned to turn part of the centre’s buildings into a heritage site due to its historical significance and the building’s unique structure.
“It can also be a tourist attraction,” he said after launching Tung Shin Hospital’s traditional medicine building yesterday.
He said at one time the lepers produced their own currency because the public was afraid to mix with them.
“Some of them still have the currency in mint condition,” he added.
The leprosy centre opened in 1930 and was once the Commonwealth’s largest and most modern facility for the research and treatment of the disease.
In the early days, there were up to 3,000 patients but now, only 340 people who are cured of the disease remained, eking out a living by selling plants and flowers.
Many of them choose to stay at the centre due to the stigma attached to the disease.
Many have also lost contact with their families.
Dr Chua said there were no plans to close down the centre, assuring the remaining former leprosy patients that they could stay on.
Besides the centre, the 200ha site houses the Sungai Buloh Hospital.
Squatters have also moved in and nurseries are occupying the land illegally.
The redevelopment will also see the setting up of an Infectious Disease Control Centre as well as Universiti Teknologi Mara’s administrative and service centre.
Dr Chua said the cabinet had agreed on Wednesday for a committee headed by the ministry’s secretary-general to study the viability of turning the centre into a heritage site.
The committee will consist representatives from the Higher Education, Tourism, Housing and Local Government and Culture, Arts and Heritage ministries.
“It will ensure the redevelopment will be carried out in an orderly fashion and the land use will be optimised,” he said.

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