Materia Medica Malaysiana

October 28, 2007

Ministry sets up national register on clinical trials

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:40 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry urged all clinical research centres in the country, including those in private hospitals and universities, to register their studies.
For this purpose, it has set up the National Medical Research Register (NMRR) that enables online registration (, said director-general of Health Tan Sri Datuk Dr Ismail Merican.
Registration of their research on the NMRR helps ensure transparency and increases public trust and when fully implemented, would help reduce processing time, enable easy access, capture data on research and allow management to track progress, he said at the National Conference on Clinical Research on Friday.
A clinical trial or study is a type of research study that uses volunteers to test new methods of screening, prevention, diagnosis, or treatment of a disease.
Dr Ismail said that he signed the official circular on the New National Institutes of Health Guidelines where all research from the ministry research grants be registered, reviewed and approved by the appropriate authorities.
“If Malaysia is serious about becoming a clinical trials hub, medical research ethics must be given due attention by all stakeholders involved,” said Dr Ismail, whose speech was read out by the ministry’s Clinical Research Centre director Dr Lim Tech Onn.
Meanwhile a WHO official has suggested that Asean countries set up a regional registry on clinical trials in view of the growing number of multimillion dollar lawsuits over such trials.
The world organisation’s director for Research Policy and Cooperation Dr Tikki Pang said six men suffered multiple organ failure following a clinical drugs trial in London while Nigerian authorities took a criminal case on top of a US$2bil lawsuit against a United States drug company for allegedly conducting a dangerous drug experiment on nearly 200 children for meningitis treatment.
While Malaysia wanted to capitalise on the growing market of clinical trials, many of the issues begged for transparency, Dr Pang said in his talk Clinical Trial Registration.
He said for a start there could be a National Ethics Review Committee that coordinated reviews done at individual institutions.
Dr Pang said that last year, WHO launched the International Clinical Trial Registry Platform (ICTRP) to promote the registration of all clinical trials worldwide and the reporting of a minimum set of results.
“This is to strengthen public trust in clinical trials by promoting transparency and accountability,” he added.

New centre to teach medicine via simulation

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:39 am

Star: KUANTAN: The country’s first comprehensive advanced clinical skills centre (ACSC) was officially opened yesterday in the International Islamic University Malaysia (IIUM).
IIUM president Tan Sri Sanusi Junid launched the centre as well as the first annual Malaysian Simulation and Education Conference and Human Patient Simulation Network attended by some 90 participants worldwide yesterday.
The two-day conference is jointly organised by IIUM, Medical Education Technologies Inc (Meti) and Cybron Technology (M) Sdn Bhd.
ACSC provides simulations where practical skills can be perfected. The facilities include advanced human patient simulators (HPS), an emergency care simulator (ECS) and baby simulator.
IIUM Kuantan campus director Prof Datuk Dr Md Tahir Azhar said the simulations were about 80% close to actual emergency situations.
“Students and trainees can conduct repeated procedures to improve their skills on the mannequins.
“This is something we cannot do on real patients,” he said, adding the simulation concept was similar to what trainee pilots underwent in their flight simulators.
Meti president and chief executive officer Lou Oberdorf said it would be a valuable lesson for students on how to deal with trauma situations.

Flying docs will be back in action in Sarawak

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:39 am

Star: MIRI: Sarawak government-owned aviation company Hornbill Skyways has drawn up a blueprint to urgently revive the flying doctor service for the sake of the thousands of rural folks still living in remote regions of Sarawak.
The airline, wholly-owned by the state economic development corporation and related agencies, has already forwarded the plan to the Federal Government and Health Ministry, said Hornbill Skyways chief executive officer Aidan Wing.
The decision now lies with the federal authorities in Kuala Lumpur, he told The Star yesterday.
“We have recently submitted fresh proposals to the Government and the ministry on how we want to revive the flying doctor service in Sarawak.
“The flying doctor is a very important service that plays a vital role in the daily lives of the rural folks.
“We (Hornbill Skyways) are keen to revive it. It is up to the federal authorities to consider the new proposals we have tabled. We hope for an answer very soon,” he said yesterday.
The flying doctor service enables government doctors to fly by helicopters into riverine settlements and longhouses located in dense forests and highlands to provide medical aid and health checks for natives still living in these isolated communes.
The service had been stopped for more than 10 months because of some administrative and technical woes faced by Hornbill and the ministry.
Hornbill has for years been the aviation company contracted by the ministry to handle this vital service.
Wing declined to reveal further details of the new proposals his company had submitted to revive the service, saying that the details would only be announced if the federal authorities gave their approval.
Two days ago, state assemblyman for Ba’Kelalan, Nelson Balang Rining, had highlighted the plight of 10,000 folks from 30 settlements in the highlands of northern Sarawak who needed the flying doctor services to be resumed immediately.
These folks are running out of medical supplies and have not received any health checks and other medical aid since the services were stopped.
Wing urged assemblymen whose constituents were affected to bring up the matter at the state assembly.

Malaysia can lead in alternative medicine

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:39 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is well-placed to become a frontrunner in the increasingly popular alternative medicine industry that has a global market exceeding RM200bil, Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi said.
The Prime Minister said Penang was already in the forefront of the country’s medical tourism industry and would be further promoted as an Asian medical tourism hub.
Langkawi, he said, could also offer complementary medicine, traditional remedies as well as therapeutic treatments and synergise aleopathic treatment provided in nearby Penang.
With the integration of the first traditional complementary medicine unit with conventional medical healthcare in Kepala Batas on Friday, he said he was confident that the industry would grow by leaps and bounds.
“We must work hard to further enhance healthcare in the country, to safeguard the well-being of Malaysians and to make Malaysia a preferred medical tourism destination,” he said.
Abdullah said he was also confident that Malaysia could achieve much more, including in the field of thoracic and cardiovascular surgery, if it could draw up substantive plans and execute them effectively.
“The Government recognises the increasing prevalence of heart disease.
As with our efforts in fighting major diseases, our strategy is first to provide more comprehensive healthcare, including preventive measures for all groups and regions,” the prime minister said.

Many Malaysians have sex before reaching 20

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:38 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian youth are involved in sexual activities before the age of 20.
A national study in 2004 involving 18,805 people (10,718 females and 8,087 males) revealed that the median age they had sex for the first time was 23.
The majority of the study group was Malay (56.4 per cent) followed by Chinese (20.6 per cent) and Indian (11.2 per cent). Out of the 18,805, the majority (72.8 per cent) was married.
Male respondents confessed to experiencing sex at the minimum age of 10 and median age of 22 and females at 12 and 24 respectively.
The overall median age of marriage was 23 — Chinese (25 years), Indians (23 years), Malays (22 years), Sabah Bumiputera (21 years) and Sarawak (20 years).
Professor Dr Lekhraj Rampal of the Department of Community Health, Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences at Universiti Putra Malaysia said: “What is of concern is the fact that among the 13,971 respondents who had experienced sex, 38.2 per cent said they had sex before the age of 20.”
The age factor, he said, clearly indicated that those who had sex early were college students and young workers.
“Malaysians are now becoming very open when it comes to talking about sex. The unmarried and married talk about sex and it’s time sex education be given emphasis and the public made aware of healthy sexual behaviour, including using condoms to protect against unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.”
He said as much as religion and culture encouraged sex after marriage, it could not be denied that younger people engaged in sexual activity.
Sexual behaviour, he added, was any action that allowed the expression of one’s feelings, including holding hands and kissing as well as masturbation and penetrative intercourse (per vagina or anal).
He said healthy sexual behaviours were consensual, non-exploitive and honest, and included actions that protected against unintended pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases.
Presenting a paper on “Sexual Practice in Malaysia” at the two-day conference on Sexuality in Medicine, organised by Universiti Putra Malaysia and the Malaysian Healthy Aging Society at UPM, Dr Rampal warned young Malaysians to be cautious when indulging in sex with unknown partners.
“The person, be it man or woman, may look healthy and sexy but you do not know whether he is a HIV victim or suffering from venereal disease or sexually transmitted diseases (STD). Get a blood test done to ascertain if he/she is free from STD or use a condom.”
Dr Rampal gave this warning because in a survey done to find out how much people knew about HIV and its transmission, the majority of the respondents could not give the right answers to many of the questions.
Dr Rampal also stressed that there was a need to educate the young not to fall victim to non-consensual sexual experiences.
“It covers a continuum of behaviours ranging from unwanted verbal advances and unwanted touch to assault and forced sex as well as sex in exchange for money, gifts, food or protection,” he added.
As for married couples, Dr Rampal said it was important for them to understand how the body works.

October 27, 2007

Affordable reproductive health services for the poor

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:17 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Better access to affordable reproductive health services for the urban poor is at the top of the list for the new director-general of the National Population and Family Development Board (NPFDB).
Aminah Abdul Rahman said she was also looking at expanding the Kafe@Teen programme to tackle teenage pregnancy, sexual and reproductive health problems faced by youngsters aged 13 to 24.
There are three drop-in centres with Internet access, television and other entertainment provided and a self-service kitchen here and in Penang.
Four more of the clinics with doctors and counsellors will be set up in Kelantan and Johor.
She said at the NPFDB headquarters yesterday that the focus was on the urban poor because the country was becoming more and more urbanised, adding that 60 per cent of the population now lived in cities.
She said NPFDB had one mobile clinic which went to low-cost housing areas and squatter areas, and there were plans to convert six more buses.
“The plan is to take our services to the people who can’t otherwise afford them.
“The mobile clinic provides free reproductive health screening and other services at minimal fees to urban poor adults,” said Aminah, who was appointed last month.
On the subsidised mammogram programme for women aged 40 to 69 from families with an income under RM5,000 launched in May, Aminah said 61 per cent of the 1,045 women screened were Chinese, 31 per cent Malay and eight per cent Indian.
She said this reflected the fact that women in the Chinese community were more aware of the need to screen for breast cancer while many Malay women preferred to seek traditional treatment first, to avoid “losing their breasts”.
Many Malay women only come to be checked when they had end-stage breast cancer, when it was already too late, she said.
Aminah said there were 16 designated private centres for this purpose.
Aminah, who joined the board as a sociologist in 1979, replaced Datuk Fatimah Saad who retired last year.

Putrajaya gets cancer centre

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:17 am

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Information on cancer, notably breast cancer, is now readily available at the Putrajaya Hospital with the setting-up of a resource centre.
The centre will provide knowledge and support to those stricken with the disease and family members.
The Putrajaya Hospital Cancer Resource Centre, the first of its kind in the country, has up-to-date reading material on various cancers, treatments and other vital information.
The centre also provides networking with cancer survivors offering emotional support via Cancer Network Association (KanWork).
Hospital director Dr Mohd Norzi Ghazali said the centre’s role was also to provide general information on cancer to educate the public on cancer, including treatment, medication and post-treatment care.
“What is also important is that it is a platform for those with cancer to come together and share their experience and knowledge,” he said.
“It is also an avenue for partners, family members and friends of patients to get advice and support on how to deal with a cancer patient.”
Dr Norzi said cancer was the second-highest killer in the country after road accidents, with 30,000 new cases detected annually.
Putrajaya Hospital head of breast and endocrine surgical department and consultant surgeon Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the hospital received between 150 and 200 breast cancer cases each year.
“It is important to create greater cancer awareness. According to census, 60% of cancer patients only realised they had cancer at a late stage,” he said.

Herbal product industry gets a boost

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:16 am

Star: KEPALA BATAS: The country is ready to tap the international multi-million ringgit herbal product market.
With that in mind, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Abdullah Ahmad Badawi wants further research into its home-grown herbs to give the country’s herbal industry a bigger boost.
“We are blessed with rich natural herbal and marine resources that can be ideally used to produce medicines.
“Our local researchers must work harder to find out to what extent traditional medicine can effectively help cure ailments and diseases,” he said when opening the RM83mil Kepala Batas Hospital here yesterday.
The hospital is also the first in the country to have a traditional and complementary medicine (TCM) unit that offers services according to the traditional medicine practices of the Malay, Chinese and Indian communities.
Abdullah said traditional medicine that has been practised by the Malays, Chinese and Indians since the old days, can be used as an integrative medicine to modern medicine.
In the past, when hospitals were located far from rural areas, he said, traditional medicine was used as ‘first aid’ to treat patients before the arrival of the doctor.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said similar TCM units would be set up at the Putrajaya Hospital by December and at the Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor by March.
“A few medical officers will soon attend short courses on acupuncture and TCM pharmacy in Beijing, China next year.
“We will also introduce ayurvedic medicine at the TCM units next year, followed by traditional Malay medicine through collaborations with our counterparts in Indonesia,” he said.
Chua said till last year, a total of 7,154 TCM practitioners had registered their practices with the ministry since a TCM division was formed at the ministry in 2004.
“We believe there are about 3,000 to 4,000 more who have yet to register with us,” he said, adding that they could register online via the ministry’s website at http://www.

October 26, 2007

Three children down with cancer every day

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:22 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: At least three children are diagnosed with cancer every day in the country.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek said some 1,200 cases of childhood cancer were reported to the National Cancer Registry each year.
What was even more worrying, he said, was that parents were often in a state of denial and this led to delays in treating the children.
Parents are often, and understandably so, in a state of denial that their children are suffering from cancer.
“As a result, they hop from doctor to doctor and seek alternative therapies.
“Many of them finally do come back, but the tumour would already be in quite an advanced stage and the child would already be in a bad state,” Dr Chua said after launching the Blue Ribbon Campaign at Menara Celcom here.
The effort is aimed at raising awareness of child cancer in Malaysia and to help affected children and their families, particularly those with financial constraints.
“Based on the data collected from 2003 to 2005, the top five childhood cancers in the country are leukaemia (40 per cent), lymphomas (10 per cent), central nervous system tumours (nine per cent), germ cell tumours (six per cent) and soft tissue sarcomas (five per cent),” Dr Chua said.
He also urged paediatric oncologists to counsel parents regarding the nature and treatment of childhood cancers.
The minister said paediatric oncology services were now available in 11 centres throughout the country, six of them under the Health Ministry, three in the universities and two with the private sector.
At a press conference later, Dr Chua said there were currently 19 paediatric oncologists in the country.
“Out of this, 17 are with the government while two are with the private sector.”
Dr Chua said treatment costs at public hospitals were affordable because of subsidies from the government.
“The maximum that a non-school-going child has to pay is RM500 per admission, regardless of the length of stay.
“Those attending our day-care centres for chemotheraphy are charged only RM50 per visit.
“Even so, many of them are referred to our Medical Social Welfare Services for exemption if they cannot afford it,” he said.
Dr Chua added that patients could seek help from the government under the Medical Assistance Fund to buy medication and equipment such as prosthesis.
He had earlier said in his speech that the money from the fund was for long-term medical treatment of chronic diseases, including cancers.
“Since it was set up in 2005, with a total allocation of RM45 million to date, RM23.6 million had been spent for the benefit of 1,702 applicants,” he said.

October 25, 2007

Clinics can help you quit smoking

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:33 am

NST: SERDANG: Quitting smoking but nothing seems to help?
Perhaps what you need is help from the professionals at one of the 400 government clinics listed in the Ministry of Health’s website.
The health clinics are available nationwide and provide counselling and treatment for smokers who want to kick the habit.
Patients will be evaluated before a treatment is prescribed, which could include nicotine patches, nicotine gum and inhalers.
“There are facilities available for the public if they need help in quitting, all they have to do is access our website at or call the hotline number at 8883 4400,” said Health Ministry parliamentary secretary Datuk Lee Kah Choon at the launch of an anti-smoking video competition for private and public universities.
The launch was held at Universiti Putra Malaysia.
Lee said the government was going all out to curb the rising number of smokers in Malaysia
There are more than three million smokers in Malaysia and there are more than 25 tobacco-related diseases known today including cancer and respiratory diseases.
Tobacco also causes more than four million deaths a year.
“Tobacco, in any form, is often deadly,” warned the chairman of the Action on Smoking and Health Committee Dr Lekhraj Rampal, who was also present at the event.
He said it was important for the younger generation to create awareness on the risks of smoking. He commended the students on their efforts in organising the competition.
The competition is aimed at creating awareness and educating university students on the adverse effects of tobacco consumption.

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