Materia Medica Malaysiana

October 28, 2008

Medical centre to be a milestone

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:48 am

NST: GEORGE TOWN: The world’s first cancer prevention hospital outside of Canada will be set up at a site in Bayan Mutiara here early next year.
Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng said state investment arm InvestPenang was in the final stage of negotiation with Canadian-based GeneNews Limited to prepare an integrated medical facility for the latter.
Lim said the opening of such a facility would be a medical milestone for Malaysia as GeneNews made a medical breakthrough in July by launching the world’s first blood test for colon cancer screening.
“InvestPenang will arrange for a world-class full hospital facility, clinical reference laboratory services and genomics research (study of genes) centre as requested by GeneNews at Bayan Mutiara.
“There will also be a personalised health management centre available to patients at the hospital.”
He said the emergence of the hospital would also augur well for the local medical tourism industry, and herald an influx of medical tourists to Penang.
Lim was speaking to reporters after witnessing the signing of a strategic alliance agreement between Mount Miriam Hospital and GeneNews yesterday.
With a cancer detection success rate of up to 75 per cent, Lim said GeneNews research works were able to identify cancer cells fives years prior to mutation.

Bigger hospital planned for Kota Kinabalu

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:47 am

NST: KOTA KINABALU: The state capital needs a bigger hospital, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Aman said yesterday.
“We need a bigger hospital for the people within Kota Kinabalu and we are willing to give a plot of land big enough to build it.”
Musa said he had ordered state Land and Survey Department director Datuk Osman Jamal to find a suitable plot within the city.
“We have good and new hospitals all over Sabah, but here, the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) is getting more congested. I will bring this up in the next cabinet meeting,” he said during the Sabah MIC Deepavali open house hosted by its state liaison committee chairman, Datuk V. Jothi, at the Kota Kinabalu Sports Complex in Likas.
For about a week now, the Health Ministry has been evacuating patients from the 27-year-old Tower Block at QEH following reports made by a consultant company that the building was unsafe.
The damaged Tower Block has 250 beds and several key facilities, including eight surgery rooms, the forensics department, intensive care unit wards, radiology services and a pharmacy.
The Beaufort, Keningau and Likas hospitals are now being used temporarily to accommodate patients from QEH but the government is also looking into the possibility of renting or buying services of private hospitals nearby.
Among its options are the Sabah Medical Centre and Damai Specialist Centre, both located within the Luyang area.
A new 10-storey building is also nearing completion in the QEH.

October 27, 2008

Vegies, fruits from China safe: Health Ministry

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:07 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry had never placed vegetables from China on Level 5 of the Food Safety Information System of Malaysia until there was a decrease in supply in the country.
Its food safety and quality division director, Noraini Datuk Mohd Othman, said the ministry had placed all vegetables and fruits from China at Level 4, whereby samples of melamine-free products would be released immediately.
In a statement Sunday, she said, through the Level 4 checks, 57 samples of fruits and vegetables from China which were monitored by the ministry were found to be melamine-free.
Noraini said Sunday’s The New Sunday Times report, “Port Delays Threaten To Double Veggie Prices” and Berita Minggu report, “Country Faces Shortage of Vegetables”, had given the impression the ministry caused the vegetable shortage.
“The ministry is conducting investigations on the allegations made by Berita Minggu that since a week ago, tens of containers of vegetables were stranded at entry points in the country, including Selangor, Johor and Penang,” she said.
On KOSMO’s report, “Melamine in Flour From China Found in Kyrgyzstan”, Noraini said the ministry’s analyses on 18 samples of flour revealed that they contained permissible amounts of melamine.
In another development, seven more food products from China and four locally-produced biscuits were found to have passed the melamine level.
She said they were Variety Flavour Biscuits (Golden Fuji), Strawberry Flavour Round Biscuit (Aji), Potato Cracker (Aji), Farley’s Rusk Orange (Heinz), Farley’s Rusk Original (Heinz), Oatmeal Cracker Coffee Flavour (Haitai) and Mini Cornetto Blueberry & Strawberry Flavour (WALL’s).
The Malaysian products are Rainbow Wafer (HANY), Biskut ABC Chocolate Flavour (Biscuits World), Swiss Roll Perisa Susu (London Biscuits) and Double Choco Choco Coated Cake (MIZU).
Retailers are advised to periodically check the list of products that do not pass the melamine level and contact the district health office and state health department for more information.
Consumers are also advised to check the list and avoid buying the tainted products.
For more information, call 03-8883 3655, 03-8883 3503, 03-8882 2652 or 03-8883 3500. The lines are open from 8am to 9pm daily.

October 26, 2008

The dark side of skin whitening products

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:09 am

NST: The Health Ministry has taken 26 cosmetic products containing banned substances off the shelves in the last two years. Do you know what those products are? Do you also know that some of them are still being sold openly? New Sunday Times reporters went a hunting.
THE plot was set — to search for the perfect skin whitening product. The only difference was all the products earmarked for the search were banned ones.
But some of them were blatantly sitting on the shelves, waiting for the next unsuspecting victim to come by.
The hunt, which spanned six shops and utilised the reporters’ winning portrayals of desperate vain pots — yielded a bagful of products that could make you fair very fast.
How fast, you ask?
If you are willing to spend the ringgit, all you need is three days. These products are priced from as low as RM10 (works a bit slower) to a few hundred ringgit a set.
But what is wrong with them?
Nothing, if the product does not contain any ingredients such as hydroquinone, retinoic acid/tretinoin or steroids, which are banned in cosmetics.
The Health Ministry has, in the last three years, banned 26 cosmetic products for containing such ingredients.
Despite the ban, two creams are still being advertised on its distributor’s website, alongside the agents’ phone numbers.
The New Sunday Times team managed to buy the creams at a shopping complex.
The traders had no qualms about revealing that some “immediate effect” products did contain hydroquinone, although the labels did not state so.
“Produk ini memang cepat dan bestseller. Sebab ia ada bahan kimia hydroquinone. Tapi jangan risau, ia selamat. (This best-selling product works very fast because it has the hydroquinone chemical. But don’t worry, it’s safe),” one said.
What’s more worrying is that some of the banned products have now been repackaged and renamed, but according to the traders, were essentially the same.
“Barangnya sama sahaja, cuma ada masalah dulu. Jadi sekarang dah tukar nama. (It’s the same product. There were some problems earlier, so they changed the name).”
The National Pharmaceutical Control Bureau said consumers should be aware that hydroquinone and retinoic acid/tretinoin were scheduled poisons that were regulated as pharmaceuticals.
It is only allowed to be used under medical supervision and only supplied by doctors or pharmacies.
“Unsupervised use of hydroquinone could cause skin redness, irritation and discolouration.
“Excessive amounts of hydroquinone, when absorbed into blood circulation, could cause ringing in the ears, tremors, nervousness, vomiting, head-aches, seizures, muscle spasms and difficulty in breathing,” the bureau added.
All this in the quest for that Asian obsession, fair skin.
From foreigners hawking whitening soaps, gels and creams by roadsides at every nook and corner of the bustling city, to booths in shopping establishments being crammed with similar products, it seems that fair skin is in vogue.
Adding to this is a multitude of advertisements drumming in the message for the need to be fair-skinned.
It is none too surprising then that a New York Times report in 2006 quoted a survey by market research company Synovate, saying that four out of every 10 Malaysian women use a whitening product.
The report also explained how whitening products work.
Some contain acids that remove old skin to reveal newer, lighter skin underneath.
Others inhibit melanin, like those with mulberry extract, licorice extract, kojic acid, arbutin and hydroquinone, an ingredient in prescription creams for blemishes as well as in photo processing materials.
The report also stated: “Some of the most effective agents are also risky and are often the least expensive, like mercury-based ingredients or hydroquinone, which in Thailand sells for about US$20 (RM70) per kilogramme, compared with highly concentrated licorice extract, which sells for about US$20,000 per kilogramme.”
It makes one wonder what’s really in the RM10 whitening cream.

Being Snow White can be dangerous

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:08 am

NST: DREAMING of having Snow White’s complexion? Be careful what you wish for, as you may be getting more than what you bargained for.
Irreversible damage to your skin is what you are courting if you use whitening products that contain illegal substances.
Skin specialists warn that long-term use of hydroquinone, one of the banned substances for cosmetic products, strips the skin of melanin — its natural pigment.
“It can cause permanent damage to cells that produce pigmentation in your skin,” said dermatologist Datuk Dr Low Bin Tick.
This puts one at risk of skin cancer because there is no more melanin to filter the sun’s harmful ultraviolet rays.
The website http://www.safecosmetics.org lists hydroquinone as “a possible carcinogen and probable neurotoxin and skin sensitiser”.
The website hosts the Campaign for Safe Cosmetics, dedicated to protecting consumers by requiring the health and beauty industry to phase out the use of chemicals linked to cancer, birth defects and other health problems.
The campaign is made up of a coalition of women’s, public health, labour, environmental health and consumer rights groups in the United States.
Dermatologist Datuk Dr Sushil Kumar Ratti said two things could happen when one uses a bleaching product on the face without a doctor’s supervision.
First is irritant dermatitis, or an allergic dermatitis, which is a form of rash that feels like a burning or stinging sensation on the skin or scaly skin.
“If the skin is very scaly and peels excessively, this is cause for alarm and you should consult your dermatologist.”
The second effect, according to Dr Sushil was de-pigmentation of the skin.
“This is when pigment is over-removed. When you use the product on a pigmented area, you might get de-pigmentation of the surrounding area.”
Another long-term effect, said Dr Sushil, was ochronosis, where the skin becomes really dark instead of white.
Some women, said Dr Low, resorted to hydroquinone to rid their faces of dark spots, but unsupervised usage could cause a contrast in skin tones.
This is “cosmetically even less acceptable than pigmentation”.

Biscuits that are safe to eat

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:08 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry yesterday declared 13 types of biscuits to be safe to eat as they contained permissible levels of melamine.
Seven of the biscuits are locally-made and six are from China.
A statement issued by the Health Ministry public relations unit said the local biscuit brands that were safe are Khian Guan, Hup Seng, Ping Pong and Ten Ten.
The biscuits produced by Hup Seng are Biskut Marie, Fancy Assorted Biscuits, Biskut Sugar Crackers and Biskut Flying Fish, while Biskut Osborne is by Khian Guan, Biskut Teddy (Ping Pong) and Biskut Beras (Ten Ten).
The six biscuit products from China that have been found to meet the melamine standards are Corn Rice Cracker Milk Powder (Ego), Corn Rice Seaweed Peanut Cracker (Ego), Peanut Sandwich Biscuit (Hapi), Soda Biscuits (C-Hong), Pizza Biscuits (Jiahui) and Vegetable Flavour Biscuits (Golden Fuji).
Two other food items produced in China are also found to be safe: Candiz Funny Lollipop (KISE) and Twisty sweets (Kiki).
The statement also advised traders to check the ministry’s website for the list of products which do not meet the melamine standards and to remove those items from their shelves.
The traders can also contact their state Health Department or district health offices for information on the matter.
“The ministry also advises consumers against buying biscuits which are sold at night markets, farmers’ markets and other places which do not have labels.”
For more information, consumers can contact the Food Safety and Quality Division at 03-88833655 /503/652/500.
The line is open from 8am to 9pm, including on public holidays.

October 25, 2008

Public apathy causes spike in dengue cases

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:07 am

NST: PUTRAJAYA: In just six days, 961 dengue cases were reported in the country. The Health Ministry’s disease control division director Datuk Dr Hassan Abdul Rahman said Selangor topped the list with 353 cases reported between Oct 12 and 18.
He said that several states reported an increase in dengue cases. Among them were Perak with a 214 per cent increase, Terengganu (78.9 per cent), Putrajaya (50 per cent), Selangor (49.6 per cent), Johor (44.8 per cent) and Sabah (20 per cent).
However, only one death was reported last week, bringing the number of dengue-related deaths this year to 81. Since January, 36,991 dengue cases had been reported.
He blamed public apathy for the situation. Ministry officials and district councils found that 78.9 per cent of Aedes breeding grounds were in houses and shops, he said.
The Aedes index was high at road dividers (38.8 per cent), playgrounds (17 per cent), empty lots (11.1 per cent) and construction sites (5.8 per cent).
Dr Hassan said the ministry had distributed 68,665 leaflets on preventing dengue at Aedes-prone locations. A total of 316 compounds worth RM55,665 had also been issued. He urged the public to spend 10 minutes every week to locate and destroy mosquito breeding spots around their house.

Outpatients get treated within 30 minutes

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:06 am

Star: PUTRAJAYA: Some 70% of outpatient departments have been able to keep the waiting time for patients below 30 minutes.
Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said the average time at such departments in government hospitals and health clinics had reached 70.4% since improvements were made in the past four months.
The waiting time of 30 minutes starts from the time a patient takes a number until he or she is seen by a doctor.
Previously, the success rate for the 30-minute goal was only between 30% and 40%, said Liow.
Among steps taken to shorten the time were adding more staff members and extending service hours, with some establishments operating until 9.30pm.
“They also start early at 7.30am instead of the 8am previously. Patients coming early can avoid the peak hours,” he said in an interview.
However, Liow said there was still room for improvement. This included having an SMS service where patients could check how long the waiting list was.
However, Liow said certain establishments, including Kuala Lumpur Hospital and the Puchong health clinic, were still unable to cut down on the waiting time.
Such departments in high density areas were 50% successful in reducing the waiting time to 30 minutes compared with medical facilities with fewer patients achieving a success rate of about 80%.
Liow said that among the steps being considered to solve the congestion in Puchong was to improve the shuttle service to Serdang Hospital for patients from Kajang, Serdang and Puchong.
“I am really thankful my staff have been working so hard,” he said.
He added that the Cabinet was briefed at its weekly meeting on the progress and the ministers discussed how to further improve the situation.

Parts of KK hospital found unsafe

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:06 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The main buildings of the Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Kota Kinabalu, which have been cracking up, have been declared unsafe and some patients and health services there been transferred to nearby government facilities since Thursday.
A statement issued by the Health Minister yesterday said the structure of the hospital’s main tower block, the podium, the forensics block and the boiler room would be vacated and eventually demolished.
This was revealed in the latest engineering evaluation by Kumpulan Ikram Sdn Bhd and Public Works Department (JKR) in Sabah.
The Ikram report also showed that the blocks could not last for long and were too uneconomical to repair.
The statement said that prior to the Ikram and Sabah JKR investigation the hospital had received reports of falling concrete at the patient ward and toilet areas since early 2000.
The state JKR conducted safety inspections in 2006 and last year but was unable to determine the safety status of the buildings.
The ministry also conducted regular inspections and maintenance and repairs were done on the blocks by its concessionaire Syarikat Faber Mediserve and the JKR.
Ikram was later brought in to conduct a thorough inspection.
The main tower block houses beds and the main health facilities such as eight operation theatres, forensics department, radiology, sterilisation supply centre, pharmacy and the ICU / CCU / VIP / surgery wards.
The hospital has taken measures to ensure that services continue to be delivered to patients, include placing patients at nearby government hospitals.

October 24, 2008

Unreported Chikungunya cases

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 10:10 am

Star: JOHOR BARU: The 1,675 Chikungunya cases reported state-wide could only be half the actual number of cases.
Johor Health Department director Dr Mohd Khairi Yakub said he believed the number could be more as there was a lack of information sharing by private clinics and hospitals with the health department.
“I am not ruling out the possibility as unlike dengue fever, there is no law to compel private hospitals and clinics to report Chikungunya cases,” he told The Star here yesterday.
Dr Mohd Khairi appealed to clinics and hospitals to keep the department informed of Chikungunya cases for it to take the necessary action, including fogging the affected areas.
“It is their moral duty as this involves public health,” he said, adding that preventive measures would help stop the spread of the fever. Dr Mohd Khairi said the department had also sent out medical teams state-wide to check on the outbreak, reportedly cause by the Aedes mosquito.
He hoped doctors could provide accurate information, especially on the number of patients treated and where they stay and work.
He added that the worst hit district in the state was Johor Baru, followed by Kluang and Muar. Dr Mohd Khairi advised those with high fever, rashes and joint pains not to panic but seek treatment at the nearest clinic.
“The way to curb the spread of this fever is to reduce the breeding ground of mosquitoes. The public must keep their homes and work places clean and not rely on fogging alone,” he said.
He urged anyone with any enquiries or wishes to report on the cases to contact the department hotline at 07-234-2393.

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