Materia Medica Malaysiana

November 21, 2008

Ministry to assure importers on safety of Malaysian biscuits

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:46 am

Star: MALACCA: The Health Ministry will send its officers overseas to help restore confidence in locally-manufactured biscuits with the help of the International Trade and Industry Ministry.
Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said the officers would brief concerned parties on the measures the Government had taken to produce melamine-free biscuits.
The move was important be­­cause Malaysian biscuits were exported to more than 50 countries, he said.
He added that 70% of Brunei’s im­ported biscuits were from Ma­­laysia.
Speaking to reporters here after signing a joint statement in conjunction with the fourth bilateral Health Ministers meeting between Malaysia and Brunei yesterday, he noted that the source of recent traces of melamine in some 12,000kg of locally-produced biscuits in Seberang Prai was from imported ammonium bicarbonate.
But the problem has since been resolved, he said, assuring that locally-made biscuits were safe for consumption.

Chua: Better to get answers via feedback

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:43 am

Star: PETALING JAYA: Having National Service (NS) trainees undergo compulsory medical examinations will not prevent medical mishaps, former Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Chua Soi Lek wrote in his blog.
He said it would be better to find out more about their medical conditions by getting them to answer the medical questionnaire truthfully.
“It is the answers they provide in the form that will provide the biggest clue, not a physical medical examination by the doctor in the camp. Trainees must be truthful in answering the questions in the health declaration form.
“They should not think the medical screening will pick up all the medical conditions. If they do so, I am afraid there may be more medical mishaps, despite the screening and may provide more ammunition for an outcry.”
In his blog (, he wrote that a cursory medical examination of a person would not detect any medical conditions.
“The logic involved in the medical service is mind boggling. Assume there are 140,000 trainees divided into 87 camps with each camp holding an average of 1,600 trainees. The question arises regarding the effectiveness of the medical screening, since screening is done in the camp by medical officers.”

November 19, 2008

KK may get third hospital

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:34 am

Star: KOTA KINABALU: A third hospital is being considered for the state capital as the Health Ministry is mulling over whether to buy the private Sabah Medical Centre (SMC) with a view to turning it into a cardiac centre.
Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai said a new general hospital was needed to ease congestion at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) which would be made a specialist facility.
“We need a referral centre to serve the needs of patients from around Sabah requiring specialist treatment.
“The QEH could take on that role as a tertiary hospital,” he said after visiting the hospital.
Liow said the ministry would be holding further discussions with the state government which had offered land here for a general hospital.
Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman had made the offer after the QEH main tower block was declared unsafe and patients had to be relocated to other hospitals in the city and nearby districts.
On buying the SMC, he said the ministry was still studying the matter but noted that the state needed a cardiac treatment centre urgently.
“If we build one, it would take at least three to five years. Having a cardiac centre will reduce the need for Sabah heart patients to seek treatment at the National Heart Institute in Kuala Lumpur,” he said.
Liow said that the last of the 119 patients were relocated from the QEH tower block to Likas Hospital, SMC, Damai Medical Centre and the Beaufort and Kuala Penyu hospitals.

Government scraps e-Kesihatan plan

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:32 am

Star: SHAH ALAM: The Cabinet has agreed to scrap a controversial plan that would have allowed a private company to run medical check-ups on commercial vehicle drivers.
Transport Minister Datuk Seri Ong Tee Keat said the Cabinet in a recent meeting gave its consent to discontinue the agreement with the company, Supremme Systems Sdn Bhd.
He said the scheme, e-Kesihatan, was re­­ferred back to the Road Transport Department (JPJ) for recasting.
The whole scheme has to be re-studied, including the clause and details of the agreement as well as its legal implications, he added.
“We insist there should not be any form of monopoly even if it is for a good cause,” he told reporters after the naming ceremony of Jalan Multimedia in i-City yesterday.
I-City is a RM2bil integrated commercial development on a 29ha site in Section 7 here.
Ong said the Government wanted something that served the public’s purpose, by ensuring medical certification for all commercial vehicle drivers without burdening them.
The original e-Kesihatan programme, which was to have started on Oct 1 last year, would have seen medical check-up results of the drivers being electronically transmitted from panel clinics and laboratories to JPJ.
The JPJ would then issue or renew a licence once the medical check-up result was seen. Supreme Systems was also allowed to maintain a database of the drivers.
The move to appoint Supreme Systems, a limited number of panel clinics and the high fees for check-ups drew criticism from the Malaysia Medical Association and associations representing the commercial vehicle drivers.
He said the ministry also wanted to ensure the clause really matched the purpose of the scheme and if the various medical tests carried out would help to reduce road accidents.
Ong said the Government would leave it to the JPJ to make a new proposal.

November 18, 2008

Liow: Acute shortage of cancer specialists

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:06 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Up to 40,000 new cancer cases are diagnosed in the country every year, but there are only 39 oncologists (cancer specialist doctors) to treat them.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said Malaysia should ideally have eight oncologists per million population.
“With about 26 million people, we need about 200 oncologists,” he said after officiating the first Asia Pacific Conference on Health Policy and Planning here.
Of the 39 oncologists in the country, 10 are serving in public hospitals. They attend to more than half the cancer patients in the country.
Liow said the ministry would try to get more doctors trained in oncology.
“We are also considering employing oncologists from other countries to work here.”
He said the country has only 21 radiotherapy and oncology centres, with six run by the government. The ministry will build a National Cancer Institute in Putrajaya, which will be a tertiary and national referral centre for cancer, in the manner Institut Jantung Negara is for heart disease.
At the conference themed “In an Era of Emerging Technology and Cancer”, Liow announced a seven-year national cancer management blueprint, which would streamline and rationalise the fight against cancer.
“Through the blueprint, our vision is that by 2025, cancer will no longer be a public health problem in Malaysia.
“All preventable cancers, effectively prevented; all potential curable cancers, cured.”
He said the blueprint would address and improve the key areas of cancer management: prevention, screening and early detection, diagnosis, treatment and rehabilitation, palliative care, traditional and complementary medicine, human capital development, facilities, equipment, drugs and funding.

November 17, 2008

Medical screening for all trainees at camps

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 9:54 am

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: All national service trainees for the next intake will have to undergo medical screening after they report for training.
The 140,000 trainees due to attend training will be screened by one of the seven medical officers at each camp.
The screening will be done in the first two weeks of the programme.
National Service Training Department director-general Datuk Abdul Hadi Awang Kechil said this would be the standard operating procedure for future intakes to prevent any medical mishaps among trainees.
“Some teenagers will not declare that they have any problem when they report for training. So, we have to examine them,” he said in an interview.
He said if a trainee was deemed unfit for training and required further treatment, the medical officer on duty would defer his training. It, however, would not be cancelled outright.
“This means, they would still need to attend training after recovering from any medical condition they had,” he said.
According to the National Service Training Act, each trainee is obliged to attend NS training up to the age of 35.
Abdul Hadi said there would be five Health Ministry medical officers and two health department medical officers on standby at each of the 87 camps.
Every camp trainer has also received comprehensive first aid training by the Malaysian Red Crescent Society.
The next batch of 140,000 trainees will be the largest yet, an increase of 30,000 from this year. He said more than 900 volunteer trainees have applied so far.
To meet the number of the new intake, the department has altered its trainers roster to accommodate more than 5,500 trainers to achieve a ratio of one trainer for every 25 trainees.
“We called our temporary trainers and absorbed them as contract trainers. We were also open for applications.”
To ensure that trainers were prepared for the job, each new trainer was sent to a 20-day training-of-trainers course.
He said the safety and health condition of camps were checked by the Health Department, the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) and consultants appointed by the camp operators that are approved by the department.
Local health departments are also given a free hand to go into camps and decide whether to close or take action on errant camp operators or food handlers as they saw fit.
The first of three batch of next year’s NS trainees would be notified from Nov 17 through the media. They will report for training from Dec 27.

November 15, 2008

Even seven-year-olds get Type 2 diabetes

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 11:42 am

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian children, as young as seven are developing Type 2 diabetes, thanks to a couch-potato lifestyle and gorging on high caloric food.
Type 2 diabetes used to be seen only in adults over 45.
Hospital Putrajaya, the referral hospital for diabetes cases in the country, has been recording an “alarming” increase in cases.
Its paediatrics department head, Dr Fuziah Md Zain, said parents discovered their children had the disease when they were treated for obesity.
She strongly urged parents to have their children’s blood checked on a regular basis.
“If the children’s health is not monitored, we will see young adults in the future walking around not knowing that they have Type 2 diabetes,” she said yesterday after the launch of World Diabetes Day at the Federal Territories level by Federal Territories Health Department director Dr Ismail Abu Taat.
Children with a propensity for Type 2 diabetes are usually the youngest in the family.
“We believe that because the youngest child is usually the pet in the family, parents give in to their demands for high caloric food,” said Dr Fuziah.
Patients diagnosed with Type 2 diabetes do not usually require insulin injections. They can control the glucose in their blood by watching their diet, exercising regularly and taking oral medication.
The International Diabetes Federation estimated in 2006 that Type 2 diabetes in children was expected to grow by 50 per cent within 15 years.
In the United States, between eight and 45 per cent of new-onset diabetes cases are children.
The federation also found that Type 2 diabetes in children had doubled in Japan over a 20-year period.

November 13, 2008

Not enough health officers on the ground

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 6:02 pm

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai wants public health officers to be more active in efforts to curb communicable and non-communicable diseases in the country.
He said health officers could not be complacent when it comes to educating the public on diseases like dengue and chikungunya.
“I want to see more effective action. We haven’t got enough of our people working on the ground,” he said Thursday at the 5th Public Health Conference organised by the Ministry and the Malaysian Public Health Physicians Association.
He said besides holding more awareness and education talks, both the public and health officers need to adopt a paradigm shift to tackle public health issues.
“The public need to change their lifestyle and take these diseases seriously and handle it together with the public health officers,” he said.
He said despite knowing the dangers of communicative diseases such as dengue and chikungunya and non-communicable diseases such as heart diseases and diabetes, he felt that both public health workers and the public needed to take them more seriously.
“I’m saying this knowing it is not good enough. They must turn this into action.
“Behavioural change is important,” he said.
When asked whether tougher laws were needed to help the public realise the importance of public health, Liow said stringent enforcement was in place but that punitive laws would not help as much as behahavioural change.
“Behaviour change is more effective than punitive laws and actions. It is not good enough on its own. We need the cooperation of the public,” he said.
Liow said the fact that there were 38,000 dengue cases and 83 deaths from that figure this year meant that more stringent action by public health officers and the community were sorely needed.
”I don’t want to see communicable diseases going out of control. We cannot accept it as part and parcel of our country,” he said.

November 12, 2008

An extra RM3m to clean up fungus attack

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:51 pm

NST: KUALA LUMPUR: Some RM14 million was spent to solve the problem of fungus attack at the Sultan Ismail Hospital in Johor in 2005.
Now the government will have to spend another RM3 million on the same problem.
This is the amount Health Minister Datuk Liow Tiong Lai has set aside after directing his officers in the ministry’s engineering division to solve the problem once and for all.
Acknowledging the problem yesterday, Liow told the New Straits Times that the ministry was made aware of the fungus attack before yesterday’s report in the paper.
He said a consulting company, Sistem Hospital Awasan Taraf Sdn Bhd (Sihat), had been engaged to check the hospital.
“We are aware of the problem. It’s because the ground beneath the hospital is wet,” said Liow.
He said the problem has been there ever since the RM557.8 million hospital was built near the swampy area.
The hospital initially started operating in July 2004, with the opening of the outpatient department and its haemodialysis centre.
Two months later, it was ordered closed as the infection of the aspergillus and penicillium fungi had spread throughout the hospital, contaminating the equipment. It only reopened 17 months later in February 2006.
The hospital is again infected and the fungus is said to be of the aspergillus variety.
Liow said the ministry had been monitoring the hospital’s condition and was taking remedial measures to rectify the problem.
“What we need to do is to find ways to stop water from flowing into the ground beneath the hospital. The Sihat team, together with experts, are studying the matter, including studying how to divert the water flow.
“The fungus attack poses no danger to staff and patients at the hospital. Business at the hospital will go on as usual while the ministry carries out repair and refurbishing works,” said Liow.
When told that similar problems have also affected the Sarawak General Hospital, Liow said, Sihat and a special consultation team were looking into conditions of all hospitals in the country.
Non-governmental organisations, however, have questioned whether the initial amount of RM14 million spent on treating the fungal attack years ago was worth it.
Malaysian Nature Society adviser Vincent Chow said this was a case of taxpayers’ money not being properly spent.
“I remember clearly saying in February 2005 that it was ridiculous to spend RM14 million for the clean-up although there are cheaper and better alternatives.”
Chow said the government should consider using anti-fungus paint, installing dehumidifiers, improving the lighting and imposing tighter regulations for visitors.
Federation of Malaysian Consumer Associations research manager Cheah Chee Ho said the hospital was a classic case of first-class facilities but third-class maintenance.

Don’t use these products, ministry warns public

Filed under: Uncategorized — malaysianmedicine @ 5:47 pm

Star: KUALA LUMPUR: The public has been advised not to use the O’lynn skin lightening cream and Langsing Alami slimming products as they have been found to contain scheduled poisons.
The Drug Control Authority recently cancelled the registration of O’lynn beauty cream after it was found to contain Tretinoin, said Health Ministry Pharmacy Services director Eishah A. Rahman.
Tretinoin is not allowed in cosmetics as it could cause side effects such as skin irritation, peeling and other complications if used without prescription by doctors or pharmacists.
“Traders of the product can be fined a maximum of RM5,000 or jailed a maximum of two years, or both, for violating the Poisons Act,” she said.
As for Langsing Alami slimming products, they have been found to contain Sibutramine, a scheduled poison not permitted in traditional medicines.
Eishah said the use of Sibutramine without monitoring by doctors could cause cardiovascular complications such as high blood pressure and heart failure.
She said the traders could be fined up to RM25,000 or jailed three years, or both, for violating the Control of Drugs and Cosmetics Regulations.

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