Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

It’s a long wait for the transplant doctor

Saturday, June 20th, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysians spend years on the organ transplant wait list in public hospitals, not because of a lack organ donors, but because hospitals cannot handle the sheer number of requests.

An average of 60 organ transplants are done in government hospitals a year but there are 18,000 Malaysians on the waiting list.

The problem is there are only a dozen dedicated transplant surgeons in government hospitals, said Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Jeyaindran Sinnadurai.

Malaysia has a large pool of potential donors — over 300,000 citizens have pledged their organs for use after their death. This does not include the living, related donors and other forms of organ donation methods.

“However, most transplants are done by general surgeons and the process is slow because they also have to juggle their daily duties,” Dr Jeyaindran said.

This means even if a patient is ready to undergo surgery in three months, he or she has to wait years.

To remedy the situation, Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) has twinned with the renowned Royal Prince Alfred Hospital (RPAH) in Sydney to exchange ideas on improving transplant services in government hospitals.

RPAH’s kidney transplantation director Prof Steve Chadban, who is coordinating the programme, said there was a long waiting list and a shortage of donors in most countries.

“In Malaysia, however, there is a long waiting list coupled with an equally substantial list of potential donors.


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    Unicef: Vaccinate your children

    Sunday, May 10th, 2015

    KUALA LUMPUR: Mothers play an important role in ensuring that their children are immunised, says the United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef).

    Its Malaysia social policy specialist Maya Faisal said for Mothers Day, a message that the organisation wanted to impart was that mothers needed to ensure that their children were vaccinated.

    “As a responsible mother, it is important for you to vaccinate your children.

    “Vaccination is still the No.1 intervention for preventable child deaths,” said Maya.

    She reminded that getting a child vaccinated would also benefit the community.

    “If you are part of a community and you are healthy, your community is healthy,” she said, adding that global immunisation programmes saved two to three million lives annually.

    Maya reiterated Unicef’s stand that immunisation was needed to ensure a child’s survival despite a growing movement in Western countries rejecting vaccinations out of a belief that vaccines would cause autism.

    “There is definitely an idea emerging in Western developed nations that they do not want any unnatural things in their babies.

    “That is a major ‘No’ for us.

    “Vaccines do not cause autism – there are over 12,000 peer-reviewed studies that have not made any links between vaccinations for children and autism,” she explained, noting that autism was a genetically-driven disease with its own complexities.


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    Epilepsy cure through surgery

    Sunday, May 10th, 2015

    PETALING JAYA: Many people do not know that some epileptic cases can be cured through surgery.

    A couple has even deemed such procedure a miracle after seeing their son’s recovery.

    A taxi driver who wanted to be known only as Mohd Alam, 58, and his wife Hamidah Ahmad, 48, a cook, said they could not believe that their son Muhammad Aazim, 10, no longer suffers from seizures after a brain surgery last year.

    Muhammad Aazim was 13 months old when he had fever and started to have seizures. He was diagnosed with encephalitis. Hamidah said he used to have 12 to 15 seizures a day and would suddenly fall on the floor.

    It was only last year when the boy was nine that Mohd Alam and Hamidah decided to turn to surgery. And since then, life had been a total turn-around for them.

    Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) paediatric neurology department head Dr Ahmad Rithauddin said encephalitis had caused scarring to one part of Muhammad Aazim’s brain and this led to electrical disturbances in the brain.

    “We tried all sorts of medication on him but none could control his seizures. And because of his seizures, he stopped learning new things,” he said.

    He said epileptic seizures could be due to genetic factors and brain lesions such as tumours, scars or abnormal brain formation. “Some of these lesions can be treated by surgery,” he said.

    Dr Ahmad said epilepsy was under diagnosed in Malaysia and some patients might not have received proper assessment due to a lack of awareness, adding that some patients suffer up to 40 to 50 seizures a day.


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    Patients can’t get enough of antibiotics

    Sunday, April 26th, 2015

    PETALING JAYA: Repeated warnings on the dangers of antibiotic abuse have fallen on deaf ears as private healthcare providers continue to indulge patients who ask for it for every ailment.

    Multi-drug resistant organisms have spooked patients worldwide, but in Malaysia, the demand for antibiotics continues to rise.

    Malaysians very likely rank among the world’s highest antibiotic users, said Universiti Sains Malaysia (School of Pharmaceutical Sciences) Prof Mohamed Azmi Ahmad Hassali.

    A recent study showed that many saw antibiotics as a miracle drug, he said.

    Quoting another study on upper respiratory tract infections in Selangor, he said a shocking 90% of doctors surveyed revealed that patients expected antibiotics from their general practitioners (see info-graphics).

    There are no comprehensive statistics on antibiotics usage in the private sector but Prof Mohamed Azmi believed “that’s where the problem lies”.

    “Antibiotics are becoming less effective in treating bacterial infections due to antibiotic resistance. In the private sector, antibiotics are free for all so they are popping it like paracetamol.”

    This results in prolonged illness and hospital stays, costlier treatment and greater risk of death, he said.

    Worldwide, more than 50% of common bacteria was already resistant to antibiotics, Prof Mohamed Azmi said.

    By 2050, deaths because of anti-microbial resistance will be the highest in Asia at 4,730,000, a World Health Organisation’s Antimicrobial Resistance 2014 report revealed.


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    Almost half of foreign workers infected with TB, say doctors

    Thursday, March 12th, 2015

    PETALING JAYA: With almost half of foreign workers failing their medical tests found to be infected with the highly contagious tuberculosis (TB), doctors are raising the alarm over the presence of some three million to six million illegals here.

    Malaysian Medical Association president Dr H. Krishna Kumar said illegal foreign workers, who were not screened at all, were the biggest cause for the rise in TB cases.

    Although most Malaysians were vaccinated against the disease, those with chronic diseases such as severe diabetes or dengue were in danger, and likely to be infected, he said.

    “Those who know they are ill and cannot come in through the legal channel will choose to come in illegally.

    “Because those who come in illegally are not screened, they are walking around and spreading the diseases to people here and this is very frightening.

    “This is where enforcement by the Immigration Department is so important,” he said when contacted here yesterday.

    As most foreign workers here tend to live in large groups within confined areas, Dr Krishna Kumar said the risk of diseases spreading was high.

    “If a group of legal and illegal foreign workers are staying in close proximity, the legal workers are exposed as well. And they are in contact with the rest of the country’s workforce,” he said.

    Healthy and immunised Malaysians, he said, were usually safe from TB but those with chronic diseases such as severe diabetes or dengue were more susceptible.

    Those with more exposure to infected persons also had higher chances of getting infected, said Dr Krishna Kumar.

    “As most of us have gotten our vaccinations, we do not get the typical TB. We can get it in our kidneys, intestines and even reproductive organs,” he said.


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    Separate pharmacies from clinics would burden patients: Tun M

    Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

    Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed today spoke out against a proposed plan to separate pharmacies from clinics, saying that it would pose a burden on patients and may endanger their lives. Pix by Fariz Iswadi Ismail.

    SERDANG: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed today spoke out against a proposed plan to separate pharmacies from clinics, saying that it would pose a burden on patients and may endanger their lives.

    Dr Mahathir, a former medical doctor, said unlike many clinics, most pharmacies and dispensaries did not operate around the clock which would make it difficult for patients who needed medication at night.

    “When they are prescribed something at night, they would have to send someone out to the dispensary, which may be far away or closed.”

    “The patient himself may be too ill to move so they would have to send someone to get the medicines for them. It takes time… in the meantime, he (the patient) might die.

    “Sick people don’t follow the clock,” he told a press conference here.

    Dr Mahathir said it was more cost-effective to maintain the present system of allowing doctors to dispense medication.

    “I know, I was a doctor before. Patients often came to me at odd hours – 3am, 4am – so I had to carry my own stock of medicines with me so that I could immediately treat them.

    “It’s harder for the patients if we are asked to obtain medicines from dispensaries.”

    He also dismissed claims by the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society that separating dispensaries from clinics would reduce the number of medication errors made by doctors as pharmacists would be able to double check the prescription.


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    More public parks needed: Rahman Dahlan

    Sunday, March 8th, 2015

    KUALA LUMPUR: With an estimated population of over 30 million people by 2020, Malaysia needs 67,200 hectares of open space for public parks as an access to a healthy lifestyle.

    As of 2013, 14,988 hectares of open space in Peninsular Malaysia had been developed into public parks which mean only 52,212 hectares is needed to be developed.

    “In the 11th Malaysia Plan (RMK11), the Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government (UHLG) plans to enhance the development of parks across the country as a prerequisite for Malaysia to achieve the criteria of Developed Countries in 2020.

    “UHLG will focus on assisting state and local authorities so that every city in this country has at least one 20-hectare municipal public park,” said its Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan today.

    He also said that the ministry will look at mechanisms where private parties can be engaged as sponsors to the upgrading of public parks in the country.

    “There are 2,078 public parks, especially community parks, across the country that needs to be upgraded and require donations,” he added.

    Abdul Rahman spoke to reporters after officiating the National Landscape Day 2015 at the Bukit Kiara Federal Park.


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    Obesity a major problem with school children

    Thursday, March 5th, 2015

    PUTRAJAYA: There is an increasing problem of obesity among school children and a change towards healthy lifestyle is needed to tackle the issue, Deputy Education Minister II P.Kamalanathan said.

    Kamalanathan said this after the conclusion of the Nestlé Malaysia Healthy Lifestyle Programme (PCHS) successfully created an impact on attitude and knowledge towards healthy living at 100 day boarding schools nationwide.

    The three-year intervention programme from 2012 to 2014 involving over 4,000 students from secondary boarding school, used the Healthy Eating and Be Active among Teens (Hebat) module with 10 topics encompassing nutrition and physical activities.

    “We will discuss on how this programme can be implemented in normal schools, because in a day boarding school, the environment is controlled but at a normal school, children are exposed to all kinds of temptations.

    “The finding from this programme can help childhood obesity and we want to encourage schools especially teachers master the module.

    “After three years, the programme concludes that the knowledge, attitude and healthy lifestyle increased drastically. Students were also adopting more positive habits like eating on time and exercising,” Kamalanathan said, adding that there was a reduction in the obesity rate among the intervention groups.

    He added the outcome of the programme shows the effectiveness and success rate while including teachers, parents, students and food operators to work together in ensuring the success of the programme.


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    Dispensing rights: Who should get it?

    Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

    IT is an issue that resurfaces every so often – should doctors only prescribe, while pharmacists dispense?

    The latest bout of verbal sparring has come about after it was reported in this paper that pharmacists hoped that the separation of dispensing rights would be accepted by the Health Ministry and come into effect on April 1.

    Doctors have responded to this with arguments that seek to protect their “inherent” right to dispense medicines to their patients.

    This issue is not limited to Malaysia alone. In countries where doctors dispense medicines, calls have also been made to separate prescribing and dispensing duties.

    Even in countries where there’s a separation of duties, it’s not a totalitarian rule.

    For example, the American Medical Association Code of Ethics provides that physicians may dispense drugs as long as there is no patient exploitation and patients have the right to a prescription that can be filled elsewhere.

    Some doctors in the United Kingdom, especially in rural areas, are allowed to prescribe and dispense medicines to their patients.

    At the root of the issue lies a “competitive” relationship bet­ween doctors and pharmacists, with each trying to “protect and preserve” task domains.

    Evaluating this issue is no easy task. After all, drugs and medicines cannot be regarded as a common commodity, where the customer can be given options where he or she can make an educated and reasonable choice.

    If there was separation, what happens to rural patients when there’s a scarcity of pharmacies?

    The Star Says.

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    Parents and school authorities must address smoking habit among students

    Friday, February 13th, 2015

    LABUAN: Close cooperation between the school authorities and parents and their strict monitoring are important in addressing the smoking habit among students.

    Labuan Health Department director, Dr Ismail Ali said despite efforts made by the national authorities, information campaigns and advice on the deleterious effects of smoking, the inability to reduce smoking addiction was indeed regrettable and a cause for serious concern.

    “Cigarette smoking is a prevalent habit among students and we believe the number of student smokers is growing. We need the cooperation of the parent-teacher associations (PTAs) to help resolve this issue,” he told Bernama today.

    He said undeniably, the habit was influenced by their family members’ habit, mainly of their fathers’.

    “Hence, parental behaviour, whether it is positive or negative can have a great impact on the growing years of children and even during their adolescent period,” he said.

    Dr Ismail said peer pressure at school and the workplace was another major factor for individuals to pick up the smoking habit.

    “There must be a set of rules and policies to guide students on proper behaviour and on having good habits.”

    He noted that the mass media could play a significant role in disseminating important information about the bad effects of smoking, by supporting anti-smoking campaigns and promoting intervention programmes against smoking.

    “Education and enforcement are two important elements in tackling the problem and they must go hand in hand,” he said.

    Secondary school teacher, Sitiphanus Alwi said the type of school attended by students was one of the major reasons for students to pick up smoking or not.


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