Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

‘Sabah still faces high incidences of viral hepatitis’

Thursday, July 21st, 2016
KNOW HEPATITIS: ACT NOW … World Hepatitis Day 2016 will be held in Sandakan says Dr Christina (seated 4th left) at the press conference.

KOTA KINABALU : To raise awareness on the dangers of viral hepatitis, the State Health Department will be hosting the national-level World Hepatitis Day at Sandakan with this year’s theme “Know Hepatitis: Act Now” will be officiated by Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr. S. Subramaniam.

“Sabah still faces high incidences of viral hepatitis with most cases reported in major towns in the state capital as well as Sandakan, but even official figures may be somewhat less as most people are still unaware if they are infected with hepatitis,” announced State Health Director Dr Christina Rundi.

Speaking at the press conference yesterday, Dr Christina stressed the importance of awareness campaigns to educate the people on the dangers of the lethal, unseen killer disease which causes acute and chronic liver disease (liver cirrhosis) that progresses insidiously and unnoticed, leading to liver failure, liver cancer and death.

“We aim to enhance public awareness on this deadly, silent disease on diagnosis, risks and preventative strategies,” she said.

The campaigns are also vital for those with the disease to learn about the available treatment and steps to prevent the spread of hepatitis.

The World Hepatitis Day event which will be held in Sandakan on August 6 will also be attended by Batu Sapi Member of Parliament, Datuk Linda Tsen and president of the Sandakan Muncipal Council, with over 500 participants expected to attend.

Viral hepatitis affects over 400 million people and has taken the lives of over 1.4 million people worldwide. Official figures from the World Health Organisation indicate only 5 per cent of patients suffering from chronic hepatitis are aware of their disease and only 1 per cent seek treatment.

Dr Christina said awareness campaigns on viral hepatitis are needed while highlighting that vaccination and immunisation programmes are provided for hepatitis B.

Treatment is also provided for hepatitis C and the department has undertaken steps to control the disease and prevent its spread.


Read more @

Malaysian recognised by Harvard University for health innovation

Thursday, July 21st, 2016
Dr Dhesi presenting a paper on the role of artificial intelligence in predicting the outbreak of diseases at the TH Chan School of Public Health in Harvard University on Saturday.

Dr Dhesi presenting a paper on the role of artificial intelligence in predicting the outbreak of diseases at the TH Chan School of Public Health in Harvard University on Saturday.

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian Integrated Medical Association (Mimpa) president Dr Dhesi Baha Raja has been recognised as among the top young health innovators by Harvard University.

Dr Dhesi who was given the award for his work on artificial intelligence in medical epidemiology had been recognised as among the top eight young innovators globally in the field by Harvard University’s School of Public Health, beating over 200 applications.

Dr Dhesi who leads a his team of six, developed AIME (Artificial Intelligence in Medical Epidemiology), which is a disease-prediction mobile platform that employs technology and data to give people prior warning of when outbreaks might occur three months in advance and locating them within a 400 meter radius.

He told the Star Online that he was glad that Malaysia is being recognised for its contribution to the international medical community.

Despite winning awards from numerous institutions worldwide, this is the first award that his team has received from the United States.

“I think its good because we want recognition in this part of the world (North America) for our work,” he said.

He also added that he was very happy to have had the opportunity to present his views in a presentation about the role of artificial intelligence in combating viral disease outbreaks.

Dr Dhesi is currently in Brazil to work on tackling possible dengue and Zika hotspots and work on prevention methods in preparation for the Rio Olympics in August.


Read more @

Immunisation level high but more awareness needed – Director

Thursday, July 21st, 2016

KOTA KINABALU: Parents are reminded of the importance of getting their children vaccinated so that their immunity against diseases will increase, State Health Department director Dr Christina Rundi said.

She added that parents must be made aware that the immunization is not only good for their children but also for other people as it helps to stop the spread of diseases.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Christina was asked about the response of the public in Sabah on vaccination in general.

“In Sabah, the immunization level is actually high but not 100 per cent which is difficult to achieve. We are working on getting the level to the highest it can be because the more people are vaccinated, the less risk of them getting infected by diseases. This is what we call herd immunity,” she said, adding that in Sabah, there is no issue with religion when it comes to vaccination.

Other issues are involved such as affordability of the vaccine, logistics, citizenship status and parents being too busy to take their children for the shots.

“Although the level of immunisation in Sabah is high, we still need to create more awareness on the need for immunisation, and parents must remember that it is not only good for their children but also for other people. When a child is healthy, the parents may think that there is no need to bring them for vaccination.

“We at the Health Department will try to get everyone immunised and will make efforts to contact the children who have not completed their vaccinations so that it can be done. Across the board immunisation for diseases is 85 per cent,” she disclosed.

On the update of the diphtheria cases in Sabah, Christina said that the situation had remained status quo.

These are sporadic cases as there are cases of diphtheria in Sabah, she said and stressed that if the immunization awareness was high there may not have been sporadic cases.

Read more @

First diphtheria case among adults recorded

Monday, July 18th, 2016

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has reported its first diphtheria case among adults after a housewife was diagnosed with the disease two days ago.

The 41-year-old housewife had sought treatment at the Rembau health clinic on July 13, and complained of swollen tonsils, cracked voice and difficulty swallowing.

Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the patient was referred to the Tuanku Jaafar Hospital, and was later kept in an isolation ward for treatment.

“The patient’s condition is stable, and a test on July 16 confirmed her positive for diphtheria.

“This is a sporadic and isolated case, and treatment has been given to those in contact with her, including family members and hospital staff,” he said in a statement.

This latest case brings the total number of cases to 15, with five fatalities recorded – one in Malacca, one in Kedah and three in Sabah.

On the same day, the Universiti Sains Malaysia hospital reported a suspected diphtheria case, where the patient was an eight year old boy with fever and throat pains.

Read more @

There’s no place for sex in healthcare

Monday, July 11th, 2016

A good doctor is about training.

A good doctor is about expe­rience.

A good doctor is about empathy.

Female or male, a good doctor is just a good doctor.

So how does the suggestion that allowing only female doctors assist in childbirths improve healthcare in Malaysia, or anywhere for that matter?

It does not.

This is by no means the first time that such an idea has been mooted, and it will probably not be the last, but the very idea that the sex of a doctor makes him or her suitable at the job is perplexing – and that should really be the issue at hand.

Maybe some of us are confused about the terms sex and gender. The words are often used interchangeably, though they are distinctly different.

Sex is based on biological differences in anatomy and physiology.

Gender, on the other hand, is a classification based on cultural conventions, a social construct that defines the roles and behaviours of men and women.

This gender classification has inevitably given rise to much chagrin and debate in many different facets of life, as it has now.

It’s a fact that some women are more comfortable with a female obstetrician and gynaecologist (ob/gyn).

Some believe that having a doctor of the opposite gender affects their female modesty, as proscribed by religious edicts.

Many feel that because of the intimate nature of the speciality, a female doctor who has physically undergone the same experience would be more understanding of what they’re going through.

Others have no such qualms, preferring a male ob/gyn instead of a female one, oftentimes because they believe male doctors are more sympathetic and patient towards female patients.

These are personal preferences based on trust and how patients interact with their doctors, preferences that help each woman ease her journey into motherhood.

Ob/gyns recognise this phenomenon, and though they may vary in their response to it, they take it as part and parcel of their vocation.

And how far do you take such a gender-based bias in healthcare anyway? Surgery? Urology? Derma­to­logy? Every aspect of healthcare delivery?

Shouldn’t the primary factors in choosing a doctor come down to their expertise, professionalism and compassion, not their sex or gender?

Let’s not ever involve sex or gender in the issue of healthcare delivery.

Former secretary-general of the United Nations and a recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize, Kofi Annan, once said: “Gender equality is more than a goal in itself. It is a precondition for meeting the challenge of reducing poverty, promoting sustainable development and building good governance.”

There are many pressing issues in Malaysian healthcare that need to be addressed. This is not one of them.

The Star Says.

Read more @

‘Only one type of kitchenware exceeded permitted level’

Monday, July 11th, 2016

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has so far found only one type of ceramic kitchenware in the market that has exceeded the permissible lead leaching limit, says its director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pic).

He said the X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry technique, used by the Malaysian Association of Stan­dards Users and Greenfinite Sdn Bhd to test the levels of high metals and chemical elements in ceramic kitchenware, differed from the method of analysis used by the ministry.

“In this case, the method conducted by the Health Ministry is more acceptable as it analyses the amount of heavy metals leached into food for the purpose of evaluating its risks to consumers,” he said in a statement yesterday in response to an article in The Star on Saturday.

In the article titled “Health risk in household ware”, it was reported that a preliminary test by the X-ray Fluorescence Spectrometry technique on eight types of coloured and glazed ceramic plates and cups showed that one of the samples had 10,600 times more lead than allowed, and this might cause a decline in mental functioning.

Dr Noor Hisham said the method was used to measure the amount of heavy metals in the ceramic kitchenware and not the amount of heavy metals leached into food.

He noted that the test method conducted by the ministry was consistent with sub-regulation 28(4) of the Food Regulations 1985 under the Food Act 1983.

He said regulations provided that ceramic products used for preparing, packaging, storing or delivering food or food exposure should be tested according to the “Malaysian Standard MS 1SO 6846-1 ceramic ware, glass ceramic ware and glass dinnerware in contact with food – Release of lead and cadmium – Part 1: Test method”.

“The amount of lead and cadmium released from ceramic ware should not exceed the maximum amount allowed in the regulations.

“Failure to adhere to the regulations is an offence,” he said.

Dr Noor Hisham said the ministry was always sensitive to matters related to consumer safety and gave his assurance on the level of food safety and quality.

Read more @

Ministry: Dengue cases on the rise

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has warned of an expected uptrend in dengue cases following a 13.5% increase between June 26 and July 2.

There were 2,017 cases during that period compared to 1,777 the previous week, said Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

The public, he said, should watch out for symptoms and signs of dengue fever such as fever, muscle and bone aches, rashes, pain behind the eyes and headaches.

Other warning signs of dengue included abdominal pain, vomiting, irritability, bleeding gums or nose, he said in a statement.

Nine states have also reported an increase in cases – Selangor (22.2%), Pahang (69.6%), Kelantan (45.7%), Pe­­nang (40.9%), Perak (13.6%), Sa­­ra­­wak (13.3%), Kedah (13.5%), Per­lis (500%) and Johor (1.2%).

Localities with dengue epidemics also increased to 660, which is 2% more than what was reported the previous week.

Read more @

Health Ministry to take action against sale, promotion of Kangen water

Saturday, July 9th, 2016

KUALA LUMPUR: The Health Ministry will take action against the sale or promotion of Kangen water, a certain alkaline water filter which can allegedly produce miracle water that can treat 150 chronic illnesses.

Health Ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said the ministry was concerned with reports about Kangen water that has gone viral on social media.

“The Health Ministry views such promotion very seriously because it can mislead people into believing the water can cure various illnesses. Under the Food Regulations Act 1985 under the Food Act 1983, all water packed for consumption must be approved and licensed by the Health Ministry,” he said in a statement Friday night.

The Food Act 1983 and the Food Regulations 1985 are the Malaysian food legislations that form the backbone of the food safety programme. These legislations replace the Sale of Food and Drug Ordinance and Regulations 1952.

The objective of the Food Act 1983 and the Food Regulations 1985 is to ensure that the public is protected from health hazards and fraud in the preparation, sale and use of foods and for matters connected therewith.


Read more @

Vaccination for all children under five being considered

Monday, July 4th, 2016

CYBERJAYA: A radical move to provide free vaccination for all children under five, including migrants and refugees, is being mulled by the Health Ministry.

Selangor Health director Datuk Dr Zailan Adnan said the plan, which would involve providing all vaccines listed under the National Vaccination Programme, has been discussed at high-level technical group meetings which felt this would be the best approach.

“It is still at the proposal stage,” she said, adding that if implemented, it would cost the Government about RM10mil annually.

“Those under five are in the vulnerable group and whether they are foreigners or not, they should not be denied good health including vaccination,” she said during a forum entitled “Vaccination, Is It Really Safe” at the Cyberjaya University College of Medical Sciences.

Dr Zailan pointed out that if more people were immunised, then the outbreak of preventable diseases was less likely.

The ministry, she said, was closely monitoring the situation in Kedah, which saw the last reported case of diphtheria on Saturday.

The five-year-old victim from Kulim is in intensive care.

Fellow panellist consultant pediatrician Datuk Dr Musa Mohd Nordin described the proposal to provide vaccinations free of charge as an “excellent initiative”.

“It is extremely important,” he said.

He added that he hoped the proposal would be approved as soon as possible.

He pointed out that the refugee communities here had zero vaccination coverage and could be the epicentre of an outbreak.

“Unless you vaccinate them, they will be a reservoir for infection and they will pass it on to local children,” he said.

Dr Musa said the proposal could mean achieving herd immunity, where between 90% and 95% of the population is vaccinated.

He said this would also protect the few who cannot be vaccinated, such as those who are too young to be vaccinated and those who had cancer, leukaemia, HIV or were on steroids and other cancer drugs.

The expanded immunisation programme by the World Health Organisation and Unicef is a powerful child survival strategy.


Read more @

Health Ministry: Five deaths due to diphtheria recorded

Friday, July 1st, 2016

PETALING JAYA: Five deaths have been recorded out of 13 confirmed diphtheria cases nationwide, the Health Ministry said.

Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pic) said that from the figures updated as of Wednesday, Malacca had reported three cases with one death, Kedah, six cases with one death, and Sabah, four cases with three deaths.

“All the cases reported in Sabah occurred sporadically with no link to one another, while the cases in Kedah and Malacca occurred in clusters in the families,” he said in a statement issued late Wednesday.

Dr Hisham said that two new cases occurred in Sabah. One case involved a Malaysian aged three who had not received diphtheria immunisation.

The child was confirmed suffering from diphtheria on June 23 and died on June 27, he said.

The second case involved a non-citizen aged five. The child was confirmed having diphtheria on June 28 and was being treated in a hospital isolation ward and was in stable condition.

Dr Hisham said health officers in all states had been alerted about the diphtheria incidents and had increased their surveillance activities.

The immunisation service in health clinics, hospitals and private clinics were reported to have received encouraging response, he said, adding that parents with children below age seven were advised to check their children’s immunisation appointments.

“I urge all parents to be committed in bringing their children to be immunised according to schedule.

“If they have missed it, please go to the nearest clinic and the health staff will arrange for a new schedule,” he said.


Read more @