Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Expert: Many plastic food wrappers and containers unsafe

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017
Healthier way: A ‘char kway teow’ seller putting an order into a plastic bag. Consumers in Selangor are advised to bring their own containers for takeaways as a safer option.

Healthier way: A ‘char kway teow’ seller putting an order into a plastic bag. Consumers in Selangor are advised to bring their own containers for takeaways as a safer option.

PETALING JAYA: The Government should look into the use of paper wrappers for foodstuff to replace the plastics used now, a toxicologist said.

Universiti Malaya toxicologist Prof Dr Mustafa Ali Mohd said plastic wrappers were not only bad for the environment but many had compounds not yet verified as safe.

These compounds were Bisphenol A (BPA) and newer types Bisphenol B (BPB), Bisphenol S (BPS) and Bisphenol AF (BPAF), he said.

“These may affect the endocrine system in the long term and can also lead to fertility and thyroid problems, as well as diabetes,” said Dr Mustafa, adding that phthalates, chemicals used in making plastics, had been linked to obesity.

He explained that Bisphenols make plastic stronger and prevent yellowing in the products but the substances could leach when in contact with fat, such as that in meat and milk.

“They can react with food having a strong acidic content, such as assam and lime juice.

“The chemicals can also leach when hot liquids, such as teh tarik or coffee, is poured into a plastic container,” he added.

Although feeding bottles containing Bisphenol A (BPA) was banned in 2012, the chemical was still used in making other plastic products, such as containers and wrappers, said Dr Mustafa.

He also pointed out that BPA which is also still being used in most plastic material, cooking material and the lining in soft drinks can to prevent rusting, was known to affect the estrogen receptor in women.


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KKIA toilets not clean enough – Mavcom

Wednesday, January 18th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Kota Kinabalu International Airport (KKIA) service standard is improving but has yet to reach full satisfactory level, mainly because of the cleanliness of the toilets, said Malaysian Aviation Commission (Mavcom) executive director General Tan Sri Abdullah bin Ahmad.

Abdullah said there were complaints on the lack of signage to direct foreign travellers to the Immigration counters.

Nonetheless, he said Mavcom was pushing Malaysia Airports Holdings Berhad (MAHB) to improve its airports in order to commensurate with the new Passenger Service Charge (PSC) rates.

On that note, Abdullah said Mavcom was working on creating a mechanism to monitor service standard and passenger comfort in airports.

“We are also looking at other countries on how they do it,” he said in an interview here yesterday.

With the mechanism in place, he said airports could be penalized for poor cleanliness.

Mavcom had also launched Consumer Protection Code for Aviation Services last year, which Abdullah said was well received given that the number of complaints had shot up since then.

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‘Every individual plays a vital role in controlling spread of disease’

Tuesday, December 20th, 2016

BELURAN: Communities play an important role in controlling the spread of diseases such as HIV/AIDS and this requires them to know how it can be prevented, said Beluran member of parliament, Datuk Seri Dr Ronald Kiandee.

Putting an end to AIDS is not an easy task said Ronald but he believes that with the commitment and cooperation of all parties, it can be possible.

According to him the government, on principle, will remain committed to addressing the problem and will continue to be the biggest donor of funds to implement prevention and control programmes on HIV/AIDS.

He said the government therefore, welcomed active involvement and contributions from corporate bodies and particularly non-government organisations to help implement programmes on the prevention and control of the disease.

Ronald was speaking when launching the state-level celebration of World AIDS Day 2016 here last Saturday. Also present was the director of the Sabah Health Department, Datuk Dr Christina Rundi.

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Not healthy to depend too much on foreign labour

Monday, December 12th, 2016

THE Cabinet has decided that the mandatory health checks to be carried out annually for registered foreign workers be reinstated. While this is commendable, it is a half measure at best.

Currently, foreign workers undergo medical checks before being sent here, within a month upon arrival and before their permits are renewed for their third year.

But Health Ministry officials estimate that up to 3% or 60,000 of the estimated 1.9 million to two million registered foreign workers here could be medically unfit.

The rationale to reverting to the pre-2006 regulation – to medically screen them every year – is to enable authorities to detect those with communicable diseases contracted either in Malaysia or while on leave in their home countries.

In addition, the measure is to forewarn authorities if the foreign workers were involved in drug abuse and to detect those with other chronic ailments, reportedly jamming up government health facilities.

It must be said that Malaysia’s policy of treating any foreign worker with such diseases until they are cured before sending them back to their home country is commendable.

This exercise is neither easy or cheap.

The treatment for tuberculosis (TB), for instance, can take up to six months and the tab is picked up by the Malaysian taxpayer.

But the elephant in the room is this – how are we to screen and contain the outbreak of communicable diseases among the estimated two million migrants working illegally in Malaysia?

By right, all undocumented foreign workers seeking treatment at hospitals and health clinics must be reported to the Immigration Depart­ment, according to a Health Ministry circular.

The Star Says.

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ARV treatment for 1,455 in KK with HIV

Monday, December 12th, 2016

Kota Kinabalu: About 1,455 people with HIV were given treatment that could both prolong and help improve their quality of life in the State capital.

Kota Kinabalu Health Officer Dr Jiloris @ Julian Frederick they had received the antiretroviral (ARV) treatment here until mid-2016.

“In 2015, Kota Kinabalu recorded the highest number of HIV and AIDS cases in the State, accounting for 93 HIV and 37 AIDS cases. About 12 deaths involved AIDS.

“For this year, HIV notification had decreased to 64 cases.

“We hope that with the ARV treatment which started in Malaysia in 2001, more HIV patients will benefit and at least 90 per cent of the eligible patients will receive the treatment by 2020,” he said.

Dr Jiloris said the treatment is very effective as it could control the severity of the disease.

“We had a HIV case developing into AIDS but with regular treatment and consistent medicine, the AIDS reverted to HIV.

But the HIV is still there which means the treatment and medicine are able to control HIV from developing into AIDS.

“The most important is the HIV patients must take medicine regularly and also follow the advice of their doctor,” said Dr Jiloris at the World AIDS Day celebration at the Kolej Sains Kesihatan Bersekutu, here, Saturday.

According to Dr Jiloris, since the availability of the ARV treatment, there has been a decrease in deaths related to AIDS.

To a question, he said to achieve the target of zero HIV by 2020, they were providing counselling to the high-risk groups.

“We offer them counselling or talks on how to protect themselves from HIV and for those requiring treatment, we will proceed to give them treatment.

“At least when we approach the high-risk groups and give them talks about HIV and AIDS, they will receive some knowledge about the disease.

“So far, 80 per cent from the group have given us their cooperation and we will persist in giving counselling to the remaining 20 per cent,” he said.

The event was officiated by Welfare Department Director Mohd Noh Wahab, who represented Community Development and Consumer Affairs Minister Datuk Jainab Ahmad.

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Subra: Obesity a big health problem among adults

Wednesday, December 7th, 2016

SERDANG: One in two Malaysian adults is either overweight or obese, with the number increasing by four-fold in the last 20 years.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said Malaysians are facing a health problem due to their unhealthy lifestyle.

“A national health and morbidity survey shows that obesity is prevalent among Malaysians above 18, with the numbers drastically rising.

“The number of obesity cases in 1996 was 4.4% (of the population), rising to 14% in 2006.

“This rose to 15.1% in 2011 and 17.7% last year,” he said in his speech when opening the Fruits and Vegetables Eating Campaign at Malaysia Agriculture, Horticulture and Agrotourism 2016 (MAHA 2016) here Tuesday.

He added some 30.3% of adults suffered weight problems.

“As a whole, one in two Malaysian adults is overweight or one in five is obese.

“In 2015, nearly half of Malaysian adults or 47.7% suffered from high cholesterol or hypercholesterolemia,” he said.

Dr Subramaniam said an unhealthy lifestyle had also resulted in the number of diabetes cases in Malaysia to rise since 1996.

“The disease will not be seen now but in 15 years when they come to hospital and end up losing an eye or having a limb amputated,” he added.

The survey also revealed that diabetes cases rose from 11.6% in 1996 to 15.2% in 2006 and 17.5% last year.

However, he said there was a slight drop in hypertension cases – from 32.2% in 1996 to 32.7% in 2006 and 30.3% last year.

He noted that these ailments are linked to the unhealthy dietary habits of Malaysians who do not eat enough fruits and vegetables.


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Only 3% of Sabahan adults know to clean teeth – dentist

Thursday, November 17th, 2016

KOTA KINABALU: Only three percent of the adult population in Sabah know how to effectively clean their mouth and teeth.

Senior Dentistry Officer for Kota Kinabalu, Dr Latifah Othman, said the remaining 97 percent of the Sabah adult population needed further instruction on how to effectively clean their mouth and teeth, as compared to 94.7 percent in Peninsular Malaysia and 84 percent in Sarawak.

Dr Latifah said that ineffective cleaning techniques had resulted in the high number of people in the country suffering from gum diseases (over 90 percent), while about eight percent of the population were toothless.

She believed that the high percentage of people suffering from tooth decay and gum disease in the country is due to their lackadaisical attitude in looking after the cleanliness of their teeth and mouth.

Out of every ten people in the country, nine suffers from gum disease, she said at the SM Luyang 1Student 1toothbrush programme.

“They do not see their teeth as assets that need to be looked after … studies have proven that people suffering from serious tooth decay have lower self-esteem and it impacts even their employability,” she said.

She explained that the government spent a lot of money on subsidies for dental treatment that were given to the people of the country.

The cost of filling a decayed tooth is RM30; the cost of scaling RM62 per person; and the cost of tooth extraction is about RM56 each.

“If people know that they can effectively clean their mouth and avoid problems such as tooth decay and gum disease and that they can keep their teeth for life, the money used for the subsidy can be used for other purposes,” she said.

Last year in Kota Kinabalu, there were a total of 16,891 decayed permanent teeth which underwent filling, while 2,120 teeth were extracted.

Dr Latifah also said that unlike the treated water in Peninsular Malaysia, the water supplied to households in Sabah (except for Kota Belud, Kudat and Beaufort) is not treated with fluoride – a chemical that, at a proper dosage, can help fight tooth decay by strengthening it.

She also mentioned that people should never take tooth decay issue lightly, citing death cases caused by infections from tooth decay, malformed facial features and others as reasons.

“There are 750 bacterias in our mouth so we need to clean it often.”

She encouraged people to brush their teeth with soft-bristled toothbrush and toothpaste with fluoride in the morning and at night as well as after each food intake.

To thoroughly clean our teeth, she encouraged brushing our teeth in front of a mirror.

“I also encourage people to floss,” she said.

by Jenne Lajiun.

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Stomach cancer third deadliest in Sabah

Friday, October 28th, 2016

KINABATANGAN: Thirteen patients from Kinabatangan district benefited from a one-day medical camp held at the Kinabatangan Hospital here, yesterday.

Twelve men and one woman, with ages ranging from 26 to 76 years old, underwent specialist treatment known as oesophago-gastric-duedeno-scopy (OGDS) procedure in medical parlance.

Two patients were found with stomach cancer causing bacteria called ‘Helicobacter Pylori’ (H. Pylori), six patients were diagnosed with peptic ulcers while one was diagnosed with stomach cancer.

According to Duchess of Kent Hospital surgical department head Dr Lai Chung Ket, stomach cancer is the third highest cancer killer in Sabah after lung cancer and breast cancer and is the eighth highest in Malaysia.

“In Sabah, where 8 per 100,000 cases of stomach cancer are detected each year, the disease is ranked 6th in terms of volume, while among men it is fourth after lung cancer, colorectal cancer and cancer of the nose (nasopharyngeal carcinoma).

“Sabah bumiputeras have a higher risk than other ethnic groups. What is more troubling is that stomach cancer cases detected here are usually in the final stage due to ignorance and/or delayed treatment of the patients.

“In general, only 20 percent of patients live more than 5 years after being detected to have stomach cancer and compares unfavourably to Japan who, through their national screening program, have successfully detect stomach cancer for early treatment,” Dr Lai disclosed during a talk session with patients at the program.

“Generally, stomach cancer shows no signs. In an early stage, it may be considered as common abdominal pains. Symptoms, such as stomach bleeding, vomiting after meals, lack of blood, sudden weight loss and lumps in the abdomen indicate that the cancer could have spread and reach its final stages.

“Taking ‘gastric medicine’ without knowing the exact diagnosis can be harmful to the patient whereas patients have the potential to be cured of cancer if the disease is detected at an early stage,” he added.

Therefore, Lai said, residents should take the opportunity to get their health screening at the medical camp.

Commenting on the medical camp, Lai said, DOKH is committed to providing modern and optimum treatment for rural patients without them having to go to the general hospital, to help reduce their transportation and medical costs.

“Based on the reported numbers of chronic gastric patients in rural areas, the DOKH medical team has taken the initiative to run this medical camp with emphasis on the OGDS procedure in several areas beyond DOKH reach.

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One shot, two many

Monday, October 24th, 2016

PETALING JAYA: The Health Ministry has directed all health clinics to avoid giving babies two types of immunisation jabs on the same day.

Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman said immunisation shots were supposed to be given one at a time at intervals outlined in the National Immunisation Schedule.

“Giving two jabs at the same time happens when the immunisation schedule is breached,” he said, calling on parents to strictly abide by the national immunisation schedule.

However, in cases where they may have missed the schedule, parents could discuss with healthcare personnel to re-schedule the immunisation date to ensure only one jab was given per session, he said.

“We have informed healthcare personnel in clinics of this,” he said.

Dr Lokman said this in response to pleas by parents who claimed that their children became autistic after being administered with two types of vaccine on the same day when they were 18 months old.

He pointed out that there were no scientific evidence linking autism to MMR (measles, mumps and rubella) vaccine.

According to the current immunisation schedule in Malaysia, children at the age of 18 months were given a single shot of five-in-one vaccine DTaP-Hib/IPV (difteria, tetanus, pertusis, hemophillus influenza B and Polio).

“It is given in a single jab. This is the same vaccine given at the age of two months, three months and five months.

“Therefore, there is no association between the vaccine given at the age of 18 months and autism,” he said.

Dr Lokman said attempts to link MMR immunisation to autism were made based on evidence reported by Dr Andrew Wakefield in a 1998 study published in theLancet medical journal.

However, the Lancet had in 2004 retracted the interpretation of the Wakefield report, and subsequently retracted the entire report in 2010 on grounds of insufficient data, as the study was based only on 12 children.

Dr Lokman noted that a study conducted between 1988 and 1996 in Yokohama, Japan, on 31,426 children showed that the number of autism cases did not drop despite a drop in MMR immunisation rate.

“The study also showed a significant increase in autism cases, especially after 1993.

“In Malaysia, a study conducted in five districts between 2005 and 2006 showed there were two cases of autism for every 1,000 children aged between 18 months and three years.

“This is within the global range of one to six cases among every 1,000 children,” he said.

The Health Ministry had started collecting specific data on autism since 2004, he said.

“Within 12 years from between 2004 and 2015, we have identified 1,808 autism cases involving children below the age of seven,” Dr Lokman said.

Meanwhile, Persama (Pertubuhan Sayang Malaysia) Together For Autism founder Thila Laxshman said many parents in the group had similar experience whereby their children became autistic after getting two injections of vaccines on the same day.

After the injections, the children had fever and subsequently stopped talking, lost eye contact, had difficulty sleeping at night and threw tantrums to the point of meltdown.

“Our children were born normal but developed brain development disorders after the injections,” she said.

Thila, who is a singer, called on the authorities to seriously look into the possible link between autism and double vaccination.

A couple, Felix Edward Wilson and his wife Agnes Nathan, said their son Kevin became autistic after receiving two jabs of different types of vaccines at the age of two.

“Our son was born normal. He was able to string words into sentences at the age of eight months. He could sing nursery rhymes.

“Even before the age of one, he could tell the difference between a purse and a wallet.

“After the double vaccine shots, he lost his ability to talk. There was no more eye contact,” said Felix of his son, who is now 19.


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Contract jobs an ad hoc measure

Saturday, October 22nd, 2016

APPOINTING doctors, dentists and pharmacists by contract due to constraints in permanent posts has its pros and cons, said Dr Koh Kah Chai.

The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) honorary general secretary said: “The pros are that they will be gainfully employed and will get the prerequisite training.

“But the worry is whether they will still be employed by the Government when their contract ends at the end of their housemanship.”

This move, to take place latest by December, was announced by the Prime Minister during Budget 2017, and is meant to benefit the nearly 2,600 doctors now unable to undergo housemanship due to lack of permanent positions in hospitals.

The Federation of Private Medical Practitioners’ Associations, Malay­sia, president Dr Steven Chow agreed: “It is an ad hoc measure.

“What happens after the end of their contracts? There will still be a logjam of doctors.

“If you increase the output of doctors, you should have made arrangements to increase the number of housemen and medical officer posts as well,” he said.

Likewise, the creation of a new civil service pay grade – 56, to be placed between grade 54 and Jusa C – is only a temporary measure in its objective of preventing medical and dental specialists from leaving Government service and addressing the delays in their promotion.

“It is a stop-gap measure, and some feel that it will delay promotion to Jusa C,” Dr Koh said.

Dr Chow said this was only an ad hoc measure that was unlikely to stem the outflow from the public sector.

The extra grade would mean doctors will take longer to reach the highest pay grades, which would in turn affect their pensions, he said.

On the Prime Minister’s announcement that the Govern­ment would cooperate with the private sector to run non-profit charitable hospitals, Dr Koh said: “While it is a noble idea, in the absence of details of the financing mechanism, we can’t really comment on the buy-in from the private sector.

“It appears to be a proposal of cost-sharing in the provision of healthcare to the rakyat.”

MMA past president Dr Milton Lum said the efforts to combat dengue, which was allocated RM80mil in the Budget, would benefit more from making the vaccine available.

“Vaccination is a cheap way of decreasing dengue cases.

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