Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

‘Prevent entry of tainted prawns’

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

PETALING JAYA: Enforcement authorities have been urged to step up efforts to prevent the entry of shrimp with traces of banned antibiotics.

Dr S. Vellayan, a pharmacology lecturer at UiTM, said the authorities must ensure that nitrofurans and chloramphenicol were not contained in the shrimp brought in from neighbouring countries to be re-exported using Malaysia’s certificate of origin.

The United States’ Food and Drug Administration (FDA) on Monday said that it may detain imports of prawns from Malaysia after finding traces of nitrofurans and chloramphenicol antibiotics in shipments.

The agency said it was placing companies processing or shipping shrimp and prawns from peninsular Malaysia on import alert, which means that their shipments could be detained at the port of entry without physical examination.

Malaysian Shrimp Industry Association, however, has denied that the contaminated shipments were from Malaysia.

Its president Syed Omar Syed Jaafar on Friday said Malaysian farmers did not use antibiotics and that the shrimp the United States was getting were transhipment from China, Vietnam or India, citing earlier cases where shipments from these countries were rejected.

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In the mood for food

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Many Malaysians do not realise that the food we eat every day can have a bearing on how we feel as wee. And as it turns out, what i s good for health is also good for our minds and emotions.

FORGET the poppy seeds. The average food you eat every day could be affecting your mood without you realising it.

While they do not make you high and euphoric, the right kind of food can generally help uplift your mood and improve emotional well-being.

And it so happens that such food is healthy and good for you, too.

Maintaining a steady diet of nuts, seeds, fish, lentils and beans can help make you happier and boost your spirits, thanks to certain compounds in the food that encourage positive feelings, say experts.

On the flipside, even though some call it “comfort food” and reach for calorie-filled junk food to cheer themselves up, experts warn that it could work the opposite way and drag you down even further.

National Heart Institute chief dietitian Mary Easaw explains that the science behind such mood-enhancing food is the nutrients it contains.

“Some food like nuts, seeds, tofu, lentils, beans, eggs, chicken, oats and fish are generally rich in tryptophan, which is a non-essential amino acid.

“Tryptophan is then made into serotonin with the help of B-vitamins. Serotonin is a neurotransmitter or chemical messenger in your brain which acts as a mood regulator.

“As such, it helps to make people feel generally happier,” she says.

A more commonly known feel-good snack is dark chocolate, which helps to enhance the mood due to the antioxidants contained in cocoa.

Easaw says antioxidants boost brain levels of serotonin and endorphins or “happy” chemicals, causing one to generally feel more cheerful and upbeat.

“However, you can only take a limited amount of it due to the high sugar content,” she cautions.


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World’s first dengue vaccination in Philippines sees few ill-effects

Wednesday, April 20th, 2016

An elementary student grimacing as a nurse administers an anti-dengue vaccine at Parang Elementary School in Marikina, west of Manila on April 4, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

An elementary student grimacing as a nurse administers an anti-dengue vaccine at Parang Elementary School in Marikina, west of Manila on April 4, 2016. PHOTO: AFP

SINGAPORE: The Philippines’ health ministry has said that nearly 150,000 children in the country have now received doses of the world’s first dengue vaccine.

Only 240 children – or 0.16 per cent – suffered adverse effects such as fever, dizziness and headaches, health officials said at a news briefing.

The ministry said that 148,431 fourth-grade pupils in 44 public schools had received the first dose of Dengvaxia, the world’s first dengue vaccine developed by French drugmaker Sanofi.

“We are on the right track,” Health Minister Janette Garin said.

The ministry plans to give a million children their first dose by June in a 3.5 billion peso (S$103 million) programme, Garin said. The vaccine is given in three doses.

Dengue is a mosquito-borne disease that infects about 390 million people globally each year. It causes a severe flu-like illness marked by painful joints and extreme fatigue and is lethal in 2.5 per cent of cases.

So far this year, 33,748 dengue cases have been recorded in the Philippines. In Singapore, 6,338 cases were reported in the first quarter of the year.

Last week, the World Health Organisation recommended the use of Dengvaxia in countries where dengue is widespread, based on a review of data from 25 clinical studies in 15 countries.

The vaccine protected two-thirds of people against dengue in those aged nine or older in two large clinical trials spanning Latin America and Asia involving more than 40,000 children and adolescents.

It was most effective at protecting against severe dengue, the potentially fatal form of the disease, preventing 93 per cent of cases.

The Straits Times/Asia News Network.


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Increased cases of haze-induced diseases – Health Dept

Friday, April 8th, 2016

KOTA KINABALUKOTA KINABALU: The cases of haze-induced diseases in the affected districts have increased between April 2 and 4. Sabah Health Department director Dr Christina Rundi said that the department is closely monitoring the situation in Beaufort, Kuala Penyu, Sipitang and Papar following the haze occurrence that peaked on April 2, 3 and 4.

“We are monitoring the cases of Conjunctivitis (red eye), Upper Respiratory Tract Infection (URTI) and asthma.

“There were 310 recorded cases of the three diseases in Beaufort during those three days alone, compared to 346 cases throughout the previous week. And in Kuala Penyu, we recorded 61 cases of the diseases during the same period compared to only four cases throughout the previous week.

“For Sipitang and Papar, our data showed no increase in cases especially respiratory diseases,” she said in a statement here, yesterday.

According to her, as a precautionary measure, those who have cough, flu, asthma, eye sore, heart disease and chronic lung disease are advised to the clinics should their symptoms worsen.

She said that those in high risk group which include children, elderly, smokers, patients suffering from asthma, bronchitis, lung inflammation, chronic lung disease, heart disease and allergy as well as outdoor workers should take their medications as advised and wear haze masks.

She said that masks should also be worn by all motorcyclists and those who work outdoor or at dusty workplace. “The public are advised to reduce outdoor activities such as sports, and if possible, stay indoors or at home, use air conditioners while driving, and always wash their faces and exposed skin with clean water.

“Drink plenty of water, at least, eight glasses a day, and if the haze gets worse or continues, they should leave the area,” she added.

Dr Christina said that prolonged exposure to health will cause itchy throat and coughing, breathing difficulty, sore and watery eye, sneezing and runny nose, itchy skin and chest pain.


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More children down with TB

Monday, April 4th, 2016

PETALING JAYA: Buck up and don’t pass the buck, the Human Rights Commission of Malaysia (Suhakam) has urged the various agencies involved in fighting tuberculosis.

This was important as more children were coming down with tuberculosis. The Health Ministry’s data showed that TB cases increased by 13% among children aged below five, from 244 cases in 2014 to 277 last year.

The total of number of cases last year was at a high figure of 24,220.

Suhakam commissioner James Nayagam said the numbers were likely higher as some 2,000 children in detention centres nationwide were exposed to TB.

“In all my visits to detention centres, TB is a major concern.”

Studies in 2014 revealed that the prevalence of latent TB in Pengkalan Chepa and Kajang prisons was more than 87%.

Nayagam said one could contract TB within two weeks of exposure.

Migrants, he added, were detained about one to three months and those released were refugees who ended up working as cooks, helpers and maids while their children were not screened or treated.

“Besides refugees, many illegal workers in food outlets and their families were also not screened except in established restaurants.”

On Saturday, Deputy Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya urged employers to stop hiring illegal workers as a way to stop the spread of TB.

Nayagam claimed that the various agencies kept passing the buck during their meetings by saying it was not their responsibility.

“The Health Ministry should coordinate the effort. The agencies must try and understand one another’s need and work out the problems together,” he said.

Nayagam also said the Government should provide grants to NGOs to carry out mobile screening and give free treatment since illegals found it easier to approach NGOs.

“We need to do whatever it takes or it is going to be an epidemic,” he said.

Asia-Pacific Paediatric Asso­ciation secretary-general Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail said the young TB patients he saw in his private practice were from middle and upper class families.

“The children got the infection from their grandparents or from their maids,” he said.


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Depression, Vitamin D and heart disease

Sunday, April 3rd, 2016

MIAMI: Taking steps to recover from depression and boost vitamin D levels may improve heart health, according to new research.

The findings were contained in two studies presented at the American College of Cardiology conference in Chicago.

The first focused on depression, a known risk factor for heart attack, stroke and even death.

Researchers at the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute in Salt Lake City studied a registry of more than 7,500 people, and found when depressed patients get effective treatment, they can lower their risk of heart damage to the same level as a person who never suffered from depression.

“Our study shows that prompt, effective treatment of depression appears to improve the risk of poor heart health,” said Heidi May, a cardiovascular epidemiologist with the Intermountain Medical Center Heart Institute.

However, those who remained depressed had higher rates of heart problems – at a rate of about 6%, compared to around 4% of people without depression.

“The key conclusion of our study is: If depression isn’t treated, the risk of cardiovascular complications increases significantly,” May said.

A second study, also led by May, focused on two measures of vitamin D, which when too low can predict the likelihood of heart attack, stroke, heart failure or death.

Some 4,200 people aged 52 to 76 were studied. Most already had coronary artery disease (70%) and one quarter were diabetic.

For doctors who treat these patients, the most important measures of vitamin D are known as total vitamin D and bioavailable vitamin D, since both were “the most accurate in predicting harmful cardiovascular events,” said the findings.


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MRCS, ICRC to promote health, hygiene in primary school throughout Sabah

Monday, March 28th, 2016

SANDAKAN : The Malaysian Red Crescent Society (MRCS) together with the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC), are working together to promote key messages on health and hygiene to primary school children throughout Sabah.

ICRC, head of Sabah Office, Mao Sato said they hoped that the children would then bring the key message to their families and help make it their family habit.

The first school in Sandakan selected for the project was SK Bambangan and ICRC would be going to other rural schools with the message in the near future.

The Primary Four to Primary Six students from the school took part in the programme which required them to role play two types of families, one that practiced good hygiene and one that did not.

Role play is important as it will help them remember and hopefully it will inculcate the importance of good hygiene to the children and they, in turn, could relay the message to their respective families so that they could protect themselves.

The good hygiene messages relayed to the students include the importance of washing their hands, being careful when they are near animals and so on.

MRCS and ICRC decided to bring the key messages to the children because they can still be moulded; it is not so easy with adults.

MRCS Sabah Branch Honorary Secretary Elizabeth Sikayun said the programme received the support of the State Education Department with the hope of that MRCS and ICRC could focus on rural areas as they are far from Clinics and the knowledge of hygiene is not so strong.

ICRC role is to provide support and guidance to the local volunteers from the Malaysian Red Crescent Society and at the same time, International Committee of the Red Cross also help design programmes to suit the local environment and community

by James Leong.

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Zika, dengue, malaria and the deadly mosquito

Monday, March 14th, 2016

YOU are sleeping quite soundly when a sharp buzzing sound around your head wakes you up, forcing you to try to swat it away.

Or else you are walking in the park and only realise you were bitten when rashes appear on your arms and legs.

More worrisome is when the infant in your family develops red spots on the otherwise smooth skin on the face.

The mosquito is a nuisance which Malaysians have to live with. But its association with so many serious diseases has made the world take the mosquito very seriously.

The latest headline-catching ailment is the zika virus. In Malaysia, dengue fever and malaria are still more worrisome.

And other mosquito-related diseases include yellow fever, filariasis, Chikungunya and West Nile fever. No wonder the mosquito has even been called the world’s most deadly species.

The interest in the zika virus is still new, after reports since 2015 that it causes birth defects, and there is urgency in finding a vaccine.

Dengue fever cases have risen at an alarming rate but there is, until now, neither a cure nor an approved vaccine. There are drugs to treat malaria, but increasing resistance to the parasite to them.

Since last year, the zika virus is reported to have been locally transmitted in 31 Latin American and Caribbean countries, and the World Health Organisation warns that it is likely to be transmitted in other countries (like Malaysia) where there areAedes aegypti mosquitoes.

The main concern is the zika virus’ apparent association with neurological disorders, especially microcephaly (a birth defect where the baby’s head is smaller than normal). Eight countries have also reported increased incidence of Guillain-Barré syndrome (affecting people of all ages) linked to zika.

On March 8, the WHO’s Zika Emergency Committee concluded that “there is increasing evidence that there is a causal relationship between microcephaly cases and other neurological disorders with the zika virus”.

The committee recommended more research on the links between the zika virus and neurological disorders, vector control measures, public education on the risks, and priority to develop new diagnostics, new drugs and vaccines.

Regarding malaria, global action has yielded good results. Between 2000 and 2015, among populations at risk, the malaria incidence fell by 37% and death rates by 60% globally.

Malaria is caused by Plasmodium parasites (the most deadly being P. falciparum) which are spread by Anopheles mosquitoes. According to WHO, in 2015, there were 214 million malaria cases and 438,000 deaths.

The best treatment is artemisinin-based combination therapy (ACT). But the P. falciparum parasite is becoming resistant to artemisinin and the partner drugs, just as earlier it had become resistant to chloroquine and sulfadoxine-pyrimethamine.


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913 dengue cases in Sabah from Jan to March 10

Monday, March 14th, 2016

SANDAKAN: A total of 913 dengue cases have been reported in Sabah from January to March 10, an increase of 70 cases compared to the same period last year.

Sabah Health Department director Dr Christina Rundi said Sandakan district recorded the highest number of dengue cases at 319 cases, followed by Kota Kinabalu (152) and Tawau (72) of the total number of dengue cases in the state.

She said there were 11 dengue cluster locations comprising seven districts, namely in Sandakan (five locations) and one location each in Kota Kinabalu, Lahad Datu, Papar, Beluran, Tuaran and Semporna.

After the month-long Dengue Control and Prevention Mega Operation which would end on March 15, the number of dengue cases had decreased by 96 per cent in the district,

she told a press conference here on Saturday.

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Cancer screening promotions, packages at KPJ Sabah

Wednesday, February 24th, 2016

KOTA KINABALU: KPJ Sabah Specialist Hospital believes in the adage of ‘prevention is better than cure’.

Thus, it is urging the people to be fully aware that early detection of the disease could save their lives.

In line with this philosophy, the hospital has launched a series of cancer screening promotions and packages that meet the demands of all individuals.

The special promotions include Venus Package (Breast Cancer), Lotus Package (Cervical Cancer), 2D Digital Mammogram screening, Lovey Dovey package (for a married couple), Lovebirds Package (Pre-Marital screening) and Thalassemia screening.

All health screening process will be attended by professional healthcare providers with sophisticated technology used to help in early detection and treatment of illness and diseases.

According to a hospital’s spokesperson, all promotions are valid until May 31.

“While we enjoy this festive season we should also not forget that February is the National Cancer Prevention Month in conjunction with the World Cancer Day which falls on Feb 4.

“The goal is to raise awareness on cancer at all levels, educate the public on its early signs, detection, possible prevention and treatment,” she said.


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