Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Sabah has highest number of bilateral blindness patients

Monday, November 9th, 2015


Jainab (third left) receiving a gift of appreciation from Lions, District 308-A2 Governer, Dato’ Lawrence Ting.

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah has the highest number of patients with bilateral blindness and most of them come from the rural areas.

Head of the Eye Department in the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, Dr Sheena Alexander said most of the patients lacked knowledge on eye diseases and just as many could not afford the medical costs for treatment.

Cataract is high on the list with 70.9 per cent of patients suffering from the ailment but 20.9 per cent of these eye patients also refuse surgery out of fear.

“This puts Sabah among the top three states in the country with the highest number of eye patients afraid to opt for surgery,” she said when speaking at the World Sight Day 2015 celebration held here yesterday.

The event was launched by the Minister of Community Development and Consumer Affairs, Datuk Jainab Ahmad Ayid.

It was organised by the Lions Club of Kota Kinabalu by joining forces with the Queen Elizabeth Hospital (QEH) and the Sabah Society for the Blind.

In reminding the public of the importance of eye tests, Sheena said diseases such as cataract, glaucoma and diabetic retinopathy could lead to blindness if left unchecked.

A survey by Malaysia’s Health Ministry showed that 33,000 eye patients in Sabah suffered from poor vision due to cataract and roughly 7, 800 of them are blind due to the same condition.

Cataract is a clouding of the lens in the eye leading to a decrease in vision and can affect one or both eyes. It is one of the greatest scourges that affect the elderly.

Glaucoma is the second leading cause of blindness after cataract. It is an eye condition in which the optic nerve is damaged.

“For those aged above 40, one in 100 has a chance of developing glaucoma without the person knowing it because there are no signs and symptoms,” said Dr Sheena.


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HKL specialist: Many factors to current hike in typhoid cases

Thursday, October 22nd, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: Kuala Lumpur Hospital confirmed it is currently treating patients for typhoid fever but not all are serious cases.

HKL’s consultant physician and infectious diseases specialist Dr Leong Chee Loon said the current outbreak was being investigated and “anything else is merely speculation.”

He said many factors could have caused the disease including the cleanliness of stalls, water and ice supplies.

“However, there is just no way of knowing until a thorough investigation has been concluded.

“Since there has been a rise in cases of typhoid, we know that we must be cautious. Those who show signs of fever, stomach aches and diarrhoea should go to the hospital or clinic immediately for an examination,” he said.

The Health Ministry has said 32 cases of typhoid fever were recorded by the Kuala Lumpur Health Department since August this year.


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Set aside more funds for healthcare, Govt urged

Thursday, October 15th, 2015

PETALING JAYA: The Government needs to allocate more of the Budget for the healthcare system.

According to the World Health Organisation, Malaysia’s total expenditure on health as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) is 4% versus Singapore’s 4.6% in 2013. This includes public and private healthcare.

Malaysia’s 2014 GDP totalled US$327bil over a population of 30 million versus Singapore’s US$308bil over a 5.5 million population.

Universiti Malaya’s Medical Faculty Dean (development) and surgery professor Dr Azad Hassan Abdul Razack (pic left) said the transplant issue is a “reflection, a microcosm of the entire healthcare system”.“It seems to be neglected.”

Dr Azad said Malaysia’s public healthcare spending against the country’s GDP is small.

“Doctors and nurses in public healthcare are paid little but the coverage is wide and the patients get a lot of things for free or at a minimum cost.

“Therefore, the lack of budget coupled with other issues prevent public healthcare from progressing to the next level in terms of innovative techniques and expertise.

“In terms of GDP, public healthcare spending is not at a level recommended by WHO,” said Dr Azad.

“We need to include the private sector, then only we will get more.”

He said Malaysia’s healthcare system in terms of outreach is good – there is a clinic not far from one another.

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Greek doc says ‘aye’ to e-ciggies

Saturday, October 3rd, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: A cardiologist from Greece has argued that e-cigarettes should be made available to smokers who want to stop using cigarettes, but could not or did not wish to give up nicotine.

Dr Konstantinos Farsalinos said e-cigarettes, like other reduced nicotine-containing products, had unique characteristics and role to play in tobacco harm reduction.

The University of Patras’ Onassis Cardiac Surgery Center cardiologist and researcher quoted studies that said the current nicotine replacement therapies had less than a 6% success rate while oral medications had less than a 20% success rate.

“Most smokers do not want to go to the doctor,” he said yesterday in a media briefing on facts about e-cigarettes initiated by the Malaysian Organisation of Vape Entity.

Alternative method: (from left) Boley and Dr Farsalinos listening to co-founder Heneage Mitchell (right) as he explains that Malaysians would still vape even if e-cigarettes are banned.

Alternative method: (from left) Boley and Dr Farsalinos listening to co-founder Heneage Mitchell (right) as he explains that Malaysians would still vape even if e-cigarettes are banned.

Instead, the e-cigarette was more acceptable to smokers to use it to reduce smoking, argued Dr Farsalinos, saying that it was 95% less harmful than cigarettes.

On Aug 13, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said the ministry was in discussions with various agencies and parties on the effects the various methods of smoking have on one’s health.

He urged the public to stop vaping until comprehensive findings on the risks were released.

John Boley, the co-founder of the consumer advocacy group pointed out that from 400 Malaysian smokers aged 18 and above surveyed online by Ipsos from June 3 to June 17, eight in 10 (82%) agreed that “e-cigarettes represent a positive alternative to today’s cigarettes”.


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Trapped by haze – how long more?

Monday, September 28th, 2015

THE agony of being trapped in the all-enveloping haze, which should be more accurately called smog, continues with no end in sight.

It is no longer a transient irritation that can be “tolerated” because it will soon go away.

“The number of forest fires and land fires could rise until end-November,” according to a spokesman of Indonesia’s National Disaster Management Agency on Sept 23.

Part of the reason is the El Nino which causes dry weather that causes peat lands to burn faster.

The burning of peat lands and the forest fires caused by plantations and farmers in Sumatra and Kalimantan are the sources of the haze in Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore.

It is incredible that after so many years of the annual haze affair, after so many promises of action, and after so many meetings and agreements in the context of the three countries and of Asean cooperation, there is still a severe and prolonged haze this year.

Especially if the haze is to continue another two months, solving this problem should be the highest priority for the leaders of Asean – or at least of the three countries.

Asean leaders have given priority to forging trade and investment agreements, and launching an Asean Community by the end of this year.

But the most visible and urgent issue – how to end the haze which is affecting the health of millions of citizens in the three countries – has yet to receive the full attention it deserves.

Health of the people and the environment we live in are surely more basic and important than expanding trade.

Some people may treat the haze as just an inconvenience that will soon go away.

It is immensely frustrating to have to breathe in the polluted air, especially for people who are vulnerable.

Those who have the means can close the windows in their homes, put on the air conditioner in every room, and buy air purifying machines to catch the haze particles.

But most Malaysians don’t have air-conditioners or air purifiers.

They have to open their windows and tolerate the smog-filled air for the whole day and especially night.

People whose health will be most affected include those living near the epicentres of the forest and peat fires, especially residents of Sarawak and Sabah, and those in the southern and central states of the peninsula.

For them, the Air Pollutant Index may often or continuously be in the unhealthy range (101-200), very unhealthy range (201-300) or even hazardous range (more than 300).

Note that the API reading exceeded 1,000 and even 2,000 in parts of Indonesian Kalimantan on some days last week.


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Haze: Schools in several states to close on Monday

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

PETALING JAYA: Schools in several states will be closed again due to the worsening haze.

The Education Ministry said that schools in Selangor, Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya, Negri Sembilan and several parts of Sarawak will be closed on Monday.

The schools affected in Sarawak are located in Kuching, Sri Aman and Kota Semarahan.

On Sunday, the Ministry said in a statement that the closure was because the Air Pollutant Index (API) readings in these areas reached unhealthy and very unhealthy levels.

As of 11am Sunday, the API readings for Port Klang was 252, Shah Alam (281), Petaling Jaya (232), Putrajaya (206) and Batu Muda (256).

In Sarawak, Sri Aman recorded an API reading of 188, Kuching (139) and Samarahan (145).

Earlier, Deputy Education Minister P. Kamalanathan said an announcement would be made whether schools would be closed.

He said Education Minister Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid had requested the ministry to monitor the haze situation.

“YBDS @MahdzirKhalid have requested @KemPendidikan to make an early announcement with regards to the current haze situation. Will update soon,” Kamalanathan had tweeted Sunday morning.


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API readings worsen throughout Malaysia

Sunday, September 27th, 2015

Return of the smog: Kuala Lumpur was covered in thick haze as air quality levels rose rapidly.

Return of the smog: Kuala Lumpur was covered in thick haze as air quality levels rose rapidly.

PETALING JAYA: People choked as the air quality in the Klang Valley, Malacca, Negri Sembilan and parts of Sarawak deteriorated.

Kuala Lumpur, Putrajaya and nearly all of Selangor were covered in thick haze, with a rapid rise in Air Pollutant Index (API) readings.

In Kuantan, the air quality also remained at an unhealthy level.

In Petaling Jaya, the API doubled from 61 at noon to 123 at 7pm, while in Shah Alam it rose from 62 to 128 over the same period.

A reading of 100 to 200 indicates unhealthy air quality, while 201 to 300 is very unhealthy and above 300 hazardous. A reading of 51 to 100 is moderate.

Other areas with unhealthy air quality as at 7pm yesterday were Putrajaya (121); Cheras (110); Kemaman (119); Port Klang (125); Banting (119); Sri Aman (118); Kuching (112); Indera Mahkota in Kuantan (105); and Balok Baru in Kuantan (122).

Also in the unhealthy range were Seremban (115); Port Dickson (115); Nilai (114); Bukit Rambai (108); and Malacca City (136).

The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry said in a statement that the haze caused by land and forest fires in Indonesia was currently being blown by winds from Kalimantan to West Sarawak.

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Dengue cases rising again

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

PETALING JAYA: As many as 2,604 dengue fever cases were reported from Sept 6 to 12, an increase of 16.8% compared to the week earlier.

The Health Ministry said the number of cases had been going down in the last eight weeks but had begun to increase last week.

Seven states showed increases in cases compared with the week before: Selangor, 122 cases (12.6%); Kuala Lumpur and Putrajaya, 87 cases (54.7%); Kelantan, 46 cases (54.8%); Negri Sembilan, 44 cases (115.8%); Perak, 41 cases (33.1%); Malacca, 30 cases (75.0%); and Sabah, 13 cases (31.0%).

From January to Sept 12, the total number of dengue cases was at 85,488 compared with 70,337 the same period last year, an increase of 21.5% (15,151 cases).

There were 234 dengue deaths reported up to Sept 12 compared with 133 cases for the same period last year, an increase of 75.9%.

As many as 936 dengue outbreak localities were reported nationwide.

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Focus on day care health services

Saturday, September 19th, 2015

Tuaran: The Health Ministry will be proactively promoting day care health services in government clinics that can perform surgeries with less days to be hospitalised as a major transformation of the nation’s healthcare.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr Subramaniam, who disclosed this, said day care health services in government clinics will be given more medical tasks to carry out so that patients could seek treatment without being hospitalised or just cut the number of days warded.

He said the move is a revolutionary process in the overall healthcare system in the country under the 11th Malaysia Plan (11MP).

“I adopted the move when I met the Health Minister of the Netherlands at the World Economic Forum in China who told me that 95 per cent of healthcare services in the Netherlands was outpatient treatment cases as a result of providing day care health services.

“Hence, I believe this would further strengthen primary healthcare services in our country from hospitalisation to non-hospitalisation medical services,” he said here, Thursday.

Subramaniam said patients who undergo surgeries can come in the morning and return home in the afternoon which could cut the high cost of being hospitalised and also they would not be exposed to certain health risks at the hospitals.

For instance, he said surgeries to treat cataract patients could be done at the day care service whereby the patients can return home the same day.

“We have started this move by placing the day care in many hospitals such as in Kuala Lumpur, and the very strong day care is in Ipoh, Perak where many operations and surgeries have been carried out, unlike before where few such non-hospitalisation operations were done.

“In Sabah, such day care has been set up at Queen Elizabeth Hospital and Tawau Hospital which seem to run smoothly as one way to cut high hospitalisation costs. This is a major challenge and transformation that we are taking up to further improve the whole healthcare system in the country,” he said.

To a question, Subramaniam said there is limited funding to build new hospitals under the 11MP. However, several proposals have been received to upgrade quality medical services in district hospitals.

In a related development, he said his ministry has a plan to upgrade clinic facilities in Kota Marudu to enable the clinic to carry out more efficient and effective treatment.

He said this upgrading will include providing facilities like in hospitals such as dialysis and x-ray.

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Agenda on advance medical directives

Tuesday, September 8th, 2015

Muslim scholars take the view that there is a limit to a patient’s autonomy in choosing the forms of treatment and care, as a doctor’s professional advice should also be considered.

FROM the perspective of the medical practitioner, an advance medical directive (AMD) is a proactive measure by an individual to help family members and next-of-kin decide the forms of treatment that must be provided when the individual has lost the ability to make his/her own decisions.

However, in Malaysia, there are no standardised guidelines on AMD to ensure that the care and management of patients who have lost their decision-making ability is ethically done, unlike some countries such as the United States, Australia, Holland, Germany, Italy, Switzerland, Canada, England and Wales in Britain, and Singapore.

In the Malaysian and Muslim contexts, discussions on AMD among community members outside the medical fraternity are still in their infancy. Because of this, public awareness on AMD is poor and consequently discussions on AMD from the Islamic perspective are very limited.

Even medical practitioners may not agree on the definition of an AMD. However, in simple terms, AMD includes aspects of care, treatment and disclosure of patient’s wishes after death. This may help the next-of-kin to make the decision when the time comes.

Modern medicine has enabled physicians to perform intervention in order to prolong one’s life, for example, by using a ventilator to mechanically assist or take over a patient’s breathing process.


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