Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

New trend of ops using alternative procedure to conventional anaesthesia

Saturday, August 29th, 2015

Expansion plan: Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam at the new building construction project site while visiting Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun in Ipoh. — Bernama

Expansion plan: Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam at the new building construction project site while visiting Hospital Raja Permaisuri Bainun in Ipoh. — Bernama

IPOH: The Health Ministry will ex­­pand the usage of acupuncture-assisted anaesthesia (AAA) to other hospitals after its successful introduction at the Raja Permaisuri Bai­­nun Hospital here.

Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Su­­bramaniam said the method, known also as AAA, would not re­­place conventional anaesthetics but would be introduced at the Kuala Lumpur Hospital, Putrajaya Hos­pital and Selayang Hospital.

He said AAA was first practised at the hospital here after a visit by ministry director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah to the Shu­­gang University in Shanghai in 2012.

“There have been 22 surgeries performed here where the doctors used AAA.

“We have also trained doctors on AAA procedures,” he told journalists after visiting the hospital yesterday.

“It’s another alternative to the conventional method and one that we will be promoting to patients,” he added.

Dr Subramaniam said AAA had its advantages over conventional methods.

“It is cost-efficient.

“Patients would be awake and alert during surgery but the pain sensation is blunted and motor functions are preserved with less drugs being used,” he said.

“Patients can also go home after surgery, lessening the need to stay at the hospital,” he added.

Dr Subramaniam said hospitals would not force patients to use AAA.

“There will be counselling first to see whether the patient can accept it,” he said.

The first thyroid surgery using AAA was performed by Dr Noor Hisham here, assisted by consultant surgeon Dr Yan Yang Wai, while the acupuncture was performed by the hospital’s anaesthetic department head Dr Kavita M. Bhojwani.

Dr Kavita said AAA could be applied to only certain types of procedures.

“The method is suitable for neurosurgery cases like craniotomy and cranioplasty and general surgery like removing breast lumps, lipomas, chemoports and inguinal hernia,” she said.


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Study: Sleeping posture can affect brain health

Friday, August 7th, 2015

SLEEPING on your side rather than your back or stomach may play a role in helping reduce the risk of developing Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases, according to a new study.

Side sleeping opens a passage in the brain called the glymphatic pathway that dispels waste and other chemicals, say the researchers from Stony Brook University in the US.

“It is interesting that the lateral sleep position is already the most popular in human and most animals – even in the wild – and it appears that we have adapted the lateral sleep position to most efficiently clear our brain of the metabolic waste products that built up while we are awake,” says Dr Maiken Nedergaard of the University of Rochester.

The team’s research began years ago when they used magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) technology to observe the glymphatic pathway in rodents.

They learned that the waste-clearing process – bathing the brain with cleansing cerebrospinal fluids (CSF) and interstitial fluid (ISF) – is most efficient during sleep.

What gets flushed out the glymphatic pathway are amyloid beta; and tau proteins that are unhealthy in the brain if they build up.

In the study, lead author Dr Helene Benveniste and her team used MRI technology and kinetic modelling to measure the exchange rates of the fluids CSF and ISF in rodents who had been given anesthesia as they slept on their sides, backs and stomachs.

Technologies called fluorescence microscopy and radioactive tracing that gave the team a view of the glymphatic pathway revealed increased efficiency when the rodents slept on their sides.

Dr Nedergaard says the results of the study serve as further proof that sleep serves a waste-eliminating function.


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‘Medicine prices will increase with TPPA’

Sunday, July 26th, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: The price of me­­di­­­cines – from antibiotics to cancer treatments – some of which went up due to the Goods and Services Tax (GST) will go up even more under the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPPA), a doctors’ association says.

The Muslim Doctors Association of Malaysia (Perdim) said GST plus the TPPA equalled a “double whammy” and that many consumers might not be able to cope with it.

Association president Datuk Dr Ahmad Shukri Ismail urged the Government to not agree to the TPPA, which is currently under negotiation.

Ahmad Shukri, the Barisan Nasional state assemblyman for Pulau Tawar, Pahang, said at a press conference: “We have to speak out about this because consumers are already bearing the brunt of so many price increases.”

The association will hold its first annual general meeting on Aug 1 and has 955 members comprising Muslim general practitioners who work in private clinics and private hospitals.

Association deputy president Dr Mior Mohd Yusuf Adnan said about 80% of medicines sold in Malaysia were generics, which meant prices would likely rise sharply under the TPPA.

The trade agreement would create strict curbs on the sale of gene­ric medicines as Western pharmaceutical companies seek to streng­then protection of their patents and intellectual property rights.

“It will be harder to obtain gene­ric medicines because under the TPPA, most of the medicine that will be sold will be ‘genuine medicine’.

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Healthcare must be accessible to all

Wednesday, July 22nd, 2015

IT is reasonable to believe that a change in public policy is for the greater good. The assumption here is that even if the new rules dis­advantage some of us, the whole country benefits from the overall effect and all of us will ultimately be better off.

But there are such things as unintended consequences, including those that threaten to wipe out whatever gain that is expected from a policy improvement.

For example, many people may see an imbalance in the fact that foreigners in Malaysia get subsidised healthcare when they go to government ­clinics and hospitals. In February last year, Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subra­maniam said foreigners were taking about 30% to 40% of the allocation for medical treatment meant for Malaysians.

“They are eating up our medical subsidy,” he was quoted as saying.

The Government has decided that foreigners will pay the full cost of the services provided by public hospitals and clinics. The subsidy they enjoy will be gradually removed over four years, beginning in January this year. Eventually, the foreigners will have to fork out about twice what they were paying last year.

But now that foreigners’ medical expenses have increased, are we prepared for the possibility that this will lead to other public health issues? This is the question that Sungai Siput MP Dr Michael Jeyakumar Devaraj has raised when applying for a judicial review of the new fee structure for ­foreigners.

He argued that the higher ­charges will deter most migrant workers from seeking treatment, and this may cause diseases to spread.

Dr Jeyakumar was once a chest physician and he therefore knows plenty about tuberculosis. He used that background to drive home his points about why we should worry if poor foreigners are less likely to get medical attention.

He said a foreigner would need to spend RM92 to get checked for TB. This includes the registration fee and payments for basic tests.

He pointed out that there are about two million undocumented migrant workers in Malaysia. They do not go for medical screening and thus represent a major cause for the rise in TB cases here. For them, it is not just about the money.

Government hospitals and clinics are obliged to report patients who are illegal immigrants to the police and the Immigration Department.

The Star Says.

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Raise your hands for hygiene

Sunday, July 19th, 2015

"Cleanliness: The cuddly Antabax mascot, Germbuster made an appearance at the launch of the national hygiene campaign.

Cleanliness: The cuddly Antabax mascot, Germbuster made an appearance at the launch of the national hygiene campaign.

ANTABAX, an antibacterial personal care range, is working with the Health and Education Ministries on an interactive educational drive to raise awareness and encourage better general hygiene practices among children through the Antabax National Hygiene Campaign.

It will benefit pupils from more than 30 primary schools across Malaysia and is aimed at reducing the spread of communicable diseases among pupils.

It was held nationwide from May to July this year. The National Hygiene Campaign features the first National CLAP competition.

CLAP is an acronym for Clean Your Hands, Learn Correct Hand Hygiene, Apply Correct Hand Washing Steps and Practice Makes Perfect.

The competition focuses on hand rhythms, and a capella singing to reinforce good hygiene habits.

It also highlights the importance of hands in our daily lives including as musical instruments.

The competition offers total cash prizes of RM32,000 across four categories of primary, secondary, tertiary and an open category for those who are not students or wish to join with their family or friends.

The launch of the campaign was recently held at SK Assunta Satu in Petaling Jaya.

It carried an important healthcare message with a specially-choreographed clapping and stomping routine set to a catchy a capella version of the Antabax Gosok-gosok melody to reinforce the hygiene habit.

There was a special appearance by the cuddly Antabax mascot, Germbuster.

Pupils from SK Assunta Satu presented an energetic and well coordinated CLAP performance that had everyone clapping along.

The campaign is timely as it reinforces correct hand hygiene techniques as a precautionary measure against communicable diseases such as Hand Foot and Mouth Disease (HFMD), and influenza as well as the more usual cough and cold.

“Since our first CSR initiative in 2009, Antabax has run annual public education and awareness programs on hygiene,” aid Lam Soon Edible Oils Sdn Bhd Household and Personal Care Marketing Division group product manager Angeline Sim.

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It’s not really a choice, it’s a must

Wednesday, July 15th, 2015

Vaccination aims to prevent epidemics in our country, and should not just be about our own preference.

EVERYONE wants the best for their children. In this age where information is readily accessible, we can always refer to social media to find out what would be “the best” for our children.

The problem is, how can we be sure that information obtained from social media is accurate and true?

Many would readily accept the information “as is”, using the argument that “people would not share it if it is not true”.

In Malaysia, anti-vaccination opinions seemed to gather some traction circa 2012, partly due to social media. A few personalities have also come on board, proudly announcing that they do not vaccinate their children.

One of the popular arguments put forward by the anti-vaccination movement is that measles, mumps and rubella (MMR) vaccine causes autism. This argument is based on a scientific paper authored by Andrew Wakefield and 12 co-authors in the renowned British medi­cal journal Lancet in 1998. The authors claimed that possible environmental triggers, i.e. the MMR vaccine, were “associated with the onset of gastrointestinal disease and developmental regression”.

This “fact” is shared by proponents of anti-vaccination as proof for their argument. Unfortunately, when the paper was retracted by Lancet in 2010, no one seems to have bothered to share this deve­lopment.

Wakefield was found to have falsified the data used in his study, breached a number of ethical guidelines and had his medical licence revoked.

However, the damage was done. In part due to this article, many parents opted not to vaccinate their children for fear of autism.

Some even argued that vaccination is a part of a bigger conspiracy to enrich pharmaceutical companies. Engrossed with conspiracy theories, we sometimes turn a blind eye to a number of established scienti­fic facts.

Vaccination is a form of preventive medicine, and not a cure or treatment. In an article entitled “Vaccination: A Personal Choice?” published on April 27 this year in The Malaysian Medical Gazette, Dr Kamal Amzan highlighted an often-neglected fact.


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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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