Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Line dancing offers many health benefits

Monday, August 15th, 2016
A group picture of the participants of line dance party organised by D' Line Dancerz, Tawau.

A group picture of the participants of line dance party organised by D’ Line Dancerz, Tawau.

TAWAU: Line dancing is getting more popular as a unique form of exercise because it provides the heart-healthy benefits of an aerobic exercise while also allowing you to engage in a social activity.

The exercise not only helps the dancers to keep fit and healthy but also learn to master a dance and build friendship.

A 21-year study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found dancing can reduce the risk of Alzheimer’s disease and other forms of dementia in the elderly. In the study, participants over the age of 75 who engaged in reading, dancing and playing musical instruments and board games once a week had a seven percent lower risk of dementia compared to those who did not. Those who engaged in these activities at least 11 days a month had a 63 percent lower risk!

Physical activities like playing tennis or golf, swimming, bicycling, dancing, walking for exercise and doing housework were also studied. One of the surprises of the study was that almost none of the physical activities appeared to offer any protection against dementia. There can be cardiovascular benefits of course, but the focus of this study was the mind.

There was one important exception: the only physical activity to offer protection against dementia was frequent dancing which lowered the risk by a dramatic 76 percent. Of all the physical activities, dancing involved the most mental effort.

Medical researchers reported that dancing helps to reduce stress, increase energy, improve strength and condition the body.

It also helps to increase muscle tone and coordination, lower the risk of coronary heart disease, improve cholesterol level, strengthens bones, reduce blood pressure, keeps you mentally fit and help you manage your weight.

The other benefits are strengthening bones of your legs and hips, helping to keep the heart in shape, building and increasing stamina, developing the circulatory system, increasing flexibility and balance and providing cardiovascular conditioning.

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Sabah has highest Hepatitis B cases

Monday, August 8th, 2016

Kota Kinabalu: Sabah has the highest number of Hepatitis B cases in the country with 1,168 cases, accounting for a rate of 33.51 cases for every 100,000 people in 2014 but it is Hepatitis C which has got the Health Ministry worried.

According to Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam, while Hepatitis B already saw a vaccination programme launched in 1989, the prevalence of Hepatitis C stood at 2.3 per cent or 300,000 of the adult population in Malaysia.

“The cause of the infection is through the sharing of syringe needles while taking drugs,” he said.

His speech was read by Deputy Director (Disease Control) Dr Chong Chee Keong, Saturday, in conjunction with the launching of the national-level World Hepatitis Day, here.

He said the disease spread much easier between spouses and those in an intimate relationship with HIV patients, adding that the number of cases is high among those aged 26 to 55 who are most productive and the backbone of the country’s economy.

Dr Subramaniam said treatment of Hepatitis C involves a regime of weekly injections and medication lasting six months, which could cost a whopping RM72,000 a patient.

A breakthrough in recent technology of such treatment, however, has shortened the process to six to 12 weeks but the cost could hit RM320,000 a patient, he pointed out.

Towards this end, Dr Subramaniam said prevention is much better that cure, saying Malaysians need to change to a healthy lifestyle and stay away from high-risk activities.

There are five types of virus that cause Hepatitis A, B, C, D and E and all of them infect the heart, while A and E can be spread through food, drinks and faeces.

The deadly hepatitis diseases are B and C which is estimated to infect 400 million people worldwide and cause the death of 1.4 million people each year.

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Future challenges of geriatric care in Malaysia

Friday, August 5th, 2016

Kota Kinabalu: Able Malaysians must prepare now for their own future ageing and one way is for professionals presently involved in geriatric care to help other states in Malaysia that don’t have such services.

Malaysian Society of Geriatric Medicine (MSGM), Prof Dr Philip Poi Jun Hua, who pioneered and now leads the Geriatrics Division of University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC), Kuala Lumpur, said: “The biggest issue for health professionals is to be able to persevere in providing good services for older adults in Malaysia…because they themselves will grow old, and if they don’t think about it now, when they get old, it is too late for them.”

He said those in the sunset of their lives, perhaps, won’t benefit as much from the development of the services because by the time the services are developed, they (parents) would have passed on.

Nevertheless, he added, it is important to have them in your memory “as to how they lived their old age, how they finished their lives, was it a dignified death or was it a death of suffering and discomfort because of the lack of services.

“So start sowing the seeds of interest and awareness so that health professionals will commit themselves to providing quality healthcare for those older than them and for their own old age when they get there.”

To another question, Prof Dr Poi said ideally, the ratio of doctor-patient in geriatric care should be 1:5,000.

According to him, the aim is to have at least one or two geriatricians per state in the country.

“Which means there would be 26 geriatricians in 13 states but given a population of 29 million, the ratio is 1 per million as there are presently 29 geriatricians in Malaysia. But then many have gone into private practice,” he lamented.

He, however, said the ratio does not really matter as what is more important is the quality of the geriatrician in that he or she is able to get a multidisciplinary team of interested people – nurses, a physiotherapist, occupational therapist, the social worker and even the dietician, all working together with a common goal, i.e. to prevent disability in the older person.

“Disability is the thing that kills your hope and your desire to live comfortably. You cannot live comfortably because of your disability, so we have to avoid that,” Prof Dr Poi said.

He reiterated that one of the future challenges of geriatric care is not just a shortage of geriatricians.

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‘Cut down on rice intake’ call

Saturday, July 30th, 2016

INANAM: Some 80 parents and teachers of SK Bantayan here benefitted from a “cooking healthy food” demonstration by a nutritionist Kimberly Wong during the half-day health programme at the school premises, Friday.

The programme which was jointly organised by Shangrila Resort in Kota Kinabalu together with Mercy Malaysia was lauded by headmistress Junaidah Yassin.

“From my observation, some of the students do not eat proper breakfast before they come to school.

It is important that parents must have knowledge and be more aware the importance of having good breakfast.

This is so that the children can come to school with an alert mind and good health, to perform well in their studies,” said Junaidah.

Kimberly, who is attached to the Health Clinic based in Kudat advised parents to give healthy breakfast for their children which contain milk as it is a good source for healthy bones.

“I understand that some children do not like to drink milk, therefore you can add milk in the breakfast meal such as pancake. Milk powder or liquid can be blended together with flour and pan-fry it with a little portion of oil or butter.

It is highly nutritious.

In your daily meal, you should have more vegetables and a little rice with meat and/ or fish,” she added.

Eating fruits daily is also a good practice for children and adult according to Kimberly.

She said any kinds of fruits are good however, it must be taken in moderate portion.

“When people get sick, only then they would consider taking fruits to help them recover.

But it is not the right way of doing. Fruit is taken to prevent us from getting sick but not to cure.

Therefore prevention is better than cure. Eat fruits everyday and you won’t get sick easily,” she advised.

She also alerted parents not to consume excessive rice as it is not good for the health in a long run.

She studies show that many Malaysians are going into obesity.

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‘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.


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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.


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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.

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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.

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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.

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‘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.

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