Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Almost half of foreign workers infected with TB, say doctors

Thursday, March 12th, 2015

PETALING JAYA: With almost half of foreign workers failing their medical tests found to be infected with the highly contagious tuberculosis (TB), doctors are raising the alarm over the presence of some three million to six million illegals here.

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr H. Krishna Kumar said illegal foreign workers, who were not screened at all, were the biggest cause for the rise in TB cases.

Although most Malaysians were vaccinated against the disease, those with chronic diseases such as severe diabetes or dengue were in danger, and likely to be infected, he said.

“Those who know they are ill and cannot come in through the legal channel will choose to come in illegally.

“Because those who come in illegally are not screened, they are walking around and spreading the diseases to people here and this is very frightening.

“This is where enforcement by the Immigration Department is so important,” he said when contacted here yesterday.

As most foreign workers here tend to live in large groups within confined areas, Dr Krishna Kumar said the risk of diseases spreading was high.

“If a group of legal and illegal foreign workers are staying in close proximity, the legal workers are exposed as well. And they are in contact with the rest of the country’s workforce,” he said.

Healthy and immunised Malaysians, he said, were usually safe from TB but those with chronic diseases such as severe diabetes or dengue were more susceptible.

Those with more exposure to infected persons also had higher chances of getting infected, said Dr Krishna Kumar.

“As most of us have gotten our vaccinations, we do not get the typical TB. We can get it in our kidneys, intestines and even reproductive organs,” he said.


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Separate pharmacies from clinics would burden patients: Tun M

Wednesday, March 11th, 2015

Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed today spoke out against a proposed plan to separate pharmacies from clinics, saying that it would pose a burden on patients and may endanger their lives. Pix by Fariz Iswadi Ismail.

SERDANG: Former prime minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamed today spoke out against a proposed plan to separate pharmacies from clinics, saying that it would pose a burden on patients and may endanger their lives.

Dr Mahathir, a former medical doctor, said unlike many clinics, most pharmacies and dispensaries did not operate around the clock which would make it difficult for patients who needed medication at night.

“When they are prescribed something at night, they would have to send someone out to the dispensary, which may be far away or closed.”

“The patient himself may be too ill to move so they would have to send someone to get the medicines for them. It takes time… in the meantime, he (the patient) might die.

“Sick people don’t follow the clock,” he told a press conference here.

Dr Mahathir said it was more cost-effective to maintain the present system of allowing doctors to dispense medication.

“I know, I was a doctor before. Patients often came to me at odd hours – 3am, 4am – so I had to carry my own stock of medicines with me so that I could immediately treat them.

“It’s harder for the patients if we are asked to obtain medicines from dispensaries.”

He also dismissed claims by the Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society that separating dispensaries from clinics would reduce the number of medication errors made by doctors as pharmacists would be able to double check the prescription.


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More public parks needed: Rahman Dahlan

Sunday, March 8th, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR: With an estimated population of over 30 million people by 2020, Malaysia needs 67,200 hectares of open space for public parks as an access to a healthy lifestyle.

As of 2013, 14,988 hectares of open space in Peninsular Malaysia had been developed into public parks which mean only 52,212 hectares is needed to be developed.

“In the 11th Malaysia Plan (RMK11), the Ministry of Urban Wellbeing, Housing and Local Government (UHLG) plans to enhance the development of parks across the country as a prerequisite for Malaysia to achieve the criteria of Developed Countries in 2020.

“UHLG will focus on assisting state and local authorities so that every city in this country has at least one 20-hectare municipal public park,” said its Minister Datuk Abdul Rahman Dahlan today.

He also said that the ministry will look at mechanisms where private parties can be engaged as sponsors to the upgrading of public parks in the country.

“There are 2,078 public parks, especially community parks, across the country that needs to be upgraded and require donations,” he added.

Abdul Rahman spoke to reporters after officiating the National Landscape Day 2015 at the Bukit Kiara Federal Park.


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Obesity a major problem with school children

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

PUTRAJAYA: There is an increasing problem of obesity among school children and a change towards healthy lifestyle is needed to tackle the issue, Deputy Education Minister II P.Kamalanathan said.

Kamalanathan said this after the conclusion of the Nestlé Malaysia Healthy Lifestyle Programme (PCHS) successfully created an impact on attitude and knowledge towards healthy living at 100 day boarding schools nationwide.

The three-year intervention programme from 2012 to 2014 involving over 4,000 students from secondary boarding school, used the Healthy Eating and Be Active among Teens (Hebat) module with 10 topics encompassing nutrition and physical activities.

“We will discuss on how this programme can be implemented in normal schools, because in a day boarding school, the environment is controlled but at a normal school, children are exposed to all kinds of temptations.

“The finding from this programme can help childhood obesity and we want to encourage schools especially teachers master the module.

“After three years, the programme concludes that the knowledge, attitude and healthy lifestyle increased drastically. Students were also adopting more positive habits like eating on time and exercising,” Kamalanathan said, adding that there was a reduction in the obesity rate among the intervention groups.

He added the outcome of the programme shows the effectiveness and success rate while including teachers, parents, students and food operators to work together in ensuring the success of the programme.


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Dispensing rights: Who should get it?

Sunday, February 22nd, 2015

IT is an issue that resurfaces every so often – should doctors only prescribe, while pharmacists dispense?

The latest bout of verbal sparring has come about after it was reported in this paper that pharmacists hoped that the separation of dispensing rights would be accepted by the Health Ministry and come into effect on April 1.

Doctors have responded to this with arguments that seek to protect their “inherent” right to dispense medicines to their patients.

This issue is not limited to Malaysia alone. In countries where doctors dispense medicines, calls have also been made to separate prescribing and dispensing duties.

Even in countries where there’s a separation of duties, it’s not a totalitarian rule.

For example, the American Medical Association Code of Ethics provides that physicians may dispense drugs as long as there is no patient exploitation and patients have the right to a prescription that can be filled elsewhere.

Some doctors in the United Kingdom, especially in rural areas, are allowed to prescribe and dispense medicines to their patients.

At the root of the issue lies a “competitive” relationship bet­ween doctors and pharmacists, with each trying to “protect and preserve” task domains.

Evaluating this issue is no easy task. After all, drugs and medicines cannot be regarded as a common commodity, where the customer can be given options where he or she can make an educated and reasonable choice.

If there was separation, what happens to rural patients when there’s a scarcity of pharmacies?

The Star Says.

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Parents and school authorities must address smoking habit among students

Friday, February 13th, 2015

LABUAN: Close cooperation between the school authorities and parents and their strict monitoring are important in addressing the smoking habit among students.

Labuan Health Department director, Dr Ismail Ali said despite efforts made by the national authorities, information campaigns and advice on the deleterious effects of smoking, the inability to reduce smoking addiction was indeed regrettable and a cause for serious concern.

“Cigarette smoking is a prevalent habit among students and we believe the number of student smokers is growing. We need the cooperation of the parent-teacher associations (PTAs) to help resolve this issue,” he told Bernama today.

He said undeniably, the habit was influenced by their family members’ habit, mainly of their fathers’.

“Hence, parental behaviour, whether it is positive or negative can have a great impact on the growing years of children and even during their adolescent period,” he said.

Dr Ismail said peer pressure at school and the workplace was another major factor for individuals to pick up the smoking habit.

“There must be a set of rules and policies to guide students on proper behaviour and on having good habits.”

He noted that the mass media could play a significant role in disseminating important information about the bad effects of smoking, by supporting anti-smoking campaigns and promoting intervention programmes against smoking.

“Education and enforcement are two important elements in tackling the problem and they must go hand in hand,” he said.

Secondary school teacher, Sitiphanus Alwi said the type of school attended by students was one of the major reasons for students to pick up smoking or not.


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Bad hygiene habits the cause of eye infection

Sunday, February 8th, 2015

PETALING JAYA: Lack of awareness of the dangers and bad hygiene habits are the main reasons why contact lens users get eye infections, say experts.

“We hear all kinds of horror stories from patients, like cleaning their lenses with saliva, wearing lenses longer than they are supposed to and swapping lenses with friends to try a different colour or pattern,” said the Health Ministry’s Malaysian Optical Council (MOC) secretary Nor Azizah Ismail.

She said that in 2013, the number of patients seeking treatment for corneal ulcer and infections due to contact lens-related complication in government hospitals jumped to almost double the number in 2010.

Although most cases were mild, some were so bad that they needed eye transplant or caused blindness.

She said the worry was that the number of sufferers could be the tip of the iceberg, as the number of cases treated in the private sector was not known.

“I saw between 100 and 200 cases over the last few years, but I think there is a potential for an explosion of cases when you hear of some of the horrifying things users, especially the teens, say they are doing when wearing their contact lenses,” said Dr Michael Law, consultant ophthalmologist and eye surgeon at the International Specialist Eye Centre.

Hygiene is important because the most common contact lens, the soft contact lens, is made of a hydrogel material which is prone to collect dirt or protein deposits, making it an attractive home for bacteria and fungi.

“Acanthamoeba, a parasitic microbe, is in our water and can’t be killed by cholorine. If you leave your case wet with tap water, it can breed on your case or contact lens. When you put the lens on, the amoeba will find a new home in your eyes,” he said.

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Stroke risk may reflect in inability to stand on one leg

Saturday, December 20th, 2014

WASHINGTON: Struggling to stand on one leg for less than 20 seconds is linked to a higher risk of stroke, small blood vessel damage in the brain and reduced cognitive function, Press Trust of India (PTI) reports citing a study.

“Our study found the ability to balance on one leg is an important test for brain health,” said Yasuharu Tabara, lead study author and associate professor from the Centre for Genomic Medicine at Kyoto University Graduate School of Medicine in Kyoto, Japan.

“Individuals showing poor balance on one leg should receive increased attention as this may indicate an increased risk for brain disease and cognitive decline,” Tabara said.

The study involved 841 women and 546 men with an average age of 67.

To measure one-leg standing time, participants stood with their eyes open and raised one leg.

The maximum time for keeping the leg raised was 60 seconds. Participants performed this examination twice and the better results were used in the study analysis.

Cerebral small vessel disease was evaluated using brain magnetic resonance imaging.

Researchers found that the inability to balance on one leg for longer than 20 seconds was associated with cerebral small vessel disease – small infarctions without symptoms such as lacunar infarction and microbleeds.

The study revealed 34.5 percent of those with more than two lacunar infarction lesions had trouble balancing as did 16 percent of those with one lacunar infarction lesion.

Thirty percent of participants with more than two microbleed lesions and 15.3 percent with one microbleed lesion had also trouble balancing.

Overall, those with cerebral diseases were older, had high blood pressure and had thicker carotid arteries than those who did not have cerebral small vessel disease.

However, after adjustment for these covariates, participants with more microbleeds and lacunar infarctions in the brain had shorter times standing on one leg.

Short one-legged standing times were also independently linked with lower cognitive scores.


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1,691 with HIV in Sabah

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

KOTA KINABALU: A total of 1,982 HIV cases, 734 AIDS cases and 291 deaths due to the disease have been recorded in Sabah between 1991 and September, 2014.

A joint statement released by the State Health Department and City Hall in conjunction with the Sabah Level World AIDS Day celebration held here yesterday mentioned that there were some 1,691 people living with HIV in Sabah.

During the first nine months of this year (January to September), 191 new cases of HIV infection were reported in Sabah. Based on this figure, it is expected that Sabah will have 255 new cases of HIV infection by the end of 2014.

The rate of new HIV infection in Sabah is expected to be 7.32 for every 100,000 people in Sabah.

Hence, the government, particularly the Sabah Health Department, is hoping for the cooperation for all parties to ensure efforts towards prevention is implemented thoroughly.

Meanwhile, Chief Minister Datuk Seri Musa Haji Aman urged people who are at risk of getting HIV were yesterday urged to go for a test and treatment which are provided free at all government clinics and hospitals in Sabah.

He said that the government provided various tests and screening for HIV, including pre-marriage test, HIV tests for pregnant mothers and suspected HIV patients at all government clinics and hospitals for free.

“The government is committed to ensure all efforts towards its prevention are implemented at all levels of the community,” he said in his speech for the launch of the Sabah State-level World AIDS Day held at the Kompleks Pentadbiran Kerajaan Persekutuan Sabah auditorium near here

Musa, in his speech delivered by Rural Development Minister Datuk Radin Malleh, also mentioned that the theme for this year’s World AIDS Day celebration ‘Getting to Zero’ coincided with the effort to address and eradicate HIV/AIDS.

He stressed that the issue required the participation of all levels of the community and not merely left on the shoulders of governments alone. He added that just as important were the roles played by infected individuals, their families and people at risk in the war against the disease.

Meanwhile, Mayor Datuk Abidin Madingkir said that the Kota Kinabalu City Hall had undertaken a pilot project ‘Kota Kinabalu Towards Zero HIV in 2020′.

Kota Kinabalu is the third city to launch its Zero HIV project, he said. The other two cities in the country to launch the project are Melaka and Kuantan.

He said that the aim of the project was to strengthen the implementation of HIV/AIDS preventive and control activities within Kota Kinabalu.
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Many Malaysians are marrying too early, warns UN

Wednesday, December 17th, 2014

KUALA LUMPUR: Far too many Malaysians are married too early in life, compromising not only their health but also their chances of development in a productive labour force.

United Nations resident coordinator in Malaysia Michelle Gyles-McDonnough said the “too early” marriages usually involved young people below 18 years of age.

“The 2010 population census indicated that about 80,000 married women in the country were aged between 15 and 19 years, while the corresponding number of young married men was 70,000.

“Far too many young people are married very early, putting their mental and physical health at risk because they have to shoulder the commitments of marriage,” she told reporters after launching the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA) State of the World Population 2014 report here yesterday.

The report highlighted that there were 1.8 billion young people aged between 10 and 24 worldwide, most of whom were based in developing countries.

However, it noted that child marriages were among several challenges these countries, including Malaysia, had to manage if they were to drive socio-economic growth.


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