Archive for the ‘Health’ Category

Tuberculosis still a threat in Sabah – doctor

Tuesday, June 27th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: About 40 per cent of 10,000 people screened last year showed no symptoms of Tuberculosis (TB) in the state, said Sabah State Health Department (TB/Leprosy) principal assistant director Dr Richard Avoi.

Dr Richard said the key strategy to TB control is to ensure the general public are aware of the deadly disease and know that the TB situation in Sabah is still not under control.

He added that compared to other infectious diseases, the airborne TB is actually the main disease to tackle.

“One of the main activities to control this disease is to diagnose it as early as possible. Those with the disease must take the medication and get cured from the disease. Now the challenge is to diagnose the disease as early as possible. That is where the awareness comes in,” said Dr Richard, who is also Sabah Anti-Tuberculosis Association (SABATA) medical advisor.

“One of the activities done is mobile TB screening through our mobile bus X-ray. We have screened more than 10,000 last year and we picked up a number of TB cases through these activities by doing X-ray among the high risk group population.

“What I found from our data so far, of the number of TB cases detected through these activities, about 40% do not have the symptoms but they have TB. That is why it is important that, even though you do not have symptoms, you must come forward for TB screening, especially if you have history of exposure to TB,” he stressed.

Dr Richard disclosed that a total of 4,953 newly diagnosed TB cases were detected in Sabah last year, which is 19 per cent of the national 25,739 figure.

From January to May 2017 there were 1,875 newly diagnosed cases, only 109 short of the 1,984 within the same period last year.

“It is almost the same. That means if the trend continues, at the end of the year, we will hit almost 5,000 cases of newly diagnosed TB cases (in Sabah),” he said.

“You see the burden of TB cases in Sabah is still high. Therefore a lot of activities must be carried out to control TB in the state.

“If people don’t come forward to check, the detection will be late. People must come forward as soon as possible if they experience chronic and prolonged cough for more than two weeks, that is the standard.

“Once diagnosed, they must take medication for at least six months without interruption as failure to do so would not cure them from the disease and they will continue to be the source of infection for other people,” he explained.

Dr Richard said 1,264 foreigners and 3,689 Malaysians were diagnosed with TB last year, and 255 foreigners and 732 Malaysians were found TB positive between January to March 20 this year.

He noted both foreigners and Malaysians alike have resisted coming forward to get tested for TB in the past.

“We have experienced a contact of a TB patient who did not want to come forward for check-up. We have to beg and tell them to come but yet they refused.

“The more activities we do to find TB cases, the more cases we pick up. It just means there are still a lot of TB cases out there that had not been detected, so the detection activities must go on.

“From our experience, to control TB among immigrant population is very challenging. I think most people know they are not coming forward and majority of them, once they are diagnosed, are not able to complete the six-month treatment because either they are sent back home or they just disappear and you cannot trace them, especially those with the status of illegal immigrants. These are the group of people who will not come forward until the disease become very severe and they have no choice but to come to us for check-up. We have seen a lot of situations where the patient ends up dying because of the late detection,” he disclosed.

Read more @ http://www.theborneopost.com/2017/06/25/tuberculosis-still-a-threat-in-sabah-doctor/

Malaysian children need to start young too.

Friday, June 23rd, 2017

MALAYSIA recently received the questionable honour of being the most obese country in Southeast Asia.

Presented at the Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition in Kuala Lumpur, the Tackling Obesity in Asean report said this is mainly due to Malaysians’ strong love for food and lack of exercise – it revealed that only a third of Malaysian adults had ever exercised, while only 14% exercised adequately.

Critically, said Nutrition Society of Malaysia’s president Dr Tee E. Siong, Malaysian children risk growing up obese unless parents tackle their unhealthy lifestyle – in 2011, the National Health and Morbidity Survey showed that almost 500,000 children in Malaysia were obese, and childhood obesity is likely to continue into adulthood.

Dr Tee attributed this growing problem to the society’s emphasis on academic excellence, which he said had resulted in additional tuition hours and academic work among children to the detriment of physical activities.

Malaysia also scored D (on a scale of A for excellent to F for failing) for overall physical activity, active transportation and sedentary behaviour in its 2016 Active Healthy Kids report card.

Comparing 38 countries, the study by the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance analysed the physical activity of children and youth according to nine indicators: overall physical activity, organised sport participation, active play, active transportation, sedentary behaviour, family and peers, school, community and the built environment, and government strategies and investments.

The report card demonstrated that Malaysian children and adolescents are engaging in low levels of physical activity and active commuting, high levels of screen time, and have extremely low compliance with dietary recommendations.

More efforts are needed to address the root causes of physical inactivity while increasing the opportunities for children and adolescents to be more physically active, it said.

Malaysian school and government strategies and investment were interestingly graded B, but to no one’s surprise, diet was assigned the lowest grade of F.

Malaysia has been looking at emulating Finland’s academic record, perhaps we should also look at its initiative to improve students’ physical activity – Finnish Schools on the Move.
Read more @  http://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2017/06/18/malaysian-children-need-to-start-young-too/#3EYgqkFFritlDuUi.99

Making it cheaper for patients

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

PETALING JAYA: Consumers will soon be able to make better decisions when buying medicine, with a proposal by the Government to compel pharmaceutical companies to declare the prices of drugs to the Health Ministry.

This, in turn, would lead to the recommended retail price (RRP) of drugs being displayed on the product packaging and prevent retailers from making unreasonable increases in pricing.

“This will promote transparency in the pricing of medicines and drugs,” said Health Ministry deputy director-general Datuk Dr Jeyain­­dran Sinnadurai.

“But if retailers want to push the price even lower than the recommended retail price, no problem,” he said when contacted recently.

The move is still at an early stage but is in line with the ministry’s plan to compel drug price disclosure under a proposed amendment to the Sale of Drugs Act 1952 (Revised – 1989).

Ministry (pharmaceutical services division) senior director Dr Salmah Bahri had said earlier that the amendment would make it compulsory for companies and suppliers to register the retail prices of their products with the Govern­ment’s database, or face penalties.

“At present, there is already a database of some 23,000 drugs and medicines,” she said, adding that the ministry now wanted to make it mandatory for pharmaceutical companies to register the prices.

Dr Jeyaindran said displaying the RRP to consumers would stabilise pricing.

“Such added transparency in the pricing of drugs and medicines is practised by countries like India and Australia.

“Malaysia is trying to move in this direction as well,” he said.

On whether or not the proposed move would affect the pricing of medicines at clinics, he said this was unlikely because those medicines would be purchased in bulk.

Medical Practitioners Coalition Association of Malaysia deputy president Dr Raj Kumar Maharajah said that based on information he had gathered so far, the proposed move would not affect general practitioners (GPs) much.

“This is because medical GPs have been practising the ‘bundling’ system for many decades, whereby consultation, examination, procedures and medication are bundled to keep the price of private primary healthcare accessible and affordable even to the poorest of the poor,” he said.

He added that while the price of some components may either de­­­crease or increase in bundling, the final cost would remain the same.

“On the surface, this price control may seem to benefit patients who wish to buy their medicines over the counter, at provision stores or pharmacies.

by YUEN MEIKENGMARTIN CARVALHO, and FATIMAH ZAINAL
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/06/18/making-it-cheaper-for-patients-ministry-wants-pharmaceutical-firms-to-display-prices-on-medicines/#tTpLCBy0jltC0qOR.99

Malaysian children need to start young too.

Sunday, June 18th, 2017

MALAYSIA recently received the questionable honour of being the most obese country in Southeast Asia.

Presented at the Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition in Kuala Lumpur, the Tackling Obesity in Asean report said this is mainly due to Malaysians’ strong love for food and lack of exercise – it revealed that only a third of Malaysian adults had ever exercised, while only 14% exercised adequately.

Critically, said Nutrition Society of Malaysia’s president Dr Tee E. Siong, Malaysian children risk growing up obese unless parents tackle their unhealthy lifestyle – in 2011, the National Health and Morbidity Survey showed that almost 500,000 children in Malaysia were obese, and childhood obesity is likely to continue into adulthood.

Dr Tee attributed this growing problem to the society’s emphasis on academic excellence, which he said had resulted in additional tuition hours and academic work among children to the detriment of physical activities.

Malaysia also scored D (on a scale of A for excellent to F for failing) for overall physical activity, active transportation and sedentary behaviour in its 2016 Active Healthy Kids report card.

Comparing 38 countries, the study by the Active Healthy Kids Global Alliance analysed the physical activity of children and youth according to nine indicators: overall physical activity, organised sport participation, active play, active transportation, sedentary behaviour, family and peers, school, community and the built environment, and government strategies and investments.

The report card demonstrated that Malaysian children and adolescents are engaging in low levels of physical activity and active commuting, high levels of screen time, and have extremely low compliance with dietary recommendations.

More efforts are needed to address the root causes of physical inactivity while increasing the opportunities for children and adolescents to be more physically active, it said.

Malaysian school and government strategies and investment were interestingly graded B, but to no one’s surprise, diet was assigned the lowest grade of F.
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/education/2017/06/18/malaysian-children-need-to-start-young-too/#D3Cgaqx0uKqQ6qEt.99

Consume food in moderation

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017
Spoilt for choice: Malaysians buying food before breaking fast at the Mampan Ramadan Bazaar in Rawang.

Spoilt for choice: Malaysians buying food before breaking fast at the Mampan Ramadan Bazaar in Rawang.

Prophet Muhammad set the example of how to break fast, and overeating goes against what he practised.

RAMADAN is a holy month for Muslims worldwide, when Muslims fast and refrain from actions that will nullify the fast between dawn and dusk. It is also a month when Muslims focus on increasing their spirituality by observing many acts of worship.

Ramadan provides Muslims with opportunities to reap bounties from God through acts such as prayers, recitation of the Quran, doing charity in many forms and also self-reflection. Among the charitable acts that are encouraged by Islam is for Muslims to provide food for others who are fasting.

That is why it has been a practice among some Muslim communities in the country to give food to neighbours before the breaking of fast. This is quite a norm in the villages and in some neighbourhoods. With urbanisation however, the practice of giving food to neighbours may no longer be widely observed.

Nonetheless, there are many people (as well as corporate bodies) who provide sponsorships for the breaking of fast as well as for the pre-dawn meal (sahur) at their local mosque and surau. This is a noble practice that can help to forge greater unity within the community.

There are also many efforts to provide meals for the breaking of fast for the less privileged such as orphans, old folks, the homeless, the disabled and also students who are away from their families.

Such efforts are commendable, and they are very much encouraged in Islam, provided the intention is pure and not to seek fame or fortune. If the deed is done with the right intention, that is to attain the pleasure of God, then the deed will be rewarded.

In this day and age where commercialism has taken roots in our economy, there is a trend in over-commercialising Ramadan. While there is nothing wrong in doing business – on the contrary, doing business is encouraged in Islam – the over-commercialisation of the holy month is unfortunate.

Even before the month of Ramadan begins, it is very glaring to see hotels and restaurants aggressively advertising Ramadan buffets at a hefty price. There seems to be a race among hotels and restaurants to entice people to choose their establishments for breaking fast.

This trend has been going on for a number of years now, so much so that it has also attracted many criticisms. Aside from the pricing, the major concern regarding Ramadan buffets is food wastage.

There are hotels that have gone on record to say that patrons will have to finish all the food that they take at the buffet table or pay a fine for the food not finished.

However, whether this actually is practised is another matter altogether. Also, questions arise whether this measure is effective in curbing food wastage.

Ramadan is not about indulging one’s self in food. If one were to observe the examples shown by the Prophet of Islam, we would see that overeating goes against what the Prophet practised. The Prophet broke his fast by eating three dates.

Islam stresses the need for moderation in all actions, and this includes food consumption. There are many traditions from the Prophet when it comes to eating and drinking in moderation, which would also contribute towards avoiding food wastage.

It has been reported from previous years that food that could still be eaten that was thrown away as solid waste amounted to 270,000 tonnes in the month of Ramadan alone. This is a staggering figure, and one that we should not condone, let alone allow to continue.

According to statistics from Solid Waste Management and Public Cleansing Corporation, even on normal days nearly 45% of solid waste in Malaysia consists of food. It is ironic that in a month when people fast, the amount of food wasted is exponentially higher. Wastage, what more food wastage, is very much not in line with the true teaching of Islam.

Consumers have a role in ensuring that food is not wasted.

We should only buy food that we really need, not food that we think we need.

We must equally acknowledge that those involved in selling food (restaurants, hotels or food traders at Ramadan bazaars) also have a similar – and perhaps bigger – role and responsibility.

What is lacking in Malaysia is a comprehensive plan in preparing food. Those who prepare food (either for their own consumption or to be sold) only think about the ingredients, the cooking and the presentation.

Rarely, if ever, we include the aspect of what to do if the food prepared is not consumed.

by dr shaikh mohd saifuddeen shaikh mohd salleh
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/ikim-views/2017/06/13/consume-food-in-moderation-prophet-muhammad-set-the-example-of-how-to-break-fast-and-overeating-goes/#G1Idxi02wSZemPY7.99
Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/opinion/columnists/ikim-views/2017/06/13/consume-food-in-moderation-prophet-muhammad-set-the-example-of-how-to-break-fast-and-overeating-goes/#G1Idxi02wSZemPY7.99

Zika alert: Doctors told to pay particular attention to patients with fever

Tuesday, June 13th, 2017
(File pix) Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said they should refer the patients to medical institutions capable of conducting diagnostic tests for the disease. (pix by AHMAD IRHAM MOHD NOOR)
By Bernama - June 13, 2017 @ 10:19am

SEGAMAT: Doctors in the country have been advised to pay particular attention to patients with fever, as they could be infected with the Zika virus.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said they should refer the patients to medical institutions capable of conducting diagnostic tests for the disease.

“For the time being, Zika has only been detected in Singapore. We have so far not received any reports in Malaysia, and we are screening fever cases especially for signs of Zika.

“But as we have done in the past, we will step up screening at checkpoints, apart from asking people who have signs of fever, rashes, eye and muscular pains to see a doctor,” he told reporters at the ”Jom Sihat sempena Ramadan” event at Makam Lubuk Batu Mosque in Gemereh here yesterday.

Subramaniam, who is the Segamat MP, said all doctors are reminded to take blood samples of patients, as it is the only way to detect the virus.

BERNAMA.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/node/248358

Study: Sabah farmers at higher risk of catching monkey malaria.

Sunday, June 11th, 2017

KOTA KINABALU: Adult male farmers are more than twice as likely to contract Plasmodium knowlesi (P. knowlesi) – a malaria parasite usually found only in monkeys – than other people in their communities, according to a report.

The study was conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine, Menzies School of Health Research, Darwin, and the Sabah Health Department.

The research team found that farmers in Sabah who work in plantations, clear vegetation and take part in forestry work are the most at risk.

P. knowlesi is a zoonotic malaria parasite which is common in forest-dwelling macaque monkeys and transmitted between hosts by mosquitoes. It has a rapid growth rate in the blood that can lead to a high level of parasites in a short time and can cause severe and fatal disease.

Recent deforestation in the Sabah region has brought humans into closer contact with the forest.

P. knowlesi is now the most common form of human malaria in many areas of Malaysia, and has also been reported across South-East Asia.

In 2014, the Health Ministry reported that 2,584 out of the country’s 3,923 malaria cases derived from P. knowlesi, and that proportion is known to have risen further.

The researchers conducted a large case control study of more than 1,000 people in the Sabah districts of Kudat and Kota Marudu. Individuals with P. knowlesi were compared with those with other types of human malaria and a control group without malaria.

Detailed questionnaires recorded information on daily activities, residence and the frequency with which participants saw monkeys.

Men are four times more likely to have P. knowlesi infection than women, and although male farmers are more likely to contract monkey malaria, they are not at higher risk of contracting other types of malaria.
Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/06/11/study-sabah-farmers-at-higher-risk-of-catching-monkey-malaria/#AwSkhohHwZFo8SMv.99

Dengue cases on a steady increase

Thursday, June 8th, 2017

KUALA LUMPUR: The number of dengue cases reported has steadily increased over four consecutive weeks and people are reminded to take the necessary precautions, the Crisis Preparedness Response Centre (CPRC) said.

Its charts from April 30 to May 6 and May 28 to June 3 showed a weekly increase, totalling 477 cases or 26.1% nationwide.

“There has been persistent increase in dengue cases in the past four weeks.

“We’d like to advise the community to continue keeping their environment clean and free from Aedes breeding grounds in and around their homes,” CPRC said on Facebook yesterday.

CPRC’s chart showed 1,860 dengue cases between May 7 to 13, an increase of 35 cases (1.9%) compared with April 30 to May 6, which reported 1,825 cases.

Between May 14 and 20 reports continued of a higher number, with 2,020 cases, an increase of 160 (8.6%).

The following week – May 21 to 27 – showed the highest increase with 2,250 cases reported, an increase of 230 (11.4%).

From May 28 to June 3, as many as 2,302 dengue cases were reported, 2.3% (52 cases) higher than the previous week.

There were 19 deaths from April 30 to June 3.

The Health Ministry’s Vector Borne Disease Sector said the change of dominant dengue stereotype in the community from DEN1 to DEN3 at the end of last year could have contributed to the increase in cases.

“Those who have never been exposed to DEN3 will not be immune and that could lead to an increase in dengue cases and deaths,” it said in an email reply.

It also said that dirty surroundings such as illegal garbage dumping could be potential breeding grounds for mosquitoes.

Movement of individuals and changes in weather, especially during warmer periods, were other possible causes, it said.

Despite the increase, CPRC recorded 41,574 cases from January to June 3 – as much as 17.8% (9,026 cases) less compared to 50,600 cases reported for the same period last year.

The total number of dengue deaths from January to June 3 was 97, compared with 111 during the same period last year, a reduction of 14 deaths.

CPRC advised those staying in outbreak areas to use repellents and limb-covering clothes besides using aerosol spray and installing nets on windows and grills.

by LOH FOON FONG

Read more @ http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/06/08/dengue-cases-on-a-steady-increase-total-number-of-deaths-stands-at-19/#83pqh6CYl6BPEfiP.99

Even moderate drinking linked to changes in brain structure, study finds

Wednesday, June 7th, 2017

LONDON: Drinking even moderate amounts of alcohol is linked to changes in brain structure and an increased risk of worsening brain function, scientists said on Tuesday.

In a 30-year study that looked at the brains of 550 middle-aged heavy drinkers, moderate drinkers and teetotallers, the researchers found people drank more alcohol had a greater risk of hippocampal atrophy – a form of brain damage that affects memory and spatial navigation.

People who drank more than 30 units a week on average had the highest risk, but even those who drank moderately – between 14 and 21 units a week – were far more likely than abstainers to have hippocampal atrophy, the scientists said.

“And we found no support for a protective effect of light consumption on brain structure,” they added.

The research team – from the University of Oxford and University College London – said their results supported a recent lowering of drinking limit guidelines in Britain, but posed questions about limits recommended in the United States.

U.S. guidelines suggest that up to 24.5 units of alcohol a week is safe for men, but the study found increased risk of brain structure changes at just 14 to 21 units a week.

A unit is defined as 10 millilitres (ml) of pure alcohol. There are roughly two in a large beer, nine in a bottle of wine and one in a 25 ml spirit shot.

Killian Welch, a Royal Edinburgh Hospital neuropsychiatrist who was not directly involved in the study, said the results, published in the BMJ British Medical Journal, underlined “the argument that drinking habits many regard as normal have adverse consequences for health.”

“We all use rationalisations to justify persistence with behaviours not in our long term interest. With (these results) justification of ‘moderate’ drinking on the grounds of brain health becomes a little harder,” he said.

The study analysed data on weekly alcohol intake and cognitive performance measured repeatedly over 30 years between 1985 and 2015 for 550 healthy men and women with an average age of 43 at the start of the study. Brain function tests were carried out at regular intervals, and at the end of the study participants were given a MRI brain scan.

by Reuters.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/node/246474

Letting the body repair itself through autophagy

Saturday, June 3rd, 2017
In the cellular scale, fasting is observed to drive the changes in several genes and molecules, which lead to cell longevity and protection against disease. EPA PIC

IN the past, fasting was attributed to human spiritual belief in worshiping God for meditation reasons. It has been practised for thousands of years in serving various purposes of life. It is still a practice today. Generally, the practitioners are subjected to certain dietary procedure which trains them to be better disciplined to gain better self-control.

Fasting to Muslims is a practice of abstaining from food and drinks, sexual contact, arguments and unkind language or acts from dawn to sunset. It is the fourth pillar of Islam. It is an obligation for every able-bodied Muslim during the month of Ramadan. Fasting is also encouraged to be practised more frequently, especially on certain days and religious events of the Islamic calendar, and also on Mondays and Thursdays as supererogatory fasting.

Fasting dampens the rebellious tendencies of the carnal soul through physical effort and submission, which involves abstention from all forms of lust. The main purpose of fasting is to attain taqwa (piety), as decreed in the Quran: “O you, who have believed, decreed upon you is fasting as it was decreed upon those before you that you may become righteous.”

Fasting is also meant to be a protective shield for every Muslim as mentioned by Prophet Muhammadﷺ: “O youth! Whosoever amongst you can afford to get married, let them get married. And, whoever cannot afford to do so, then they should fast because it will help him control his desires.” (narrated by al-Bukhari and Muslim).

Besides, fasting brings spiritual and physical benefits. Recent clinical researches have found that a proper way of fasting could lead to health improvements under certain conditions. Prominent research journals such as Science magazine has reported in many of its volumes that short-term fasting may improve several aspects of health. The possibility of disease infection could be reduced by controlling food intake.

In addition, a calorie restriction that cuts food intake by up to 40 per cent increases longevity in a variety of organisms and forestalls age-related ailments.

It is proven that intermittent fasting is capable of increasing the levels of growth hormone in blood to fivefold, which facilitates muscle gains, and causing a significant drop in the levels of insulin in the blood, which then facilitates fat burning.

In the cellular scale, fasting is observed to drive the changes in several genes and molecules, which lead to cell longevity and protection against disease.

Interestingly, this natural process lets the body cleanse out various debris, including toxins, and recycles damaged cell components. The mechanism is known as “autophagy”, which means “self-eating”, in which a cell dissembles unnecessary and dysfunctional components through recycling. It should be noted that this process can only be initiated from the “starvation” of the cell itself, and fasting can be one of the major contributing factors.

The cell is said to “repair” itself by reusing dysfunctional components to sustain a new healthy cell. This biological mechanism is considered to be one of the natural detoxification processes and explains how dead cells in the body are disposed of.

The term autophagy was coined by Belgian biochemist Christian de Duve in 1963. He and two other researchers (Albert Claude and George E. Palade) won The Nobel Prize in Medicine in 1974 for their discoveries concerning the structural and functional organisation of the cell. According to Science News Staff, back in the 1960s, autophagy was recognised to be active when the cell was under stress, especially when nutrients were in short supply or when the organism was fighting off an infection. But, how the process worked and even which cells used the method was unclear.

The discoveries of mechanisms for autophagy are credited to a Japanese cell biologist, Yoshinori Ohsumi, who was the Nobel Prize winner in Medicine in October last year. Ohsumi and his research team identified 15 essential genes involved in the process and discovered how the genes work together to keep the cell’s recycling centres running.

According to the Abcam’s overview on autophagy, the process involves the following stages: induction and phagophore (isolation membrane — thin pliable skin of a cell) formation; autophagosome (isolated membrane — elongation and formation; and, fusion, degradation and recycling.

In spite of the fact that fasting has many health benefits for humans, Muslims fast for the sole purpose of complying with an order from Allah as mentioned previously.

by Dr Shahino Mah Abdullah.

Read more @ https://www.nst.com.my/opinion/columnists/2017/06/244955/letting-body-repair-itself-through-autophagy