Archive for the ‘Persons with special needs’ Category

Consider dental needs of children with disabilities

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2020
A report by United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Malaysia published in 2017, said there were insufficient centres and trained specialists available for children with disabilities and the healthcare settings and physical facilities were not appropriately tailored for them. -NSTP/File picA report by United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Malaysia published in 2017, said there were insufficient centres and trained specialists available for children with disabilities and the healthcare settings and physical facilities were not appropriately tailored for them. -NSTP/File pic

LETTER: IN March, the government implemented the Movement Control Order (MCO) to contain the rising cases of Covid-19.

Further to the announcement, all elective, non-urgent dental procedures were advised to be postponed.

As a result, all dental clinics across the country were temporarily closed, limiting their practice to emergency cases. To date, our country has seen areas that were subjected to different MCOs, such as Enhanced MCO, Semi Enhanced MCO, Targeted Enhanced MCO and Conditional MCO. Throughout the MCO period, dental services remain limited to urgent, non-aerosol generated procedures.

The cessation of routine dental services was felt by children with medical comorbidities and disabilities.

This delays the required treatment and worsens the oral health of the child.

The consequences of untreated caries and unmet treatment needs will emerge in our dental healthcare system in the near future, possibly with poor prognosis, non-restorable carious teeth and odontogenic infection. This situation will further widen the existing child oral health inequalities.

A report by United Nations Children’s Fund (Unicef) Malaysia published in 2017, said there were insufficient centres and trained specialists available for children with disabilities and the healthcare settings and physical facilities were not appropriately tailored for them. This adds further limitation for access to healthcare, of which they often require extensive dental and medical attention.

Accessing oral health services for children with disabilities is a complex challenge. Children with disabilities often require support and assistance when undergoing dental examination and treatment. Studies reported that children with disabilities are more likely to have poorer oral health status than their healthy peers.

This is due to difficulty in providing oral care at home, limited access to dental care, parental conflicts and complexity of the medical conditions. Children with physical disabilities often have limited or uncontrolled motor coordination. This poses a challenge for tooth-brushing and during dental treatment on the dental chair.

Children with delayed speech development and communicative disabilities may not be able to tell their parents or dentist of a toothache, which can often manifest as children throwing unexpected, frustrated tantrums. Behaviourally-challenged children often have limited, short-span attention and may not cooperate during dental visits.

This demands continuous cooperation both from parents and dental healthcare personnel. Children with medical comorbidities require a multidisciplinary team effort and often require multiple visits to healthcare centres.

While the national prevalence of dental caries showed a reducing trend among pre-school and

schoolchildren, it continues to stagnate among children with disabilities.

The unmet dental needs compounded by social barriers and limited access for dental services will cumulatively contribute to broader health inequalities for children with disabilities.

When Covid-19 restrictions have been lifted, priority for access to oral health services should be given to these children. It has been a year since Covid-19 was first reported and became a public health emergency.

Unfortunately, it took a pandemic to teach us our societal responsibilities and the importance of humanising healthcare. This pandemic also reminds us that children with disabilities need particular care.

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B40, OKU can apply for quarantine fee exemption, reduction — Ismail Sabri

Friday, October 23rd, 2020

Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob

KUALA LUMPUR: Certain individuals, like those from the B40 group and people with disabilities (OKU), can apply to the Ministry of Health (MOH) for an exemption or reduction in quarantine fees, said Senior Minister (Security) Datuk Seri Ismail Sabri Yaakob.

He said although the government had set the quarantine cost, the MOH has the power to reduce fees and exempt payments under the Prevention and Control of Infectious Diseases Act 1988 (Act 342)

“B40, OKU, B40 students and certain cases can also apply… cases such as having been sacked will surely face financial problems, so we understand and that’s why they can appeal.

“I ask that all those affected to appeal to the MOH … please write an official letter applying for either fee exemption or reduction,” he told a media conference on the development of the Recovery Movement Control Order (RMCO) yesterday.

Ismail Sabri said this when commenting on a video, which has gone viral, of Malaysians in Singapore raising the issue of the burdensome quarantine costs as well as obstacles to return to Malaysia by the Singapore government.

Commenting on issues of individuals who are unable to get permission from the Singapore government to return to Malaysia, he said the Foreign Ministry would be notified so that it could hold discussions with its Singapore counterpart.

Previously, Ismail Sabri had announced that Malaysians in Singapore were never prevented from returning home and were required to make an application through the Malaysian Immigration Department for matters regarding entry and exit throughout the RMCO period.

Meanwhile, he explained that the reason for implementing the work from home order was to reduce the movement of people in an effort to break the chain of Covid-19 infection in the country.

“So, when we reduce movement, perhaps we will be more successful in terms of breaking the Covid-19 chain as there will be fewer people interacting with one another.

“That’s why when people ask why we do not allow more than two people in a car (regardless of the car size), it’s because we want to reduce the number of individuals everywhere,” he said.

Ismail Sabri also advised employers to be responsible in issuing release letters to their employees who need to cross districts to go to work.

by Bernama.

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Create more job opportunities for the disabled

Saturday, June 20th, 2020
Donating daily necessities to the visually impaired, along with George Thomas, CEO of the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.Donating daily necessities to the visually impaired, along with George Thomas, CEO of the Malaysian Association for the Blind (MAB) in Brickfields, Kuala Lumpur.

LETTERS The government, organisations or individuals who are concerned about people with disability should try to create or consider employment opportunities for this group during the recovery MCO phase.

Earlier the government under the leadership of Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhiyiddin Yassin through the PENJANA had focused on the one-off focus on the disabled and single mothers in early June.

The financial assistance provided earlier to the disabled clearly shows that the government under the Prime Minister continues to be committed to every group of Malaysians and to ensure that every individual benefits from the economic well-being of the country.

If job opportunities for the disabled were created it would certainly help their daily lives. Efforts to create employment opportunities for the disabled should be embraced by all parties not just the federal government and state agencies.

People with disabilities, especially the blind, suffer more as their daily income has been affected by the closure of massage centre services. Perhaps, authorities or concerned people can come up with other alternatives to help them find other job opportunities.

For the visually impaired people, their situation is more difficult compared to others with disabilities. The visually impaired communities cannot generate income because the government still prohibits massage and reflexology services from operating as usual understandably because of Covid-19 spread.

However, it is still hoped that the government can create opportunities for the visually impaired community to generate income during this difficult time. It is only understandable that they too want to enjoy the same quality of life as others in these difficult circumstances.


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Deaf and mute parents are perfect in the eyes of their children

Sunday, June 14th, 2020
Deaf and mute couple Mohd Arihan Yusof, 41, and Manziani Mat Hassan, 45, who married in 1999, are the proud parents of five normal children aged between seven and 19-years-old. - STR/RAMLI IBRAHIMDeaf and mute couple Mohd Arihan Yusof, 41, and Manziani Mat Hassan, 45, who married in 1999, are the proud parents of five normal children aged between seven and 19-years-old. – STR/RAMLI IBRAHIM

GUA MUSANG: Five siblings born with all their senses intact never felt awkward communicating in the sign language with their parents.

Deaf and mute couple Mohd Arihan Yusof, 41, and Manziani Mat Hassan, 45, who married in 1999, are the proud parents of five normal children aged between seven and 19-years-old.

The family which is staying at the Chin Teck Local Community Settlement Project near here is just like any other ordinary family. The only difference is the children learnt sign language from the age of two, in addition to their normal schooling.

The couple’s third child Nor Ain Mohd Arihan, 12, said there was not much difference compared to verbal communication when it comes to the use of sign language when they ‘talk’ with their parents.

“We feel that ‘ibu’ and ‘ayah’ are the same, just like other people. They may be disabled (OKU) but they bring us up just like other parents.

The couple’s third child Nor Ain Mohd Arihan, 12 (2nd from left), said there was not much difference compared to verbal communication when it comes to the use of sign language when they ‘talk’ with their parents.  - STR/RAMLI IBRAHIM

“The difference is they cannot talk or hear, that’s all,” she said.

The couple’s eldest child, Nor Syahirah, 19, and second child Mohd Aiman, 17, are currently continuing their skills studies in Jeli and Pasir Puteh respectively.

Staying with the couple are Nor Ain who is in Standard Six at Sekolah Kebangsaan Muhammad Fakhry Petra and younger sibling Nor Balqish Batrisya, 9, and the youngest child Mohd Alif Azwan, 7.

Manziani who was interviewed through the sign language with the help of Nor Ain said she works as a cleaner with her husband at the Felda Regional office here.

“We also receive a monthly allowance of RM400 each from the Social Welfare Department,” she said.

“During the Movement Control Order period, we also took advantage of the situation by selling drinks to cover our expenses,” she said, adding that in the evening she and her husband occupy their time by sprucing up their yard as well as pruning and planting flowering plants.


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Special needs students face hurdles in e-learning

Thursday, May 7th, 2020
Students with disabilities require accessibility features and learning accommodations for a quality online learning experience. Pic source:  www.freepik.comStudents with disabilities require accessibility features and learning accommodations for a quality online learning experience. Pic source:

THE abrupt shift to virtual classrooms may be daunting for university students with special needs due to lack of accessibility.

Nghiem Dinh Dat, 36, a blind Masters in Public Policy student at Universiti Malaya’s International Institute of Public Policy and Management, said e-learning would be convenient in normal circumstances. However, he found that the current unstandardised implementation had left disabled students at a disadvantage.

Nghiem Dinh Dat.Nghiem Dinh Dat.

“Lecturers use different applications such as Microsoft Teams, Zoom and Skype. It can be difficult to adapt to each application as many are not accessible to blind students,” he said.

Navigating video conferencing platforms was a struggle for Dat as he required the aid of a screen reading software, which would read the texts on the computer screen through a speech synthesiser.

“A main challenge is when lecturers use the screen sharing feature to display documents. In my experience, only screens shared via Microsoft Teams are compatible with the screen reader. Sometimes, I would receive snapshots in class discussions, which are not possible for me to read. As a result, I missed a lot of information.”

There needed to be a comprehensive evaluation of existing university policies on e-learning, said Dat.

“I don’t think all lecturers are fully aware about accessibility. With heightened awareness, I’m sure the university can remove the learning barriers that we face, and make both online and traditional classes more accessible.”

Siti Nurhikmah Razlan. Siti Nurhikmah Razlan.

When Universiti Teknologi Mara (UiTM) announced that the semester would continue via open and distance learning (ODL), business student Siti Nurhikmah Razlan, 22, who is partially blind and was born with a cleft lip and palate, was initially worried about catching up in her lessons.

“My vision gets blurry if I look at the laptop for too long. However, I found that I could cope well with my lecturers’ guidance.”

Fortunately, the platforms used by her lecturers had vision accessibility features.

“Microsoft Word and Microsoft Powerpoint are very compatible with the laptop specifications for visually-impaired students like me.

“I think the university should allocate a special learning duration for disabled students to study according to our respective abilities. Lecturers can accompany teaching materials with a voice-over to enhance the learning process. They should also be aware about their students’ condition to prevent them from feeling left out,” said Siti Nurhikmah.

UiTM Masters in Forensic Accounting and Financial Criminology student Shahrul Afifi Abdul Hadi, 39, has hearing impairment. Even with a hearing aid, he could only hear sounds at very high volumes.

Shahrul Afifi Abdul Hadi.Shahrul Afifi Abdul Hadi.

“My hearing aids cannot detect voices or sounds with 100 per cent accuracy during online classes. Lip reading requires a lot of effort.

“I will struggle to understand the subject if there are no closed captions or subtitles during video conferencing. Sometimes, presentation slides are not provided in online lessons either.”

With little time for universities to prepare and tailor their courses due to the pandemic, he understood the limitations faced by him and his peers.

“I’m open to online learning as long as there are tools to facilitate learning for students with special needs, such as slides, subtitles or sign-language interpreters for the hearing impaired,” said Shahrul Afifi.

Sunway University communications student Chin Kar Marn, 23, who has spastic diplegia — a form of cerebral palsy — agreed that online learning could be beneficial to students with special needs. However, she also experienced some difficulties in online classes.

Chin Kar Marn.Chin Kar Marn.

“It will be great to always have this option, especially for those needing extra assistance. But personally, despite my limited mobility, I prefer physical learning as it is more engaging and I can interact with other students and lecturers.

“We are expected to type our questions instead of verbally asking to minimise interruptions. As my fine motor skills are affected, it is a challenge for me to type quickly. Fortunately, we can still use social media to raise queries.

“In my view, asking questions verbally should be an option for special needs students. Having the online lectures recorded would be helpful for us to gain better understanding. Lecturers must understand that some special needs students need longer time to grasp what is being taught,” said Chin.

UiTM graphic and media student Nur Farah Syiffa Mohd Khairul Ariffin, 20, who has autism spectrum disorder, said online learning could allow students like her to catch up with their lessons.

Nur Farah Syiffa Mohd Khairul Ariffin.

Nur Farah Syiffa Mohd Khairul Ariffin

“As someone who has a lot of problems concentrating in class, I have thought about the possibility of online learning since my first semester. But I never pursued it until the Covid-19 outbreak.”

Nur Farah said autistic people like her were very sensitive to noise, which might distract them from concentrating on their studies.

“For instance, the sound of a lawn mower can affect my learning experience. With recorded online lessons, I can rewatch them to catch up on anything I missed. To make it more accessible, lecturers can teach disabled students how to use the online tools.”

UiTM Disability Services Unit (DSU) director Dr Roslinda Alias said the unit was striving to ensure that special needs students were not left behind in adapting to online lessons.

“DSU has prepared a short video and a series of infographics for the university community, which include information on the types of disabilities and their needs.

“We are in close contact with nearly 200 special needs students via a virtual support group. An online form was also created for the students to share their problems so that we can help them immediately,” said Roslinda.

Sunway Education Group chief executive officer Dr Elizabeth Lee said Sunway University was committed to ensuring that disability was not a barrier to quality education.

“We have always prided ourselves on being inclusive. Online lessons are often supplemented with recorded lectures so our students can follow the content at their own pace, on top of the live interactions with educators.

“We will continuously monitor the impact of this new form of learning on our students and take necessary steps to enhance our resources and develop inclusive accessibility guidelines that are based on real-life experiences of our students,” said Lee.

By Rayyan Rafidi.

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Behind frontline folk, a woman keeps them safe

Wednesday, April 15th, 2020
Norfarrah Syahirah Shaari sewing medical gowns at her home in Kampung Parit Lima in Sungai Sumun, Bagan Datuk, yesterday. - NSTP/ SHARUL HAFIZ ZAM Norfarrah Syahirah Shaari sewing medical gowns at her home in Kampung Parit Lima in Sungai Sumun, Bagan Datuk, yesterday. – NSTP/ SHARUL HAFIZ ZAM

BAGAN DATUK: Some people lose their limbs in accidents while others are born without them. Yet some will rise against all odds and not let disabilities hinder their life.

Meet Norfarrah Syahirah Shaari from Kampung Parit Lima in Sungai Sumun here

The 32-year-old woman has defied the odds despite having no hands, and she now uses her toes to make Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for frontline staff of Teluk Intan Hospital and Teluk Intan health clinic.

“I have to learn to adapt to the demands of everyday life using my feet. I learnt tailoring by myself eight years ago because I needed to make special clothes for myself.

“Some even ask, how do I even thread a needle? Well, it was very difficult at first and required a lot of patience but I managed to do it. Now it takes me only a second to thread the needle using my feet,” she said.

Norfarrah, who is also an administrative assistant at Kolej Komuniti Teluk Intan (KKTI), said her effort to sew PPE for medical workers was part of her college’s corporate social responsibility programme, known as #DariKomunitiUntukKomuniti.

“A total of 35 people are involved, including 25 volunteer tailors from the KKTI area. We expect to make 252 isolation gowns using 400 metres of fabric. We divided the fabric to sew the gowns at our homes and offices.

“Each volunteer has a different role. Someone will measure and cut the fabric, another will draw the polar and someone else will sew the PPE. I can sew eight PPE gowns a day.

“We will collect all the PPE on Monday before distributing them to the frontliners. I feel proud to be part of this programme and this is the little thing we can do to help our healthcare workers.”

Norfarrah, who can drive a car using her legs, said God would not burden a soul beyond what it could bear, and hoped her efforts would inspire others, especially the disabled, to contribute using the skills they have

By Zahratulhayat Mat Arif .

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Handicapped and jobless

Sunday, February 16th, 2020
Dr Ruziah Ghazali.

A university degree is often perceived by undergraduates as the ticket to jobs with a steady income and promising career advancement.

But with a competitive job market and unpredictable economic landscape, this is no longer the case.

For graduates with disabilities, the situation is even more challenging. With an uncertain business climate, many organisations and companies prefer to employ graduates who they think can hit the ground running from day one. For them, graduates with disabilities may not match their expectations.

While there are persons with disabilities (PWDs) armed with university degrees who have gone on to become lecturers, lawyers, marketing executives, account executives, and administration officers, there are many who still struggle to gain employment.

And when they do land a job, it may not be a permanent one or have the pay packet and job grade that commensurate with their qualifications.

To address the issue of unemployment among the disabled, the government had some time ago introduced the one per cent PWD (OKU) employment in the public sector policy.

But as Deputy Women, Family and Community Development Minister Hannah Yeoh pointed out in June last year, the policy has yet to gain traction despite the fact that its plus points include diversity in the organisation and making the workforce more inclusive.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan.

Malaysian Employers Federation (MEF) executive director Datuk Shamsuddin Bardan highlighted that the government’s inability to fulfil the one per cent OKU in the public sector policy after more than three decades also reflects the situation of employment for PWDs in the private sector.

“From the employers’ perspective, the employability of a graduate, including graduate PWDs, will depend on whether the graduate is able to perform the requisite tasks and has the right attitude and skills,” he said.

According to Shamsuddin, there are internal and external factors that influence the employment of PWDs.

“Internal factors include lack of self-confidence, low self-esteem and inability to work, despite them obtaining degrees. External factors include support and facilities for PWDs to commute to the workplace and at the workplace itself.

“In the private sector, the job market is a level playing field. The PWD candidate needs to compete with normal candidates for the same job.

“With the incentives given by the government to employers of PWDs and the employed PWD, the PWD actually has an advantage over the other candidates. But there is still a lack of awareness among private sector employers of such incentives to the employers.

“As many employers are still unaware of such benefits, the institutions of learning and the PWD candidate should take it upon themselves to inform the prospective employers of such benefits and advantages,” said Shamsuddin.

Dr Ruziah Ghazali, a member of the National Council for PWDs and an honorary adviser of the Little People National Organisation of Malaysia, said the lack of accurate information on PWDs — about dwarfism, for example — has led to unjust treatment by the public, resulting in PWDs being unnecessarily pitied, misunderstood and ignored.

Despite that, she said PWDs must be professional in approaching and dealing with employers.

“PWDs have to present themselves as reliable and highly professional — suitable for the position they are asking for. They must be well prepared before the job interview. PWDs have to be encouraged to think competitively and to promote their skills.

While there are persons with disabilities (PWDs) armed with university degrees who have gone on to become lecturers, lawyers, marketing executives, account executives, and administration officers, there are many who still struggle to gain employment.

“Employment should be seen as a real, professional and economic occupation, which does not depend on charity,” she said, adding that if disabled graduates could not get their dream jobs, they could still apply their knowledge to other fields of work and “most importantly, they must have a source of income for survival”.

Ruziah emphasised that disabled graduates should be accepted as part of the workforce who could contribute to the development of a country.

“In fact, this effort will help the disabled to get out of poverty because the disabled are often associated with this issue.”


One of the reasons why employers hesitate to offer a job to a PWD can be a concern about the unknown.

“Employers require quality in their work. They want to ensure that the employees’ performance can be assessed and discussed. This refers equally to all employees, regardless of their possible disability,” said Dr Ruziah.

She said employers should attend the Disability Equality Training which is supported by the Department of Social Welfare to have a better understanding of PWDs.

The government has also introduced an employment support service programme called Job Coach. The programme, provided by the department and other non-governmental organisations (NGOs), focuses on coaching PWDs in securing employment.

“Furthermore, career service centres need to be established for the benefit of PWDs by providing knowledge, skills and a support system. These centres can initiate access to quality infrastructure that support PWDs and to enable access to world-class education, skills development and high-quality health systems.”

A disabled graduate receiving her scroll at the 35th International Islamic University Malaysia convocation last year. -NSTP/Aizuddin Saad

Dr Ruziah said the programme should adopt a multi-sectoral collaboration in addition to the involvement of the Office of the Deputy Minister of the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry and the Human Resources Ministry.

“The Career Service Centre will identify the list of experienced organisations in hiring the PWDs and the potential employers for PWDs to be corporate partners,” she said.


Shamsuddin pointed out that the workplace and the nature of jobs were changing, and many jobs were now being done by machines, or at home. For certain jobs, PWDs may even have the advantage over their normal peers.

“In anticipation of future job requirement for skilled workers, the government has identified TVET (Technical and Vocational Education and Training) as a way forward for Malaysia,” he said.

He said that the institutions of learning had a critical role in equipping the PWDs with the requisite skills and knowledge that could be enhanced through direct collaboration with industry, including in the field of research and development, internship, training, equipment and recruitment.

“MEF is actively engaged at various national, regional and international platforms on the important subject of future jobs. We are currently an active member of the steering committee on Research on Employment Opportunity for PWDs in Malaysia under Institut Sosial Malaysia, a member of the National Council on Employment for PWDs under the Human Resources Ministry, and a member of the Department of Occupational Safety & Health TVET under the TVET Empowerment Cabinet Committee.”

By Rozana Sani.

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Are we ready for an ageing Malaysia?

Sunday, December 15th, 2019
People in their golden years should aim to keep fit by taking part in physically, socially and mentally-stimulating activities.
By Nor Ain Mohamed RadhiTHARANYA ARUMUGAM - December 15, 2019 @ 12:24pm

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is well on its way to becoming an ageing society by 2030 when it is projected that 15 per cent of its population will be 60 years old and above, according to the Department of Statistics.

With the estimation that 7.2 per cent of the population will be 65 and older by next year, health experts have called for a review of policies to improve the nation’s preparedness for elderly care.

At the moment, efforts on the elderly are being led by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry and Health Ministry.

Professor Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman, a public health expert from International Medical University, said the country did not have adequate health and elderly care facilities to support the growing ageing population.

“Ageing as an issue has been articulated in many ministerial policy and development papers, but I am not sure if we have a single national policy on ageing society to prepare our nation for this transition.

“Also, which ministry or department should champion it? Ageing is beyond a health issue. Social support system, socioeconomic wellbeing, declining productivity and sustainable income and health are interrelated and may work in a vicious cycle.”

He called for a holistic and comprehensive national policy on the elderly that cuts across sectors, enabling the government, society and individuals to understand their roles and responsibilities and act more efficiently in caring for the elderly.

Malaysia adopted the National Policy for the Elderly in 1995 under the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, which ended in 2005. Later, the National Policy for Older Persons came into effect in 2011, complemented by the Health Ministry’s National Health Policy for Older Persons in 2008.

The policies focus on empowering individuals, families and communities by providing elderly-friendly services and enabling environments to improve people’s wellbeing in old age.

The national policies work together under the broader national development plans under the Prime Minister’s Department’s Economic Planning Unit.

Dr Lokman, who is the Health Ministry’s former deputy director-general of public health, however, said more needed to be done and he emphasised the need to determine the framework on the responsibility of elderly care.

“Should the responsibility lie on ourselves as individuals who will grow old, on our family, society, government or a combination of all?

“Based on this foundation, we can develop policies to guide development programmes towards a comprehensive elderly care that covers social, economic and health aspects.

“For example, if we decide it is our responsibility (elderly care), a policy may be developed to pool pensioners’ resources by law to provide support for the elderly once they become dependent.

“If it is societal responsibility, we need policies to allow society to support the elderly in their community,” he said, adding that this could be done through non-governmental organisations and residential homes.

Apart from ensuring well-functioning geriatric medicine services, he said policies that support the wellbeing of the elderly should also be in place with guaranteed access to shelter, food and social support.

“We need a clear policy on immunisation for the elderly, as they are at risk of vaccine-preventable morbidity and mortality, for example, pneumococcal vaccine.”

Dr Lokman said elderly centres must be regulated to ensure quality care that fulfilled social, spiritual and health needs.

“The social support system is disintegrating with rural-urban migration or rapid urbanisation of peri-urban with declining extended families.”

He said individuals in their golden years should keep fit by indulging in physically, socially and mentally-stimulating activities, such as reading, socialising, travelling and gardening.

Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society adviser Professor Nathan Vytialingam said there was an urgent need to address the challenges of an ageing nation through an inter-ministerial approach as it involved issues that were not limited to health and welfare.

“For example, much emphasis has been given to encourage the younger generation to be active in sports, but nobody talks about sports for the elderly.

“They (the elderly) too need to be encouraged to take up sports, with facilities made available for them to keep active.

“I believe the Youth and Sports Ministry can play a big role in this for the elderly.”

Last year, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, at the Ageing, Learning and Technology: Enriching Lives, Connecting Communities Conference held in conjunction with International Day of Older Persons, urged the older generation to remain active.

Dr Mahathir, who is 94 this year, had said if the elderly did not stay active, they would become weak.

To curb loneliness at old age, Nathan said a solid support system should be in place to help the elderly remain mentally active.

“A community centre that allows elderly persons to socialise should be set up in places where community support is lacking, where their children can send them in the morning and pick them up after work.

“These facilities must be well-structured and run by professionals,” he said, adding that more inter-generational activities should be in place to provide social support.

“Such activities can help the elderly look forward to a productive day, with a joyful purpose in life.”

Nathan encouraged private companies and giant corporations to help the elderly.

“Caring for the elderly is not the sole responsibility of the government, but also the community.

“Although often the responsibility is entrusted to the government, big corporations should also look at it as part of their corporate social responsibility programme by providing assistance.”

He said education on healthy ageing should not start at age 60.

“Keeping fit should start from young, not when you have turned 60. This is to allow a person to manage his or her life better and more independently at a later age.

“Many people think only at 60 you are required to exercise more and watch what you eat. Yes, you can do that, but it is much better to start at a much earlier age,” he told the New Sunday Times.

Nathan, who is also Perdana University School of Occupational Therapy dean, said when one gets older, it was important to be able to function normally.

“This includes the ability to dress, go to the toilet and move around without assistance.

“The physical demands of such activities require people to take better care of themselves when they are younger so that they can continue to live independently well into their 60s and beyond.”

By Nor Ain Mohamed Radhi, THARANYA ARUMUGAM.

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Minister praises Caring For the Future Malaysia concept

Monday, December 2nd, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Caring For the Future Malaysia (CFFM) has been applauded for embracing a holistic approach in transforming the lives of the children under its care.

Sabah Minister of Health and People’s Wellbeing, Datuk Poon Ming Fung @ Frankie hopes that other charity organisations will model after CFFM and learn from its holistic approach to community building.

“I admire the concept of behind Caring For the Future Malaysia (CFFM) that does not merely provide a home and feeding the orphaned, motherless, fatherless, abused and neglected children, but more importantly equipping and transforming these children to grow up with the right values of life by developing their self-esteem, living and social skills.

“This concept can successfully become a centre for social and welfare sustainability, both on the local and international level,” he said in conjunction with the CFFM’s fourth fundraising event – “Celebrating Friendship” charity concert featuring Japanese Pop singer Chiharu Tamashiro.

His speech was delivered by his assistant Norazlinah Arif, at the Sabah Theological Seminary (STS) Auditorium, on Saturday.

Frankie said, though CFFM idea is a brainchild of Mitsuhiko Abe, who is a Japanese, he is very happy to see Sabahans from all walks of life sharing the same vision and passion for the betterment of the future generation.

“Together they have put in much effort and time to make it a reality. It shows that we are progressing economically as well as socially, building strong communal bonds and values together in our nation as well as on an international level,” he said.

He then urged everyone to give their utmost support to make this noble mission and vision of CFFM a reality and a success in the years to come.

“Let us build a brighter and a more stable future for our generations to come and let’s together make it start with us now,” he said.

According to Frankie, it’s truly awesome to learn that throughout the years from the inception of CFFM many youths from Japan have come to participate in the projects, learning about life and at the same time sharing their expertise and technology with our local people for example, composting, bio-gas, hydro-power and others.

He noted that CFFM also serves as a training centre both to the children under its care as well as the locals living in the vicinity.

“Other welfare and education groups and organisations have also shown much interest to participate in CFFM’s projects.

“In time to come, I believe it will generate employment and opportunities for Sabahans,” he said.

“I also came to know that CFFM is very eco-friendly. Teaching the children under its care from a very young age on how to use, manage and preserve our land and natural resources. What an amazing legacy to leave behind for the future generations.

“I am also delighted to hear that CFFM’s projects help to empower the communities through its social welfare services, child sponsorship and child adoption programmes. Thus it embraces a holistic approach in transforming the lives of our people.

“Truly, this approach to welfare services is the first in the state as it transcends from being just yet another charity body to one of social whereby CFFM does not depend solely on society but also contribute and give back to the society,” he added.

As for the charity concert, Frankie said, it is well evident in the participation and collaboration of Japanese and local artists who have selflessly agreed to participate to make this event a success.

A total of 1300 guests attend the charity concert which was held at 2pm and 7pm, respectively.


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Disabled kids get documents

Saturday, November 23rd, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: Six special needs children at the PDK Centre in Tanjung Aru obtained their Mykad recently – thanks to the JPN (National Registration Department’s) outreach service.

Its mobile services officer Ibrahim Jaini said they have been discharging their duties throughout the state by extending the same to other categories such as senior citizens and people residing in rural places who had difficulty coming to town for such service.

Datin Mary Yong, chairperson for the PDK centre, said the centre could only accommodate 41 children and four teaching staff as the space is not conducive for more.

“I thank JPN for organising the service.  We want to make it easier for parents having special needs children to bring them for documentation at the centre instead of going to JPN.

“We understand the hassle parents face when dealing with physically challenging children,” she said.

Ibrahim said the mobile unit started operations in 2000 and had covered rural places as far as Paitan, Sebatik and islands around the mainland.

He said the usual problems faced by the officers are connectivity and communication.

‘Some areas are so difficult to penetrate due to lack of   proper infrastructure and communication service is hard to get.

But we know there are villages there and we still need to extend our services to those places,” he said.

Valentina Sho, the supervisor of the centre, said the great challenge apart from the children being not in the normal state, is that the teaching staff have to be paid RM800 as allowance (not salary), while they are tasked to look after children with various disability.

“All our teaching staff are well-trained to ensure these children grow up as normal as possible.

“It is difficult to handle due to their physical state. However, with some love, care and effort we can calm them down and teach them to do simple tasks like holding spoons or plates and going to the toilet.

Some of them are hyperactive and need to be treated differently from other children while some are autistic.

“It takes patience and love to overcome this obstacle,” Valentina said.

Mary said request for further financial assistance had been forwarded to the attention of the Chief Minister’s Department and is awaiting a favourable response.

By: Lorena Binisol.

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