Archive for category Health

Addressing the transboundary haze problem: Open letter to the Indonesian ambassador

— Lim Guan Eng
Malay Mail Online
October 27, 2015

OCTOBER 27 — Your Excellency Ambassador Herman Prayitno,

We are deeply concerned about the ongoing transboundary haze pollution which has adversely affected the wellbeing and livelihood of millions of people in the region, including Malaysians and Indonesians. We would like to express our deepest sympathy and solidarity with our fellow Indonesians who are suffering much more, living so much closer to the forest fires hotspots.

In Malaysia, as air quality deteriorates, schools are frequently closed and consequently half a million of students are affected. The negative impact on our economy resulting from cancelled outdoor events, falling tourists arrival and overall declining productivity — although difficult to accurately assess at the current moment — are huge and irreversible. Read the rest of this entry »

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After roads and water, Impian Sarawak offers education, medical services

The Malaysian Insider
Published: 7 October 2015 9:00 AM

Children entertained by a lion dance during an educamp organised by Impian Sarawak in Kampung Pasir, Miri, on September 23. The project is part of DAP’s community service initiative in the Borneo states. – The Malaysian Insider pic by Seth Akmal, October 7, 2015.

Ros Matius Mian has never seen her four children so impatient to go to school, with the youngest waking up even before the break of dawn to get ready for classes.

But that was the experience of many parents in the squatter colony of Kampung Pasir, 30 minutes from Miri. For about a week, their bleak surroundings were transformed into a riot of screaming kids and colourful pendants because of Impian Sarawak’s education camp.
Read the rest of this entry »

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‘Boob job’ posters banned for trivialising cosmetic surgery

By Dugald Baird
Wednesday 18 February 2015 11.47 GMT
The Guardian

The advertising watchdog has banned a poster campaign for “trivialising” cosmetic surgery.

Posters were placed in toilets in motorway service stations and shopping centres by the Malaysian-based Medical Tourism Association stating “Did you know… ‘Boob job’ is the most popular cosmetic procedure for women”.

They added: “Malaysia is proud to be amongst one of the only countries within the region where medical tourism is promoted by the government. Hence medical tourists can have the assurance of quality care and be guided by the regulation, safety standards and the governing laws within this industry.

“Our private hospitals bagged three out of nine awards at the international Medical Travel Awards 2014.” Read the rest of this entry »


If Najib can succumb to E.coli, flood victims surely at risk, says Dyana Sofya

Malay Mail Online
January 6, 2015

KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 6 — Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak contracted E.coli food poisoning spending just a few days in flooded areas, signalling just how easily an epidemic could break out from the flooding disaster, DAP’s Dyana Sofya Mohd Daud said today.

The political secretary to DAP adviser Lim Kit Siang pointed out that victims of one of the worst floods to hit Malaysia in decades have spent weeks in high-risk conditions — with little sanitation and limited access to clean water and medicine.

“The water may have subsided and those who still have homes may have returned to them, but there is now an urgent need to take steps to prevent an epidemic from breaking out,” Dyana Sofya said in a statement.

“It is almost a certainty that thousands of victims, both adults, children and elderly alike, are currently exposed to contaminated floodwater and have not been eating nutritional food. With their morale and immune system at their worst, they are certainly at risk,” she added. Read the rest of this entry »


A wretched, horrendous year, with little cheer

31 December 2014

2014 has been a wretched and horrendous year for Malaysia, with very little spots of sunny cheer for Malaysians. All 52 weeks have seen us angry and sad – not quite the happy Malaysia Truly Asia that we portray in tourism advertisements.

Grief has been Malaysia’s main point of unity – from the mysterious disappearance of Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 on March 8 to flight MH17 that was shot out of the sky on July 17 to the tragic crash of AirAsia Bhd Indonesian affiliate’s flight QZ8501 on December 28, in the last days of the year.

Three commercial plane crashes linked to Malaysia in just a year – what are the chances of that?

And while that dominated the headlines, there has been other events that added to Malaysia’s grief. Statistics showed that 189 people died of dengue so far this year, up from 95 in 2013. Read the rest of this entry »

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Patients shifted after doctor’s desperate plea

2:42AM Dec 26, 2014

Critical patients treated in pitch black after Kuala Krai hospital ran out fuel to power generators last night were finally evacuated from the flood-hit area.

Doctors posted desperate pleas for help after forced to intubate an infant in darkness and tearfully watching rescue helicopters leave after failing to land.

“Latest update. Alhamdulillah, helicopter assistance has arrived to take the victims in hospitals especially babies to shelter,” Health Ministry director-general Dr Noor Hisham said in a Facebook posting at 10.20pm Thursday.

The army evacuated adult and paediatric patients to Hospital Universiti Sains Malaysia (HUSM), which is about 20 minutes away via helicopter, he said, while diesel supply was replenished.

“All settled diesel delivered, generator filled, functioning and power supply back to normal. Supplies delivered and Hospital Kuala Krai is in safe zone (as it is on) high ground.

“One adult critically-ill patient and two neonates were transferred successfully to HUSM and live another day. (Rescue workers) to continue patient evacuation tomorrow,” he said.

In a video shared by Noor Hisham, Hospital Kuala Krai staff said patients are hungry and thirsty as there is shortage of drinking water.

“We hope help will arrive soon…Our focus is to save lives, the rest we leave to God,” the staff member said. Read the rest of this entry »

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Our medical colleges – for better or for worse?

By Dr. Ng Swee Choon
Aug 27, 2014

COMMENT Medical colleges in the country have been hogging the headlines of late. Certain medical colleges have shamed us publicly and internationally for allegedly not paying staff salaries and not settling their contractual dues.

If the medical colleges involved do not feel ashamed, we Malaysians and Malaysian doctors feel the shame. It is certainly not our Malaysian culture to be known across the world for this.

Recently, there was also the irresponsible statement by Deputy Education Minister P Kamalanathan to cut down on places in public medical colleges when the problem is with private medical colleges. Private medical education is now big business.

I am writing to highlight this very important issue that medical education has now become a business, important only for the bottom line of the company owning the licence. Read the rest of this entry »


Does the palm oil industry meet the UN’s Climate Change Convention?

– Koon Yew Yin
The Malaysian Insider
January 30, 2014

What kind of men would cut down these ancient irreplaceable giants trees? Each of them was over one thousand years old. Over a period of a few decades around 1850, 95% of the two million acres of Redwood forest in California were cut and destroyed.

Now they say we are wrong to cut our trees to plant oil palms. What do they say when Brazil cut down their rain forest to plant soya beans? Let us examine the true situation.

Oil palm smallholdings and plantations meet the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change which defines a forest as an area of 0.5 to one hectare having more than 30 per cent canopy cover and having a potential height of two to five metres.

To accuse the industry in Malaysia and Indonesia of contributing to global warming is sheer nonsense. In fact oil palm trees just as with other forest species, produce oxygen for us to breathe and act to counter coal and oil emissions which are the major cause of global warming. Read the rest of this entry »


RM38,000 wasted in Health Ministry’s ‘stupid’ campaign

Auditor-General’s 2012 Report (2)
Oct 1, 2013

The Health Ministry’s decision to brand smokers as ‘stupid’ in promotional literature cost it RM38,750 after the material was deemed unsuitable for distribution.

The Auditor-General’s Report 2012 states that the ministry had ordered 300 backpacks costing RM19,500 and 3,500 notepads at RM19,250 with the slogan ‘Smoking, a stupid habit for stupid people’.

But the items never made it into the hands of the citizens as the language was later deemed inappropriate.

But the lingual faux pas was not the ministry’s only mistake. Read the rest of this entry »


Haze (Smog) Causes Not Just Discomfort, It Kills

by Chee-khoon Chan
23rd June 2013

In 2002, Narayan Sastry, currently a professor of demography at the University of Michigan published a paper entitled “Forest Fires, Air Pollution, and Mortality in Southeast Asia” in the February 2002 issue of the journal Demography.

The smog of 1997 coincided with an El Niño year which intensified the seasonal mid-year drought. The land clearing and forest fires in that year burned an estimated 2-3% of Indonesian land area, mostly in Sumatra and Kalimantan but also affecting sizeable tracts in Irian Jaya, Sulawesi, Java, Sumbawa, Komodo, Flores, Sumba, Timor, Wetar as well as areas in Sarawak and Brunei.

Sastry obtained daily mortality statistics from the Department of Statistics in Malaysia and correlated these with the daily Air Pollution Index (API) readings from the Malaysian Meteorological Department, in order to analyze the acute mortality in Kuching and Kuala Lumpur following upon days of high air pollution (defined as days when PM10 > 210 ug/m3). (The API is largely based on PM10, the concentration of suspended particulates of size 10 microns and below). Read the rest of this entry »


This is an election to determine whether rakyat Malaysia will vote for a sustainable future for our children or a sustainable corrupt BN government?

Earth Day is an occasion to remind us that our mother nature is deteriorating over the last few decades, natural resources has been robbed off by corrupt government and their cronies that brought pollution, deforestation and degradation that hampered the livelihoods of people.

During the United Nations Climate Change Conference in 2009, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that Malaysia has agreed to reduce its carbon dioxide emissions by up to 40% by 2020 compared with 2005 levels, however, polluted industry that has been rejected by other developed countries such as Lynas rare earth refinery plants are allowed to operate in Kuantan and given 12-year tax exemption.

BN is also pursuing constructions of giant petrochemical hub in Pengerang, giant aluminium smelter plant in Sarawak, two nuclear plants in the country, BN government has clearly proven that it is pursuing economic development at all cost at the expense of the environment and people’s health.

If BN continues to run the country, Malaysia will never achieve a sustainable, low carbon and resource efficient future. Only a Pakatan Rakyat that pledge to make Malaysia a cleaner, greener, safer and healthier place to live will reject rare earth plants and nuclear plants to ensure our future generation can live in a better world.


A tale of interdependence

By Goh Keat Peng | September 20, 2012

We spend a lot of time on independence, for example, the independence of a nation. But perhaps not enough time on interdependence of the people within an independent nation. These two processes are of dire importance to all human beings.

Here in Malaysia, three days ago, a nineteen year old girl died; on the very day she was to have reported for work for the first time as a kindergarten teacher. The fact that she had come to this point when she could be considered for such a job was in itself a testimony of her courage, discipline, persistence and determination. For her heart (as a bodily organ) was faulty and in 2007, a donor heart was found but upon transplantation was rejected by her system. A second donor heart became available to her and she underwent the arduous process of heart transplant a second time. This one served her for almost five years till her sudden death. She is heart-achingly mourned by her parents and the organ donor’s parents and many others throughout the land.

There are many stories within this one story. In fact, an entire ecology of human relationships was involved. The story transcends many generations, many taboos and prejudices, bringing many souls/lives together. This was a story involving an intricate web of human relationships that demonstrated the best of human courage, kindness, generosity, goodwill and good conduct. As well as the realities of human interdependence which lifts the human spirit through its heart-warming and inspirational qualities.
Read the rest of this entry »

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Public engagement meet on healthcare system a letdown

Dr Steven KW Chow | Apr 5, 2012

The title of the Event was ‘Pelancaran Siri Jejalah Public Engagement – Kajian Sistem Kesihatan Malaysia’ but what really happened was a paradox.

As a media event it was well organised.

The members of most of the mainstream media were at hand.

They, together with the large number of government servant attendees still in their uniforms or with their name tags, virtually made up the bulk of the crowd.

The robust public presence that was supposed to be the objective of this engagement was clearly missing.

Thus it was not surprising that the discussion was devoid of substance and spirit. Read the rest of this entry »


1 Care: Show us the mathematics

— John Teo
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 19, 2012

FEB 19 — 1 Care for 1 Malaysia sounds like a very good slogan but behind this impressive slogan and all the controversies, rhetoric, claims and counter claims lies a very big and fundamental question of where is the funding of such a massive overhaul of our healthcare system going to come from?

We know that the basic principle of part-government and part-public funding underlies this concept and the reason behind this shift of funding policy is the ever-escalating health costs which the government cannot continue to provide funding for indefinitely.

Let me quote two very important facts. 1) According to the 2012 Budget that was announced by our prime minister, the allocation for health totals RM1.8 billion, which is equivalent to 3.7 per cent of the total budget. There were other ministries that have higher budget, notable ones being the Ministry of Defence.

The World Health Organisation recommends that at least five to six per cent of a total budget be allocated to health. Many other countries allocate up to seven to eight per cent. Malaysia is way below that mark. Read the rest of this entry »


Not a penny more, BN

— CL Tang
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 15, 2012

FEB 15 — After handing out one-off payments of RM500 to the poor, the government turns around and is now asking for a handout from the taxpayers, under the guise of paying for an improved healthcare system.

The people must now realise that this is a government that has neither the vision nor the will to move Malaysia forward in the global marketplace. After a lousy victory in 2008 general elections, the Barisan Nasional (BN) government has virtually been on a re-election campaign mode since, devising short-term populist agendas such as KR1M, BR1M, etc., none of which addresses the current malaise the country is facing — stagnant wages in the face of rising costs in the midst of a long-drawn out, slow global growth.

As it stretched out is left hand to hand out cash to poor households, its right hand is dipping into the pockets of ordinary Malaysians to fund its lavish spending and greedy cronies. Read the rest of this entry »


Why should I care about 1 Care?

By Shamini Darshni | February 15, 2012
The Malaysian Insider

FEB 15 — When the idea of a national health financing mechanism came up in the mid-2000s, the question of how the funding scheme would be implemented caused much concern.

As a journalist then with an interest in public health issues, I followed the arguments made, then observed how the idea of “the rich paying for the poor” disappeared.

Logic suggests that the then-proposed national health financing mechanism — or scheme, as it was also referred to — had gone back to the drawing board. Today, it seems that the same idea has been repackaged under 1 Care.

Rebranding aside, the idea of 1 Care is noble. But the sketchy details are worrying. Why a major announcement is made without being accompanied by proper details boggles me.
Read the rest of this entry »


Restructuring the Malaysian health system: Is there a need?

— Academy of Medicine of Malaysia
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 14, 2012

FEB 14 — We observe with concern and interest the recent discussions by the ‘rakyat’ and explanations by the Ministry of Health Malaysia (MOH) in the print and electronic media regarding the planned National Health System Transformation. We agree that there are deficiencies in the present system that need to be addressed and applaud the Director-General of Health’s pledge to engage the ‘rakyat’ and stakeholders in its planning.

There is no denying that the Malaysia’s Health System is acknowledged internationally as being successful in providing health services to the ‘rakyat’. Notable successes include:

1. Reduction in mortality and morbidity and increased life expectancy, rising from 56 yrs for male in 1957 to 72 years in 2006; and 58 yrs for females to 76 years correspondingly. Infant mortality rate is comparable to developed countries.

2. An equitable public sector and universal access to comprehensive treatment; where everyone has access to medical treatment up to tertiary level at a nominal fee; and for the poor for free. Read the rest of this entry »


Why revamp our healthcare system with 1 Care?

— CK Chooi
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 11, 2012

FEB 11 — Many have written on this subject. Most are concerned about the implementation, costs, bureaucracy and effectiveness of the 1 Care scheme. Perhaps there is another holistic approach the government can consider.

Best treatment for the rakyat

Even in most developed countries those who did not have medical insurance will have to accept public health care and those who can afford it are treated in private hospitals. This is a reality of life, all citizens accept this. Have we heard anyone complain that he should be treated in a five-star private hospital when he knows well that he cannot afford it? The government cannot lose votes on this score. Malaysian citizens are mature enough to realise this fact —not all men are equal! We have the poor, the middle class and the rich — every society has this social structure. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysian health reforms socio-economics: Part 5

— David KL Quek
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 11, 2012

FEB 11 — Why the need for Health Reform now?

This is the question that has been posed by many people. What indeed are the key reasons for the government to embark on such a radical transformation of our health system? There is no easy answer. But I would venture some socio-economic and health economic possibilities.1

Although one cannot discount or exclude political reasons or even patronage-linked considerations, I would not wish to embark on this line of speculation, because essentially this would only detract from the real issues at hand. Also, it would be hard to prove what are at best, innuendoes and almost surely shaped by partisan motives and beliefs. But it would also certainly be impossible to allay public fears and anxieties that these sorts of political interjections might play a role in any government policy makeovers. So perhaps, these possibilities should at least be highlighted so that they might be forewarned and prevented from hijacking such a monumental policy shift for personal or partisan reasons.

Major reasons for this proposed health reform are: widening public-private disparity in healthcare delivery; attempt to slow down rising healthcare costs; government policy shift to reduce health care subsidy; implementing W.H.O. mandate to provide so-called universal coverage for health; social health insurance to tap into another copayment mechanism for healthcare payment; and forming an autonomous national health authority. Read the rest of this entry »


Malaysian health reform socio-economics: Part 4

— David KL Quek
The Malaysian Insider
Feb 10, 2012

FEB 10 — Out-of-Pocket and Catastrophic Payments

So what is so terrible about out-of-pocket (OOP) payments for healthcare? Why are health economists and policymakers so enamoured with this unsavoury OOP payment that this healthcare financing mechanism has been universally targeted to be eradicated, or at least reduced?

Many health authorities from the WHO and World Bank have analysed this in great detail, taking into account especially poor countries around the world, including those in Asia, Africa, Central and South America. Malaysia too has been included in many multi-country analyses to ascertain if common themes and determinants are shared within the disparate health systems in the regions.

When one looks at poverty levels and unequal economic systems, the health determinant as a function of economic underdevelopment and social aberration unfortunately looms large in some really poor nations. While poverty per se cannot all be attributed to just ill health or the lack of access to proper health care, impoverishment as a result of quests for healthcare has been a classic example of what poor countries are doing wrong. Read the rest of this entry »