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Rabu, 16 Disember 2009

U.S. Swine Flu Response Hurt By Spending Cut



A public health nurse prepares a dose of H1N1 vaccine at the Balboa Park Community Center in Encino, California in this October 23, 2009 file photo. REUTERS/Mark Boster/Pool/Files

By JoAnne Allen

WASHINGTON, Dec 16 (Reuters) -- The U.S. response to the H1N1 pandemic has been as good as can be expected given the recession but cuts in public health spending exposed vulnerabilities, according to a report released on Tuesday.

Layoffs and spending cuts in the public health sector weakened U.S. efforts to battle the pandemic, which has killed an estimated 10,000 Americans, the nonprofit Trust For America's Health found.

"Trying to respond to the pandemic in the middle of the worst economic climate since the Great Depression has meant that we were asking public officials to do more with less and budgets and staff were stretched well beyond their limits," the group's deputy director Rich Hamburg told reporters.

More than half of states -- 27 -- cut public health funds from 2008 to 2009, while federal funds to prepare for pandemics have been cut by more than 25 percent since fiscal year 2005, the report found.

The Trust, which has repeatedly criticized U.S. preparedness for pandemics, recommended increased spending for public health and more funds to modernize flu vaccine production and for vaccine research and development.

Separately, the Government Accountability Office said the White House Homeland Security Council's pamdemic plan was out of date.

"It is incomplete and they need to update it and fill in some of the gaps," the GAO's Bernice Steinhardt, who wrote the report, said in a telephone interview.

"They need to take advantage of the fact that we actually are going through a pandemic and there obviously are lessons to be learned from the real-life experience."

The National Association of County and City Health Officials says that in the first half of 2009, local health departments cut about 8,000 jobs and cut hours for another 12,000 workers.

It said health reform legislation, currently being debated in Congress, presents an opportunity both to save jobs and protect the public's health.

VULNERABLE COUNTRY

"Coping with the widespread economic distress by cutting programs and readiness has really left the country vulnerable," said Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness.

Redlener said the public health system "got a lot of it right, but the system as a whole is struggling" in its response to the H1N1 outbreak.

Public communication about how the pandemic keeps changing needs improvement, Redlener said. And he said problems with the pace of H1N1 vaccine production fed anxiety because it did not meet the public's high expectations.

"The fact of the matter is that we didn't actually meet those expectations and that was very disconcerting. But once it was made available, the vaccine that is, it was rapidly and effectively distributed," he said.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says swine flu has infected one in six people in the United States since arriving in April and killed nearly 10,000, including 1,100 children and 7,500 younger adults.

In a typical year, seasonal influenza kills 36,000 Americans and puts 200,000 into the hospital.

The CDC said on Tuesday that 94.6 million doses of the H1N1 vaccine had been made available for distribution so far, up from 73 million doses a week earlier.

© REUTERS 2009


--- BERNAMA

Isnin, 14 Disember 2009

New Treatment Option In Coronary Artery Therapy (BERNAMA)


By Zulkiple Ibrahim

This is the second feature from a series of three on coronary artery disease

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 14 (Bernama) -- In the treatment of coronary artery disease (CAD), the idea is to deliver growth inhibition drugs to the dilated stenosis site without implanting a stent.

According to Lam Chee Hong the managing director for B. Braun Medical Supplies Sdn Bhd, this approach resulted in the development of a new treatment option for vascular occlusion, the drug eluting balloon catheter - SeQuent�Please.

He said the drug eluting balloon (DEB) SeQuent�Please is a new therapeutic option for treating narrowing of the coronary arteries which has produced excellent results.

SEQUENT�PLEASE

Lam said this is the first and as yet only drug eluting balloon (DEB) with successful proof of efficacy in the treatment of narrowing of the coronary arteries.

SeQuent�Please is used in the same way as a coronary balloon catheter for balloon expansion of narrowed blood vessels (stenosis). Unlike conventional balloon catheters, SeQuent�Please also releases a drug from the balloon surface that is absorbed by the surrounding wall of the blood vessel.

B. Braun's Medical Industries Sdn Bhd manager for regional strategy planning (Asia Pacific), Pallraj Armugum, said the drug is paclitaxel, which has been studied extensively in clinical trials and is also used for drug eluting stents (DES).

To enhance transfer of the drug to the vessel wall, the paclitaxel in SeQuent�Please is embedded in an x-ray contrast medium matrix (iopromide). This technology delivers a sufficient dose of drug from the balloon surface to the vascular wall after a brief contact period of just a few seconds.

Paclitaxel inhibits the growth and spread of smooth muscle cells over a prolonged period and so prevents the expanded artery from closing in again due to cell growth.

The matrix is bioabsorbable and dissolves completely after use. No foreign bodies remain at the intervention site, thereby minimising the risk of thrombosis.

ADVANTAGES

According to Lam, SeQuent�Please is a new treatment option in coronary artery therapy with significant benefits.

Unlike stent implantation, no foreign bodies remain in the artery with the new system, he said.

The drug eluting balloon also reaches narrowed areas that would not be accessible for stent treatment, such as, for instance, very small blood vessels, bifurcations and very long areas of stenosis.

Lam said SeQuent�Please is associated with a significantly lower incidence of restenosis of expanded arterial segments. In addition, the required length of treatment with platelet inhibiting drugs (platelet aggregation inhibitors) is much shorter after the new procedure than after DES implantation.

With the latter, patients generally required treatment for as long as 12 months after the procedure. With SeQuent�Please, a treatment period of no longer than three months is sufficient. This is associated with significantly lower treatment costs.

SeQuent�Please thus has the potential to bring about a paradigm shift in the treatment of vascular restenosis, said Lam.

STUDY DATA

Lam said when coronary artery disease (CAD) is treated with an uncoated stent, the artery narrows again over time in as many as 30 per cent of cases, and this occurs at the stent implantation site.

In-stent restenosis, as it is called, can be expanded either with a balloon catheter or by the implantation of a second stent into the existing one. However, there is a high likelihood of recurrence of restenosis in both cases.

To establish whether a paclitaxel eluting balloon catheter reduces restenosis, in-stent restenosis in 52 patients was treated either with a novel drug eluting balloon (DEB) or with a conventional uncoated balloon.

Result: re-narrowing occurred within six months in only 5.0 per cent of DEB patients versus 43 per cent of patients treated with the conventional uncoated balloon.

He said another study showed that the drug eluting balloon is significantly superior to drug eluting coronary stents. Again, subjects in this clinical trial had in-stent restenosis.

In this study, however, one half of patients were treated with a paclitaxel eluting stent, while the other half underwent expansion with SeQuent�Please. At six months after the intervention, only 6.7 per cent of the SeQuent� Please patients versus 20.4 per cent of paclitaxel eluting stent recipients required re-intervention.

The positive study findings are already reflected in the guidelines of the German Society of Cardiology (DGK).Good results were also obtained for the use of SeQuent� Please to treat stenosis of small arteries, with restenosis rates of only 5.5 percent in patients treated with SeQuent� Please alone.

Considerably higher percentages have been observed in similar studies of drug eluting coronary stents in this therapeutic indication.

Further applications for SeQuent� Please are currently being investigated by B. Braun Melsungen AG in an extensive study programme.

-- BERNAMA

Ahad, 13 Disember 2009

HIV In Sarawak: Challenges Are Abound (BERNAMA)

By Melati Mohd Ariff

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 10 (Bernama) -- Her voice was tinged with sheer frustration as she spoke of her works advocating HIV and AIDS prevention programmes in her native state of Sarawak.

Her frustrations were not due to the workload but the extreme challenges she and her team from Sarawak Aids Concern Society (SACS) had to struggle against in carrying out their advocacy works.

One of the challenges, she said was to reach a significant proportion of the people still living in the rural and remote areas including places like Baram in Miri, Belaga and Kapit near Sibu and Limbang.

To prove her point, she had on the big screen the map of Sarawak to which she described as "sparsely populated with a huge land mass the size of West Malaysia minus Melaka."

LIMITATIONS

If trains and highways are the norms for transportations in West Malaysia, in the interior of Sarawak, rivers and their tributaries are the equivalent.

Tar sealed roads are a rarity in the interior and more often the roads are just loose stones or plain dirt roads, popularly known by the locals as timber tracks.

"These roads are subject to being damaged easily by weather and heavy use and as a result, often become dangerous and impassable," Rahmah Wahap-Nicholls, SACS's programme manager told participants of a roundtable discussion on HIV and AIDS held by the United Nations Theme Group on HIV in Kuala Lumpur recently.

According to this gutsy 57-year old retired nurse, even though river transport is the lifeline of the people living in the interior of Sarawak, it too has significant limitation.

She explained not only is the cost extremely high, at certain time of the year, the rivers can either be too low or dry at places and at the extreme end, it may swell with fast flowing rapids.

Still she said some parts of Sarawak are only accessible by air and the cost to get to some remote places can be higher than a return flight for a Kuala Lumpur-London trip.

SARAWAK HIV AND AIDS SCENARIO

Despite the relatively low accumulative figures of HIV and AIDS cases in Sarawak as compared to other states, Rahmah said the number is steadily rising year on year.

Up to 2009, she said the reported cumulative figures are slightly over 1,000.

"The worrying trend is that more and more housewives are getting infected. For the first six months of 2009, 57 per cent of new cases are housewives. As the main mode of transmission is heterosexual sex, focus on this group needs to be scaled up," she said, adding that the husbands of the infected women did not want to get themselves tested, saying that the virus is not from them.

Rahmah also pointed out her concern on HIV infection among the young population of Sarawak between the ages of 20 to 39 years.

The problem, she said, was not so much of injecting themselves with drugs but instead indulging in free sex.

Even students are prone to experimenting amongst themselves.

"Many students said they do not have other entertainment except to entertain each other. The teachers told us this even. We received many requests from schools right in the interior of Sarawak to implement HIV prevention programmes and it is not possible to reach these schools within a day or two.

"They asked us to give talks to their students and we cannot immediately response for the obvious reason, namely manpower and funds. By the time we got to the school, when the students are in form five or six, the teachers would tell us it is almost too late," said a frustrated Rahmah.

AFFECTING THE INTERIOR

Another thing that worrying Rahmah and her colleagues is that the deadly virus has even managed to find its way deep in the interior of the State.

HIV, she explained has not only affected those living in towns and cities where easy access to treatments and drugs are available but also in the interior rural areas where journey to the nearest district hospital may take a day or two by timber tracks and boats.

If the arduous journeys are in itself not an obstacle, she said, the cost of getting to the nearest hospital is. Many living in the interior are farmers and have irregular income.

According to Rahmah, for people in this kind of situation, the prospect of spending a large sum of money on transport to collect their medications is simply not an option, since this would mean spending the family's daily living expenses on cost of travel.

"We are talking about maybe around RM80 from one end of the river to another. Who wants to go there even if the service is free? Sadly this is often the scenario that we come across during our travels," she sighed.

POOR KNOWLEDGE

Based on SACS experiences whilst implementing its programmes throughout the state, particularly in the interior, Rahmah said knowledge and awareness of HIV and AIDS is generally very poor.

Misconceptions abound, she said, it was alarming to realise how truly lacking and inadequate previous attempts had been to educate the rural population on HIV and AIDS.

"After almost 30 years of this epidemic, some are still asking whether the virus is still around or it is killing people. There was also fear to get tested because if they know they are infected and they have to get the drugs, how are they going to assess it?

"Might as well they did not know or they just accept it after all they say they are going to die anyway? This is then one of our biggest challenges, to embark on spreading knowledge on HIV and AIDS and prevent transmission through sustainable programmes to the rural population of Sarawak.

"As one of the very few NGOs dedicating itself to fighting HIV and AIDS in Sarawak, SACS is facing other challenges. The current low figures of HIV and AIDS cases tend not to warrant attention," said Rahmah.

She expressed disappointment and dismal that HIV and AIDS is a low priority area and the recession inevitably has impacted funding.

"Whilst HIV and AIDS projects in many states in Peninsular Malaysia enjoy support from their state governments, we at SACS has yet to be the recipient of a similar privilege," she explained.

RISK FACTOR

Besides the challenge to obtain enough funds for SACS programmes, Rahmah also touched on yet a significant risk factor in the spread of HIV in Sarawak, namely the presence of a large migrant workforce in many parts of the state.

According to her, the mushrooming of plantations at a very fast rate in Sarawak has resulted in the state to be increasingly dependent on cheap foreign labour.

Sarawak's timber industries, she added also employ large numbers of workers from neigbouring country.

Rahmah said timber camps are located deep in the interior where access to the workforce is subject to agreement and cooperation from these companies.

"For instance, there are timber camps all around Belaga and Kapit and plantations in large areas in Miri. They are not accessible easily to members of the public. There are also timber camps that you are not even aware of their existence and the only way to get to those places is by timber tracks constructed by the companies in addition to journeys by air and boats," she explained.

SACS, according to her has had a measure of success in reaching the target group but this has not been without difficulties.

"Many companies are suspicious of the motives of NGOs operating in Sarawak and unfortunately for us, this has meant initially at least we have difficulty in getting permission to enter or do awareness programme in their premises,"she explained, adding that many of the workers at the timber camps came from Kalimantan and the number is massive.

NOT GIVING UP

Despite the uphill task she is facing, Rahmah is not giving up, clinging firm on the old adage "When the going gets tough, the tough gets going."

"I must be honest and admit that many a time when we are faced with the impossible, the human spirit does get a battering and it is the deep commitment to this cause that reminds us that doing nothing or turning away is not an option,"she told Bernama.

Besides her teammates from SACS, Rahmah also has the undivided support from her husband, Colin Khalid Nicholls and her three adult children. Colin, she said also provided technical support for SACS and looking after its website, www.sarawakaidsconcern.org

Rahmah's almost 26 years experience of working as a trained nurse in the UK where she met her husband who was also a trained nurse provided her with the much needed strength to persevere in her HIV and AIDS advocacy works.

During her sojourn in the UK, she has also spent some years as a volunteer counselor with a charity in Kent, supporting and counseling survivors of childhood sexual abuse.

The couple returned to Sarawak in mid 2006 following a self-imposed retirement and eventually got involved as volunteers in SACS through some mutual friends who had been volunteering with the Society, formed on May 19, 1998.

"It was only on deeper involvement with the SACS that I got to find out the enormity of the tasks ahead. The society was in need of direction, having spent the previous seven years only implementing ad hoc programmes in Kuching, leaving the rest of Sarawak uncovered.

"Laying the foundation of expansion becomes my priority in 2007. This was a very challenging period primarily due to extreme shortage of funds available for the society to start the enormous task ahead of us, " Rahmah told Bernama.

In 2008, Rahmah said she set herself a task of expanding SACS's services to other parts of Sarawak, namely to reach out to the indigenous people living in the interior.

"In parts we have managed to achieve this but the more meaningful consequences of that must be the increasing capacity of the society to do more work all over the state in the form of grassroots involvement with programmes targeting their own community.

"Mobilising people to take ownership of the responsibility for their own community is certainly one I am very proud of," said Rahmah.

-- BERNAMA

Football Steals The Show In Vientiane (BERNAMA)


From Zulhilmi Supaat

VIENTIANE, Dec 11 (Bernama) -- Although aquatic events provided Malaysia with five gold medals, including setting three new records and improving on four national records, the focus was definitely on football after K.Rajagobal's squad qualified for the semi-finals.

The Malaysian squad beat Thailand 2-1 to deny Thailand a berth in the semi-finals for the first time in 36 years.

The last time the Malaysian squad took a gold medal in the biennial games was 20 years ago in 1989 in Kuala Lumpur under British coach, Trevor Hartley.

Malaysia today won six gold medals, three in swimming, karate (2) and diving (1).

The national contingent also won three silver medals (karate, shooting, snooker and billiards) and nine bronze medals (swimming - 2, shooting - 2, taekwondo - 2, diving - 1, karate - 1 and cycling - 1)

National swimmer, Daniel Bego, broke the SEA Games record and the national record in the 200m men's freestyle with a time of 50.16 seconds.

The games record was previously held by Richard Sam Bera of Indonesia (50.80s) and Daniels's national record was a time of 50.94s set in the World Swimming Championship in Rome.

Siow Yi Ting also broke a games record in the 100m women's breast stroke with a time 1:09.82s.

Siow erased the record of 1:10.55s set by Nicoletta Teo of Singapore in Korat, Thailand last year, and her national record of 1:11.29s set in the Doha Asian Games in 2006.

Khoo Cai Lin in the 400m women's freestyle set a personal best with 4:10.75s, some six seconds faster than her national record of 4:16.96s.

The time renewed her SEA Games record of 4:18.20s set in Korat, Thailand.

Malaysia also set a new national record via the women's freestyle quartet with a time of 3:51.40s, bettering the old record of 3:54.91s.

Karate contributed two gold medals through Mohd Hatta Mahmud in the men's kumite below 84kg while Jamalliah Jamaludin got a gold in the women's kumite above 60kg.

The shooting squad's hopes for a gold were dashed after Bibiana Ng managed a silver in the 10m Individual Women's Air Pistol.

Bibiana Ng and team mates Joseline Cheah and Siti Nur Masitah Mohd Badrin then won a bronze in the 10m Team Air Pistol event while another bronze was won in the 50m Women's Team Prone Rifle event after Muslifah Zulkifli, Nur Suryani Mohamed Taibi and Nor Ain Ibrahim failed to defend their title won in Korat.

At the end of the third day of the 25th games, Malaysia was at fifth place with eight golds, nine silvers and 18 bronzes.

Vietnam is at the top spot with 14 golds, 10 silvers and 10 bronzes, followed by Singapore (14, 6, 12), Thailand (13, 22, 17) and Indonesia (11, 7, 14.)

Tomorrow, the fourth day of the 25th SEA Games that began officially on Dec 9 and ends on Dec 19, the focus returns to aquatic events.

Leong Mun Yee, Pandalela Rinong and Yeoh Ken Nee will take part in the diving event and Daniel Bego in the swimming event.

Meanwhile, other events like badminton and golf are still in the early rounds.

-- BERNAMA

Free Screening For Kelantanese At Risk Of HIV Infection (BERNAMA)


MACHANG, Dec 13 (Bernama) -- People in Kelantan who feel they may be at high risk of contracting HIV have been advised to undergo free screening at government health facilities.

Kelantan Deputy Director of Health Dr Abu Hasan Ashaari said the health authorities had detected infection in people regardless of the age factor, even in people 60 years and above.

"They are from both genders, and are particularly those who marry often and are unaware they are carriers of the virus," he told reporters after launching the state-level World Aids Day 2009, here.

Dr Abu Hasan said Kelantan had the highest incidence of HIV infection among the states, adding that the highest number of 1,239 cases were detected in 2005 or equivalent to 93.9 per 100,000 people in the state.

"Between January and October this year, 494 cases were reported or equivalent to 30.2 per 100,000 people," he said.

Dr Abu Hasan said the virus was spread by drug addicts through the sharing of syringe needles and prostitutes in towns on the Malaysia-Thailand border.

He said the authorities planned to reduce the incidence of HIV to 22 per 100,000 people by 2015 with the cooperation of everyone.

-- BERNAMA

International Medical University Will Be Build In Perak (BERNAMA)

International Medical University Will Be Build In Perak

From Kamarul Ariffin Md Yasin

LONDON, Dec 13 (Bernama) -- An international medical university will be built in Perak next year in collaboration with several leading universities, mainly from India, Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Dr Zambry Abdul Kadir said Saturday.

He said the project, which would involve an investment of RM7 billion to RM8 billion, had been planned for the past two years through private initiatives and the state government would have equity in it.

"It's some kind of (university) consortium. Initially, the Malaysian-based company will invest RM300 million. We hope they can start operation by next year with a minimum intake. They can have pre-university courses first," he said at a meeting with Malaysian students in the United Kingdom at King's College London.

Dr Zambry said the state government had allocated 120ha of land in Gua Tempurung, near Ipoh, for the company to build the university.

"After the whole project is completed we believe it can accommodate 10,000 students from all over the world. We hope to give more people an opportunity to study in the medical field," he said.

Touching on eradication of poverty in the state, he told the students that the state government would cooperate with Ikhtiar Malaysia.

"Basically, we will transform from an agro-based to a service-based economy," he said, adding that the state government wouldl look into the issue seriously.

"We will address poverty. It's not only about poor people or hardcore poor. We also have to look at those who are not from a poor background but suddenly become poor...vulnerable, like single mothers who are left destitute after their husband's death," he said.

Dr Zambry later met members of the United Kingdom Umno Club and Perakians in the United Kingdom at Malaysia Hall.

-- BERNAMA

Jumaat, 11 Disember 2009

Malaysia Not Spared From H1N1


By Jumiati Rosly

KUALA LUMPUR, Dec 11 (Bernama) -- The influenza A (H1N1) pandemic caused panic worldwide this year, and Malaysia was no exception.

Setting the National Influenza Pandemic Preparation Plan in motion, the health ministry launched a big campaign to create public awareness of H1N1 and impart preventive measures to check its spread.

H1N1 was first detected in April in Mexico, forcing the government to shut down public buildings and public places.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 622,482 positive cases of H1N1, with 7,826 deaths globally, until Nov 22.

Malaysia recorded 77 H1N1-related deaths.

Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak announced that the government would increase the anti-viral stock via a RM20 million allocation.

To avoid panic, the health ministry plans to switch to seasonal influenza vaccines which contain H1N1 vaccine by February/March to protect against influenza-like diseases.

Malaysia has ordered 400,000 doses of H1N1 vaccines worth RM14 million, to be received in stages for high risk groups like pregnant women and 18-60 year-olds with chronic diseases, while 200,000 had been set aside for frontline medical staff.

The education ministry has allocated RM10 million for preventive equipments like thermometres, sanitisers, nose and mouth masks to students and school staff.

H1N1 was also a big worry for Malaysian haj pilgrims where 26,000 were given seasonal influenza vaccination as prevention.

In February, the health ministry declared war on dengue fever and although statistics for November showed a drop, it was dissatisfied as most cases were detected late. Only 35 per cent were detected early.

Statistics for November showed there were 34,975 dengue cases with 75 deaths, a drop from the 38,995 cases and 84 deaths for the corresponding period last year.

Some 13,895 premises were slapped with compound fines amounting to RM2.6 million for breeding aedes mosquitoes, owners of 13,230 premises were warned and 50 owners of other premises taken to court.

The proposed privatisation of the National Heart Institute (IJN) by Sime Darby Bhd which wanted to take over a 51 per cent stake was another hot topic.

It was shelved by the Cabinet, following protests from various quarters.

The government assured that IJN would not be sold or privatised as long as there was no other alternative for the people to receive heart treatment.

The health ministry also announced that the human papillomavirus immunisation programme to prevent cervical cancer in 300,000 girls aged 13, would be implemented next year.

The immunisation programme costing RM150 million annually, was approved by the Cabinet.

The vaccine would be more effective to prevent cervical cancer among teenagers as compared to adults over 40 years of age.

Cervical cancer is the second most common cancer among women after breast cancer.

-- BERNAMA

Rabu, 9 Disember 2009

Jururawat Islam sedia berbakti (Utusan Malaysia Online)


ISHAK Yeop Hamzah bertanya sesuatu kepada sebahagian jururawat yang mengikuti Program Orientasi Tugas Kejururawatan di Yala, baru-baru ini.


KOMITMEN Malaysia dalam membantu kerajaan Thailand bagi membawa keamanan di tiga wilayah di selatan negara itu yang majoritinya terdiri daripada penduduk Islam sememangnya tidak dapat dinafikan lagi.

Apatah lagi, di dalam Islam sendiri, kita digalakkan membantu sesama Muslim dengan apa cara sekali pun. Begitu juga Malaysia, kerajaan negara ini tidak mahu hanya menjadi pemerhati kepada pergolakan yang berlaku di Narathiwat, Yala dan Pattani.

Atas sebab itulah, Malaysia bersedia menubuhkan Task Force 2010 (Malaysia) yang bekerjasama dengan Task Force 960 Thailand bagi merangka pelbagai program yang bertujuan membantu penduduk Islam di tiga wilayah yang bergolak berkenaan.

Sejak kewujudannya, Task Force 2010 (Malaysia) yang dipimpin oleh Ketua Pengarahnya, Leftenan Jeneral Datuk Wan Abu Bakar Omar telah mengatur pelbagai program terutamanya dalam soal memberi kemahiran kepada belia selatan Thailand dalam pelbagai bidang termasuklah kejururawatan, komputer dan elektrik.

Usaha Task Force 2010 (Malaysia) itu bertujuan bagi memastikan, selatan Thailand akan mampu mempunyai golongan generasi belia yang berupaya untuk membantu masyarakat sendiri dan sekali gus mengelakkan mereka daripada terjebak dalam sebarang kegiatan yang tidak sihat.

Ia kerana sudah menjadi lumrah dalam sesuatu konflik, apatah lagi melibatkan gerakan puak pemisah, generasi muda pasti menjadi sasaran untuk dipengaruhi bagi meneruskan perjuangan songsang berkenaan.

Justeru tumpuan harus diberikan kepada golongan belia supaya mereka mempunyai kemahiran yang mampu membantu mereka meneruskan kehidupan di tanah air sendiri dengan melakukan pekerjaan bersesuaian.

Pada 2 Disember lalu, Task Force 2010 (Malaysia) dengan kerjasama Task Force 960 terus mengorak langkah bagi memberikan pendedahan kepada belia dari selatan Thailand yang pernah mengikuti kursus kejururawatan di negara ini.

Kali ini, seramai 40 orang daripada mereka mengikuti Program Orientasi Tugas Kejururawatan di Kolej Kejururawatan Boromrajchoni Southern Region Thailand di Yala selama sebulan.

Program itu bertujuan memberi penekanan terhadap kerja-kerja praktikal sebagai jururawat seperti yang sedang digunapakai dan diperakui oleh Kementerian Kesihatan Thailand.

Kesemua mereka sebelum ini telah mengikuti Program Latihan Pembantu Jururawat selama setahun di Universiti Kuala Lumpur - Royal of Medicine Perak (UniKL-RCMP). Ia dianjurkan oleh kedua-dua task force berkenaan.

Melalui pendedahan selama sebulan di Yala itu, ia sudah pasti akan memberikan ilmu yang bermanfaat dalam usaha memastikan mereka menjadi jururawat yang berkebolehan.

Selepas mengikuti program orientasi itu, mereka akan meneruskan khidmat masing-masing sebagai pembantu jururawat terlatih di Hospital dan klinik kerajaan sekitar Yala, Patani dan Narathiwat.

Penghargaan

Atas sebab itulah, tiada apa yang mampu mereka lafazkan selain mengucapkan penghargaan dan terima kasih kepada kerajaan Malaysia kerana sebelum ini telah memberikan peluang untuk mengikuti program latihan di negara ini.

‘‘Segala jasa yang dilakukan oleh Malaysia melalui Task Force 2010 (Malaysia) akan kami kenang sehingga akhir hayat,’’ kata Suraya Samah dari Yala.

Suraya berkata, walaupun jururawat bukanlah menjadi cita-cita utamanya tetapi sejak mengikuti kursus dalam bidang itu, beliau mula tertarik dengan kerjaya berkenaan.

‘‘Saya akan berusaha untuk memberikan perkhidmatan terbaik kepada masyarakat di kawasan saya,’’ katanya.

Rakannya, Suhaida Awai dari Narathiwat pula berkata, kesungguhan kerajaan Malaysia melalui Task Force 2010 (Malaysia) yang terus merancang pelbagai program bagi meningkatkan kemahiran mereka adalah sesuatu yang menyentuh perasaan.

Katanya, keadaan itu membuktikan bahawa Malaysia sebagai sebuah negara Islam sentiasa berusaha membantu saudara sesama agama di negara lain.

‘‘Ilmu yang diperolehi tidak akan kami sia-siakan. Sebaliknya ia akan dicurahkan sepenuhnya bagi berbakti kepada penduduk,’’ katanya.

Suhaida berharap, selepas ini program latihan kejururawatan seumpama itu akan diteruskan bagi memberi peluang kepada belia lain pula di selatan Thailand mengikutinya.

‘‘Saya percaya ramai yang ingin menyertai kursus ini kerana ia akan mampu membantu kami mendapat pekerjaan,’’ katanya.

Hasmah Sama daripada Pattani pula berkata, beliau berterima kasih dengan keprihatinan Malaysia dalam melaksanakan kursus jururawat tersebut.

Apa yang menarik, biarpun kebanyakan daripada mereka berkelulusan sekolah agama, tetapi sepanjang mengikuti program latihan berkenaan, mereka berupaya menunjukkan kemampuan yang memberangsangkan dan mampu menjadi jururawat Islam yang cemerlang.

Berucap di majlis penyampaian sijil selepas program orientasi tersebut, Pengarah Operasi Task Force 2010 (Malaysia), Brigedier Jeneral Datuk Ishak Yeop Hamzah berkata, melalui program itu adalah diharapkan ia akan memahirkan lagi kemampuan jururawat-jururawat yang terlibat.

Katanya, dengan kemampuan itu ia sudah tentulah mampu memberikan mereka manfaat untuk menabur bakti di tanah air sendiri terutama di Yala, Pattani dan Narawathiwat

‘‘Tanamkanlah keazaman pada diri masing-masing untuk memberi perkhidmatan terbaik kepada masyarakat,’’ katanya.

Ishak berkata, masyarakat di ketiga-tiga wilayah berkenaan sudah pasti akan berasa bangga jika jururawat-jururawat terlibat mampu menunjukkan komitmen yang tinggi dalam melaksanakan tanggungjawab yang diberikan.

‘‘Sebab itulah, mereka perlu berjanji bahawa kelayakan dan pengalaman yang sedia ada dengan diri masing-masing akan digunakan sepenuhnya untuk berbakti kepada masyarakat di selatan Thailand.

‘‘Mereka harus sedar bahawa tugas jururawat adalah amat dihormati dan sentiasa dipandang mulia,’’ katanya.

Sememangnya hanya melalui perkhidmatan yang terbaik sahaja, ia sudah pasti mampu membantu mereka untuk mencatatkan kejayaan lebih cemerlang di masa-masa akan datang.

Apa yang lebih penting dengan memberikan pendedahan kepada belia di selatan Thailand mengikuti program seumpama ini, ia akan sedikit sebanyak membantu membawa keamanan di wilayah yang bergolak tersebut.

Di samping itu juga, adalah menjadi harapan agar program ini akan dapat membantu usaha-usaha membawa keamanan ke selatan Thailand.

Apa pun rumusannya, program orientasi yang diadakan itu sekali lagi membuktikan bahawa Malaysia sememangnya ikhlas dalam membantu Thailand memulihkan keadaan di selatan negara itu.

Dan bukti keikhlasan Malaysia akan lebih nyata, apabila Perdana Menteri, Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak melawat Narathiwat pada Rabu ini.

Semoga lawatan itu akan memperkukuhkan lagi kerjasama antara kedua-dua negara bagi memastikan cahaya keamanan kembali bersinar di bumi selatan Thailand.

Selasa, 8 Disember 2009

CDC: Swine flu is widespread only in 25 states

ATLANTA – Swine flu infections continue to wane, just as vaccine is becoming plentiful enough that some communities are allowing everyone to get it, not just those in priority groups.

Swine flu was widespread in only 25 states last week — mostly in the Northeast and Southwest, officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday.

In late October, 48 states were reporting widespread cases of swine flu. But since then, there's been a decline across the country, and it appears that a fall wave of swine flu infections has peaked.

Meanwhile, a shortage of swine flu vaccine is easing, with 73 million doses now available, roughly twice as much as there was a month ago. And another 10 million doses are expected in the next week, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, the CDC's director.

Initially, limited supplies caused the CDC to advise state and local health officials to reserve doses for those at highest risk for severe complications from swine flu or those who take care of them. That group includes pregnant women, children and young adults, health-care workers and people with asthma and certain other health problems.

Demand for the vaccine is still high in many places, but enough has become available that some communities are now giving it to people outside the priority groups, Frieden said.

"The number of communities that do that will increase in the coming weeks," he predicted, at a press conference in Atlanta.

At least three states — Alaska, Arkansas and Oklahoma — have begun offering swine flu vaccine to all comers. And some communities have opened vaccinations up, including Broward County, Fla., and Sacramento County, Calif., said Paula Steib, spokeswoman for the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials.

Since it was first identified in April, swine flu has sickened an estimated 22 million Americans and killed 4,000. It has proved to be similar to seasonal flu but a bigger threat to children and young adults.

The swine flu pandemic has so far hit in two waves in the United States: First in the spring, then a larger wave that started in the late summer.

Flu is hard to predict, and health officials say they are worried of the possibility of a third wave this winter. The CDC said a new round of public service announcements about getting vaccinated are to begin next week.

___

On the Net:

CDC report: http://www.cdc.gov/h1n1flu/update.htm

Isnin, 7 Disember 2009

Two dead, two critically injured as car plunges from third floor of mall (BERNAMA)


KOTA BARU (Dec 6, 2009) -- Two students from Masterskill College of Nursing and Health here were killed while another two were seriously injured when a car plunged from the parking area of KB Mall here at 5.40pm today.

Kota Baru district police chief ACP Zahruddin Abdullah said the dead were Siti Nor Amira Samsuddin, 19 and Siti Nor Diana Azman, 18 while Rashidah Ahmad Lutfi, 24 and the driver of the car, Nor Ain Said, 19 suffered serious injuries.

"The incident happened at about 5pm when the Ford Laser TX3 car driven by Nor Ain lost control and plunged while being pushed after it had broken down on the third floor of the parking area.

"The ill-fated car landed near the escalator of the KB Mall," he told reporters at the scene.

He said Siti Nor Amira from Felda Chiku Tujuh, Gua Musang died at the spot while Siti Nor Diana from Chabang Empat, Tumpat died on the way to the Raja Perempuan Zainab II Hospital here.

He added that Rashidah from Jerteh, Terengganu and Nor Ain from Kampung Chekeli, Dewan Beta here were being treated at the Intensive Care Unit of the hospital and that their condition was critical.

Zahruddin said during the incident, apart from the driver Nor Ain, the other three victims who were on the ground floor, were crushed by the plunging car.

He added that the car had initially broken down on the third floor before Nor Ain, her sister Nurul Afika, 17 and their friend Sabri, 27, from Besut, Terengganu, decided to push the car.

"Nor Ain and her sister were in the car while Sabri was pushing the car when the driver lost control and the car hit the retaining wall and plunged down," he said.

He added that Nurul Afika miraculously escaped unhurt and went home in trauma after the incident while Sabri disappeared from the scene.

A witness, Johan Salleh, 47, said he was on the ground floor and saw the car plunging down.

"I was able to drag my son away but he remains in trauma," said Johan.

Police and the Fire and Rescue Department were at the scene to extricate the bodies.-- BERNAMA

Flood Situation Improves In Terengganu And Pahang (BERNAMA)

KUALA TERENGGANU, Dec 7 (Bernama) -- The flood situation in Terengganu and Pahang continued to improve as the number of evacuees at flood relief centres drop substantially from Sunday night.

The number of flood victims remaining at relief centres in Terengganu dropped from 400 last night to 138 this morning while Pahang also saw a drop from 951 Sunday night to 517 Monday morning.

A spokesman of the National Security Council (NSC) for Terengganu said the floodwaters had completely receded in some districts except in Kemaman and Kuala Terengganu where 74 and 64 flood victims remained at relief centres.

All main roads including Jalan Kuala Terengganu-Kuantan and Jalan Kuala Terengganu-Kota Baharu was opened for traffic while water level at all main rivers in Terengganu fell below the danger level.

Meanwhile, a spokesman from the Pahang State Flood Operations Control Centre said 386 flood victims remained at flood relief centres in Kuantan and another 131 in Bera.

Victims in Kuantan are housed at flood relief centres in Kampung Pahang Community Hall, Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan Paya Besar, Dewan Orang Ramai Kampung Semangat, Sekolah Kebangsaan Pandan, Kampung Soi Community Hall, Sekolah Menengah Gudang Rasau, Dewan Orang Ramai Sri Damai and Kampung Sri Melati surau.

In Bera, there was no change in the situation from last night as 131 flood victims, comprising 30 families from Kampung Paya Tateh, remained at the Rakan Muda Complex in Kerayong.

-- BERNAMA

Khamis, 3 Disember 2009

Malaysians urged to be wary of second H1N1 outbreak

PENANG:Malaysians are advised to be alert for a possible second wave of the H1N1 influenza outbreak.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai raised this concern as the northern hemisphere had recorded a 95% jump in cases.

More to come


--- THE STAR

Aussie Minister Advises Families To Receive A/H1N1 Flu Vaccination

CANBERRA, Dec 3 (Bernama) -- Australian Health Minister Nicola Roxon on Thursday urged Australians to shed their complacent attitude and make sure their families are vaccinated against A/ H1N1 flu, China's Xinhua news agency reported.

As the vaccine became available for children as young as six months on Thursday, Roxon said high A/H1N1 infection rates in North America were concerning.

"We are in a global battle against this pandemic," Roxon told reporters.

She advised all families to be vaccinated before the new school year, but preferably before Christmas.

Roxon said the A/H1N1 flu season that struck overseas this year was earlier than expected and could well be the same in Australia.

While the vaccine has been available for months, only 5 million doses have been administered from the stock of 21 million doses.

"We're always worried that when protection is available that they take advantage of it, that they not be too laidback in an Australian way to protect themselves against something that could be a big risk in the future," Roxon said.

The Therapeutic Goods Administration approved Panvax Junior for young children on Thursday. The A/H1N1 flu vaccine will be free for all children between 6 months and 9 years within two weeks.

The urgent message to vaccinate children ahead of this flu season comes after health statistics in Canada and the United States revealed worrying trends.

Children under nine years will need two doses for the vaccine to work fully. The first dose provides good protection, and the second dose taken 28 days later will boost the initial shot.

-- BERNAMA

Rabu, 2 Disember 2009

Tuberculosis (TB) - http://www.cdc.gov/


Basic TB Facts

"TB" is short for tuberculosis. TB disease is caused by a bacterium called Mycobacterium tuberculosis. The bacteria usually attack the lungs, but TB bacteria can attack any part of the body such as the kidney, spine, and brain. If not treated properly, TB disease can be fatal.

How TB Spreads

TB is spread through the air from one person to another. The TB bacteria are put into the air when a person with active TB disease of the lungs or throat coughs, sneezes, speaks, or sings. People nearby may breathe in these bacteria and become infected.

TB is NOT spread by

  • shaking someone’s hand
  • sharing food or drink
  • touching bed linens or toilet seats
  • sharing toothbrushes
  • kissing

Latent TB Infection and TB Disease

Not everyone infected with TB bacteria becomes sick. As a result, two TB-related conditions exist: latent TB infection and active TB disease.

  • Latent TB Infection

    TB bacteria can live in your body without making you sick. This is called latent TB infection (LTBI). In most people who breathe in TB bacteria and become infected, the body is able to fight the bacteria to stop them from growing. People with latent TB infection do not feel sick and do not have any symptoms. The only sign of TB infection is a positive reaction to the tuberculin skin test or special TB blood test. People with latent TB infection are not infectious and cannot spread TB bacteria to others. However, if TB bacteria become active in the body and multiply, the person will get sick with TB disease.

  • TB Disease

    TB bacteria become active if the immune system can't stop them from growing. When TB bacteria are active (multiplying in your body), this is called TB disease. TB disease will make you sick. People with TB disease may spread the bacteria to people they spend time with every day. Many people who have latent TB infection never develop TB disease. Some people develop TB disease soon after becoming infected (within weeks) before their immune system can fight the TB bacteria. Other people may get sick years later, when their immune system becomes weak for another reason.
    For persons whose immune systems are weak, especially those with HIV infection, the risk of developing TB disease is much higher than for persons with normal immune systems.

The Difference between Latent TB Infection and TB Disease

A Person with Latent TB Infection A Person with TB Disease
• Has no symptoms • Has symptoms that may include:
- a bad cough that lasts 3 weeks or longer
- pain in the chest
- coughing up blood or sputum
- weakness or fatigue
- weight loss
- no appetite
- chills
- fever
- sweating at night
• Does not feel sick • Usually feels sick
• Cannot spread TB bacteria to others • May spread TB bacteria to others
• Usually has a skin test or blood test result indicating TB infection • Usually has a skin test or blood test result indicating TB infection
• Has a normal chest x-ray and a negative sputum smear • May have an abnormal chest x-ray, or positive sputum smear or culture
• Needs treatment for latent TB infection to prevent active TB disease • Needs treatment to treat active TB disease

Selasa, 1 Disember 2009

73 H1N1 Cases With Five Deaths During This Year's Haj Season


MECCA, Nov 30 (Bernama) -- There were only 73 Influenza A(H1N1) cases with five deaths recorded out of nearly 2.5 million pilgrims who performed the Haj this year.

Health Minister Abdullah Al-Rabeeah was quoted as saying this by Saudi Arabian English daily Arab News.

The newspaper also quoted the Civil Defence director-general, Gen. Saad bin Abdullah Al-Tuwaijri, as saying that there was a big drop in the number of accidents this Haj season compared to previous years.

"The huge drop is mainly attributed to the completion of the five-storey Jamrat Bridge and the expansion of the Arafah area by more than 30 per cent," he said.

Al-Tuwaijri said these projects had further boosted the capability of the Civil Defence agency and other government bodies in carrying out their tasks efficiently.

"It also enabled the pilgrims to perform the Haj rites in ease and comfort," he added.

-- BERNAMA

KPJ Penang Specialist: Caring For Your Heart (BERNAMA)


By Lizawati Bahanan

BUKIT MERTAJAM, Nov 24 (Bernama) -- KPJ Penang Specialist hospital is set to emerge as the leading specialist centre especially in the Seberang Perai and southern Kedah districts.

KPJ Penang's General Manager for Risk Management Service Abdol Wahab Baba notes that the hospital under the Johor Corporation will be concentrating on treatment for heart ailments.

"Actually the heart care service was planned for the second phase but due to the overwhelming demand KPJ has introduced the service in the first phase itself.

"As the facilities for heart care in the Seberang Perai district is still lacking compared with the one available on the island, KPJ has taken the opportunity to provide this facility," he told Bernama.

Abdul Wahab adds that at present only the operating theater is yet to be equipped and for this purpose they are looking for investors and competent surgeons.

MULTI DISCIPLINE CARE

"Treatment for heart aliments is already available except for heart by-pass, maybe we will be able to introduce this next year," he says.

Other than this KPJ Penang Specialist offers other disciplines like anaesthesiology, ENT surgery, gastroenterology and general surgery.

The other disciplines are internal medicine, nephrology, obstetrics & gynaecology, ophthalmology, orthopaedic, (paediatrics), rheumatology, radiology and urology.

"The hospital is the 19th opened by KPJ to provide specialist care for the people living in this area.

SPECIALIST CLINIC

"With our presence here the public no longer need to go to the island to seek treatment," he said.

The hospital located in Bandar Perda started operations on August 1 this year with the first phase completed in 2008 and the second phase is to be developed in the future.

The KPJ Penang Hospital building has a floor space of 200,000 square feet and the five story building costs RM45 million.

As for a start KPJ Penang only provides 88 beds and 25 consultation clinics, but if there is demand KPJ will increase the bed to 112 in the future.

"Under the second phase KPJ Penang plans to add another 100 beds and when fully completed the hospital will have 236 beds and 40 specialist clinics.

THE STATE OF THE ART EQUIPMENT

"Other than having highly experienced medical experts, KPJ Penang is also equipped with the state of the art equipment like the 1.5 Tesla Magnetic Resonance Imaging, 64-Slice Computer Tomography (CT) Scanner and the Catheterisation Lab," he said.

He says that KPJ Penang has invested RM25 million for the purchase of the latest equipment in providing healthcare services to customers.

As up to October 2009, there were 224 employees in KPJ Penang with 110 of them being nursing staff and another 114 in the allied health and support services, he said.

"KPJ Penang also has 20 full time specialist consultants and expects the number to increase with time," he says.

Abdol Wahab points that under the five year plan KPJ anticipates accumulated revenue of RM471 million with a pre tax profit of RM11 million.

OTHER FACILITIES

"Next year KPJ plans to increase the number of beds and other facilities like heart operating theater, urology and dialysis," he said.

In 2008 KPJ hospitals received 1.96 million outpatients and 196,291 inpatients.

As for the half year beginning Sept 30, KPJ reported a revenue of RM709.52 million compared with RM615.07 million for the same period in 2008.

KPJ listed in Bursa Malaysia recorded a pre tax profit of RM76.47 million for the half year ending on Sept 30 compared with RM60.29 million for the same period last year.

-- BERNAMA
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