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Archive for July 1, 2013

“Learn from Cambodia to reduce HIV cases” – Latest – New Straits Times

KUALA LUMPUR: Following the success of Cambodia in reducing the number of HIV/AIDS patients and new infections, a medical specialist called on the need for stronger HIV/AIDS programmes and for a one-stop centre for people living with HIV/AIDS.

Hospital Sungai Buloh senior consultant and infectious disease physician Datuk Dr Christopher Lee said the programmes, however, should be integrated for a stronger network to better combat HIV/AIDS.

“We already have the programmes in place. We have programmes for HIV, tuberculosis (TB) and Hepatitis C, but these are all stand-alone programmes.

“Some have already began to integrate, it is just the matter of speeding up and strengthening the whole process,” he said at the 7th International AIDS Society (IAS) Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention 2013 at Kuala Lumpur Convention Centre, here, yesterday.

He said the integration system done in Cambodia was exemplary, and that Malaysia is already in the right direction.

In the conference, director of the National Centre for HIV, Dermatology and STI (sexually transmitted infections) of Cambodia Dr Mean Chhi Vun in his opening plenary remarks said Cambodia had managed to reduce the HIV prevalence from an estimated 1.7 per cent in 1998 to a projected 0.7 per cent in 2011.

It also managed to reduce the number of annual new HIV infections from 20,000 in the early 1990s to around 1,300 in 2012.

Speaking to reporters yesterday, Dr. Lee said it is important to make treatment easy and accessible to people living with HIV/AIDS and that stakeholders and the society at large should understand that it is a country’s problem.

“We need early and focused interventions that are proven to not only reduce costs, but also be more effective in combating the spread of HIV.” There should be more focus on the high-risk group, he added, and that it was important to have updated data on the people who are at risk.

“Times have changed. Maybe ten years ago, people only used heroin but now there are all sorts of party drugs that can contribute to the transmission of HIV in many ways.

“It’s not just about drug abuse. There is also the factor of multiple sex partners and mother-to-child transmissions, and we will have to move our focus along with the changes in the epidemic,” he added.

Separately, Dr Lee said that there were special clinics to ease transition of children living with HIV to becoming adults living with HIV.

He said there was a missing link as adolescents living with HIV, where they are not getting the proper services to progress from treatments as children, and treatments as adults.

“As children, they may not fully comprehend what they are dealing with. They are being given the medication and will take it without much question. “As they grow older, they begin to understand what they have to deal with and this might bring their self-esteem down,” he said.

He added that with the availability of new treatments, more children are surviving and this should encourage more adolescent clinics, focusing on how the affected group can progress to adulthood with ease.

Dr Lee said an adolescent clinic run in Hospital Kuala Lumpur helps the adolescents living with HIV to phase out from child-HIV treatment to phasing in to adult-HIV treatment.

via “Learn from Cambodia to reduce HIV cases” – Latest – New Straits Times.

Chinese herbal medicines contain pesticide residue, tests reveal | Environment |

Chinese herbal medicine samples tested by Greenpeace contained a residue of a ‘synthetic cocktail of pesticides’. Photograph: Antonio Olmos

Many traditional Chinese herbal medicines sold in western countries contain a “cocktail” of pesticide residues which exceed safe levels, research by Greenpeace suggests.

Testing of 36 samples of herbal products imported from China, including chrysanthemum, wolfberry, honeysuckle, dried lily bulb, san qi, Chinese date and rosebud, found 32 contained residues of three or more pesticides.

A report by Greenpeace said traditional Chinese herbs were becoming increasingly known and accepted in the west, where they were purchased for medicinal use, and the export market was worth £1.5bn in 2011.

But almost half the samples (17) collected in the UK, US, Canada, France, Germany, Italy and the Netherlands had residues of pesticides considered highly hazardous by the World Health Organisation, although in low concentrations.

Of 29 samples of products bought in European countries including the UK, 26 showed pesticide residues in quantities exceeding maximum safe levels set by EU authorities, Greenpeace said.

Tests on chrysanthemum bought in the UK detected 15 pesticides, eight of which exceeded EU residue levels, according to the report by the environmental group.

The presence of pesticide residues in what should be natural Chinese herbs should not be seen as an isolated case, but as “another example of the failure of chemical-intensive agriculture in China and around the world,” the report said.

Greenpeace called for a switch to more ecologically-friendly farming to protect human health and the environment, including natural resources such as water supplies and beneficial insects such as bees.

The green group warned long-term exposure to pesticide residues can have health impacts, such as reproductive abnormalities, while acute exposure to the chemicals can lead to poisoning of farm workers.

Commenting on the findings from Greenpeace East Asia, Dr Doug Parr, chief scientist with Greenpeace UK, said: “The toxic chemicals found in these products pose a real health risk to consumers.

“People who use these products do so hoping to ease medical conditions and improve their health – they will be shocked to learn that along with natural herbs they have been taking, they are exposing themselves to a synthetic cocktail of potentially dangerous pesticides.

“The UK Government and the EU must improve their testing regime for products imported from China as a matter of urgency so that users of these remedies know that they are safe.”

via Chinese herbal medicines contain pesticide residue, tests reveal | Environment |

N95 masks can’t protect children | theSundaily

11-year-old Nik Izreen Munirah, 11, wears the N95 mask during school activities. SUNPIX by AIZAN AIDA


KUALA LUMPUR (June 30, 2013): A paediatrician has advised parents and teachers to keep children indoors if the haze strikes the peninsular again this week as face masks including the N95 cannot protect them from dust particles.

Taman Desa Medical Centre (TDMC) paediatrician, Dr Soong Eileen, said this was especially important where asthmatic children were concerned.

“The recommended N95 masks are not meant for use by children as all surgical masks offer no protection against the dust for them. The best way to keep children safe during the haze is to keep them indoors with the windows closed. Use an air purifier if you have to,’ she said adding children who are exposed to the haze may suffer symptoms such as itchiness of the eyes, nose, skin or throat.

“The particulates, dust, and pollution in the air will cause a child’s air passages to contract and produce more mucus making it harder for children to breath.

“Some children may be too young to realise that they are having difficulty breathing or even suffering from an asthma attack,” Soong told a forum on the haze organised by TDMC.

However, she explained that short-term exposure to the haze as for a week or two was not known to have lasting effects on children.

She noted that parents should encourage their children to drink plenty of water and have plenty of rest during the haze.

“Parents should also have saline eye drop handy and wash their child’s hand and face regularly. If cold symptoms persist, even after cough and cold medicine is given, consult a doctor,” she said.

Meanwhile, TDMC physician Datuk Dr G. Selvaraju said supplements would not help in preventing people from suffering the effects of the haze.

“Adults should wear an effective mask that filters the air like the N95. Vitamins and supplements may boost your immune system but do nothing to prevent you from the effects of the haze,” he said.

He added that the elderly, pregnant women, children, and smokers were especially prone to the effects of the haze and should exercise great care when outdoors.

via N95 masks can’t protect children | theSundaily.

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