November In A Nutshell

Budget 2017 for the Ministry of Health

Our Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Razak recently announced Budget 2017. Here are some highlights for the Ministry of Health:

1. The introduction of grade 56 for medical and dental specialists to address the issue of delays in promotion.

2.To appoint the first group of doctors, dentists and pharmacists on a contract basis to shorten  waiting time.

3.An allocation of RM 25 billion:

  1. To build and upgrade hospitals and clinics in Perlis, Kuching, Mukah, Jempol, Muar and Johor Bahru
  2. To upgrade hospital facilities and the purchase of 100 ambulances with an allocation of RM 536 million.
  3. To set aside RM 4.5 billion for the operations of 1Malaysia Clinics, 1Malaysia Mobile Clinics health clinics & rural clinics.
  4. To allocate RM 4 billion for the supply of medical drugs, vaccines, consumables etc to all public health institutions.
  5. To cooperate with NGOs to operate non-profit charitable hospitals in order to reduce overcrowding in public hospitals. Hence, RM 20 million is allocated in the form of loans to purchase hospital equipment.
  6. To allocate RM 110 million for about 10000 underprivileged patients 
  7. To utilise RM 40 million to encourage the establishment of more private haemodialysis centres. New centres will receive a one-off grant worth RM 200,000 each to facilitate the purchase of equipment.
  8. To implement initiatives to prevent and control contagious diseases like dengue and Zika.

4. RM 80 million is allocated to expand the National Community Health Empowerment Program (Kospen).


Go away, bad breath

Having halitosis, commonly known as bad breath, can be quite embarrassing when you talk to someone at close distances. Bacterial action on food particles and decomposition of dead cells on the tongue, gums and cheeks are some of the causes of bad breath. It can be a symptom of lung disease or liver failure. There are many ways to reduce bad breath:

  1. Brush your teeth after you eat. If possible, brush the tongue gently as it is also a site of bacterial accumulation.
  2. Floss at least once a day.
  3. Drink plenty of fluids to prevent dry mouth. This is because dry mouth acts as a favourable condition for bacterial growth. If possible, avoid coffee, soft drinks and alcohol as they dehydrate the mouth.
  4. Schedule regular dental checkups, preferably twice a year. This allows the dentist to examine your teeth or dentures.

Lastly yet interestingly, chewing fresh parsley will temporarily improve your breath. Read the whole article here.


Think FAST when it comes to stroke

Stroke is the second primary cause of death worldwide; in Malaysia, it is second commonest after heart disease. In 2010, over 15000 deaths were due to stroke.

Stroke is a medical condition where a part of the brain is deprived of its blood supply. The commonest cause of stroke is a blocked brain artery. It is a life-altering event as many survivors are left with physical, psychological and cognitive impairments.

The faster the victim is treated, the less brain damage he or she would suffer. Hence, recognising symptoms of stroke is very important. The FAST test is an easy way:

  1. Face – is the face drooping (crooked smile)?
  2. Arm – is the person able to raise his/her arm?
  3. Speech – is the speech slurred?
  4. Fast – if yes, it is an emergency. Call 999.

Once in the hospital, a doctor would assess the patient via history taking, clinical examination and radiological scanning. Then, a clot busting agent will be administered through the artery to break the clot in the brain.

As strokes cause impairments, survivors often go through rehabilitation to reduce long-term disability. The aim of this program is to ensure that they can get on with their lives as well as they could before the stroke, and being able to do daily activities independently such as driving and working.

Risk factors for stroke are high blood pressure, obesity, diabetes, smoking, drinking alcohol etc. Hence, it is vital to maintain a healthy lifestyle. However, there are some factors which are non-modifiable such as age, sex and race. Generally, the older one is, the more likely he/she will suffer a stroke, with men having a higher chance.

Read the full article here.


Contraceptive pills… for males?

Scientists have discovered a potential way to develop the male contraceptive pill.

They identified the protein which drives sperm to swim. They developed a compound which turned the protein off, and introduced it to healthy sperm cells. As a result, the mobility of sperm came to an abrupt stop. Therefore, it could render men infertile.

Nevertheless, the effect of the peptide is temporary and reversible in just a few days, unlike female contraceptives which require them to stop taking the pill for weeks before they try to conceive.

Many scientists think that the male contraceptive pill will bring many benefits to couples including women who could not take the pill for medical reasons. Besides, it gives men the ability to control their fertility, hence preventing unwanted pregnancies.

This discovery is still at its early stages. It was tested on human sperms; live animal tests would be carried out within three years.

Read more about this discovery here.


HIV drug – Prep –  deserves funding

There are more than 100,000 people living with HIV in the UK. Gay men have the highest HIV prevalence at 48.7 per 1000 people compared to the average of 2.3 per 1000.

Prep, which stands for ‘pre-exposure prophylaxis’, is a drug that protects the immune cells in the body from the risk of HIV infection. Taking it once a day reduces the chance of infection by 86%.

The Court of Appeal has recently ruled that the NHS has the power to fund Prep. This was with regards to a claim by NHS that Prep is a form of preventative health and therefore, its funding should fall under the responsibility of the local authorities. However, the court decided that it is wrong to classify Prep as preventative because it acts in the body to treat the infection.

The ruling confirmed the ability of NHS to provide the treatment, but not its obligation to do so. Nevertheless, NHS is considering this option and one of its main priorities is to negotiate Prep’s sky rocketing price with the drug manufacturer and the options of using generics.



In a nutshell, funding is a major factor in healthcare, whether in Malaysia, where the Ministry of Health received RM 25 billion from Budget 2017, or in the UK, where the NHS has to consider if they could fund Prep. But money can’t buy the quality of life lost if a person gets a stroke, and it certainly can’t fix a first impression gone wrong if you have bad breath. You can probably buy birth control pills for both genders though. It’s something.

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