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  1. PETALING JAYA: The Malaysian healthcare system has been stretched to the limit, yet at least half of the people remain susceptible to diseases that can be easily prevented.

    There is a high incidence of diabetes, heart disease and hypertension among Malaysians, non-communicable diseases (NCD) that can be prevented with a lifestyle change.

    This leaves the healthcare system overwhelmed with treating diseases, thereby taking its focus away from a more important aspect of healthcare – prevention.

    According to former deputy health minister Dr Lee Boon Chye, two-thirds of the Health Ministry’s resources are used to treat illnesses, when they could have been better used to prevent people from falling sick in the first place.

    That left only one-third of the RM29 billion allocated to the ministry in 2020 to underwrite the more important aspect of healthcare – prevention. The budget has been raised to almost RM32 billion for this year.

    Lee attributes the imbalance to a lack of focus on promoting a healthy lifestyle. Instead, the money is being used to pay for the care of those who have already fallen ill.

    He told theSun that the same ratio prevails in the allocation of human resources. Only a third of healthcare personnel in the government service are engaged in preventive medicine.

    “If only we had paid more attention to preventive care, it would have reduced the burden on the health services. We would have tackled the issues before they become problems,” he said.

    He said the ministry has to play a more proactive role in educating the people about the need to avoid bad habits such as smoking and over-eating.

    One of the major causes of NCD in Malaysia is obesity. Malaysians rank above their Southeast Asian neighbours on the obesity chart.

    Obesity is among the biggest problems in developed countries. Malaysia ranks among the few developing countries that face this problem.

    Lee noted that Malaysia has changed from an agriculture-based to an industrial-based economy, and along with the shift, the diet changed and physical activities associated with manual labour gave way to a more sedentary lifestyle.

    “Records show that at least 50% of Malaysians are obese, and they are at high risk of getting a myriad of diseases such as heart ailments, most cancers, diabetes, chronic kidney diseases, osteoarthritis, osteoporosis, Alzheimer’s disease, cataracts, among others.

    Malaysian Medical Association president Datuk Dr M. Subramaniam said preventive medicine is an important component in healthcare as its approach can significantly reduce the incidence of illnesses and diseases in the population.

    “It is part of the training in medical school and an important area in the medical curriculum,” he told theSun.

    “GPs (private practitioners) form a major component in preventive medicine.”

    Regular check-ups for health maintenance and follow-up appointments with patients are all part of preventive medicine,” he said.

    “Most GPs are already promoting preventive medicine through encouraging regular check-ups, prescribing lifestyle and diet changes to improve the health of patients before there is a need for medication or other interventions,” he said.

    “These regular health screenings can help detect early health warning signs.”

    Government-run health clinics also play an important role in helping people change their lifestyle to protect themselves from NCDs.

    “They have done an admirable job in helping people to quit smoking but there is still a long way to go,” Lee said.

    The best part is that it is not difficult to live healthy. All it takes is to walk 10,000 steps a day as part of an exercise regime. As always, it’s the first step that is most difficult to take.

  2. MELAKA, Jan 25: A housewife lost RM2.08 million after being cheated by a Macau scam syndicate member who posed as a police officer with the title ‘Datuk’, claiming that she was involved in drug dealing and money laundering.

    Melaka Commercial Crime Investigation Department chief Supt E. Sundra Rajan said the woman, 49, received a call from an individual claiming to be from the Pahang contingent police headquarters on Jan 10.

    He said the money was from her own savings and inherited from her family.

    “Using the WhatsApp application, the suspect showed the victim her arrest warrant and a letter to freeze her assets before instructing her to divulge her bank account details for investigation purposes. Frightened, she conformed.

    “The victim also provided the six-digit one-time password (OTP) to the suspect. She then became suspicious and referred the matter to the bank,” he said in a statement tonight.

    Sundra Rajan said the bank informed her that there had been 164 online transfers carried out through ‘DuitNow’ worth RM2.08 million to 16 different bank accounts. She then lodged a police report.

    He said police checks through the http://ccid.rmp.gov.my/semakmule website revealed that the suspect’s phone number, 014-7410772, was also involved in 13 other reports using the same modus operandi, adding that the case would be investigated under Section 420 of the Penal Code for cheating.

    In another development, Sundra Rajan said a bank officer, 57, lost RM24,500 after being cheated by a syndicate trading in old currencies on Facebook.

    He said the man received a message purportedly from an American collector of old currencies named Smith Dion Ryan, who was interested in buying his old currency, which was advertised, at a very high price in US currency.

    “The victim then agreed to deal with the suspect and received a WhatsApp message from the suspect using the number +1(604)7062606 stating that the payment had been made to the victim’s account. However, since it was an overseas payment, the suspect claimed that the victim had to pay a fee to release the money from being withheld by the bank,” he said.

    He said the victim then made a payment of RM24,500 to five separate accounts given by the suspect before he realised he had been conned when he failed to receive the money promised for the purchase.- Bernama

  3. KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25: For the first time, the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple, Batu Caves’ silver chariot will make its journey with a limited participation of 10 people, without involving the public in conjunction with Thaipusam this year, due to the COVD-19 pandemic.

    The chariot processions, which started in 1983, were normally accompanied by 10,000 Hindu devotees and took about 16 hours but this time its journey would be faster and expected to end in about three hours without making a stop at any location.

    The temple’s committee chairman, Tan Sri R. Nadarajah said the 10 people who would be accompanying the 7.3-metre high chariot would include the driver, electrical technician, lighting man, a temple priest and five committee members.

    The silver chariot ferrying the statues of Lord Murugan and his two wives Dewi Valli and Devi Theivanai would journey from the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple in Jalan Tun H.S Lee here, at 2.30 am, January 27 after a prayer ceremony.

    ‘’The chariot is expected to arrive at Batu Caves at 5.30 to 6 am, on the same day. It will return to the Sri Maha Mariamman Temple at 2.30 am on January 29,” he said, today.

    He stressed that the chariot would travel to Batu Caves, which is renowned for the biggest Lord Murugan statue in the world with a height of 42.7 metres, without any traditional musical accompaniment and stops at any location as it did over the years and would be strictly supervised by the police.

    Yesterday, Federal Territories Minister Tan Sri Annuar Musa said only the journey of the chariot bearing the statue of Lord Murugan to Batu Caves was allowed and it was unlike the regular processions normally conducted during Thaipusam prior to this.

    Nadarajah promised that the standard operation procedures (SOP) set by the National Security Council (MKN) and the Kuala Lumpur City Hall (DBKL) would be complied with during the journey by the chariot and on the day of celebration.

    He also urged Hindus not to take part in the procession and not to turn up at the Sri Subramaniar Swamy Temple on Thaipusam day on January 28 in the light of the national situation in facing the COVID-19 pandemic.

    Thaipusam is a festival celebrated by Hindus worldwide in the month of ‘Thai’, namely, the 10th month in the Tamil calendar to remember the event when Lord Murugan received a holy spear from his mother, Dewi Parvati, to eradicate the evil force, Soorapadman, and bring back peace and prosperity to humankind.- Bernama

  4. KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25:Pengurusan Air Selangor Sdn Bhd (Air Selangor) has increased its capital expenditure allocation for its non-revenue water (NRW) reduction programmes this year to RM293 million from RM255 million in 2020.

    Of the amount, RM170 million will be used to replace all old pipes and RM16 million to replace old and damaged meters, said its chief executive officer, Suhaimi Kamaralzaman.

    In a statement today, he said Air Selangor has successfully brought down the NRW rate to 28.6 per cent last year versus 29.7 per cent in 2019.

    He said this achievement exceeded the target rate of 29.2 per cent set by the National Water Services Commission (SPAN), despite the implementation of the Movement Control Order to curb the COVID-19 pandemic.

    In line with its success in reducing the NRW rate since 2019, Air Selangor is determined to continue to reduce the NRW rate to 25 per cent in 2025 and then to 15 per cent by 2049, he said.

    Last year, Suhaimi said Air Selangor had implemented various initiatives to reduce the NRW rate, including the introduction of the Leakage Specialist team, Active Leakage Control Programme, District Meter Zones Establishment and Old Pipe Replacement Programme. - Bernama

  5. KUALA LUMPUR, Jan 25:The Health Ministry (MOH) expects the daily COVID-19 positive cases to return to double digits in May, said Health director-general Tan Sri Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah.

    He hoped that the two-week enforcement of the Movement Control Order (MCO) would help stabilise the numbers before an expected drop in daily cases after Jan 27.

    “We hope in the two weeks of MCO, we will avoid a spike in cases.

    “So, our expectation is that if we implement the MCO for four weeks, followed by a Conditional Movement Control Order (CMCO), we may be able to achieve daily figures of double digits on May 11,” he said during the ministry’s COVID-19 Emergency media briefing that was held virtually today.

    He also said that the COVID-19 infectivity rate (Rt) or R-naught (R0), which had dropped from 1.2 to 1.06 today, was expected to drop further in the coming days.

    As such, Dr Noor Hisham reminded the public to continue to comply with the standard operating procedure by always wearing face masks, maintaining physical distancing and washing their hands frequently.

    “Today is exactly one year since we have battled COVID-19. Our mantra is still the same... we need a high rate of compliance. If Malaysians have a high compliance rate, we do not need the MCO at all.

    “But because we relaxed restrictions on Dec 7, 2020, non-compliance shot up. So we have to enforce the MCO. We need to have high discipline by embracing the 3C of (avoiding) crowded, confined, close (spaces) and the 3W (wash, wear, warn),“ he said.- Bernama