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Tag: malaysia

MOH: Vaccines in Malaysia are halal and must be administered to children

MOH: Vaccines in Malaysia are halal and must be administered to children

A two-year-old child passed away in Miri Hospital, Sarawak, from diphtheria in March 2018. An investigation by the Ministry of Health (MOH) Malaysia revealed that the parents chose to not have her immunised against diphtheria due to concerns about the halal nature of vaccine.

According to the MOH, there were 32 cases of diphtheria – including seven deaths – reported throughout the country last year. Out of those cases, 75% were unvaccinated, most of them children.

Health Director-General Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah advised that children should be administered with the ‘five-in-one’ injection at two, three and five months, including a booster at 18 months.

Vaccines are Halal

The technical committee chairman of vaccine advocacy programme Immunise4Life, Datuk Dr Zulkifli Ismail, said the anti-vaccine sentiment has created confusion and distrust towards vaccination. “There is nothing in Islam or any other religion that says you cannot give vaccinations to children. The only reason we are seeing diphtheria cases is not because vaccine has failed, but because parents do not want their children to take the vaccine.”

The MOH urged Muslim parents to not doubt the halal status of vaccines.

The National Fatwa Council has also issued a statement that vaccines provided by the government are all halal. Health Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya advised Muslim parents to trust the data provided by experts instead of false information circulated on social media.

“In Malaysia, there is only one vaccine which contains porcine DNA – the rotavirus vaccine. The government does not buy this vaccine. It is only available in private clinics to treat severe diarrhoea,” he added.

Dr Zulkifli encouraged the use of reliable resources to retrieve information on immunisation, such as Immunise4Life website (www.ifl.my) and MYVaksinBaby app.

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Women’s Aid Organization (WAO): Stop Domestic Violence

Women’s Aid Organization (WAO): Stop Domestic Violence

A study by the World Health Organization (WHO) in 2013 revealed that almost 40% of all murdered women were killed by their intimate partners, and 42% of women who have experienced physical or sexual violence at the hands of a partner had suffered some form of visible injuries. MIMS Today met with Tan Heang-Lee, the Communications Officer of Women’s Aid Organization (WAO), to talk about the organization and how healthcare professionals (HCPs) play an important role in identifying domestic violence



1. Could you share with us the type of services provided by WAO?

We are a local organization that has been operating for about 35 years. We provide services related to gender-based violence, which includes domestic violence, sexual assault, rape, abuse of migrant domestic worker, trafficking, etc. We are the largest service provider for domestic violence survivors in Malaysia.

Domestic violence covers the entire spectrum of violence, comprising physical, emotional, psychological, sexual and even financial abuse. There’s social isolation and our clients usually have been forced to sever ties with family and friends, and they are completely alone. Our social workers assist clients to access the services provided by various government agencies, such as the police, hospitals, welfare department, the courts, etc. Apart from that, our social workers provide emotional and psychosocial support and educate our clients about their rights.

In terms of advocacy, we strive to improve law and policies, and their implementation and enforcement. We also work to shift the public’s mindset and behaviour towards recognizing women’s rights.

2. How do you liaise with government agencies?

We work very closely with the police,hospitals and welfare department. The One Stop Crisis Centre (OSCC) is located at the emergency departments of government hospitals, and it is where survivors of gender-based violence can obtain comprehensive services. When facing difficulties, survivors of domestic violence can lodge a police report there and get the necessary medical attention and support.

Hospitals are actually the first place that many women go to following domestic violence. It makes sense because hospitals feel like a safe place. Doctors and nurses are generally very friendly, they genuinely care and patients trust them.

3. What would be a typical scenario that you deal with?

I don’t think there really is a typical scenario. However, when survivors interact with a healthcare professional, it’s common for survivors to not disclose that they are being abused. If they are injured, they may say that they had fallen, but their injury does not match that of a fall and the perpetrator is usually reluctant to be separated from the victim.

If an injured woman comes in with a potential perpetrator, there’s a dynamic there and doctors need to be attentive. If doctors suspect something amiss behind an injury, they should try to ask if the woman would like to talk to them in private, or they could ask the suspected perpetrator to leave the room for a while.

4. Where do these survivors of domestic violence go after they are discharged from the hospital?

We do have a safe-house, a temporary shelter at a secure location for survivors of gender-based violence. Apart from providing the much-needed necessities, we also have empowerment programmes such as creative writing classes to help our clients express and process their emotions by having them write about their feelings. We also try to conduct programmes to enhance their skills so that they will slowly become more confident and independent as time goes by. These programmes include workshops on job interview skills, financial literacy, economic empowerment, and so on.

Generally, our clients can stay up to 3 months but it really depends on the case. A majority of our clients stay for a few weeks to clear their minds and calm themselves after their initial traumatic experience. We also have a Child Care Centre, so domestic violence survivors can obtain child care as they begin to rebuild their lives and get back on their feet.


5. What is the most important thing that healthcare professionals should know about domestic violence?

Firstly, it’s recognizing the dynamics of domestic violence. As mentioned earlier, domestic violence covers the whole spectrum of abuse. As such, when a doctor suspects that something is not right, try to talk to the patient in private or note down their concern in a medical report for proper documentation. Domestic violence is usually a cycle, so being attentive is important. A study by WHO in 2013 revealed that almost 40% of all murdered women were killed by their intimate partners.

Even when there is no physical abuse, survivors of domestic violence could be facing other forms of abuse, such as being stalked, receiving threats, or being isolated socially. Healthcare professionals thus need to be alert. If a patient is experiencing domestic violence, healthcare professionals can share with patients the WAO Hotline number: 03 7956 3488 and the WAO SMS/WhatsApp line: 018 988 8058.

The One Stop Crisis Centre also has guidelines on how to handle domestic violence cases. The OSCC guidelines are readily available online and in hospitals.

Tan Heang-Lee, 27 Jun 2018
Communications Officer
Women’s Aid Organization (WAO)

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Are we ready for an ageing Malaysia?

Are we ready for an ageing Malaysia?

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is well on its way to becoming an ageing society by 2030 when it is projected that 15 per cent of its population will be 60 years old and above, according to the Department of Statistics.

With the estimation that 7.2 per cent of the population will be 65 and older by next year, health experts have called for a review of policies to improve the nation’s preparedness for elderly care.

At the moment, efforts on the elderly are being led by the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry and Health Ministry.

Professor Datuk Dr Lokman Hakim Sulaiman, a public health expert from International Medical University, said the country did not have adequate health and elderly care facilities to support the growing ageing population.

“Ageing as an issue has been articulated in many ministerial policy and development papers, but I am not sure if we have a single national policy on ageing society to prepare our nation for this transition.

“Also, which ministry or department should champion it? Ageing is beyond a health issue. Social support system, socioeconomic wellbeing, declining productivity and sustainable income and health are interrelated and may work in a vicious cycle.”

He called for a holistic and comprehensive national policy on the elderly that cuts across sectors, enabling the government, society and individuals to understand their roles and responsibilities and act more efficiently in caring for the elderly.

Malaysia adopted the National Policy for the Elderly in 1995 under the Women, Family and Community Development Ministry, which ended in 2005. Later, the National Policy for Older Persons came into effect in 2011, complemented by the Health Ministry’s National Health Policy for Older Persons in 2008.

The policies focus on empowering individuals, families and communities by providing elderly-friendly services and enabling environments to improve people’s wellbeing in old age.


The national policies work together under the broader national development plans under the Prime Minister’s Department’s Economic Planning Unit.

Dr Lokman, who is the Health Ministry’s former deputy director-general of public health, however, said more needed to be done and he emphasised the need to determine the framework on the responsibility of elderly care.

“Should the responsibility lie on ourselves as individuals who will grow old, on our family, society, government or a combination of all?

“Based on this foundation, we can develop policies to guide development programmes towards a comprehensive elderly care that covers social, economic and health aspects.

“For example, if we decide it is our responsibility (elderly care), a policy may be developed to pool pensioners’ resources by law to provide support for the elderly once they become dependent.

“If it is societal responsibility, we need policies to allow society to support the elderly in their community,” he said, adding that this could be done through non-governmental organisations and residential homes.

Apart from ensuring well-functioning geriatric medicine services, he said policies that support the wellbeing of the elderly should also be in place with guaranteed access to shelter, food and social support.

“We need a clear policy on immunisation for the elderly, as they are at risk of vaccine-preventable morbidity and mortality, for example, pneumococcal vaccine.”

Dr Lokman said elderly centres must be regulated to ensure quality care that fulfilled social, spiritual and health needs.

“The social support system is disintegrating with rural-urban migration or rapid urbanisation of peri-urban with declining extended families.”

He said individuals in their golden years should keep fit by indulging in physically, socially and mentally-stimulating activities, such as reading, socialising, travelling and gardening.

Malaysian Healthy Ageing Society adviser Professor Nathan Vytialingam said there was an urgent need to address the challenges of an ageing nation through an inter-ministerial approach as it involved issues that were not limited to health and welfare.

“For example, much emphasis has been given to encourage the younger generation to be active in sports, but nobody talks about sports for the elderly.

“They (the elderly) too need to be encouraged to take up sports, with facilities made available for them to keep active.

“I believe the Youth and Sports Ministry can play a big role in this for the elderly.”

Last year, Prime Minister Tun Dr Mahathir Mohamad, at the Ageing, Learning and Technology: Enriching Lives, Connecting Communities Conference held in conjunction with International Day of Older Persons, urged the older generation to remain active.

Dr Mahathir, who is 94 this year, had said if the elderly did not stay active, they would become weak.

To curb loneliness at old age, Nathan said a solid support system should be in place to help the elderly remain mentally active.

“A community centre that allows elderly persons to socialise should be set up in places where community support is lacking, where their children can send them in the morning and pick them up after work.

“These facilities must be well-structured and run by professionals,” he said, adding that more inter-generational activities should be in place to provide social support.

“Such activities can help the elderly look forward to a productive day, with a joyful purpose in life.”

Nathan encouraged private companies and giant corporations to help the elderly.

“Caring for the elderly is not the sole responsibility of the government, but also the community.

“Although often the responsibility is entrusted to the government, big corporations should also look at it as part of their corporate social responsibility programme by providing assistance.”

He said education on healthy ageing should not start at age 60.

“Keeping fit should start from young, not when you have turned 60. This is to allow a person to manage his or her life better and more independently at a later age.

“Many people think only at 60 you are required to exercise more and watch what you eat. Yes, you can do that, but it is much better to start at a much earlier age,” he told the New Sunday Times.

Nathan, who is also Perdana University School of Occupational Therapy dean, said when one gets older, it was important to be able to function normally.

“This includes the ability to dress, go to the toilet and move around without assistance.

“The physical demands of such activities require people to take better care of themselves when they are younger so that they can continue to live independently well into their 60s and beyond.”

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