• Enabling

    Enabling

    Relevant knowledge, Skill sets and Resources

  • Innovation and Creation

    Innovation and Creation

    Open mindset and environment

  • Planning Ahead

    Planning Ahead

    Ensuring performance and success

  • Growth and Sustainability

    Growth and Sustainability

    Assuring shareholder values and returns

  • Staff and Family

    Staff and Family

    Teamwork and work life balance

  • Corporate Social Responsibilities

    Corporate Social Responsibilities

    Living harmoniously with communities

Hep C: Time bomb - only about 10% of carriers identified



Only about 1in 10 Malaysians who carry the Hepatitis C virus (HCV) has been diagnosed with the potentially fatal liver disease.


“The diagnosed cases are only the tip of the iceberg,” said Prof Dr Rosmawati Mohamed, hepatologist at University Malaya Medical Centre (UMMC). 

She said that worldwide, only about 15% of HCV cases are diagnosed, compared with 10% in Malaysia. 

The majority of cases go undiagnosed because of the asymptomatic nature of the disease, where symptoms do not show themselves, she said at the launch of the At the Edge of a Miracle: The Hepatitis C Epidemic in Malaysia report on Thursday.
  




The report by the Malaysian Aids Council (MAC) was launched in conjunction with World Hepatitis Day which falls on July 28 every year.  

It is estimated that 435,000 to 500,000 Malaysians carry the virus, a number derived by MAC’s modelling of data provided by the Ministry of Health.  

MAC honorary secretary Hisham Hussein said the prevalence of HCV among those who inject drugs was estimated at 50% to 67%. 

“Given the overlapping modes of transmission, HIV-HCV co-infection – particularly among those who inject drugs – is a significant public health concern,” he said.  

He said that a study in 2009 conducted among 552 drug users, who were not undergoing treatment, found that 65.4% of them had HCV.  Out of those, about 40% of them were also diagnosed with HIV.  

According to the World Health Organisation, a significant number of those chronically infected will also develop liver cancer.


/theSTAR 27-07-2017
 
Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.


Read more

Hepatitis C: Generic licensing agreement to Malaysia



More Hepatitis C patients will soon be able to afford treatment..

Gilead Science, an American research-based biopharmaceutical company, announced its decision on August 24, 2017 to expand its HIV and Hepatitis C generic licensing agreement to Malaysia, Thailand, Ukraine and Belarus.

Hailing the development, local think-tank Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy said it would be a “game changer” in the fight against Hepatitis C in the country.

Its chief executive officer Azrul Mohd Khalib said more than 400,000 Malaysians between 15 and 60 years old are currently estimated to be living with Hepatitis C.





“With Hepatitis C treatment currently costing as much as US$30,000 (RM128,115) per person, this granting of a Sofosbuvir voluntary licence by Gilead Sciences will mean that it will be possible for lower-cost generic versions of this life-saving drug to be made available in Malaysia. It will allow for the drug to be used in combination with others. Most importantly, it will be possible for thousands of lives to be treated and cured of this disease,” he said.

Sofosbuvir is the innovator drug owned by Gilead Sciences.

Azrul also hoped that with access to the drug, the Health Ministry would be in a better position to work together with non-governmental organisations, patient groups and the pharmaceutical sector towards achieving its goal of ensuring that those in need of Hepatitis C treatment “can get it and afford to do so”.

Previously, The Star reported that it may cost up to RM300,000 for patients to have a full course of treatment. This was because Malaysia was not given special pricing for the drugs by pharmaceutical companies as it is considered as a middle-income nation.

In July, the Health Ministry acknowledged that the treatment for Hepatitis C is very expensive and it was collaborating with other partners to find an affordable cure. It was previously reported that the Health Ministry has teamed up with the Drugs for Neglected Diseases Institute to come up with an affordable cure.
/theSTAR 05-09-2017

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.


Read more

Medical and Dental Clinics - Numbers



The closure of over 600 private general and dental clinics in Malaysia since 2014 is not solely due to lack of business or poor reception from the public, the Health Ministry said.

Deputy Minister Datuk Seri Dr Hilmi Yahaya said only 78 of 9,155 registered clinics and three of 2,435 dental clinics had shut down due to economic reasons.

Between 2014 and June 2017, 643 private general clinics and 139 dental clinics have been deregistered.

However, 1,289 new private general clinics and 527 dental clinics were registered in the same period, so this means there was no issue of too few private clinics.

As per the law, registered private clinics must apply to the Ministry if they wish to deregister, and must also state the reason for the application.

Dr Hilmi said 39.5% of private general clinics and 53.3% of dental clinics which applied for deregistration said they were changing the location of their premises.

/theSTAR 10-08-2017

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.


Read more

CCM: "De-gear" & Demerge



Chemical Company of Malaysia Bhd’s (CCM) defended the company’s demerger exercise as one that will not result in any losses to shareholders.

CCM group managing director Leonard Ariff Abdul Shatar acknowledged that it would take time for the market to digest the recently announced corporate exercise to de-gear and demerge from its profit-making pharmaceutical unit CCM Duopharma Biotech Bhd.

“We believe it will take time for the market to fully comprehend the corporate exercise because it involves a lot of moving parts. But our message is, shareholders will not lose out,” he said.

However, CCM’s shares fell 12 sen, or 7.1%, yesterday to close at RM1.57, effectively wiping out RM54.5mil from the company’s market capitalisation. CCM Duopharma’s shares, on the other hand, closed unchanged at RM2.11 yesterday.





A dealer reckoned that some shareholders did not like the dilutive aspect of the deal, as it involves a placement exercise. Others, the dealer said, could be selling on a knee-jerk reaction to the share consolidation element in the proposal.

Leonard Ariff pointed out that under the demerger exercise, entitled CCM shareholders – institutional and retail – would effectively get CCM Duopharma shares for free. The subsequent exercise to consolidate CCM shares from three to one, on the other hand, would ensure that the value of the company’s share remains intact.

“For investors who buy into CCM before the close of our book-building exercise, they will be getting CCM Duopharma’s shares for free,” he said.

On that note, he pointed out that shareholders who had previously bought into CCM for “cheaper” exposure to CCM Duopharma would now benefit through direct shareholding in the latter. “This means the dividend from CCM Duopharma will flow directly to them post-demerger without dilution through CCM,” Leonard Ariff said.

“The exercise to subsequently consolidate CCM shares from three to one is to ensure that they don’t lose any value, as the shares will effectively be based on the net asset of the reduced size of the company following the demerger exercise,” he added.

At present, Permodalan Nasional Bhd (PNB) owns about 70% of CCM, which, in turn, has a 73.4% stake in CCM Duopharma.

The proposed demerger announced on Wednesday would see CCM distribute its entire 73.4% stake in CCM Duopharma to its shareholders.This exercise would also involve a capital reduction in CCM’s share capital by about RM462.9mil. CCM announced that it would consolidate its shares on the basis of three to one. This exercise is expected to be completed by January 2018.

In addition, CCM also announced a de-gearing initiative, involving a plan to raise up to RM257.6mil through a private placement of up to 10% of its share capital and the disposal of three parcels of land measuring 70.93 acres in Shah Alam, Selangor. The proposed disposal of the Shah Alam land was deemed a divestment from its non-core assets.

According to Leonard Ariff, CCM expects to raise another gross proceeds of around RM65mil from the sale of its two other identified non-core assets, namely, the Nilai Industrial Land and the group’s 8.45% equity stake in Korea-listed PanGen Biotech Inc.

He said the imminent sale of the Nilai Industrial Land, which could raise about RM20mil based on the current book value, would be conducted through a tender process. Further announcements on the sale would be made by year-end.

As for the proposed sale of CCM’s stake in PanGen, which could raise about RM45mil, Leonard Ariff conceded that while the group had yet to identify a potential buyer, a deal could be concluded by next year.

He pointed out that the sale of the company’s non-core assets is part of a continuous de-gearing exercise to strengthen the group’s balance sheet.

“We will continue to divest from our non-core assets, which we define as those that do not give us revenue of income or dividends, until we achieve a healthy gearing... in absolute terms, our target is to reduce our total loans down to around RM100mil from the current level of RM440mil,” he added.

Under the proposed corporate exercise announced on Wednesday, CCM would undertake a private placement of up to 10% of its issued share capital and dispose of its three parcels of leasehold land measuring up to 70.93 acres in Shah Alam, Selangor, as part of a de-gearing exercise.

Leonard Ariff said CCM’s de-gearing exercise would result in substantial savings for the company.

“At present, we pay RM21mil annually in interest costs to service our debts; post de-gearing exercise, our interest costs would only be a quarter of that,” he pointed out.

CCM’s proposed private placement, which is scheduled to complete in October this year, is expected to raise up to RM67.6mil, while the disposal of land in Shah Alam, which is scheduled to complete in March 2018, to an independent third party would be at a cash consideration of RM190mil.The total proceeds from the fund-raising exercise and land sale would mainly be used to repay CCM’s borrowings.

Meanwhile, CCM’s proposal to distribute its entire 73.4% stake in CCM Duopharma to its shareholders - a move that would result in the demerger of the two companies – would allow the group to focus on managing the growth of its chemical products and polymer coating businesses. The exercise would benefit CCM’s shareholders by enabling them to participate directly in the equity of CCM Duopharma at no cost.

“The initiatives are a continuation of our strategic review which commenced in 2015 to house all of our pharmaceutical businesses under the CCM Duopharma umbrella, to exit from non-performing business segments, and strengthen our balance sheet to enable ample agility to pursue our capital expansion and a sustainable growth strategy for the future,” Leonard Ariff said.

“The proposed initiatives will lighten the balance sheet for CCM and give shareholders direct ownership in both CCM and CCM Duopharma, and participate directly in the growth of the two separate entities. It is expected that the restructuring will enable us to utilise our resources more effectively and efficiently, and promote strong growth for our chemicals and polymer businesses. It is part of CCM’s continuous effort to strive towards sustainability and achieve optimum development in moving forward and growing within a competitive business environment,” he added. 

/theSTAR 04-08-2017

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.


Read more

KPJ: To Expand locally before going Abroad



KPJ Healthcare Bhd will cap future dividend payouts at maximum of RM 80mil of its net profit to allocate more cash for the repayment of its borrowings, executive director Aminudin Dawam said.

“Our dividend payouts have always been around 40%-50% of net profits, so our Board has advised us to put a cap in absolute terms of up to RM 80mil payout,” Aminudin said on the sidelines of the Invest Malaysia conference.

“Now we are paying about RM 70mil to RM 80mil a year and we will continue with this.“If our net profit is more than this, then it will still be capped at up to RM 80mil and the excess profit, which we are confident of growing, will be used to offset our debt,” he added.

The largest public-listed hospital group by bed-count in Malaysia said the employment of a high gearing strategy is to help it to grow further.

“This is how we expand and we have done this before. There have been some lean years too. For the last seven to eight years, dividends have been around 50% although there is no formal dividend policy by the company,” its general manager of investor relations Khairul Annuar Azizi said.

KPJ also plans to spend some RM 1.4bil in capital expenditure (CAPEX) within the next five years to increase its bed-count from 3,000 now.

“Our plan is to add another seven hospitals and these will add another 1,000 beds to the group. Meanwhile, some of our existing hospitals will expand their capacity and this will add another 500 beds,” Aminudin said.

The seven new hospitals will be located in Perlis, Johor, Sarawak, Negri Sembilan and Selangor.

“We are in the midst of an aggressive expansion in Malaysia and we don’t want to overstretch ourselves (abroad) at the moment,” he said.

Overseas expansion, if any, would be through brownfield acquisitions, with Indonesia being the main target market.

Total capex allocated for this year is RM350mil, he added.

On the weak ringgit, he said KPJ had to pass on the additional costs arising from higher prices of imported equipment to its patients.

“As a private profit-generating company, we have to do this but we also have economies of scale, so this amount is controlled. We are doing our best to be more efficient in other areas – in how we do business and in other processes,” he added.

/theSTAR 27-07-2017


Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.


Read more

Patients moving to Public Hospitals



Private hospitals have seen about a 30% drop in the number of patients as they turn to the already over-stretched public hospitals, said Association of Private Hospitals of Malaysia (APHM) president Datuk Dr Jacob Thomas.
He said patients turned to public hospitals as there was no GST and treatment was almost free, making them an affordable and attractive alternative.
Dr Jacob urged the Health Ministry to collaborate with the private sector since patients faced long waiting times for MRIs, and CT and PET Scans, while most private hospitals had excess capacity.
“We understand that 25% of patients seen in public hospitals have access to private healthcare insurance. We can manage them in our private hospitals,” he said.
He added that some hospitals offered the ministry the services at reduced prices.
Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam said that when patients were unable to afford private hospitals, they fell back on public hospitals.
“Because of the co-existence, the issue of affordability to a great extent, has been met although there are challenges,” he said.
“For the long term, the ministry is formulating voluntary health insurance”, he said.
Previously, Dr Subramaniam said that the scheme was voluntary and aimed at ensuring that the cost of private medical treatment in the country was reasonable and affordable.
/theSTAR 27-07-2017
Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.


Read more

Infectious Diseases on the Rise



Every year, more people die of tuberculosis (TB) than from dengue and HIV-related complications.

There were 1,945 TB deaths from 25,739 cases last year, a 14.7% increase over 1,696 deaths from 24,220 cases in 2015, according to the Health Ministry.

In comparison, there were 237 dengue fever deaths from 101,357 cases last year and 336 deaths from 120,836 cases in 2015.























Malaysian health authorities are now concerned because infectious diseases such as TB, leptospirosis and rabies, which the country managed to successfully curb in the past, are making a comeback, said former Institute of Respiratory Medicine director Datuk Dr Abdul Razak Muttalif.





TB is responsible for the most deaths among all infectious diseases reported in Malaysia, he added.

Malaysia managed to bring down TB cases from more than 30,000 in 1960 to fewer than 6,000 cases in the mid-1980s but Dr Abdul Razak said the cases gradually increased again from the mid-1990s.


It was initially fuelled by the increasing number of HIV cases (from weakened immune systems) and a little by migrant workers in the late 1990s, he said.

Dr Abdul Razak said one factor contributing to the high numbers currently was the delay in diagnosis and treatment, resulting in the disease spreading.

One reason for the late diagnosis could be traced to patients seeing doctors for coughs in clinics.
Without laboratory facilities, some doctors did not get a chest X-ray done to detect it early, he added.

Other groups could pick up TB because of risk factors such as those with diabetes and HIV, as well as prisoners, drug users and migrants. Dr Abdul Razak said Malaysia was detecting more cases also because more people were being screened.

Meanwhile, leptospirosis, commonly known as rat urine disease, remains a concern in Malaysia, as the number of cases has steadily increased from 2,268 in 2011 to 8,291 in 2015, although the figure dropped last year to 5,284. Statistics show that in 2011, 55 people died of the disease, 78 in 2015, and 52 last year.

Universiti Putra Malaysia professor of veterinary bacteriology Datuk Dr Abdul Rani Bahaman said it was not easy to diagnose leptospirosis as there were more than 40 serovars, or strains of Leptospira bacteria and more are expected to be discovered.

Leptospirosis could easily be misdiagnosed because its symptoms are similar to those of malaria, influenza and dengue. They include headache, diarrhoea, body ache, muscle pain and jaundice, which can cause it to be mistaken for these viral diseases, Dr Abdul Rani said.

However, those returning from jungle trips or recreational areas with high fever should be screened for leptospirosis and treated with antibiotics as a treatment or preventive measure before the infection becomes critical, he added.

Encouragingly, statistics showed that leprosy – which spreads through inhaled droplets of moisture – is on the decline. There were 206 new cases last year, compared to 210 in 2015. In 2012, there were 325 new cases.

 /theSTAR19-07-2017

Disclaimer: Views or opinions expressed are solely those of the Author and should be used with discretion. The Author shall not be held liable for any acts or omissions arising from the use of the information. The user will be personally liable for any damages or other liability arising hereof.


Read more