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  1. Mohd-Tahir NA, Paraidathathu T, Li SC
    SAGE Open Med, 2015;3:2050312115596864.
    PMID: 26770795 DOI: 10.1177/2050312115596864
    Malaysia inherits a highly subsidized tax-based public healthcare system complemented by a fee-for-service private sector. Population health in Malaysia has considerably improved since independence using a relatively small amount of gross domestic product (~4%). Brain drain of highly specialized personnel, growth in healthcare spending, demographic and disease pattern changes and increase in patients' demands and expectations towards better medical care are exerting pressure on the sustainability of the system to continuously provide efficient and effective services at relatively low cost. Malaysia has adopted and implemented some of the quality use of medicine concepts such as National Essential Medicine List, health technology assessment and promotion of generic medicines in their health policy, but so far the results may not be optimal. Activities to further promote these strategies are needed for successful implementation to achieve more positive and sustained beneficial outcomes. Better strategic planning, management and collaboration between various stakeholders, considering the needs and barriers of the strategies, are important to ensure effective implementation of the strategies. More emphasis should be placed upon more equitable and rational distribution of healthcare resources to cater for rapid urbanization. Additionally, a sustainable health financing structure that is more progressive and does not encourage moral hazard should be established. In conclusion, Malaysia has achieved good outcomes in population health with relatively low financial inputs since independence. However, changes in the overall environment have created issues which would threaten the long-term viability of the healthcare system if not tackled properly. The numbers of internationally trialled strategies could be used to deal with these challenges. In addition, coordinated implementation of these strategies and effective engagement and communication between various stakeholders are necessary to further strengthen the Malaysian healthcare system effectively.
  2. Mohd-Tahir NA, Li SC
    Osteoporos Int, 2017 07;28(7):2035-2044.
    PMID: 28314898 DOI: 10.1007/s00198-017-3985-4
    This review analyzes the economic costs of HF in Asia. The availability and quality of studies on the burden of osteoporosis in Asia are very scarce. There is a need to encourage more quality cost of osteoporosis studies based on standardized methods to convince healthcare authorities in implementing appropriate strategies.
    INTRODUCTION: Osteoporosis fractures, especially hip fractures, impose large economic costs to governments and societies. This review aimed to systematically analyze available evidence on healthcare costs associated with osteoporosis-related hip fractures (HF) in Asia.
    METHODS: Articles were systematically sought from databases including PubMed, EMBASE, and EBSCOHost between 2000 and 2015. Total costs associated with HF care, the cost components, and length of stays were retrieved and analyzed. Study designs were also qualitatively analyzed.
    RESULTS: The availability of published studies on economic burden of HF in Asia is severely lacking with only 15 articles met the inclusion criteria. Even among the included studies, only two studies reported comprehensive costs evaluating all costs including indirect or intangible costs. Most studies satisfactorily reported criteria for conducting economic evaluation, but large variations existed in the methodological design. Due to study design and other influencing factors, large variation in the cost of HF treatment from US$774 to US$14,198.90 (median S$2943), representing an average of 18.95% (range: 3.58-57.05%) of the countries' 2014 GDP/capita, was observed. This highlighted the heavy burden of managing HF in Asia with about 40% of the included studies reported using more than one third of GDP/capita.
    CONCLUSION: There is a paucity of burden of illness studies of osteoporosis in the Asian region. For the few available studies, there was a lack of standardization in methodological approach in evaluating the economic burden of the disease. There is a need to encourage more quality burden of illness studies of osteoporosis to inform policymakers in healthcare planning.
  3. Mohd-Tahir NA, Li SC
    Epilepsy Res., 2018 01;139:113-122.
    PMID: 29220742 DOI: 10.1016/j.eplepsyres.2017.11.007
    AIM: This study conducted a systematic review evaluating the effectiveness of newer antiepileptic drugs (AEDs) (namely, lamotrigine, levetiracetam, topiramate, vigabatrin, zonisamide, oxcarbazepine, perampanel, gabapentin, and stiripentol) as add-on for treatment of focal epilepsy in children.

    METHODS: Articles were retrieved from EMBASE, Medline and Cochrane Library from inception to January 2016. Treatment outcomes were analysed based on responder, seizure-free, withdrawal and adverse event rates. Quality of each study was also assessed.

    RESULTS: Twelve articles fulfilled the inclusion criteria. Heterogeneity and quality of the included studies were considered acceptable. Overall, newer AEDs as adjunct therapy in children with inadequate control of focal seizure showed a trend of better seizure outcomes. The pooled ORs for responder, seizure-free and withdrawal rates were 2.15 (95%CI:1.72, 2.69), 1.99 (95%CI:0.72, 5.48) and 0.69 (95%CI:1.13, 2.39) respectively. Adverse events of newer AEDs were comparatively higher than placebo (OR:1.64, 95%CI:1.13, 2.39).

    CONCLUSION: In our updated review, newer AEDs as adjunct therapy for focal epilepsy in children have trends of better effectiveness compared to placebo. Newer AEDs are associated with statistically more children with >50% seizure reduction, and a trend of better seizure freedom. Their tolerability would also be considered acceptable with the observed low withdrawal rate. However, the relative lack of well-conducted RCTs evaluating their effectiveness against other active AED treatment in children would not facilitate evidence-based practice. This highlights the knowledge gap and the need for more well-conducted RCTs against active treatments to ascertain the long term effectiveness and the role of newer AEDs in managing epilepsy in children.

  4. Mohd-Tahir NA, Li SC
    PLoS One, 2019;14(2):e0212832.
    PMID: 30817790 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0212832
    INTRODUCTION: Renin-angiotensin system inhibitors (RAS) drugs have a proteinuria-reducing effect that could prevent the progression of kidney disease in diabetic patients. Our study aimed to assess the budget impact based on healthcare payer perspective of increasing uptake of RAS drugs into the current treatment mix of standard anti-hypertensive treatments to prevent progression of kidney disease in patient's comorbid with hypertension and diabetes.

    METHODS: A Markov model of a Malaysian hypothetical cohort aged ≥30 years (N = 14,589,900) was used to estimate the total and per-member-per-month (PMPM) costs of RAS uptake. This involved an incidence and prevalence rate of 9.0% and 10.53% of patients with diabetes and hypertension respectively. Transition probabilities of health stages and costs were adapted from published data.

    RESULTS: An increasing uptake of RAS drugs would incur a projected total treatment cost ranged from MYR 4.89 billion (PMPM of MYR 27.95) at Year 1 to MYR 16.26 billion (PMPM of MYR 92.89) at Year 5. This would represent a range of incremental costs between PMPM of MYR 0.20 at Year 1 and PMPM of MYR 1.62 at Year 5. Over the same period, the care costs showed a downward trend but drug acquisition costs were increasing. Sensitivity analyses showed the model was minimally affected by the changes in the input parameters.

    CONCLUSION: Mild impact to the overall healthcare budget has been reported with an increased utilization of RAS. The long-term positive health consequences of RAS treatment would reduce the cost of care in preventing deterioration of kidney function, thus offsetting the rising costs of purchasing RAS drugs. Optimizing and increasing use of RAS drugs would be considered an affordable and rational strategy to reduce the overall healthcare costs in Malaysia.

  5. Hashim NA, Ahmad AH, Rawi CS, Tahir NA, Basari N
    PMID: 18567442
    Life tables were constructed for twelve cohorts of immature stages of the dengue vector Ae. albopictus in a wooded area of Penang, Malaysia. The development time of Ae. albopictus ranged from 6 to 10 days depending on the mean environmental temperature (r = - 0.639, p < 0.05). Total cohort mortality was correlated with total development time (r = 0.713, p < 0.05) but not temperature (r = -0.477, p > 0.05). Rainfall was correlated with neither development time (r = 0.554, p > 0.05) nor mortality (r = 0.322, p > 0.05). There was a significant difference among the total mortality that occurred in the twelve cohorts (H = 119.783, df = 11, p < 0.05). There was also a significant difference in mortality among the different stages (H = 274.00, df = 4, p < 0.05).
  6. Mohd-Tahir NA, Thomas P, Mohamed-Said MS, Makmor-Bakry M, Li SC
    Int J Rheum Dis, 2018 Mar;21(3):647-655.
    PMID: 29105349 DOI: 10.1111/1756-185X.13206
    INTRODUCTION: Glucocorticoid therapy is associated with an appreciable risk of bone loss leading to fractures that require expensive treatments. This study aimed to evaluate the cost-effectiveness of bisphosphonates for prevention of hip fracture in glucocorticoid-induced osteoporosis (GIOP) in Malaysia.

    METHOD: Retrospective data were collected from GIOP patients referred to the Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia Medical Centre. Fracture events and direct medical costs were compared between bisphosphonates and calcium/vitamin D combination.

    RESULTS: Fracture events were reported in 28 out of 93 included patients, with hip and vertebral fractures representing 42.9% and 35.7%, respectively. Overall, the use of bisphosphonates could not be considered cost-effective for treatment of all GIOP patients. The presence of certain fracture risk factors was able to modify the cost-effectiveness of bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates was considered cost-effective if started in patients more than 60 years old. However, the use of bisphosphonates was not cost-effective in GIOP patients with secondary osteoporosis. The incremental cost-effectiveness ratios (ICER) of bisphosphonates in patients with risk factors of previous fracture or rheumatoid arthritis were Malaysian Ringgits (MYR) 108 603.40 and MYR 25 699.21, respectively.

    CONCLUSION: Fracture risk factors of age, previous fracture, rheumatoid arthritis and secondary osteoporosis may modify the cost-effectiveness outcomes of bisphosphonates. Bisphosphonates would be considered cost-effective in patients more than 60 years old as compared to calcium/vitamin D treatments. Further evaluation of the impact of fracture risk factors in larger populations would provide more precise information to better assist rational and economical use of anti-osteoporosis treatment in GIOP patients.
  7. Ain Ibrahim N, Makmor Bakry M, Mohd Tahir NA, Mohd Zaini NR, Mohamed Shah N
    Paediatr Drugs, 2020 Jun;22(3):321-330.
    PMID: 32185682 DOI: 10.1007/s40272-020-00388-1
    BACKGROUND: Prolonged empiric antibiotic use, resulting from diagnostic uncertainties, in suspected early onset sepsis (EOS) cases constitutes a significant problem. Unnecessary antibiotic use increases the risk of antibiotic resistance. Furthermore, prolonged antibiotic use increases the risk of mortality and morbidity in neonates. Proactive measures including empiric antibiotic de-escalation are crucial to overcome these problems.

    METHODS: This was a prospective cohort study conducted in the neonatal intensive care units of two public hospitals in Malaysia. Neonates with a gestational age greater than 34 weeks who were started on empiric antibiotics within 72 h of life were screened. The data were then stratified according to de-escalation and non-de-escalation practices, where de-escalation practice was defined as narrowing down or discontinuation of empiric antibiotic within 72 h of treatment.

    RESULTS: A total of 1045 neonates were screened, and 429 were included. The neonates were then divided based on de-escalation (n = 207) and non-de-escalation (n = 222) practices. Neonates under non-de-escalation practices showed significantly longer durations of antibiotic use compared to those under de-escalation practices (p 

  8. Mohd Tahir NA, Mohd Saffian S, Islahudin FH, Abdul Gafor AH, Makmor-Bakry M
    J Korean Med Sci, 2020 Sep 21;35(37):e306.
    PMID: 32959542 DOI: 10.3346/jkms.2020.35.e306
    BACKGROUND: The objective of this study was to compare the performance of cystatin C- and creatinine-based estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR) equations in predicting the clearance of vancomycin.

    METHODS: MEDLINE and Embase databases were searched from inception up to September 2019 to identify all studies that compared the predictive performance of cystatin C- and/or creatinine-based eGFR in predicting the clearance of vancomycin. The prediction errors (PEs) (the value of eGFR equations minus vancomycin clearance) were quantified for each equation and were pooled using a random-effects model. The root mean squared errors were also quantified to provide a metric for imprecision.

    RESULTS: This meta-analysis included evaluations of seven different cystatin C- and creatinine-based eGFR equations in total from 26 studies and 1,234 patients. The mean PE (MPE) for cystatin C-based eGFR was 4.378 mL min-1 (95% confidence interval [CI], -29.425, 38.181), while the creatinine-based eGFR provided an MPE of 27.617 mL min-1 (95% CI, 8.675, 46.560) in predicting clearance of vancomycin. This indicates the presence of unbiased results in vancomycin clearance prediction by the cystatin C-based eGFR equations. Meanwhile, creatinine-based eGFR equations demonstrated a statistically significant positive bias in vancomycin clearance prediction.

    CONCLUSION: Cystatin C-based eGFR equations are better than creatinine-based eGFR equations in predicting the clearance of vancomycin. This suggests that utilising cystatin C-based eGFR equations could result in better accuracy and precision to predict vancomycin pharmacokinetic parameters.

  9. van Rostenberghe H, Yong A, Mohd Zin F, Fuad MDF, Idris B, Tahir NA, et al.
    MyJurnal
    Autonomy is widely accepted to be the third pillar of medical ethics. However, if it comes to refusal of life saving treatments, some extra considerations are necessary, especially if decisions are made by surrogate decision makers. Four cases of problematic decision making are presented here, followed by a discussion about the cultural and religious misconceptions about the rights of surrogate decision makers.
  10. Mohd Tahir NA, Mohd Saffian S, Islahudin FH, Abdul Gafor AH, Othman H, Abdul Manan H, et al.
    Nephron, 2020;144(4):204-212.
    PMID: 32050196 DOI: 10.1159/000505296
    BACKGROUND/AIMS: G73A polymorphism in the CST3 gene of cystatin C has been associated with Alzheimer's disease, age-related macular degeneration, and cardiovascular disease. However, studies investigating the influence of this genetic variability on serum cystatin C and cystatin-based renal function estimate are limited. Therefore, the aim of this study is to investigate the possible association of single-nucleotide polymorphism (rs1064039) of the CST3 gene on the serum cystatin C level and cystatin C-based estimated glomerular filtration rate (eGFR).

    METHODS: Study subjects include patients with various levels of renal function recruited from the nephrology clinic and wards of a tertiary hospital. The blood samples collected were analyzed for serum cystatin C and creatinine levels by particle-enhanced turbidimetric immunoassay and kinetic alkaline picrate method, respectively. DNA was extracted using a commercially available kit. -Polymerase chain reaction results were confirmed by direct DNA Sanger sequencing.

    RESULTS: The genotype percentage (G/G = 73%, G/A = 24.1%, and A/A = 2.9%) adhere to the Hardy-Weinberg equilibrium. The dominant allele found in our population was CST3 73G allele (85%). The regression lines' slope of serum cystatin C against creatinine and cystatin C-based eGFR against creatinine-based eGFR, between G and A allele groups, showed a statistically significant difference (z-score = 3.457, p < 0.001 and z-score = 2.158, p = 0.015, respectively). Patients with A allele had a lower serum cystatin C level when the values were extrapolated at a fixed serum creatinine value, suggesting the influence of genetic factor.

    CONCLUSION: Presence of CST3 gene G73A polymorphism affects serum cystatin C levels.

  11. Hamzah N, Narayanan V, Ramli N, Mustapha NA, Mohammad Tahir NA, Tan LK, et al.
    BMJ Open, 2019 09 18;9(9):e028711.
    PMID: 31537559 DOI: 10.1136/bmjopen-2018-028711
    OBJECTIVES: To measure the clinical, structural and functional changes of an individualised structured cognitive rehabilitation in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) population.

    SETTING: A single centre study, Malaysia.

    PARTICIPANTS: Adults aged between 18 and 60 years with mTBI as a result of road traffic accident, with no previous history of head trauma, minimum of 9 years education and abnormal cognition at 3 months will be included. The exclusion criteria include pre-existing chronic illness or neurological/psychiatric condition, long-term medication that affects cognitive/psychological status, clinical evidence of substance intoxication at the time of injury and major polytrauma. Based on multiple estimated calculations, the minimum intended sample size is 50 participants (Cohen's d effect size=0.35; alpha level of 0.05; 85% power to detect statistical significance; 40% attrition rate).

    INTERVENTIONS: Intervention group will receive individualised structured cognitive rehabilitation. Control group will receive the best patient-centred care for attention disorders. Therapy frequency for both groups will be 1 hour per week for 12 weeks.

    OUTCOME MEASURES: Primary: Neuropsychological Assessment Battery-Screening Module (S-NAB) scores. Secondary: Diffusion Tensor Imaging (DTI) parameters and Goal Attainment Scaling score (GAS).

    RESULTS: Results will include descriptive statistics of population demographics, CogniPlus cognitive program and metacognitive strategies. The effect of intervention will be the effect size of S-NAB scores and mean GAS T scores. DTI parameters will be compared between groups via repeated measure analysis. Correlation analysis of outcome measures will be calculated using Pearson's correlation coefficient.

    CONCLUSION: This is a complex clinical intervention with multiple outcome measures to provide a comprehensive evidence-based treatment model.

    ETHICS AND DISSEMINATION: The study protocol was approved by the Medical Research Ethics Committee UMMC (MREC ID NO: 2016928-4293). The findings of the trial will be disseminated through peer-reviewed journals and scientific conferences.

    TRIAL REGISTRATION NUMBER: NCT03237676.

  12. Tong SF, Ng CJ, Lee VKM, Lee PY, Ismail IZ, Khoo EM, et al.
    PLoS One, 2018;13(4):e0196379.
    PMID: 29694439 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pone.0196379
    INTRODUCTION: The participation of general practitioners (GPs) in primary care research is variable and often poor. We aimed to develop a substantive and empirical theoretical framework to explain GPs' decision-making process to participate in research.
    METHODS: We used the grounded theory approach to construct a substantive theory to explain the decision-making process of GPs to participate in research activities. Five in-depth interviews and four focus group discussions were conducted among 21 GPs. Purposeful sampling followed by theoretical sampling were used to attempt saturation of the core category. Data were collected using semi-structured open-ended questions. Interviews were recorded, transcribed verbatim and checked prior to analysis. Open line-by-line coding followed by focus coding were used to arrive at a substantive theory. Memoing was used to help bring concepts to higher abstract levels.
    RESULTS: The GPs' decision to participate in research was attributed to their inner drive and appreciation for primary care research and their confidence in managing their social and research environments. The drive and appreciation for research motivated the GPs to undergo research training to enhance their research knowledge, skills and confidence. However, the critical step in the GPs' decision to participate in research was their ability to align their research agenda with priorities in their social environment, which included personal life goals, clinical practice and organisational culture. Perceived support for research, such as funding and technical expertise, facilitated the GPs' participation in research. In addition, prior experiences participating in research also influenced the GPs' confidence in taking part in future research.
    CONCLUSIONS: The key to GPs deciding to participate in research is whether the research agenda aligns with the priorities in their social environment. Therefore, research training is important, but should be included in further measures and should comply with GPs' social environments and research support.
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