The authors outline the steps being taken in Malaysia aimed at persuading people to avoid the unhealthy lifestyles commonly associated with socioeconomic development and increased affluence, and to adopt health dietary and other habits.
Contrasting beliefs often make cooperation between folk healers and modern doctors seem impossible. In the field of mental health, where communication is of such central importance, better mutual understanding is especially desirable. After reviewing the complexities involved, the author makes some suggestions on how the two kinds of practitioner could help each other.
In certain countries of east and south-east Asia, traditional Chinese medicine continues to be used by many people. However, the pattern of use favours the advance of the drug-retailing side of this sector rather than medical care, and there is consequently some concern about the professional status of practitioners in the long term.
A small survey in Peninsular Malaysia indicates a marked tendency among the general population to treat minor ailments by self-medication with over-the-counter drugs and/or traditional medicines. The use of over-the-counter drugs appears to be favoured for skin conditions, general health care, aches and pains, and problems affecting the eyes, ears, mouth, gastrointestinal tract and respiratory tract. A doctor is usually consulted if self-medication fails.
In January 1984, the Asia-Pacific Academic Consortium for Public Health (APACPH) was established, bringing together 5 schools of public health with the objectives: to raise the quality of professional education in public health; to enhance the knowledge and skills of health workers through joint projects; to solve health problems through closer links with each other and with ministries of health; to increase opportunities for graduate students through curriculum development; and to make child survival a major priority. The Consortium now comprises 31 academic institutions or units in 16 countries, and is supported by UNICEF, The World Health Organization, the China Medical Board of New York, and the governments of Japan and Malaysia. During 1985-1992, it also received major support from the United States through the US Agency for International Development and the University of Hawaii. During the past 10 years, APACPH has carried out such activities as setting up a data bank on the programs of its members, assessing public health problems, designing new curriculum and systems for service delivery, facilitating information and faculty exchanges, and running workshops for academic administrators. It has also organized conferences on the impact of urbanization on health, aging, child survival, AIDS, and occupational health. Since 1987 it has published the Asia-Pacific Journal of Public Health, the only English language journal on public health issues in the Asia and Pacific region, which will feature work being done by non-English-speaking researchers. Emphasis in the coming years will be placed on setting common standards for teaching and research, so that members can make more use of each other's programs. It is hoped that membership of the Consortium will continue to expand. A particular concern will be to focus more resources on preventive care rather than curative.
An outline is given of a simple cost-effective strategy aimed at the immunization of all children and pregnant women residing in the plantation sector of Malaysia. It is based on a partnership between government, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector, and is supported by UNICEF.
PIP: A cost-effective strategy aimed at the immunization of all children and pregnant women residing in the plantation sector of Malaysia is outlined. It is based on a partnership between government, nongovernmental organizations and the private sector, and is supported by UNICEF. Over a million people reside on the Malaysian plantation estates: only 17% of the estates have their own hospitals; immunization services exist on only 1.5%; 40% of the estates are at least 5 kilometers from the nearest government health facility; and 64% lack transport for workers and their dependents to seek care away from the plantations. Two nongovernmental organizations, the Malaysian Paediatric Association and the Malaysian Society of Health, initiated discussions with the United Planting Association of Malaysia. A pilot study was undertaken by the groups on 6 estates in Selangor State, which included all the children at their first birthday. Tuberculosis, diphtheria/pertussis/tetanus, poliomyelitis, and measles immunization coverages were 88%, 44%, 59%, and 66%, respectively. The association of plantations accepted the organizations' proposals for all estates to: register all births; provide free transportation to government health clinics for the immunization of all eligible children and pregnant women; and enforce immunization schedules and record-keeping. The Ministry of Health agreed to provide free immunization of children and pregnant women; send mobile teams to estates that could assemble 20 or more eligible people for immunization; provide the estates with educational materials dealing with immunization; arrange that the maintenance of the cold chain be supervised by local medical officers of health; consider the training of estate hospital assistants with the help of the nongovernmental organizations. The total immunization plan was launched in September 1990. A manual was distributed to the estate managers, hospital assistants on the estates, and the medical officers who would implement and monitor the program. It is expected that total child immunization will be achieved in the foreseeable future in the estate sector.
A study in Sarawak, Malaysia, revealed diverse opinions, prejudices and degrees of knowledge about leprosy among various ethnic groups. The information gathered was used as the base on which a health education package relating to the disease was established. It is intended that this will lead to the early detection and treatment of a higher proportion of cases than has previosly been possible
A primary health care system is being developed in Baram District, Sarawak, Malaysia, for the benefit of the Penans, who, until recently, were largely nomadic. Many of them are now attempting to adopt a settled mode of existence, and this in itself creates special health problems because the people lack the skills needed for living in one place. Substantial progress has already been achieved in mother and child care and in immunization coverage.
In Malaysia the steady rise in the proportion of people aged 60 or more, and an awareness of their complex psychosocial, economic and health care needs, have led medical faculties to introduce geriatrics as an essential subject in their curricula. The efforts made in this field by the School of Medical Sciences of the Universiti Sains Malaysia are outlined in the present article.