Saturday, September 1, 2012

Malaysia - Prevention is better than cure

HEALTH INITIATIVE:Campaign to educate parents on rotavirus infection and the importance of protecting their infants

THE Fight Against Rotavirus campaign by GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical Sdn Bhd (GSK) and MumCentre was launched recently to heighten awareness on rotavirus gastroenteritis, a form of acute infant diarrhoea.

As a key component of the  campaign, 13 healthcare institutions were announced as collaboration partners in this health initiative to emphasise the importance of prevention.

They include Columbia Asia Hospitals in Cheras and Puchong,  Tropicana Medical Centre (Kota Damansara) and Arunamari Specialist Medical Centre (Klang) in Selangor;  Columbia Asia Hospital (Setapak) and Universiti Malaya Specialist Centre in Kuala Lumpur; Columbia Asia Hospital (Taiping) and   KPJ Ipoh Specialist Hospital in Perak; Damai Medical Centre, the  Kota Kinabalu Specialist Hospital,   Rafflesia Medical Centre and the Sabah Medical Centre, all in Kota Kinabalu, and the Tawau Maternity and Specialist Hospital in Sabah.

At the same time, the collaborations will urge parents to take the necessary precautions against rotavirus infection.

Rotavirus is the most common cause of severe gastroenteritis in infants and young children worldwide.

In developing countries, rotavirus gastroenteritis is a major cause of childhood death and is responsible for approximately half a million deaths per year among children below the age of five .

"Maintaining a high level of hygiene alone may not be sufficient to prevent rotavirus infection. However, rotavirus vaccines have been found to be highly effective and safe in the prevention of rotavirus infection in young children," said Prof Dr Lee Way Seah, Professor of Paediatrics with the Faculty of Medicine and Senior Consultant Paediatric Gastroenterologist and Hepatologist, University of Malaya Medical Centre.

"We urge all Malaysian parents to consider vaccinating their infants, aged less than six months, with rotavirus vaccines to protect them from rotavirus infection," said Dr Lee.

In fostering awareness of rotavirus gastroenteritis, multiple initiatives have been identified to educate parents throughout the campaign.  

Rota Week will be another platform to provide rotavirus education. Participating healthcare institutions will set up booths to inform parents on the availability of the antenatal classes upon their visit to the booth.

Additionally, nurse advocates will be engaged at the participating healthcare institutions.  

A digital game called Baby Poosh is available online at

The game incorporates rotavirus prevention elements where players are required to prevent their "baby" from acquiring the virus.

Baby Poosh is a disease awareness initiative by Persatuan Tadika Malaysia (PTM) and supported by GSK.

"We want to take advantage of the opportunity and resources we have to do as much as we can to benefit the community,"  said  GlaxoSmithKline Pharmaceutical Sdn Bhd business unit director (vaccines) Henri Antaki.

"We hope  parents are educated on paediatric diseases such as rotavirus gastroenteritis through the Fight Against Rotavirus campaign," he added.

Meanwhile, MumCentre chief executive officer Brian Denenbergsaid: "MumCentre has been committed to provide parents with information and tools necessary in their children's upbringing. Having established ourselves in the online space, we are glad to collaborate with these  organisations in reaching out to parents via on-ground activities."

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