"Region's first one-stop Medical Centre."

(New Straits Times – 19, February, 2003)

KUALA LUMPUR , Tues. – The Ministry of Health will determine the number of computed tomography (CT) scanners needed in public hospitals to improve patients' access to speedier diagnosis. Its Minister, Dato' Chua Jui Meng, said 18 hospitals nationwide, in all states and some bigger districts had the machines.

Four more scanners are planned for hospitals in Miri, Sandakan , Penang and Kuala Lumpur. CT scans provide three-dimensional images of the body's internal organs and are useful for detecting diseases, identifying what stage they are in, and providing accurate guidance for treatment and surgery. The non-invasive procedure can help in early detection of coronary artery disease, cancer and stroke, by identifying narrowing arteries, lumps and clots, and also injuries to organs and internal bleeding.

The Cabinet, however, realized that there was a shortage of this technology, causing patients to wait long periods for their turn to use the machines. In its last meeting, the Cabinet gave the ministry the green light to study the appropriate ratio of CT scanners to the population.

"The hospitals that have CT scanners are insufficient to meet the patient workload. The ministry will determine the actual needs and try to meet them. This will reduce the waiting time for patients," Chua said after opening the HSC Medical Centre today.

The length of time patients normally wait for a scan varies between hospitals and the number of patients. Also, not all hospitals conduct CT scans daily. The scanners, available in most public hospitals, are the conventional, single-slide type. Each unit costs up to RM2 million, including installation.

Chua had also launched the Siemens Sensation 16 Multi-Slice CT scan at the HSC Medical Centre. This model can capture clearer images and at a faster speed, compared with conventional models.

HSC Medical Centre is the first to install the Siemens Sensation, said its executive director Dr Lim Yin Chow. The center specializes in diagnosis of the top three "killer" diseases – heart ailments, stroke and cancer. Dr Lim said the centre was aiming to be a leading player in medical tourism. The centre is located off Jalan Ampang, near the Kuala Lumpur City Centre.

Chua also announced that the Government would launch a five-year RM100 million anti-smoking campaign. The campaign targets all Malaysians, with special attention given to youths under 18. Chua also said he was disappointed with the lack of enforcement by City Hall and Federal Territory Health Department against smokers in public places.

"The ministry would like to see smoking done away with in all public places, but this is for the Cabinet to decide." He said smoking was a major factor in heart disease, stroke and cancer. Smoking is banned in certain places but fines are minimal. The ministry had begun drafting new laws that would control tobacco use more stringently, he added.