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2.  An exploratory study on risk factors for chronic non-communicable diseases among adolescents in Malaysia: overview of the Malaysian Health and Adolescents Longitudinal Research Team study (The MyHeART study) 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(Suppl 3):S6.
The National Health & Morbidity Survey (NHMS) IV (2011) observed that the prevalence of obese children aged less than 18 years in Malaysia is 6.1% compared to 5.4% overweight and obese in NHMS III (2006). As such, this observation is of public health importance as obesity is a forewarning risk factor for chronic diseases such as type-2 diabetes, cardiovascular diseases (CVD) and certain types of cancers. This MyHeART (Malaysian Health and Adolescents longitudinal Research Team) study aims to examine risk factors of non-communicable diseases (NCD) among adolescents.
The MyHeART study is longitudinal cohort study of 1361 schoolchildren (13-years old) attending 15 public secondary schools from the central (Kuala Lumpur and Selangor) and northern (Perak) regions of Peninsular Malaysia. The study used a stratified sampling design to select the study participants. Data collected at baseline included socio-economic, lifestyle (e.g. smoking, physical activity assessment, fitness assessment, seven-day diet history), and environmental information, anthropometric measurements, blood pressure, handgrip strength and bone mineral density. Blood samples for fasting blood glucose and lipid profiles, full blood count, renal profile, as well as bone profile and serum vitamin D were taken. This study cohort will be followed up again when participants turn 15, 17 and lastly, after a period of ten years (around the age of 27).
Nine percent of the adolescents from this study were obese. More male participants smoked compared to female participants (15.4% vs. 4.7%). Adolescent males had higher fasting blood glucose but the female participants had lower high density lipoprotein (HDL-cholesterol) and higher low density lipoprotein (LDL-cholesterol). In addition, adolescents from the rural area had higher fasting blood glucose, diastolic blood pressure, total cholesterol and LDL-cholesterol.
Our results demonstrated that adolescents from the rural area are at higher risk of NCDs compared to their urban counterpart. Tailor made public health interventions are highly recommended for adolescents as this may minimise the dreadful NCD burden in adulthood and health disparity between the rural and urban in the near future.
PMCID: PMC4251135  PMID: 25437068
Adolescent health; cohort study; non-communicable diseases; Malaysia
3.  Addressing non-communicable diseases in Malaysia: an integrative process of systems and community 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(Suppl 2):S4.
The prevalence of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) and NCD risk factors in Malaysia have risen substantially in the last two decades. The Malaysian Ministry of Health responded by implementing, “The National Strategic Plan for Non-Communicable Diseases (NSP-NCD) 2010-2014”, and the “NCD Prevention 1Malaysia” (NCDP-1M) programme. This paper outlines the primary health system context in which the NCDP-1M is framed. We also discuss the role of community in facilitating the integration of this programme, and outline some of the key challenges in addressing the sustainability of the plan over the next few years. The paper thus provides an analysis of an integration of a programme that involved a multi-sectoral approach with the view to contributing to a broader discourse on the development of responsive health systems.
PMCID: PMC4120155  PMID: 25080846
4.  Community, intervention and provider support influences on implementation: reflections from a South African illustration of safety, peace and health promotion 
BMC Public Health  2014;14(Suppl 2):S7.
The development, implementation and evaluation of community interventions are important for reducing child violence and injuries in low- to middle-income contexts, with successful implementation critical to effective intervention outcomes. The assessment of implementation processes is required to identify the factors that influence effective implementation. This article draws on a child safety, peace and health initiative to examine key factors that enabled or hindered its implementation, in a context characterised by limited resources.
A case study approach was employed. The research team was made up of six researchers and intervention coordinators, who led the development and implementation of the Ukuphepha Child Study in South Africa, and who are also the authors of this article. The study used author observations, reflections and discussions of the factors perceived to influence the implementation of the intervention. The authors engaged in an in-depth and iterative dialogic process aimed at abstracting the experiences of the intervention, with a recursive cycle of reflection and dialogue. Data were analysed utilising inductive content analysis, and categorised using classification frameworks for understanding implementation.
The study highlights key factors that enabled or hindered implementation. These included the community context and concomitant community engagement processes; intervention compatibility and adaptability issues; community service provider perceptions of intervention relevance and expectations; and the intervention support system, characterised by training and mentorship support.
This evaluation illustrated the complexity of intervention implementation. The study approach sought to support intervention fidelity by fostering and maintaining community endorsement and support, a prerequisite for the unfolding implementation of the intervention.
PMCID: PMC4120158  PMID: 25081088
5.  The health-related quality of life among pre-diabetics and its association with body mass index and physical activity in a semi-urban community in Malaysia- a cross sectional study 
BMC Public Health  2014;14:298.
People with pre-diabetes are at high risk of developing type 2 diabetes and cardiovascular diseases. Measurements of health-related quality of life (HRQOL) among pre-diabetics enable the health care providers to understand their overall health status and planning of interventions to prevent type 2 diabetes. Therefore we aimed to determine the HRQOL and physical activity level; and its association with Body Mass Index (BMI) among pre-diabetics.
This was a cross sectional study carried out in two primary care clinics in a semi-urban locality of Ampangan, Negeri Sembilan, Malaysia. Data was collected through self-administered questionnaires assessing the demographic characteristics, medical history, lifestyle and physical activity. The Short Form 36-items health survey was used to measure HRQOL among the pre-diabetics. Data entry and analysis were performed using the SPSS version 19.
A total of 268 eligible pre-diabetics participated in this study. The prevalence of normal weight, overweight and obesity were 7.1%, 21.6% and 71.3% respectively. Their mean (SD) age was 52.5 (8.3) years and 64.2% were females. Among the obese pre-diabetics, 42.2% had both IFG and IGT, 47.0% had isolated IFG and 10.8% had isolated IGT, 36.2% had combination of hypertension, dyslipidemia and musculoskeletal diseases. More than 53.4% of the obese pre-diabetics had family history of diabetes, 15.7% were smokers and 60.8% were physically inactive with mean PA of < 600 MET-minutes/week. After adjusted for co-variants, Physical Component Summary (PCS) was significantly associated with BMI categories [F (2,262) = 11.73, p < 0.001] where pre-diabetics with normal weight and overweight had significantly higher PCS than those obese; normal vs obese [Mdiff = 9.84, p = 0.006, 95% CIdiff = 2.28, 17.40] and between overweight vs obese [Mdiff = 8.14, p < 0.001, 95% CIdiff = 3.46, 12.80].
Pre-diabetics who were of normal weight reported higher HRQOL compared to those overweight and obese. These results suggest a potentially greater risk of poor HRQOL among pre-diabetics who were overweight and obese especially with regard to the physical health component. Promoting recommended amount of physical activity and weight control are particularly important interventions for pre-diabetics at the primary care level.
PMCID: PMC3976088  PMID: 24684809
Pre-diabetes; Health-related quality of life; Body mass index; Physical activity
9.  Ethnic differences in body fat distribution among Asian pre-pubertal children: A cross-sectional multicenter study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:500.
Ethnic differences in body fat distribution contribute to ethnic differences in cardiovascular morbidities and diabetes. However few data are available on differences in fat distribution in Asian children from various backgrounds. Therefore, the current study aimed to explore ethnic differences in body fat distribution among Asian children from four countries.
A total of 758 children aged 8-10 y from China, Lebanon, Malaysia and Thailand were recruited using a non-random purposive sampling approach to enrol children encompassing a wide BMI range. Height, weight, waist circumference (WC), fat mass (FM, derived from total body water [TBW] estimation using the deuterium dilution technique) and skinfold thickness (SFT) at biceps, triceps, subscapular, supraspinale and medial calf were collected.
After controlling for height and weight, Chinese and Thai children had a significantly higher WC than their Lebanese and Malay counterparts. Chinese and Thais tended to have higher trunk fat deposits than Lebanese and Malays reflected in trunk SFT, trunk/upper extremity ratio or supraspinale/upper extremity ratio after adjustment for age and total body fat. The subscapular/supraspinale skinfold ratio was lower in Chinese and Thais compared with Lebanese and Malays after correcting for trunk SFT.
Asian pre-pubertal children from different origins vary in body fat distribution. These results indicate the importance of population-specific WC cut-off points or other fat distribution indices to identify the population at risk of obesity-related health problems.
PMCID: PMC3146863  PMID: 21703012
body fat distribution; ethnicity; children
10.  Risk of metabolic syndrome among children living in metropolitan Kuala Lumpur: A case control study 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:333.
With the increasing prevalence of childhood obesity, the metabolic syndrome has been studied among children in many countries but not in Malaysia. Hence, this study aimed to compare metabolic risk factors between overweight/obese and normal weight children and to determine the influence of gender and ethnicity on the metabolic syndrome among school children aged 9-12 years in Kuala Lumpur and its metropolitan suburbs.
A case control study was conducted among 402 children, comprising 193 normal-weight and 209 overweight/obese. Weight, height, waist circumference (WC) and body composition were measured, and WHO (2007) growth reference was used to categorise children into the two weight groups. Blood pressure (BP) was taken, and blood was drawn after an overnight fast to determine fasting blood glucose (FBG) and full lipid profile, including triglycerides (TG), high-density lipoprotein cholesterol (HDL-C), low-density lipoprotein cholesterol (LDL-C) and total cholesterol (TC). International Diabetes Federation (2007) criteria for children were used to identify metabolic syndrome.
Participants comprised 60.9% (n = 245) Malay, 30.9% (n = 124) Chinese and 8.2% (n = 33) Indian. Overweight/obese children showed significantly poorer biochemical profile, higher body fat percentage and anthropometric characteristics compared to the normal-weight group. Among the metabolic risk factors, WC ≥90th percentile was found to have the highest odds (OR = 189.0; 95%CI 70.8, 504.8), followed by HDL-C≤1.03 mmol/L (OR = 5.0; 95%CI 2.4, 11.1) and high BP (OR = 4.2; 95%CI 1.3, 18.7). Metabolic syndrome was found in 5.3% of the overweight/obese children but none of the normal-weight children (p < 0.01). Overweight/obese children had higher odds (OR = 16.3; 95%CI 2.2, 461.1) of developing the metabolic syndrome compared to normal-weight children. Binary logistic regression showed no significant association between age, gender and family history of communicable diseases with the metabolic syndrome. However, for ethnicity, Indians were found to have higher odds (OR = 5.5; 95%CI 1.5, 20.5) compared to Malays, with Chinese children (OR = 0.3; 95%CI 0.0, 2.7) having the lowest odds.
We conclude that being overweight or obese poses a greater risk of developing the metabolic syndrome among children. Indian ethnicity is at higher risk compared to their counterparts of the same age. Hence, primary intervention strategies are required to prevent this problem from escalating.
PMCID: PMC3111384  PMID: 21592367
11.  Self-rated health and factors influencing responses among young Egyptian type 1 diabetes patients 
BMC Public Health  2011;11:216.
Patients diagnosed with type 1 diabetes mellitus (T1DM) face major daily challenges. Self-rated health (SRH) is a global measure of an individual's health related quality of life (HRQoL) and is based on the question, "In general, how would you rate your health?" Subjects rate their health as excellent, very good, good, poor or very poor. Our objective was to determine the HRQoL using the SRH measure and determine factors influencing responses. We hypothesized that better SRH responses were associated with shorter diabetes duration, better compliance and better glycemic control.
The standardized SRH measure was the instrument used for health related quality of life assessment. Logistic regression analysis was used to examine the association between SRH responses and selected variables.
124 subjects, 64 females (51.6%) and 60 males (48.4%) were included. Average age was 13.08 (±3.19) and average diabetes duration was 5.82 (±1.60), while the mean HbA1C was 8.02 (±1.60). The majority rated their health as good (31%), 29% rated it as excellent, 11% as very good, 14% as poor and 15% as very poor. Regression analysis showed that regular exercise was the only predictor that was independently and significantly associated with a "better" self-health rating, with an OR of 12.84, CI of 1.425-115.727 and a p value of 0.023.
Regular exercise among Egyptian children with T1DM is strongly associated with a "better" overall health related quality of life and should be repeatedly encouraged.
PMCID: PMC3087681  PMID: 21473776
12.  Medicines information provided by pharmaceutical representatives: a comparative study in Australia and Malaysia 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:743.
Pharmaceutical representatives provide medicines information on their promoted products to doctors. However, studies have shown that the quality of this information is often low. No study has assessed the medicines information provided by pharmaceutical representatives to doctors in Malaysia and no recent evidence in Australia is present. We aimed to compare the provision of medicines information by pharmaceutical representatives to doctors in Australia and Malaysia.
Following a pharmaceutical representative's visit, general practitioners in Australia and Malaysia who had agreed to participate, were asked to fill out a questionnaire on the main product and claims discussed during the encounter. The questionnaire focused on provision of product information including indications, adverse effects, precautions, contraindications and the provision of information on the Pharmaceutical Benefit Scheme (PBS) listings and restrictions (in Australia only). Descriptive statistics were produced. Chi-square analysis and clustered linear regression were used to assess differences in Australia and Malaysia.
Significantly more approved product information sheets were provided in Malaysia (78%) than in Australia (53%) (P < 0.001). In both countries, general practitioners reported that indications (Australia, 90%, Malaysia, 93%) and dosages (Australia, 76%, Malaysia, 82%) were frequently provided by pharmaceutical representatives. Contraindications, precautions, drug interactions and adverse effects were often omitted in the presentations (range 25% - 41%). General practitioners in Australia and Malaysia indicated that in more than 90% of presentations, pharmaceutical representatives partly or fully answered their questions on contraindications, precautions, drug interactions and adverse effects. More general practitioners in Malaysia (85%) than in Australia (60%) reported that pharmaceutical representatives should have mentioned contraindications, precautions for use, drug interaction or adverse effects spontaneously (P < 0.001). In 48% of the Australian presentations, general practitioners reported the pharmaceutical representatives failed to mention information on PBS listings to general practitioners.
Information on indications and dosages were usually provided by pharmaceutical representatives in Australia and Malaysia. However, risk and harmful effects of medicines were often missing in their presentations. Effective control of medicines information provided by pharmaceutical representatives is needed.
PMCID: PMC3018442  PMID: 21118551
13.  The prevalence of nutritional anemia in pregnancy in an east Anatolian province, Turkey 
BMC Public Health  2010;10:329.
Anemia is considered a severe public health problem by World Health Organization when anemia prevalence is equal to or greater than 40% in the population. The purpose of this study was to determine the anemia prevalence with the associated factors in pregnant women and to determine the serum iron, folate and B12 vitamin status in anaemic pregnants in Malatya province.
This is a cross-sectional survey. A multi-sage stratified probability-proportional-to-size cluster sampling methodology was used. A total of 823 pregnant women from sixty clusters were studied. Women were administered a questionnaire related with the subject and blood samples were drawn. Total blood count was performed within four hours and serum iron, folate and B12 vitamin were studied after storing sera at -20 C for six months.
Anemia prevalence was 27.1% (Hb < 11.0 gr/dl). Having four or more living children (OR = 2.2), being at the third trimester (OR = 2.3) and having a low family income (OR = 1.6) were determined as the independent predictors of anemia in pregnancy. Anemia was also associated with soil eating (PICA) in the univariate analysis (p < 0.05). Of anaemic women, 50.0% had a transferrin saturation less than 10% indicating iron deficiency, 34.5% were deficient in B12 vitamin and 71.7% were deficient in folate. Most of the anemias were normocytic-normochromic (56.5%) indicating mixed anemia.
In Malatya, for pregnant women anemia was a moderate public health problem. Coexisting of iron, folate and B vitamin deficiencies was observed among anaemics. To continue anemia control strategies with reasonable care and diligence was recommended.
PMCID: PMC2904273  PMID: 20537176
14.  Immunization coverage and risk factors for failure to immunize within the Expanded Programme on Immunization in Kenya after introduction of new Haemophilus influenzae type b and hepatitis b virus antigens 
BMC Public Health  2006;6:132.
Kenya introduced a pentavalent vaccine including the DTP, Haemophilus influenzae type b and hepatitis b virus antigens in Nov 2001 and strengthened immunization services. We estimated immunization coverage before and after introduction, timeliness of vaccination and risk factors for failure to immunize in Kilifi district, Kenya.
In Nov 2002 we performed WHO cluster-sample surveys of >200 children scheduled for vaccination before or after introduction of pentavalent vaccine. In Mar 2004 we conducted a simple random sample (SRS) survey of 204 children aged 9–23 months. Coverage was estimated by inverse Kaplan-Meier survival analysis of vaccine-card and mothers' recall data and corroborated by reviewing administrative records from national and provincial vaccine stores. The contribution to timely immunization of distance from clinic, seasonal rainfall, mother's age, and family size was estimated by a proportional hazards model.
Immunization coverage for three DTP and pentavalent doses was 100% before and 91% after pentavalent vaccine introduction, respectively. By SRS survey, coverage was 88% for three pentavalent doses. The median age at first, second and third vaccine dose was 8, 13 and 18 weeks. Vials dispatched to Kilifi District during 2001–2003 would provide three immunizations for 92% of the birth cohort. Immunization rate ratios were reduced with every kilometre of distance from home to vaccine clinic (HR 0.95, CI 0.91–1.00), rainy seasons (HR 0.73, 95% CI 0.61–0.89) and family size, increasing progressively up to 4 children (HR 0.55, 95% CI 0.41–0.73).
Vaccine coverage was high before and after introduction of pentavalent vaccine, but most doses were given late. Coverage is limited by seasonal factors and family size.
PMCID: PMC1475578  PMID: 16707013

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