Health Ministry to curb sales of ‘energy sticks’

Serious talk: Dr Dzulkefly delivering a speech at the inauguration of Liver Cancer Awareness Day in conjunction with World Cancer Day at Komune Living and Wellness in Cheras, Kuala Lumpur. — Bernama

KUALA LUMPUR: Following the emergence of new vape-like nasal inhalers called “energy sticks” that are targeted at children, the Health Ministry is planning to take immediate action over the issue.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said they became aware of the potential sale of the device after receiving multiple complaints and alerts through social media.

“I have received multiple direct alerts on it (energy stick). I have already informed the director-general and deputy director on the issue and we will take action soon,” he said during a press conference after officiating the Liver Cancer Awareness Day ceremony at Komune Living and Wellness here yesterday.

His response comes after local health group Public Health Malaysia voiced concerns over the “energy sticks” being sold in Malaysia and its rising popularity among minors in particular, in a Facebook post last month.

Local advertisements for the vape-like products feature two-pronged nasal inhalers which come in a range of common vape product flavours.

They are supposedly being sold for as low as RM2.50, with its low price and ease of use being heavily aimed at young children.

They are popular among primary and secondary schoolchildren in China, reported South China Morning Post on Nov 8 last year.

Meanwhile, on a possible looming cancer crisis in Malaysia, Dr Dzulkefly said the ministry was planning to take a more holistic approach by partnering with an international non-profit organisation.

He said the country saw 48,639 new cancer cases and 29,530 cancer-related deaths in 2020 with the terrifying figures set to double by 2040.

Dr Dzulkefly noted that liver cancer in particular was among the five most common types of cancers in the country which was caused by the ever-growing rate of obesity in the country.

“Obesity increases the risk of fatty liver disease or metabolic dysfunction associated fatty liver disease, which is one of the primary causes of liver cancer.

“The latest National Health and Morbidity Survey has reported that around 50% of adults and 30% of children in Malaysia are already overweight or obese, and this figure is predicted to continue increasing annually,” he said.

Dr Dzulkefly added that a holistic approach would be necessary to combat this negative trend going forward.

“Outside of advancements in cancer treatment, we must also look at improving the overall population’s access to essential health services as most cancer specialists and treatment facilities are usually only available in cities or major hospitals,” he said.

To this, he said the ministry was planning to join hands with non-profit global telementoring medical education organisation Project Echo (Extension for Community Healthcare Outcomes).

Through the use of videoconferencing, the goal is to provide healthcare providers in rural and isolated areas the knowledge, mentorship and support they need to care for patients in their communities.

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