Outpatient depts at Malaysian hospitals put on alert

KUANTAN, Malaysia - All outpatient departments at government hospitals have been directed to be on alert as respiratory and eye problems are expected to rise with the return of the haze.

Health Minister Datuk Seri Liow Tiong Lai said the haze would affect those with breathing and eye problems.

"As such, the outpatient departments need to be more prepared and provide prompt services," he said after a ceremony to hand over eight ambulances to the Pahang Health Department at the Tengku Ampuan Afzan Hospital here yesterday.

He advised those with breathing problems to reduce outdoor activities, to drink more water and wear a mask if they were in the open.

He said the haze was a good reason for smokers to kick their habit.

"Smokers should realise that the haze is also not good for them," he said after launching the Kuantan Health Carnival at Kampung Jawa.

On emergency medical services, Liow said the ministry had lowered the response time for every emergency case to 15 minutes from 30 minutes this year.

As such, he said the ministry would increase the number of ambulances from 1,861 now to 2,500 by next year.

In PETALING JAYA, pharmacists said they are expecting a spike in the sale of respiratory drugs and facial masks.

Several pharmacists said sales had already increased slightly yesterday.

A pharmacist based in Subang Jaya also said several asthma sufferers came to his store to buy respiratory drugs and inhalers.

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