M'sian govt cautions against relying on online medical sites

The public should not attempt to "self-treat" any ailments in view of the wide range of medical literature available on the Internet, said Malaysian Deputy Health Minister Suleiman Mohamed.

KUALA LUMPUR--The public should not attempt to "self-treat" any ailments in view of the wide range of medical literature available on the Internet.

Deputy Health Minister Suleiman Mohamed said the public may be tempted to bypass going to a doctor for medical treatment for some health matters due to the thousands of Web sites containing detailed information and even advice on how to treat certain ailments.

"They (the public) should realize that any self treatment of medical ailments could be dangerous and should be left to professionals," he said on Monday.

Suleiman was speaking at a press conference after witnessing two signing ceremonies between Crest Health Online (M) Sdn Bhd, Newcleus Sdn Bhd and Pharmvision Ventures Sdn Bhd.

Medical professionals had expressed fears that some health portals available to the public may not always contain accurate medical information thus posing a public health concern.

The deputy minister said the public could always check with the Health Ministry if any doubts arose over the veracity of content on health-related Web sites.

Pharmvision Ventures chief executive officer Dr Lee Poh Aun said its Web site pharmvision.com has a team of content and research team which vets the content before it is made public.

Pharmvision.com is a vertical health portal providing what it terms as "personalised healthcare" information.

"However, we have a caveat on our Web site saying that one must get proper medical advice for any ailments and that our content is merely to give more information to the public," Dr Lee explained.

The agreement between Pharmvision Ventures and Newcleus involves the former being the e-commerce outsourcing partner for Omnicare which is run by Medical Online Sdn Bhd, the main concession holder of the country's Telehealth project.

The agreement with Crest Health Online and Pharmavision Ventures sees the latter providing health information for the former's Web site.