Health and Life Sciences Update: Vietnam New Pharma Decree To Take Effect July 1

HEALTH AND LIFE SCIENCES UPDATE | JUNE 30, 2017
Authors: Shay Wester, Ying Hui Tng, Hai Pham, Brian Ong
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

August 15 - 18, 2017 - Health and Life Sciences Myanmar Mission: The HLS committee is finalising the dates of the Myanmar mission and will be sending out a save-the-date and suggested list of stakeholders for the mission once the dates are confirmed. Please keep a look out for the email. We are looking to confirm it by the end of the first week of July. Please contact Ying Hui Tng at yhtng@usasean.org with any questions.  

July 25 - 27, 2017 - Philippines Business Mission: The US-ASEAN Business Council is now registering executives for its 2017 Business Mission to the Philippines. Please note that the registration deadline is July 11. Click here to register. Contact Riley Smith at rsmith@usasean.org with any questions.

July 31, 2017 - ASEAN Secretariat Business Mission: The Council is now registering executives for its annual ASEAN Secretariat Business Mission, taking place on July 31 in Jakarta. Click here to register. Please note that the registration deadline is July 17. For more information, please contact Matt Solomon at msolomon@usasean.org or Mario Masaya at mmasaya@usasean.org.

August 1 - 3, 2017 - Indonesia Business Mission: The US-ASEAN Business Council is now registering executives for its 2017 Indonesia Business Mission. Please note that the registration deadline is July 18. Click here to register. Contact Artha Sirait at asirait@usasean.org with any questions.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Vietnam New Pharma Decree To Take Effect July 1

On May 8, Vietnamese Government issued the new Pharma Decree No. 54/2017/ND-CP (see here for the Vietnamese version), which would implement many provisions of the 2016 Pharmaceutical Law that came into force beginning of this year. Most notably, under this decree, a foreign-invested entity (FIE) pharmaceutical importer with import rights can sell imported products to wholesalers. These wholesalers need to register with the Ministry of Health (MOH) and be certified as eligible to purchase imported products from an FIE. FIE pharmaceutical importers are prohibited from conducting the following activities:

  • Selling drugs/ingredients, or delivering to pharmacies, hospitals and clinics, retailer, individuals or other organizations that are not wholesalers.
  • Accepting purchase orders or accepting payments under purchase orders of drugs from pharmacies, hospitals, and clinics, retailer, individuals or other organizations that are not wholesalers.
  • Transportation and provision of drug storage services
  • Determining or fixing the sale prices of drugs distributed by other pharmacy establishments;
  • Participating in developing and/or making decisions on the distribution strategy and/or business policy for drugs distributed by other enterprises
  • Making drugs supply plans for health clinics in Vietnam
  • Providing financial support to its purchasers for the purpose of manipulating the distribution activities
  • Performing other activities related to drug distribution in accordance with the provisions of law

The Pharma Decree is a step forward since Vietnam’s accession to WTO in 2007. Under its WTO commitments, pharmaceutical products and drugs had not been allowed to conduct distribution services. As such, pharmaceutical companies have been unable to import and sell to Vietnam-based wholesalers. This new decree, which will take effect July 1, will change that.

Myanmar House Approves Insurance Proposals

Myanmar’s Lower House (Pyithu Hluttaw) accepted initial proposals to develop a national health insurance on June 22. The proposal for health insurance passed with support from 15 MPs and Minister for Health and Sport Dr. Myint Htwe with the goal of creating a more effective and affordable national healthcare system. Dr. Myint Htwe also commented that Myanmar will have to improve healthcare services before the proposed insurance system can be implemented. Both proposals are now going through State and Regional municipalities for public consultation. After that, both proposals will go to their relevant Ministries to draft the bills. Before becoming a law, each bill will have to be debated and passed by the Lower House and the Bills Committee, then the Upper House, and finally to the President. The Council plans to submit feedback on the national health insurance proposal as the bill begins the drafting process. Please contact Jack Myint at jmyint@usasean.org and Ying Hui Tng at yhtng@usasean.org to discuss the proposal further. As the timing drafting process will coincide with the Health and Life Sciences Committee’s Mission to Myanmar, which is tentatively scheduled for August 15 - 18, the Mission will also provide an excellent opportunity to discuss the bill. More information on the Mission will be distributed in the coming weeks.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Thailand Median Reference Pricing System for Pharmaceuticals 
The Council has been engaged with the Government of Thailand, most recently during our annual business mission on June 21-23, to discuss the current median reference pricing issue faced by pharmaceutical companies operating in Thailand. The Public Procurement Act B.E. 2560, passed in 2016 and slated to take effect August 2017, would establish a pricing committee on pharmaceutical products. Ahead of Prime Minister Prayut’s visit to Washington in July, the Council has sent a letter to the Prime Minister expressing our support of the new public procurement system, and is following up with the Ministry of Public Health to request a pause to the current reference price system and instead use the vehicle of the Public Procurement Act to establish a more transparent, sustainable and predictable system.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 

ASEAN
Vietnam, Laos enhance medical cooperation

Brunei
Brunei makes significant progress in health

Cambodia
Doctor’s ‘crazy’ dream comes true with Cambodia’s new cancer care facility

Indonesia
Indonesians Spend Billions to Treat Obesity-Related Diseases Every Year: Report
7 In 10 Indonesian Children Exposed To Dengue
Providing quality medical supplies for universal healthcare
Former Indonesian health minister sentenced to four years for accepting bribes

Malaysia
MMA claims ‘death of GP practice’ as more clinics shutter
Intermediaries compromising healthcare, warns MMA
Five Malaysian teaching universities sign landmark agreement on knowledge, expertise-sharing


Myanmar
Vaccines can stop Rotavirus deaths in children
Ministry to appoint new assistant doctors in remote areas
Health officials set up efforts to curb dengue in Yangon
Myanmar’s investments in children’s early development are paying dividends
Myanmar to Strengthen Rural Growth, Nutrition, Education, and Health Care, and Create More Jobs
Myanmar disabled to get more jobs, protection law soon

Philippines
+ DOH intensifies 'zero-dengue' strategy
+ PhilHealth benefits for foreign retirees in PH starting July
Philippines' dengue cases near 36,000

Singapore
Breast, prostate cancers rising sharply in Singapore
Exclusive: How Singapore Health uses AI to track its elderly care
Many keen to take control of health with tech devices
Focus more on protecting breastfeeding and infant health
New Zika cases in S'pore: Health Ministry to tighten health screening at entry points

Thailand
Group wants equality in healthcare
Health bill to sail through despite strong opposition
Health Ministry to provide free HPV vaccine to Thai children
‘Sell health insurance to migrants’

Vietnam
Dengue fever risks increase in Mekong Delta
HPV test recommended as primary test in cervical cancer screening
Minister vows to improve grassroots-level healthcare system
Vietnam eyes more health care PPPs
Pharma FIEs allowed to trade

 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Vietnam, Laos enhance medical cooperation Nhan Dan 26th Jun 2017
The Vietnamese Government and people always create favourable conditions for cooperation programmes and activities held between Vietnam and Laos in all fields, including healthcare, Deputy PM Dam said while receiving Lao Health Minister Bounkong Syhavong in Hanoi on June 26.

Brunei

Brunei makes significant progress in health Borneo Bulletin Online 9th Jun 2017
Healthcare in Brunei Darussalam has progressed significantly over the last decades and work is already ongoing to ensure that healthcare provision, quality and performance for Brunei is at its highest level possible.

Cambodia

Doctor’s ‘crazy’ dream comes true with Cambodia’s new cancer care facility International Atomic Energy Agency 13th Jun 2017
The National Cancer Centre at Calmette Hospital in central Phnom Penh is scheduled for inauguration before the end of the year. Much of its equipment, including those donated by the IAEA such as a gamma camera used for body scans and a shielded fume hood to prepare radiopharmaceuticals, are still in boxes or being installed, while its radiotherapy machine – which will only be the second in the country – is on its way from the United States.

Indonesia

Indonesians Spend Billions to Treat Obesity-Related Diseases Every Year: Report Jakarta Globe 28th Jun 2017
Indonesians spend the most money on treating diseases caused by obesity in Southeast Asia last year, a report by a public-private organization showed. Asia Roundtable on Food Innovation for Improved Nutrition (ARoFIIN) unites experts from governments, academia, industries and communities across Asia to begin a dialogue on food innovation and solve problems and diseases related to obesity in the region. The report, "Tackling obesity in Asean – prevalence, impact and guidance on interventions," was published by The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU).

7 In 10 Indonesian Children Exposed To Dengue Asian Scientist Magazine 23rd Jun 2017
Indonesia has one of the highest burdens of dengue fever in the world, and children account for many cases. Well over half of all children in urban areas are infected with dengue by the age of five, and more than 80 percent have been infected with the virus at least once by age ten, researchers now report in PLOS Neglected Tropical Diseases.

Providing quality medical supplies for universal healthcare The Jakarta Post 19th Jun 2017
Access to affordable and good quality medicine is critical for the successful implementation of universal healthcare (JKN) in Indonesia. It also poses a major challenge for the government, which is responsible for meeting the demand for medicines from the 180 million participants of the JKN.

Former Indonesian health minister sentenced to four years for accepting bribes The Jakarta Post 16th Jun 2017
The Jakarta Corruption Court has sentenced former health minister Siti Fadilah Supari to four years in prison after finding her guilty of accepting bribes in the state-funded procurement of medical equipment. “We also ordered the defendant to pay Rp 200 million (US$15,042) in fines or serve an additional two months in prison,” presiding judge Ibnu Basuki read out the verdict on Friday.

Malaysia

MMA claims ‘death of GP practice’ as more clinics shutter Malay Mail Online 22nd Jun 2017
Local general practitioners are facing a sunset industry as more clinics close down due to financial troubles, the Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) said. Its president Dr Ravindran R. Naidu noted an estimated amount of 500 clinics had shuttered between 2014 and 2016 as shown in the recently released Study on the Health Economics of General Practitioners in Malaysia: Trends, Challenges and Moving Forward in 2016, reported by The Star on its website.

Intermediaries compromising healthcare, warns MMA Free Malaysia Today 22nd Jun 2017
The Malaysian Medical Association (MMA) has warned the health ministry that leaving third party administrators (TPAs) unregulated comes at the cost of patients’ healthcare. This came after MMA president Dr Ravindran Naidu cited a study on the health economics of general practitioners in Malaysia last year in an interview with The Star. The study revealed that expenses for ma­­na­ging general practitioners’ services had increased over the years due to changes in policies as well as the involvement of unregulated TPAs. TPAs process insurance claims or certain aspects of employee benefit plans for insurance companies. As such, they serve as an intermediary between insurer and policyholder.

Five Malaysian teaching universities sign landmark agreement on knowledge, expertise-sharing NST Online 15th Jun 2017
Five teaching universities in the country today signed the Public University Teaching Hospital Consortium (KHUAM) Memorandum of Agreement in a bid to create effective and efficient knowledge, expertise and facility sharing among the universities.

Myanmar

Vaccines can stop Rotavirus deaths in children The Myanmar Times 27th Jun 2017
Two out of every five diarrhea-related hospitalisations among children under five years of age are caused by the Rotavirus in Myanmar. It is not your typical “stomach bug” or “flu” bug. According to Prof Saw Win, Vice-Chair of the National Committee for Immunization Practices, in Myanmar, diarrhea is a common disease found in children. “Nowadays, death due to diarrhea in the country is down. But one in three children who come to a hospital or a clinic had a diarrhea related problem,”said Prof Saw Win. The Ministry of Health and Sports is trying to introduce the Rotavirus vaccine for children in by the 2019.

Ministry to appoint new assistant doctors in remote areas Eleven Myanmar 27th Jun 2017
The Ministry of Health and Sports has announced that it will prioritize the appointment of new assistant doctors in remote areas, including in Rakhine State, this year. According to figures collected up to late March, there is one 500-bed hospital, five 100-bed hospitals, seven 50-bed hospitals, five 25-bed hospitals, 46 station hospitals, 121 rural health care centres and 605 rural health branches in these areas. Recently, the ministry invited applications for more than 2,000 vacant assistant doctor posts to be appointed in departments under the ministry, the Nay Pyi Taw Development Affairs Committee, the Zabuthiri Specialist Hospital, the Ministry of Electricity and Energy and the Mandalay Electricity Supply Corporation. MBBS graduates can apply for 1,722 vacant assistant doctor posts, while there are 300 vacant posts for BDS graduates.

Health officials set up efforts to curb dengue in Yangon The Myanmar Times 20th Jun 2017
Health officials are stepping up to control dengue fever outbreak after experts cautioned that the rate of incidents is rising this year, and the number of patients will be higher than last year. Department of public health program manager (dengue) Dr Zaw Lin said Yangon had the highest incidence of dengue fever followed by Rakhine and Ayeyarwaddy. He said that dengue fever still persists as a public health problem in the country and Myanmar has one of the highest rates of dengue fever in South East Asia.

Myanmar’s investments in children’s early development are paying dividends ReliefWeb 14th Jun 2017
As momentum is building up towards the global celebration of Father’s Day on 18 June, UNICEF Myanmar draws attention to the critical importance of the first 1,000 days in a child’s life. Scientific evidence shows that it is during this first 1000 days in a child’s life that investments in the child’s development reap the highest returns.

Myanmar to Strengthen Rural Growth, Nutrition, Education, and Health Care, and Create More Jobs World Bank 23rd Jun 2017
Myanmar will strengthen its programs and reforms that will promote growth in rural areas, invest in basic social services to provide better nutrition, health and education services, build infrastructure and create more and better jobs, in the next two years, in partnership with the World Bank Group.

Myanmar disabled to get more jobs, protection law soon The Myanmar Times 15th Jun 2017
Myanmar disabled to get more jobs, protection law soon Disabled people can look forward to more job openings and other opportunities, Dr Win Myat Aye, minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement, said.

Philippines

DOH intensifies ‘zero-dengue’ strategy The Manila Times 20th Jun 2017
The Philippines has joined other members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in urging the public to strengthen the fight against dengue as part of the commemoration of Asean Dengue Day. This is observed every June 15 based on the declaration of Asean Health Ministers during their meeting held in Singapore on July 22, 2010.

PhilHealth benefits for foreign retirees in PH starting July Rappler 19th Jun 2017
The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) announced Friday, June 16, that foreign nationals and former Filipino citizens retiring in the Philippines may avail themselves of social health insurance benefits starting July 1. This expansion of PhilHealth coverage to include foreign retirees is based on amemorandum of understanding (MOU) signed by PhilHealth and the Philippine Retirement Authority (PRA) in 2015 that aims to "promote the country as a retirement haven for qualified foreigners."

Philippines' dengue cases near 36,000 SunStar 15th Jun 2017
The number of dengue fever cases in the country has grown to nearly 36,000 in the first five months of this year, but lower than the same period last year, Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial said Thursday.

Singapore

Breast, prostate cancers rising sharply in Singapore The Straits Times 21st Jun 2017
The latest cancer registry report released last month showed that 2,105 women died of breast cancer between 2011 and 2015. More than half the women were diagnosed between the age of 45 and 64 years.

Exclusive: How Singapore Health uses AI to track its elderly care GovInsider 21st Jun 2017
Across Singapore, healthcare providers are using cutting-edge tech to cope with a manpower shortage. Tan Tock Seng Hospital built an ‘artificial brain’ to manage 1,700 beds. The upcoming Woodlands Health Campus will be a “pioneer” in the use of tech for patient care. And one day, Changi General Hospital’s robotics research may even lead to robot bedside nurses.

Many keen to take control of health with tech devices The Straits Times 15th Jun 2017
The majority of Singaporeans may be unfamiliar with technology that can help them monitor and take control of their health, but they are equally open to using it.

Focus more on protecting breastfeeding and infant health The Straits Times 10th Jun 2017
There were many reports on the steep rise in formula prices as well as the aggressive marketing of the milk products (Competition watchdog looks into infant milk formula prices, May 6; and Call to end formula milk firms' aggressive tactics, May 11).

New Zika cases in S'pore: Health Ministry to tighten health screening at entry points NST Online 10th Jun 2017
The Health Ministry (MOH) will tighten health screenings at all entry points following reports of new Zika cases in Singapore.

Thailand

Group wants equality in healthcare Thai Visa 22nd Jun 2017
Rallying under the banner of the People Health Systems Movement (PHSM), the activists are battling health authorities over the National Health Security Bill that focuses on the very essence of people’s rights to medical care.   

Health Ministry to provide free HPV vaccine to Thai children Pattaya Mail 16th Jun 2017
The Permanent Secretary of the Public Health Ministry disclosed that free HPV vaccine will be distributed to Thai children this July to maximize the prevention of rectal cancer in Thailand next year. Public Health Ministry Permanent Secretary Sophon Mekthon said the Ministry of Public Health’s objective is to make sure Thai people are healthy and to drive the Kingdom to its goal of Thailand 4.0. Many projects covering all age groups have been approved by the government, and the HPV vaccine will be distributed to Grade 5 students free of charge this July, with free rectal cancer screenings planned for next year.

Vietnam

Dengue fever risks increase in Mekong Delta vietnam.net 28th Jun 2017
The number of dengue infections has risen significantly in the Cuu Long (Mekong) Delta, particularly in Can Tho City and the provinces of Dong Thap, Ben Tre, Ca Mau and Tien Giang, according to the Ministry of Health. Dong Thap Province has the highest number of dengue cases in the delta, with over 1,000 infected cases, including 72 serious cases and two deaths, with high rates in Cao Lanh City and the districts of Lap Vo, Cao Lanh and Thanh Binh.

HPV test recommended as primary test in cervical cancer screening vietnamnews.vn 21st Jun 2017
More than 500 doctors and health officials participated in a series of recent seminars on updates on national guidelines on cervical cancer screening. “Cervical cancer is a serious disease, but we can prevent it, reduce the mortality and medical burden for patients, their family and society if the disease can be detected early,” Assoc Prof Lưu Thị Hồng, general secretary of the Việt Nam Association of Gynecologists and Obstetrics, said. The Ministry of Health has issued a recommendation to use HPV as the primary screening test for cervical cancer to help women prevent the disease and have an entire healthy and happy life, she said.

Minister vows to improve grassroots-level healthcare system vietnam.net 14th Jun 2017
Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien said her ministry will do its utmost to improve grassroots-level healthcare network as the government already approved a resolution on the plan. At the National Assembly’s question and answer session on June 14, Minister Tien said the Ministry of Health had carefully prepared for the plan on investment and development of grassroots-level healthcare establishments.

Vietnam eyes more health care PPPs vietnam.net 9th Jun 2017
More public-private partnerships (PPPs) are needed in the private health care sector as public hospitals and clinics cannot meet the demand across the country, experts have said. More than 170 hospitals and 30,000 health clinics and other health establishments are privately run, with nearly 15 percent of the country’s total hospital beds, a Ministry of Health report released last year said. The proportion of patients visiting private health facilities was only 6-7 percent.

Pharma FIEs allowed to trade VietnamNet 20th Jun 2017
Eight years after the phase-in schedule for the relevant WTO commitments, Vietnam is, for the first time, setting forth a legal framework for foreign invested enterprises to trade in pharmaceuticals and pharmaceutical ingredients to fulfill its WTO commitments.