Health & Life Sciences Update: June 11, 2018

Health & Life Sciences Update | June 11, 2018
Authors: Shay Wester, Hai Pham, Ying Hui Tng
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

June 11: Roundtable with H.E. Dato Erywan, Brunei's Second Minister of Foreign Affairs and Trade

June 12: Roundtable with Senior-level Philippine Business Executives

June 26-28: 2018 Thailand Business Mission

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

President Duterte Appoints New PhilHealth Chief
Earlier this week, Philippines President Duterte fired interim President of the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) Celestina de la Serna over her excessive travel expenses and mismanagement of agency funds. However, de la Serna will remain as a board member of PhilHealth. In her place, President Duterte has appointed Dr. Roy Ferrer, who hails from Davao where Duterte was previously Mayor, as the new acting President and Chief Executive Officer. Dr. Ferrer's appointment paper was signed by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea on June 1. Previously he was a member of the PhilHealth board of directors and the President of the Davao chapter of the Philippine Society of Medical Specialists in Government Service, an affiliate society of the Philippine Medical Association (PMA).

Following the announcement of Dr. Ferrer's appointment, Senator Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara said he hoped the new PhilHealth chief will be able to look after the financials of the agency amidst the allegations of excessive travel expenses, overpayment of claims, and other problems that threaten the financial viability of PhilHealth. Previously, Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito made a statement calling for a permanent PhiHealth chief who has financial expertise to fix PhilHealth's financial challenges. As the lead agency in providing healthcare assistance to the people of the Philippines, PhilHealth will play an important role in helping the country to achieve universal health coverage, a goal identified by President Duterte.

Malaysia Health Advisory Council to be Proposed Next Week
At a press conference following a monthly Ministry of Health meeting on June 5, Malaysia’s new Minister of Health Dr. Dzulkefly Ahmad announced that a cabinet paper on the formation of the new Health Advisory Council will be tabled next week. The council, whose primary focus will be to advise the government on solutions to problems that may arise in the provision of universal healthcare and help the government to provide a better healthcare delivery system, will comprise five to seven experts from various fields. Minister Dzulkefly added that the Ministry would be open to adopting blockchain technology to streamline operations, a solution as part of his goal to modernize the Ministry and transform its image to keep in line with the “New Malaysia” emerging after the 14th general election. The Council will continue to track and report the formulation of this Health Advisory Council, which will become a key stakeholder in the health sector under the new government.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Vietnam Decree 36 - Regulations for Medical Devices and Diagnostics
Vietnam's Ministry of Health - Department of Medical Equipment & Construction (DMEC) is currently drafting Decree 36 which sets out regulations for medical devices and diagnostics. In early May, DMEC organized two workshops with local stakeholders to review and receive feedback on the draft decree, and proposals were given to DMEC by local associations. According to DMEC, the draft Decree 36 is expected to be submitted for the Health Minister's approval by the end of June, with the goal of receiving the Government's approval in Q3 2018. During this process, DMEC has asked the industry to send a letter to the Government of Vietnam to include recommendations of industry experts on how to improve the draft decree. For more information, please contact Ying Hui Tng at yhtng@usasean.org.

Digitalization of Healthcare
The Council is exploring workstreams related to the digitalization of healthcare and how the business community can best support the ASEAN governments who have prioritized this. If your company has been doing working related to this area (including leveraging innovative technology, AI, IoT, data analytics, etc.), please contact Ying Hui Tng at yhtng@usasean.org

Follow-ups from US Study Tour for Vietnam Regulators
On May 13 -26, we conducted a successful study tour for two Vietnam Social Security (VSS) officials and the Director-General of Department of Medical Equipment and Construction (DMEC) from the Ministry of Health to visit our member companies Boston Scientific, Alcon Novartis and Becton Dickinson in Minneapolis, Texas and San Diego. The study tour gave regulators an overview of the different kinds of innovative medical devices. Following from that, regulators are interested to learn more about ways to set up a tendering system, the science behind medical devices and the specifications. We are working on a series of workshops to support VSS and MOH. Members who wish to learn more about this, please contact Ying Hui Tng at yhtng@usasean.org.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Bayer to ditch Monsanto name after mega-merger
Despite gains, almost half of Southeast Asians lack basic healthcare

Brunei
MP to broach ‘abandoned’ Lawas Hospital project with Health Ministry
Health Experts Say ALL Sausage And Bacon Products Cause Diseases Like Cancer
Brunei Medical Association distributes 700 Sungkai food packs to hospital patients, staff
Brunei reaffirms healthcare commitment

Cambodia
Vietnam, Cambodia trimmed health spending

Indonesia
‘Mudik’ should be safe, healthy: Minister
Top US Health Scientist In Aging Research And Healthcare innovation Visits Jakarta
Indonesia-India private cooperation to focus on four sectors
A Long Way to the Psychiatrist's Couch: Mental Illness Treatments in Indonesia

Laos
UK lends support to malaria control
Thai Hospital To Build Branch In Vientiane

Malaysia
Better regulated medical fees in private healthcare needed
No patients ordered to buy own medicines at HSI - health director
Cabinet paper on health advisory council will be tabled next week
Review trade agreement for cheaper medicine, consumer group tells Putrajaya
Minister says proposed healthcare advisory council to Cabinet
Health minister plans to seek more funds in Budget | Malay Mail
Dzulkefly: Health Ministry needs to be more proactive
Focus on health premises, mental health
Open tender policy positive for local biz
Set up monitoring system to ensure budget well-spent, health minister told

Myanmar
President Calls for Nationwide Anti-drug Groups to Include Civilians, Civil Society

Philippines
Red Cross reminds public to practice dengue prevention measures
DOH launches mobile survey about non-communicable diseases
Former DOH Secretary, Philhealth Chief face graft, malversation and falsification raps
DOH urged to demand P3-billion refund from Dengvaxia maker
New PhilHealth chief advised to check agency’s viability
Duterte fires PhilHealth chief
Sacked PhilHealth chief stays as board member
Ejercito welcomes Duterte’s decision to designate a new PhilHealth head
45 Binangonan health workers trained on health emergency response operation
Support for universal health care law enjoined

Singapore
Philips, Singapore Institute of Advanced Medicine open oncology centre in Singapore
Seniors get more help to fight chronic diseases
Smoking rate target of under 10% by 2020
Use 2-factor authentication to access health records
Virtual reality injects life into medical training at NUS

Thailand
Dengue outbreak in lower Northeast
Protesters push for toxic pesticide ban
Bird flu prevention measures in Thailand
Supplement scare prompts inspection of all factories
Hospitals call off strike over management of personnel
Allianz Ayudhya offers health insurance with BDMS
Finance Ministry postpones new hiring rules
Solution to plastic waste lies in burning it for energy, says ministry
Caution urged to prevent outbreak of Nipah virus
Nationwide inspections over e-waste disposal fears

Vietnam
Three A/H1N1 flu patients in Tien Giang discharged from hospital
Vietnam: Ebola screening to be intensified at border gates, hospitals
No new health insurance cards next year: VSI
Early testing needed to minimise mother-to-child HIV transmission
Health Ministry gives recommendations to prevent A/H1N1 flu
Tobacco causes socio-economic burden: Minister
Industry bitter about Vietnam tax on sweetened drinks
Vietnam Social Security collects VND121.1 trillion in revenue
Second Anesthesia and Intensive Care Simulation Center opens in Vietnam
Health ministry proposes adverse event reporting system
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Bayer to ditch Monsanto name after mega-merger The Jakarta Post 4th Jun 2018
German chemicals and pharmaceuticals giant Bayer will discard the name Monsanto when it takes over the controversial US seeds and pesticides producer this week, the group said Monday. "Bayer will remain the name of the firm. Monsanto will be discontinued as the name of the business," the Leverkusen-based group said in a statement, adding that it expects to close the $63 billion (54 billion euro) deal on Thursday. Bosses plan to name the merged agrichemical division Bayer Crop Science once the buyout is complete, German business newspaper Handelsblatt reported, citing "industry sources".

Despite gains, almost half of Southeast Asians lack basic healthcare SEA Globe 1st Jun 2018
The push for universal healthcare in Southeast Asia is seeing successes in some countries, but an estimated 65 million people in the region are pushed into poverty each year due to paying their own healthcare bills. The World Health Organisation (WHO) cited that figure, and also said nearly half of Southeast Asians lack basic care, when it reiterated its call for universal healthcare in the region on World Health Day, 7 April. As the region continues to develop and incomes rise, so do conditions such as obesity and diabetes, according to Dr Lee Poh Onn, a senior fellow at Singapore’s Institute of Southeast Asian Studies – Yusof Ishak Institute. “Such non-communicable diseases are becoming a serious issue [in Malaysia] partly caused by rising affluence,” he says. “Hypertension had increased by 43%, diabetes by 88% and obesity by 250% in 2012 compared to 2002.”

Brunei

MP to broach ‘abandoned’ Lawas Hospital project with Health Ministry Borneo Bulletin Online 6th Jun 2018
The proposed Lawas Hospital project will be brought to the attention of the Health Ministry. Selangau Member of Parliament Baru Bian said this after learning that the hospital which was already approved for construction back in 2011 at a cost of RM121 million and scheduled to be ready in three years had yet to be completed. Earlier, he was told that the Lawas Health Office was locked up by the owner of the premises for failure to pay the rent for 30 months.

Health Experts Say ALL Sausage And Bacon Products Cause Diseases Like Cancer BruDirect 30th May 2018
The new cancer guidelines laid out by the World Cancer Research Fund (WCRF) have put bacon, sausage and other meaty treats on blast, declaring that there is no “safe” amount of these favorite foods. But is it really the meat that’s to blame — or is it the chemicals and other additives Big Food throws in the mix that makes meat so toxic? WCRF states that processed meats, in particular, raise cancer risk. Dr Giota Mitou, WRCF director of research, said in a recent statement, “The best advice is not to eat processed meat. The risk does increase with consumption.” The WCRF also adds that when it comes to processed meats, “no level of intake can confidently be associated with a lack of risk of bowel cancer.” But you might argue that processed meats aren’t even really food — at least compared to what a real rack of bacon or fresh, homemade sausage are like anyways. The idea that the vacuum-sealed, sodium nitrite-laden, mass-produced composite meats you buy at the supermarket are in any way the same as grass-fed meats seasoned with care at home is really quite laughable.

Brunei Medical Association distributes 700 Sungkai food packs to hospital patients, staff Borneo Bulletin Online 29th May 2018
BRUNEI Medical Association (BMA) members distributed 700 Sungkai food packs to patients, visitors and staff of Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital on Saturday. BMA President Dr Haji Azlan bin Haji Jaludin led the food packs distribution with support from the association’s executive members. The event began with a mass Asar prayer at the hospital’s Surau followed by the recitation of Doa. The food packs were distributed to all staff under the hospital’s various services, including the Accident and Emergency Department, medical wards, surgical wards, obstetrics and gynaecology wards, paediatric wards, critical care services, renal wards and psychiatry wards. Doctors, nurses, allied health professionals and support staff including security officers and cleaners also received the food packs.

Brunei reaffirms healthcare commitment Borneo Bulletin Online 28th May 2018
BRUNEI Darussalam is placing health as one of the key priorities in its Brunei Vision 2035 long-term national development plan envisioned to contribute to the country achieving a high quality of life and a dynamic and sustainable economy. The Government of His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam through the Ministry of Health (MoH) is committed to providing quality, equitable, comprehensive and accessible healthcare services for the citizens and residents of the country. Despite the challenges posed by changes in physical demographics and disease trends, Brunei Darussalam is staying committed to achieving comprehensive healthcare coverage for all its citizens by addressing quality and safety issues through health policy and service reviews as well as strengthening cooperation with various related sectors.

Cambodia

Vietnam, Cambodia trimmed health spending VOV 6th Jun 2018
While most of the emerging markets in Asia has increased its overall spending on health as a share of GDP since 2000, Cambodia and Vietnam have trimmed their allocations to health, according to ANZ Research on Greater Mekong Economic Outlook.

Indonesia

‘Mudik’ should be safe, healthy: Minister The Jakarta Post 6th Jun 2018
Health Minister Nila F. Moeloek has said Idul Fitri holiday travelers need to prepare so that their mudik (homebound trips) are fun, safe and smooth. “I call on all elements of society to join with the government to support the smoothness of mudik this year by paying attention to their health and safety,” said the minister during a breaking-of-the-fast event attended by bus drivers at Kampung Rambutan Terminal in East Jakarta on Tuesday afternoon. Nila said it was better for people not to use motorcycles for mudik. If there was no other choice for going home, she said, they must limit the items they carried on their motorcycles and make regular rest stops during their trips.

Top US Health Scientist In Aging Research And Healthcare innovation Visits Jakarta Jakarta Globe 1st Jun 2018
Indonesia hosted a short visit by Dr. Victor Dzau, President of the United States National Academy of Medicine of the US National Academy of Sciences, to promote greater global engagement and exchange in medicine and healthcare on Thursday (31/05). While in Jakarta, Dzau held discussions with Health Minister Nila Moeloek and her deputies; Technology, Research, and Higher Education Minister H. Mohamad Nasir; and National Health Insurance Agency (BPJS) President Director, Fachmi Idris. Dzau noted that life expectancy has almost doubled in the last 100 years. Hence the issue today is no longer longevity, but the number of healthy years in one’s life. The world needs a healthy population to support a growing global aging community. He also noted that Indonesia’s aging population will soon amount to 40 million people. As such, there must be a greater level of intensity in dialogues and programs that address the issue. Health Minister Nila Moeloek has started putting in place initiatives such as an aging blueprint and concrete policies.

Indonesia-India private cooperation to focus on four sectors The Jakarta Post 30th May 2018
The chambers of commerce of Indonesia and India have agreed to cooperate with a focus on four sectors, namely manufacturing, mining, pharmaceuticals and infrastructure. The Indonesia Chamber of Commerce and Industry (Kadin) and Confederation Industry of India (CII) held a CEO Forum in Jakarta on Tuesday. The forum was the continuation of an event held in New Delhi in December 2016. Kadin chairman Rosan Roeslani said on Wednesday that in 2016, the two parties agreed on cooperation in six sectors. However, in 2018, the meeting decided to eliminate two sectors from the list, agriculture and services, to narrow the focus.

A Long Way to the Psychiatrist's Couch: Mental Illness Treatments in Indonesia Jakarta Globe 1st Jun 2018
Many people suffering from mental health problems in Indonesia are reluctant to seek help from professionals because they don't want to be seen as "crazy." This stigma on mental illness, caused by lack of awareness, often sends patients deeper into a downward spiral. Livia Iskandar, a psychologist at Pulih@The Peak: Women & Family Empowerment Center in South Jakarta, a counseling service and part of non-profit organization Yayasan Pulih, said they receive many requests for assistance from people with mental health problems who have left it "a bit too late" to seek professional help. Psychiatrist Endah Ronawulan, who practices at Central Pertamina Hospital in South Jakarta, said people with mental health problems usually need a combination of two types of treatment to get better: psychotherapy (counseling) and pharmacotherapy (medication).

Laos

UK lends support to malaria control Vientiane Times 30th May 2018
The United Kingdom’s Comic Relief charity is providing over US$700,000 from 2018 to 2020 to help prevent and control malaria in three provinces of Laos. An agreement for the project was signed yesterday by the Director General of the Department of Communicable Diseases Control, Ministry of Health, Dr Rattanaxay Phetsouvanh, and Comic Relief, United Kingdom and Health Poverty Action (HPA) Country Director, Mr Ronaldo Estera.

Thai Hospital To Build Branch In Vientiane KPL Laos News Agency 30th May 2018
(KPL) Kasemrad International Hospital, affiliated to Bangkok Chain Hospital Public, held a groundbreaking ceremony for its first Vientiane-based branch last Friday. The ceremony took place in the presence of Deputy Prime Minister Sonexay Siphandone and Director General of Bangkok Chain Hospital Public Chalerm Harnphanich. The new hospital will be built in Sisattanak district at a cost of more than US$70 million over the next eight years.

Malaysia

Better regulated medical fees in private healthcare needed BorneoPost Online 6th Jun 2018
Better regulated medical fees in the private healthcare sector is needed as the current costs are expensive and still beyond the means of most Malaysians, according to the Federation of Malaysian Consumers Association (Fomca). This was among the proposals and recommendations conveyed by its Chief Executive Officer Datuk Paul Selvaraj during a meeting with the Council of Eminent Persons at Menara Ilham here yesterday. According to Selvaraj, healthcare is a basic right of consumers and the prices cannot be set upon solely depending on the market or profits but must be looked as a welfare component.

No patients ordered to buy own medicines at HSI - health director Bernama 5th Jun 2018
Johor State Health director Dr Selahuddeen Abd Aziz said initial investigations by Sultan Ismail Hospital (HSI) here found no patients were directed to buy their own medicines as posted on Facebook. The Johor Health Department (JKNJ) is referring to a statement posted on Facebook dated June 3, 2018 which claimed some patients had to buy their own medicines as none were available at the hospital which had allegedly run out of funds. "There is adequate supply of medicines and patients are given medicines according to those listed in the Ministry of Health Medicines Formulary," he said in a statement posted on the Facebook page of JKNJ today. Dr Selahuddeen said HSI had contacted the Facebook account owner to seek clarification and was told that he had only heard stories from one party and did not confirm the matter with HSI. He said JKNJ wanted to assure the public that the supply of medicine was adequate and that it would always strive to provide the best service to the community.....

Cabinet paper on health advisory council will be tabled next week Bernama 5th Jun 2018
A Cabinet paper on the proposed establishment of the Health Advisory Council will be tabled next week, said Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad. He said the council, which would comprise five to seven experts in various fields, would serve as an advisory body, problem solver and think tank in boosting the healthcare sector delivery. "Members of the council are not necessarily (members) of the medical (field)m there is also an economist. We will choose the best among the best to empower the Ministry of Health and make it world-class," he told a press conference after the ministry's monthly gathering here today. According to him, the long waiting period to meet the doctors, especially specialists, the disruption in the supply of medicines and congestion at health facilities were the main focus to be addressed in healthcare operations.

Review trade agreement for cheaper medicine, consumer group tells Putrajaya Malay Mail 5th Jun 2018
Malaysia should assess its position in various trade agreement negotiations as it would have an impact on the prices of pharmaceutical items, the Consumer Association of Penang (CAP) said today. Its honorary secretary Martin Khor told reporters that the Health Ministry was recently able to reduce the prices of a Hepatitis C medicine from RM300,000 to merely RM1,000, benefitting some 500,000 Malaysians who suffer from the illness. Khor said if the government was to sign on a trade agreement, it must ensure such decision dubbed the “government order” can still be made.

Minister says proposed healthcare advisory council to Cabinet Malay Mail 5th Jun 2018
he Health Ministry has suggested the formation of a Healthcare Advisory Council to the Cabinet. Health Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said the council would primarily advise the government on solutions to problems that may arise in the provision of universal healthcare in the country.

Health minister plans to seek more funds in Budget | Malay Mail Malay Mail 5th Jun 2018
The Health Ministry will request for additional allocations in Budget 2019 to improve on healthcare delivery. Minister Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad said he hoped for more resources to enable the ministry to improve its services and enhance their availability.

Dzulkefly: Health Ministry needs to be more proactive Malay Mail 5th Jun 2018
Health Minister Dzulkefly Ahmad wants his ministry to be more proactive in providing healthcare. At his first official town hall with ministry officials and staff, Dzulkefly said he wanted the ministry to transform its image and keep in line with the “new Malaysia” emerging after the 14th general election. “As a ministry that has direct and daily interactions with the rakyat, their welfare, grievances and suggestions must be the utmost concerns for all of us “Put yourself in the rakyat’s shoes. Ask yourself what do I expect from an efficient and rakyat-conscious (Health Ministry),” he said.

Focus on health premises, mental health Bernama 3rd Jun 2018
Ensuring the safety aspects of health premises and boosting the development plan for mental health are among areas which must be stressed by the Health Advisory Council proposed by the Health Minister recently. Social activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said these two aspects were important, taking into account the incidences reported in the country. "Based on information from the Fire and Rescue Department, there are still public and private health premises which are unsafe and have high risk of fire. We are also often shocked by many cases of criminal cases, including murder which involved suspects with mental problems," he said in a statement here today.

Open tender policy positive for local biz BorneoPost Online 31st May 2018
BCM Alliance Bhd, a company specialising in medical devices and commercial laundry equipment, lauds the open tender policy advocated by the government as it will provide more opportunities for local businesses. Managing director Liaw Chong Lin said previously, tenders for the supply of medical devices to government hospitals and healthcare centres were often conducted through closed tenders, which made it difficult for other companies to enter into the government healthcare segment. “With this (policy), everyone will stand a chance to secure government contracts now,” he told reporters after the company’s annual general meeting yesterday.

Set up monitoring system to ensure budget well-spent, health minister told Malaysiakini 6th Jun 2018
A local think tank has urged the Health Ministry to ensure that its plan to increase healthcare spending is accompanied by a comprehensive monitoring and evaluation system.

Myanmar

President Calls for Nationwide Anti-drug Groups to Include Civilians, Civil Society The Irrawaddy 1st Jun 2018
Myanmar’s President U Win Myint has instructed that interested civilians and civil society groups be included in forming anti-drug groups across the country. In meeting with Lt-Gen Kyaw Swe, home affairs minister and chairman of the Central Committee for Drug Abuse Control, President U Win Myint on Thursday urged the formation of anti-drug committees at the township, district, regional and state levels comprised of regional authorities, civil society and civilians. “Meth tablets are readily available across the country. The Home Affairs Ministry alone can’t control this. It calls for effective cooperation from civil society organizations and locals,” deputy minister for Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement U Soe Aung, who was present at the meeting, told The Irrawaddy.

Philippines

Red Cross reminds public to practice dengue prevention measures Manila Bulletin News 6th Jun 2018
The Philippine Red Cross (PRC) on Wednesday reminded the public to practice tried and tested dengue prevention measures—search and destroy, self-protect, seek early consultation, and say yes to fogging—also known as the“4S” method. To raise awareness of the 4S method, the humanitarian body is now conducting a series of campaigns on dengue prevention through its 104 chapters nationwide for the whole month of June, the Dengue Awareness Month.

DOH launches mobile survey about non-communicable diseases Manila Bulletin News 6th Jun 2018
The Department of Health (DOH) encouraged the public to participate in its mobile phone survey about non-communicable diseases (NCD). The health department launched on Wednesday the NCD Mobile Phone Survey project which seeks to understand more about how Filipinos keep themselves healthy. The DOH said that an individual may receive a text or a link to a website for the NCD survey. The department asked the public “to seriously participate in this survey and give their best and honest replies.”

Former DOH Secretary, Philhealth Chief face graft, malversation and falsification raps Manila Bulletin News 6th Jun 2018
Former Department of Health Secretary Paulyn Ubial and former PhilHealth interim President Celestina Dela Serna are facing complaints of graft, malversation, and falsification before the Office of the Ombudsman in relation to the reportedly anomalous travels made by Dela Serna. The complaint was filed on June 5, and it includes three counts of violation of Section 3(a) of R.A. 3019 or the Anti-Graft and Corrupt Practices Act as well as Articles 174 and 217 of the Revised Penal Code. Because of Dela Serna’s position, her official station is in Metro Manila. Specifically, the office of the PhilHealth President is in the Citystate Centre, Pasig. But on March 2018, Dela Serna still filed disbursement vouchers for reimbursements of her travels from Bohol to Manila and back, claiming that Bohol is her permanent official station. She also sought reimbursements for her accommodations in Metro Manila.

DOH urged to demand P3-billion refund from Dengvaxia maker Philstar 6th Jun 2018
Health officials have been asked to demand P3 billion in full refund from French pharmaceutical giant Sanofi Pasteur for the controversial Dengvaxia vaccine. Rep. Karlo Nograles, chairman of the House committee on appropriations, yesterday said the government should pursue a full refund and not just the amount that Sanofi returned for the unused vaccine. Nograles said the government is entitled to a full refund so it could help thousands of schoolchildren who received the vaccine in 2016 and 2017.

New PhilHealth chief advised to check agency’s viability Manila Bulletin News 5th Jun 2018
Sen. Juan Edgardo “Sonny” Angara today urged the new Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) chief to check the agency’s financial viability to determine if their fund is still “in the pink of health.” Angara made the call after President Duterte named Dr. Roy Ferrer as the new PhilHealth chief after sacking its interim president Celestina Dela Serna amid questions regarding her excessive hotel and travel expenses. “We hope Dr. Ferrer can look after the financials of PhilHealth amidst the allegations of excessive travel expenses, overpayment of claims, and other problems which threaten the financial viability of PhilHealth funds,” Angara said.

Duterte fires PhilHealth chief Manila Bulletin News 5th Jun 2018
President Duterte has sacked Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) chief Celestina Ma. Jude dela Serna due to her excessive trips less than a week after firing yet another official. Dela Serna was dismissed almost a month after Duterte ordered the investigation for her travels amounting to P627,293.04 in just one year amid the agency’s massive net income loss amounting to P8.92 billion based on its 2017 unaudited financial statement posted online. Duterte appointed PhilHealth board member Dr. Roy Ferrer to take over the position vacated by Dela Serna. Ferrer, in a text message, confirmed his new post and said that he will do his best to effectively carry out the mandate of PhilHealth.

Sacked PhilHealth chief stays as board member Manila Bulletin News 5th Jun 2018
Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) officer-in-charge Celestina Ma. Jude de la Serna will keep her post as a board member of the agency despite being fired for her excessive trips. Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made the clarification in a text message a day after it was confirmed that Duterte has already approved the nomination of Roy Ferrer to be the new PhilHealth Acting President. “Yes, she is,” Roque responded when asked by Malacañang reporters if De la Serna will still be part of the PhilHealth board after her sacking.

Ejercito welcomes Duterte’s decision to designate a new PhilHealth head Manila Bulletin News 4th Jun 2018
Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito on Monday welcomed President Rodrigo Duterte’s decision to designate a new head for the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation or PhilHealth. Ejercito made the statement after Duterte informed his Cabinet officials about his decision to remove PhilHealth interim head Celestina Ma. Dela Serna while on an official trip to South Korea. Dela Serna is now under investigation over allegations of excessive trips and frequent stays in hotels. The Senate health and demography committee chief said he hopes that the President would designate a permanent PhilHealth chief, one that has financial and actual expertise.

45 Binangonan health workers trained on health emergency response operation Manila Bulletin News 3rd Jun 2018
The Department of Health (DOH) Calabarzon said 45 health workers from Binangonan, Rizal have recently undergone training on Health Emergency Response Operation (HERO). Regional director Eduardo Janairo said the HERO training is a “continuing commitment of the regional office to equip, train and prepare health workers in the community to respond and provide critical care to people affected by natural disasters, war and other crises, and the health risks that may result in such catastrophic event.” The training includes introduction to health emergency response operation, updates on health emergency management, and roles and responsibilities of health workers during emergencies, Janairo said.

Support for universal health care law enjoined Manila Bulletin News 31st May 2018
People’s organizations including senior citizens, people with disability, patients, and tobacco victims have renewed their public appeal to support the Universal Health Care law on World No Tobacco Day. Emer Rojas, president of the Quezon City-based New Vois of the Philippines, (NVAP) said every Filipino should be automatically enrolled through Universal Health Care to address the gap in treatment and service provision for indigent patients. With many Filipinos afflicted by lifestyle-related non-communicable diseases such as cardiovascular disease, Rojas noted that having access to Universal Health Care would ensure that they have a fighting chance in life.

Singapore

Philips, Singapore Institute of Advanced Medicine open oncology centre in Singapore The Business Times 6th Jun 2018
HEALTH technology company Philips and the Singapore Institute of Advanced Medicine Holdings opened a new oncology centre on Wednesday to provide specialised treatment to the rising number of people diagnosed with cancer in South-east Asia. Built with an investment of close to S$100 million, the 40,000 square feet Advanced Medicine Imaging (AMI) centre in Biopolis is equipped with a range of Philips’ imaging and clinical informatics systems to provide timely and accurate diagnoses of cancer. It is part of the Dutch company’s global expansion plans into healthcare innovation.

Seniors get more help to fight chronic diseases The Straits Times 2nd Jun 2018
Elderly residents with chronic diseases such as diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol can look forward to more help managing their conditions. Organisers of the Chronic Disease Self-Management Programme (CDSMP) are looking to expand it to more places, including community centres, in the South West District after seven successful trials at senior activity centres in the area. The six-month programme comprises workshops on topics like nutrition, breathing techniques, disease knowledge and simple exercises conducted by allied health professionals. Participants also take part in activities like brisk walking and health qigong, an exercise technique, organised by other health interest groups.

Smoking rate target of under 10% by 2020 The Straits Times 31st May 2018
he Government is aiming to bring the smoking rate to below 10 per cent by 2020, Mr Amrin Amin, Senior Parliamentary Secretary for the Ministry of Health, said yesterday. The rate was 18.3 per cent in 1992, dropping to 12 per cent in 2004. Since then it has hovered at 12 to 14 per cent. Last year, it was down to 12 per cent, the lowest rate so far. The 2020 target had been set at 10 per cent in 2012, but was revised to 12 per cent in 2014.

Use 2-factor authentication to access health records The Straits Times 30th May 2018
A number of private practitioners have expressed their reservations about participating in the National Electronic Health Record (NEHR) (Electronic health records could curb patients from seeking psychiatric help, by Dr Desmond Wai Chun Tao, May 12; and Consider all stakeholders' views, concerns over electronic health records, by Dr Leong Choon Kit, May 24). Their main reservation is the privacy of patients' medical data relating to socially sensitive conditions, such as sexually transmitted diseases and mental illnesses.

Virtual reality injects life into medical training at NUS The Straits Times 31st May 2018
Virtual reality (VR) has been hyped as the future of gaming, but the National University of Singapore's Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine (NUS Medicine) has been using it for more educational purposes. Since last September, it has been fine-tuning a system called Virtual Interactive Human Anatomy (VIHA) which allows students wearing a VR headset to delve into the anatomy of a human body by freely manipulating and looking inside different parts and structures, using a controller in their hand. Self-narrating modules help them to learn about what they are looking at.

Thailand

Dengue outbreak in lower Northeast Bangkok Post 6th Jun 2018
A dengue outbreak in the lower Northeast has led to 488 infections being recorded since the beginning of this year, most of them children, the Office of Disease Prevention and Control reported on Wednesday. The region 9 office said the 488 infections were reported in four provinces - 233 cases in Nakhon Ratchasima, 56 in Buri Ram, 64 in Chaiyaphum and 135 in Surin. No dengue-related fatalities were reported. Most of the infections were in children aged 10-14, with 5-9 year-olds the next largest group. Local public health officers were conducting health checks and taking steps to combat the spread of the outbreak, particularly in schools.

Protesters push for toxic pesticide ban Bangkok Post 6th Jun 2018
About 150 representatives from 686 civic groups held a rally at Government House to demand Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha ban two controversial pesticides, and limit the use of a third, by the end of the year. The protesters say that paraquat and chlorpyrifos have been shown to harm the environment and people's health. They also urged the government to strictly monitor the use of glyphosate. The Hazardous Substance Committee last month voted to allow the continued use of the three chemical pesticides under tightened regulations. However, the decision came under fierce criticism from social activists.

Bird flu prevention measures in Thailand Bernama 5th Jun 2018
Thailand maintains disease control measures along the border and high risk areas amid concerns over bird flu infection in neighbouring Cambodia, Thai News Agency (TNA) reported. Citing a report by the World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), Dr Somchuan Ratanamungklanon, Livestock Development Department spokesman, announced all quarantine measures remained effective for poultry import from Cambodia. Livestock officials had collected samples from poultry farms in the 10 kilometre radius from the border for laboratory tests.

Supplement scare prompts inspection of all factories The Nation 4th Jun 2018
All factories manufacturing dietary supplements and cosmetics will be inspected over the next three months, permanent secretary for public health Jessada Chokdamrongsuk announced on Monday. Jessada was leading an inspection of the Pathawin Co cosmetics plant in Phatum Thani’s Sam Khok district, along with the province’s public health chief Nraong Tangtrongpairoj and Wanchai Satayawutthipong, secretary-general of the Food and Drug Administration.

Hospitals call off strike over management of personnel Bangkok Post 1st Jun 2018
Groups of medical and health care personnel at state-run hospitals who threatened to stage a protest over two controversial budgetary- and employment-related regulations called off their rally yesterday after the rules were temporarily shelved. The Rural Doctors Society (RDS), which is leading the movement, agreed to cease its planned gathering at the Finance Ministry today after the latter announced it would suspend its ministerial regulation requiring hospitals to "avoid" hiring staff whose salaries are paid for by the hospitals themselves rather than from the state budget.

Allianz Ayudhya offers health insurance with BDMS The Nation 31st May 2018
Allianz Ayudhya Assurance has announced its partnership with Bangkok Hospital Group (BDMS), the largest private hospital network in Thailand and Cambodia. Allianz Ayudhya said its “My First Class @BDMS” package offered an exclusive medical service to the customer. The plan covers all medical treatment, including check-ups, vaccination, dental care, maternity and vision up to Bt100 million per year.

Finance Ministry postpones new hiring rules Bangkok Post 31st May 2018
The Finance Ministry has postponed new rules involving the hiring of off-budget staff in the wake of an outcry of public health personnel across the country. Permanent secretary for finance Prasong Poontaneat said on Thursday that the ministry had agreed to delay the enforcement of the new rules following a meeting with representatives of the Public Health Ministry. The meeting, chaired by the finance minister, was held following a protest by public health personnel, led by the Rural Doctors Society, against the new regulations. The demonstrators said their operations would be hamstrung by the new rules.

Solution to plastic waste lies in burning it for energy, says ministry The Nation 3rd Jun 2018
AUTHORITIES are leaning towards burning plastic waste and getting industry involved in choosing policies as they seek to improve the management system for the persistent pollutant that fouls both land and water environments. Meanwhile, an environmental expert said that changes to consumer behaviour are also needed to make real progress and reduce consumption.

Caution urged to prevent outbreak of Nipah virus The Nation 29th May 2018
Health officials across the world are keeping a close eye on the third and latest Nipah virus outbreak in India, where at least 16 cases have been confirmed in Kerala and Karnataka states and 14 people have died. Dr Thiravat Hemachudha, head of the Emerging Infectious Disease Health Science Centre at Chulalongkorn University’s Faculty of Medicine, said that there are no recorded cases of the infection yet in Thailand. However, he added that the risk of widespread infection remains as the country’s fruit bats are a natural host of the Nipah virus.

Nationwide inspections over e-waste disposal fears The Nation 28th May 2018
A NATIONWIDE INSPECTION of electronic waste recycling plants has been launched to battle the smuggling of hazardous e-waste into the country and ensure proper disposal operations. The Industry Ministry yesterday responded to last week’s investigation of an e-waste smuggling network centred on WMD Thai Recycling Co Ltd that found illegal importing of electronic parts, and environmental impacts from the improper recycling and disposal of hazardous waste.

Vietnam

Three A/H1N1 flu patients in Tien Giang discharged from hospital VOV 6th Jun 2018
Three A/H1N1 flu patients were discharged from hospital and isolated for observation in their families on June 5, according to the Preventive Medical Centre under Tien Giang province’s Health Department.

Vietnam: Ebola screening to be intensified at border gates, hospitals Bernama 1st Jun 2018
Screening will be intensified at border gates and hospitals in Vietnam to detect people suspected to contract the deadly virus Ebola, particularly those who return from affected areas, Vietnam News Agency (VNA) reported. The information was heard during a meeting held by the Ministry of Health´s Vietnam Public Health Emergency Operation Centre (PHEOC Vietnam) to assess the risk of Ebola outbreak in Vietnam and seek proper preventive measures. The meeting concluded that the overall risk of the Ebola virus spreading into Vietnam is low as most of Ebola cases were discovered in Congo´s very remote areas and there are very few trade and exchange activities between Vietnam and Congo.

No new health insurance cards next year: VSI vietnamnews.vn 6th Jun 2018
Nguyen Hoang Phuong, deputy director of the Information Technology Centre at VSI, said at a press conference on Wednesday that the VSI system would continue to update participants’ data without the need to change the card every year as in the past. The social insurance agency will renew the validity of the cards in the system and send the list to card holders’ management units, Phương said, adding that the cards provided to insurers in 2017 and 2018 will continue to be used in the following years. Individuals and organisations can look up information, such as the participation process, validity of the card and health insurance agents, by visiting https://baohiemxahoi.gov.vn or calling the operator directly at 1900-96.96.68 for consultation. Based on information available on the system, the insured person can decide the time and where to apply for health insurance.

Early testing needed to minimise mother-to-child HIV transmission VOV 5th Jun 2018
This is the main message of the action month to prevent mother-to-child HIV transmission in June 2018. The purpose of the action month is to promote the involvement of the entire political system and people in reducing the rate of mother-to-child HIV transmission to below 2% by 2020. It also aims to raise the awareness of people from all walks of life, especially pregnant women and spouses of people with HIV, of the benefits of early HIV testing. Activities held during the month also look to reduce discriminations against HIV-infected pregnant women and their children.

Health Ministry gives recommendations to prevent A/H1N1 flu VOV 3rd Jun 2018
On June 1, doctors found a woman running a high fever accompanied by bodily pain while she was visiting Tu Du Hospital, a major maternity institution in Vietnam, for a surgery in the gynecological department. She was discharged due to ill health for the operation, and later on the same day there were 23 cases of patients, their relatives and medical workers at the hospital simultaneously having high temperatures, a runny nose and sore throat. Sixteen of them tested positive for A/H1N1 influenza, an acute respiratory disease. Over 80 patients suspected of having been exposed to the woman have been isolated for observation

Tobacco causes socio-economic burden: Minister VOV 1st Jun 2018
Smoking has created an economic burden to not only smokers and their families but also society, said Minister of Health Nguyen Thi Kim Tien at a meeting held in response to the World No Tobacco Day in Hanoi on May 31.

Industry bitter about Vietnam tax on sweetened drinks VOV 1st Jun 2018
Business representatives and some experts say the beverage industry is already taxed heavily, and the latest addition could prove to the last straw. The tax proposal, first announced last year and expected take effect in 2019, aims to promote healthier habits by discouraging the consumption of sweetened drinks. The Ministry has cited reports from the World Health Organization, saying overconsumption of sweetened drinks lead to obesity and that a fourth of Vietnam’s population are already obese or overweight adults. “The tax will help regulate the consumption of sweetened beverages, and it's also an international norm,” the proposal says. However, the Vietnam Association of Liquor, Beer and Beverage (VBA) has protested the move, saying the tax could hurt small and medium businesses by promoting circulation of fake products.

Vietnam Social Security collects VND121.1 trillion in revenue VOV 31st May 2018
The Vietnam Social Security (VSS) collected 121.1 trillion VND (5.38 billion USD) in revenue as of late May, or 36.7 percent of the yearly plan, it announced during a press conference in Hanoi on May 30 on social and health insurance.

Second Anesthesia and Intensive Care Simulation Center opens in Vietnam VOV 31st May 2018
GE Healthcare and VietMedical have partnered with University Medical Center (UMC) to launch the Anesthesia and Intensive Care Simulation Center in Ho Chi Minh City, aimed at providing training to healthcare professionals in the southern area of Vietnam.

Health ministry proposes adverse event reporting system vietnamnews.vn 30th May 2018
The Ministry of Health has proposed a system to identify, report and categorise adverse events to prevent untoward incidents at medical facilities. An adverse event is any undesirable experience associated with the use of a medical product in a patient, according to the US Food and Drug Administration. According to the draft circular proposed by the ministry, the system will identify the types of incidents to determine their level of seriousness. The ministry has encouraged medical facilities to set up the incident reporting system to identify causes and propose solutions to medical incidents