Health & Life Sciences Update: July 6, 2018

Health & Life Sciences Update | July 6, 2018
Authors: Shay Wester, Hai Pham, Ying Hui Tng, Samantha Pryor
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
Tutoring Workshops for Vietnam Medical Devices Regulators - End of July, Hanoi
As a follow-up to the study visit that the Council put together for the Ministry of Health and Vietnam Social Security (VSS) officials in May, we will be organizing workshops to help regulators in drafting Vietnam's tendering policy for medical devices and supplies. This workshop will be a three-part series, covering topics on: rules of origins, best practices of tendering regulations, and understanding specifications of medical devices. All sessions will be conducted in Vietnamese. For more information regarding registration, speaking and sponsorship opportunities, please contact Ying Hui Tng (yhtng@usasean.org) and Vu Tu Thanh (tvu@usasean.org).
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 
President Duterte Signs In Mental Health Law

On June 21, President Duterte signed a law extending free mental health care to over 20 million Filipino adults suffering from mental health illnesses. As established in the Mental Health Act of 2017, the law will affirm the basic right of all Filipinos to good mental health, in addition to the fundamental rights of all people who require mental health services. Through this law, mental health care in the Philippines will be integrated into the country's public healthcare system, and the state is committing itself to the promotion and protection of more affordable, accessible and higher-quality mental health care. The Department of Health (DOH) will also be responsible for creating a national mental health program and formulating a system that delivers psychiatric services at the regional and provincial levels. Among the free mental health services provided in this law include counseling, medication, and psychological and neurological services to promote mental health stability in schools and workplaces.

This law arose out of an effort to preempt and treat preventable mental health illnesses. At present, records show that seven Filipinos are turning to suicide every day and one in five suffers from some form of mental disorder. In November 2017, the Philippines House of Representatives approved the third and final reading of the proposed Comprehensive Mental Health Care Bill, removing the final hurdle towards more accessible public mental healthcare in the Philippines.

While this law is a new landmark for the Philippines' mental healthcare system, many critics remain doubtful about the effectiveness of the law. Some skeptics denigrate the law for focusing on human rights instead of practical service delivery. Others lambaste the government for not allocating enough of its health budget to provide greater mental health services. As allocations for mental health services now stand at five percent, with most of the budget going towards operating mental hospitals and paying staff salaries, critics are concerned that funds for actual mental health patients will quickly run dry. However, Senator Risa Hontiveros, principal author of the Mental Health Law, affirmed that "help is finally here," and that "the people's mental health issues will now cease to be seen as an invisible sickness spoken [about] only in whispers."

Myanmar Health Officials Launch Cancer Registry System
Last week, Myanmar health officials held a two-day workshop in Nay Pyi Taw to begin establishing a comprehensive cancer registry system. While the idea of creating a registry has been around for around since as early as 2003, this is the first effort to implement a large-scale, nation-wide system. The striking rise in the number of cancer cases has sparked alarm among both health officials and the general public, and this new registry system is aimed at collecting more comprehensive data on cancer trends in Myanmar for better public policy making. Although a 1,000-bed Nay Pyi Taw hospital created a cancer registry pilot system in 2003, officials report the country still lacks specific data on the prevalence of cancer due to the limited scope of the existing system.

The new data collection system is proposed to be hospital- and population-based. In addition to helping determine the scale of people suffering from cancer, the registry will also help to improve the quality of treatment, referral system, and the services available for future cancer patients. The registry would also allow health officials to compare Myanmar's observed data with that from other countries. To establish the cancer registry, the government needs to prepare to provide additional financing, human resources, and technical support to hospitals. According to the Ministry of Health (MOH), lung, oral, liver, colon and gastric cancers are most common among men, while breast, cervix, lung, ovary and stomach cancers are common among women. With the data collected through this registry, the ministry hopes that cancer patients will be able to be diagnosed and treated for their condition earlier on, so that cancer survival rates are increased.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
Singapore - Public Consultation on Proposed Amendments to Infectious Diseases Act
The Ministry of Health (MOH) of Singapore invites industry to submit feedback on the proposed amendments to the Infectious Diseases Act (IDA). The public consultation will be held from June 27, 2018 to August 7, 2018. You may provide your feedback via email to ida_public_consult@moh.gov.sg. The Ministry will consolidate and publish a summary of the feedback provided as well as their responses, after the close of the consultation period. Please click here to view the Ministry's announcement for more information.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Brunei
Sofas donated to SSB Hospital
Red flag raised on four products
‘Spiritual fitness’ equally important, says Sultan

Cambodia
Everyone can treat and prevent diabetes
Stay Healthy. Stay Wealthy.
Nothing fishy about rare delicacy’s proven health benefits
Locals are starting to value the art of massage therapy
Exercising techniques for a healthy body and a healthy mind

Indonesia
Police seize 1 kg of crystal meth, 435 ecstasy pills in Jambi
LGBT raids, persecution derail HIV prevention program
House praises West Nusa Tenggara for halal cuisine
Balikpapan to vaccinate 172,000 children for measles, rubella
Ministry staff nabbed in drug raid in West Jakarta
KPU goes forward with banning graft convicts from running for legislative office
Less stress may reduce stunting: Nutritionist
Taboo prevents Indonesians from buying condoms
Analysis: Challenges for Indonesia’s pharmaceutical industry in 2018
Mobile JKN app lacks users, system stability
Maturing Jakarta

Laos
University of Health Sciences urging students to take up medicine
Child survival, nutrition, education efforts get results
Drug abuse a danger as PM rekindles suppression drive
Laos torches narcotics stockpile on World Drug Day
Over 2,500 Villages Benefit From Poverty Reduction Fund
Vaccination law safeguards, accountability sought by legislators

Malaysia
Air pollution plays significant role in diabetes
6 more brands of canned fish contaminated with worms: Malaysia's Health Ministry
Kuala Lumpur 'living library' bridges generation gap in aging Asia

Myanmar
President issues call to action on drugs, creates tipoff centre
Health officials launch comprehensive cancer registry system for Myanmar
Drug advocacy groups urge public to help drug users

Philippines
Leptospirosis deaths hit 99
DOH warns public on risk of leptospirosis
Vasectomy to address population boom
Research group: More than 5,000 drug-related deaths recorded in first 16 months of Duterte administration
P6,000 subsidy for poor families pushed
ATMs accessible to visually-impaired clients pushed
Duterte signs law to treat mentally ill for free
High-sugar product manufacturers buck ‘warning’ mark on labels
Paralytic shellfish poison present in 5 coastal areas

Singapore
Move to allow cash withdrawals from Medisave offers greater flexibility for the severely disabled
Can a bar of soap transmit infection?
Incentives of between S$500 and S$2,500 for Singaporeans to join CareShield Life
Slimming drug could help stop lung cancer cells regenerating, Singapore scientists find
MOH seeks measures to curb spread of infectious diseases
Unvaccinated foreign travellers may be denied entry to Singapore under proposed new law
Educating youth on ills of sugar more effective than imposing tax
Cordyceps products subject to rules and checks

Thailand
Act now on ageing society before it's too late
Govt mulls more carers for the elderly
How cities are keeping people cool
Pharmacy Week promotes rational drug use
Building a better spine
The bad-fat blues
Govt funding sought to train 30,000 doctors

Vietnam
International eye hospital resort opens in Bắc Giang
Hospitals urged to ensure quality after fees drop on July 15
First death of swine flu in Cà Mau
Domestic salbutamol medicine production fails to meet demands
Dangerous heat
Heat wave tests hospitals
Ministry of Health ensures sufficient supply of vaccines
Cancer can be controlled: experts
Bạc Liêu begins construction of new $60m general hospital
Lao Cai border guards arrest heroin smuggler
Son La police bust big drug trafficking case
Health tourism available in town
Swine flu detected in Vietnam’s oldest hospital
Red Journey attracts ethnic minority donors in Dak Lak
Vietnamese’s sugar intake almost doubles recommended level
Hanoi improves supply, quality of tap water
Smallholder farmers to get support to improve food safety
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Brunei

Sofas donated to SSB Hospital Borneo Bulletin 5th Jul 2018
ASIA Enterprise (AE) yesterday donated two sets of sofas to the Psychiatric Ward of Suri Seri Begawan (SSB) Hospital in Kuala Belait as part of its continuous initiative to give back to the community. The donation was aimed at providing more seats for patients waiting at the ward.

Red flag raised on four products Borneo Bulletin 4th Jul 2018
THE Ministry of Health (MoH) has alerted members of the public to a health product and three types of cosmetic products that have been tested by the Laboratory of Pharmacy Section, Scientific Laboratory Services, MoH and found to be adulterated with undeclared, potent western medicine. In a press statement, the ministry shared that the affected health product, Semenax Capsule – manufactured by Leading Edge Health – was found to be adulterated with Sildenafil.

‘Spiritual fitness’ equally important, says Sultan Borneo Bulletin 2nd Jul 2018
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, Minister of Defence and Supreme Commander of the Royal Brunei Armed Forces (RBAF) has called on the RBAF to recognise that the country cannot afford to fall behind in terms of rapid developments. As the cornerstone of national security, the monarch emphasised the need for the RBAF to ensure that ‘spiritual fitness’ receives the same priority as physical fitness.

Cambodia

Everyone can treat and prevent diabetes Phnom Penh Post 3rd Jul 2018
These days, the number of people with diabetes is rising rapidly in Cambodia and all around the world . This has prompted many to organise talks and forums on social media regarding the ways to prevent and treat diabetes itself. Diabetes is a catastrophic chronic disease without a cure or definite treatment by doctors. Nevertheless, doctors advise that, ‘each individual is someone who can prevent and treat the disease by themselves’ and the question remains, why is that?

Stay Healthy. Stay Wealthy. Phnom Penh Post 3rd Jul 2018
CAMBODIANS are more prosperous than at any time in their history, but the pressure of modern life is taking a toll on the health of the nation. Despite the rising average life expectancy, more Cambodians are succumbing to ailments such as coronary heart complications, cancer, stroke, diabetes, lung and kidney & liver diseases. These critical non-communicable diseases, according to the World Health Organisation, are responsible for more than half of total death in Cambodia.

Nothing fishy about rare delicacy’s proven health benefits Phnom Penh Post 3rd Jul 2018
Apart from boosting the heart and rejuvenating cells, caviar has also been shown by scientists to be effective in tackling depression and treating impotency.​ CAVIAR may not be the first thing you think of when it comes to healthy living, but the famous delicacy is rich in a variety of vitamins as well as phosphorus, calcium, magnesium, fluorine, sodium and iron. And while caviar has long been considered an expensive rarity – particularly in a country like Cambodia – people are often surprised at how affordable it can be, especially when eaten sparingly.

Locals are starting to value the art of massage therapy Phnom Penh Post 3rd Jul 2018
In the last few years, there has been a rise in the number of people in Cambodia suffering from locomotor-associated pains, especially regarding muscles such as stiffness and strain, which prompted Cambodians to look to traditional methods of massaging and physical therapy for help. Chea Leap, is a skilled masseur, who works at the massage parlour “Dai Tep 4-2” in Siem Reap province, a store that has been opened since the 2000s. He explained that, at the beginning, most of the massage parlours were occupied by foreign customers, but he said “ For the last 4 to 5 years, the trend changed and we get more Cambodian customers now.”

Exercising techniques for a healthy body and a healthy mind Phnom Penh Post 3rd Jul 2018
Dancing to a catchy tune or an upbeat melody is a type of exercise that has existed for over 20 years in Cambodia. In fact, in Phnom Penh, every morning and evening, you would see groups of people young and old engage in such activities in parks and other public space. The trending exercise these days is aerobic dancing which is dictated differently by each dancing instructor. The most popular parks for this activity are; the ones surrounding the Olympic stadium, by the riverside, those in front of Wat Botum, Psar Chhas, near the ministry of National Defense, at Koh Pich, and the new democratic park, or the park along national road 5, for instance.

Indonesia

Police seize 1 kg of crystal meth, 435 ecstasy pills in Jambi The Jakarta Post 2nd Jul 2018
Members of the Narcotics and Drug Crimes Investigation Unit (Satreskrim) at the Sarolangun and Jambi Police confiscated one kilogram of crystal methamphetamine and 435 ecstasy pills on Sunday. Two people suspected to be the owners of the drugs were taken into custody. The two people arrested were identified as PKN, 23, a resident of Batu Putih village in Pelalawan district, Sarolangun regency, and PI, 63, a resident of Sebangar sub-district in Mandau district, Bengkalis regency, Riau.

LGBT raids, persecution derail HIV prevention program The Jakarta Post 2nd Jul 2018
Growing discrimination and persecution against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) people in Indonesia has derailed public health outreach efforts, leading to what Human Rights Watch (HRW) has called a “health crisis”, a report from HRW said Monday. HRW said Indonesian authorities were “fueling an HIV epidemic” because of their failure to halt arbitrary and unlawful raids by police and Muslim hard-liners on private LGBT gatherings. 

House praises West Nusa Tenggara for halal cuisine The Jakarta Post 2nd Jul 2018
The House of Representatives Commission X overseeing tourism has praised the West Nusa Tenggara (NTB) administration for its success in developing its halal food industry, especially on Lombok Island. "The commission has been impressed with the development of tourism in NTB, especially on Lombok Island, which is famous for its beautiful destinations, including beaches, hills, mountains, traditional customs and cultures, as well as food," the commission's working team head, Wiryanti Sukamdani, said in her speech at the Lombok Office of Tourism during a visit over the weekend.

Balikpapan to vaccinate 172,000 children for measles, rubella The Jakarta Post 2nd Jul 2018
East Kalimantan's Balikpapan administration is to vaccinate 172,000 children between the ages of 9 months and 15 years for measles and rubella starting Aug.1. “We will hold the mass immunization simultaneously at puskesmas [community health centers] and through immunization services at other facilities,” Balikpapan assistant secretary Dyah Muryani said on Sunday.

Ministry staff nabbed in drug raid in West Jakarta The Jakarta Post 2nd Jul 2018
An employee of the Transportation Ministry was caught by police while allegedly consuming narcotics with a female companion and her four friends at a hotel in Glodok, West Jakarta. They were arrested in separate hotel rooms, West Jakarta narcotics division chief Adj. Comr. Erick Frendriz said.

KPU goes forward with banning graft convicts from running for legislative office The Jakarta Post 1st Jul 2018
The General Elections Commission (KPU) issued a regulation on Saturday that, among other things, bans former graft convicts from running in next year’s legislative elections, despite opposition from the House of Representatives and the Law and Human Rights Ministry.  The regulation, which pertains to the nominations of House and Regional Council member candidates, was published on KPU’s website on Saturday night together with a short note that said the regulations would be used as “guidelines for KPU in carrying out the nomination stages […] in the 2019 legislative elections”.

Less stress may reduce stunting: Nutritionist The Jakarta Post 29th Jun 2018
Indonesian children have adequate access to nutritious foods, but the country’s stunting rate remained the second highest among ASEAN states, possibly as a result of childhood stress, said nutritionist Ratna Megawangi. At 44 percent of children under 5, Indonesia’s stunting rate is the second highest after Laos among the 10 ASEAN member countries.

Taboo prevents Indonesians from buying condoms The Jakarta Post 28th Jun 2018
In big cities in Indonesia, condoms, which can be as cheap as US$1.19 a dozen, are as ubiquitous as convenience stores. Nonetheless, even with such easy access, making it the easiest form of contraception, cultural norms hamper the use of condoms. A good sexual education and general awareness about the benefits of condoms appear not to help much in getting Indonesians to buy the rubbers. Being married, and thus having a license of sorts to have sex, also does not seem to help people overcome the cultural barrier.

Analysis: Challenges for Indonesia’s pharmaceutical industry in 2018 The Jakarta Post 27th Jun 2018
The prospects of Indonesia’s healthcare sector, including that of the pharmaceutical industry, are promising. The public’s growing access to healthcare services through BPJS Kesehatan’s coverage, and the increase in health awareness supported by rising incomes, are key drivers of the growth of the pharmaceutical industry.

Mobile JKN app lacks users, system stability The Jakarta Post 23rd Jun 2018
Two years on, the Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan) has continued to experience problems with a mobile application it launched in April 2016. The app, Mobile JKN, was introduced to make it easier for people to register for the national health insurance (JKN) program and update their data.

Maturing Jakarta The Jakarta Post 22nd Jun 2018
Jakarta is partying. Besides fireworks at the National Monument (Monas) compound, the Jakarta administration has prepared a number of events for everyone to mark the city’s 491st anniversary on Friday. For many, there is good reason to celebrate, particularly because the city has helped their dreams come true. Good career, wealth and happy family are the most common things sought when one decides to move to Jakarta. But even the less fortunate will find the city an attractive place to live, thanks to the province’s pro-poor policies, such as free health care and education and government programs to help small and medium enterprises amid the forays of big businesses.

Laos

University of Health Sciences urging students to take up medicine Vientiane Times 2nd Jul 2018
Authorities are encouraging students to enrol in the bachelor of medicine programme at the University of Health Sciences for the new academic year to meet the country’s growing healthcare needs. University of Health Sciences will accept an intake of 379 students to study its 12 majors in various fields for 2018-2019, including nine majors for bachelor degrees and three for higher diplomas courses. Deputy Head of the university’s office, Dr Khamprasong Setthavanxay disclosed details of the new student intake to Vientiane Times.

Child survival, nutrition, education efforts get results Vientiane Times 2nd Jul 2018
The government will strive to work closely with development partners and international organisations to ensure every child survives, attain better nutrition and education. Progress was noted in the Lao social indicator survey II (LSIS- II). The survey is an initiative of Lao Statistics Bureau and the Ministry of Planning and Investment in cooperation with the nation’s ministries of Health and Education and Sports, with technical and supported by UNICEF and UNFPA.

Drug abuse a danger as PM rekindles suppression drive Vientiane Times 2nd Jul 2018
Prime Minister Thongloun Sisoulith has called for a collective national effort to join with the international community in the fight against the illicit drug trade and decrease substance abuse. In his statement delivered to mark the 31st anniversary of International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking (June 26, 1987 – June 26, 2018), the premier underlined the need to combat the illicit trade and abuse. He described drug abuse and illicit trafficking as a threat to global citizens as it is the root cause of crime and corruption undermining socio-economic development of countries across the globe.

Laos torches narcotics stockpile on World Drug Day Bangkok Post 26th Jun 2018
Laos drug officials torched around 40 kilogrammes of heroin and tens of thousands of "yaba" pills Tuesday, a small but significant fraction of the narcotics burned on World Drug Day in a region awash with illegal substances. The ceremony was among several destruction events that took place across Southeast Asia, home to the infamous "Golden Triangle" -- a zone bisecting Thailand, Myanmar, China and Laos that is the world's second-largest drug producing area.

Over 2,500 Villages Benefit From Poverty Reduction Fund Lao News Agency 2nd Jul 2018
Over 2,500 villages in rural areas of fifty five districts have reportedly benefited from the Poverty Reduction Fund since 2002. The statement was made at the mid-term review meeting of the Poverty Reduction Fund (PRF) Phase III in Vientiane on Jun 22, 2018 in the presence of Mr Chit Thavisay, Director of the PRF, Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, Mr Erik Johnson, Mission Leader of Mid Term Review and relevant officials.

Vaccination law safeguards, accountability sought by legislators Vientiane Times 25th Jun 2018
Potential side effects from vaccinations and responsibility for same was a topic of attention by National Assembly members at a debate on the newly drafted Law on Vaccination yesterday. Vaccination is compulsory public health good and involves campaigns in which both public and private sectors participate. NA members observed that responsibilities for any negative result of vaccination on a patient such as side effects or adverse patient reactions are absent in the drafted law.

Malaysia

Air pollution plays significant role in diabetes The New Straits Times 3rd Jul 2018
Air pollution caused one in seven new cases of diabetes in 2016, according to a US study, which found even low levels raised the chances of developing the chronic disease. Diabetes has primarily been associated with lifestyle factors like diet and a sedentary lifestyle, but research by the Washington University School of Medicine in St Louis said pollution also plays a major role.

6 more brands of canned fish contaminated with worms: Malaysia's Health Ministry The Straits Times 29th Jun 2018
Malaysia's Health Ministry has found six more brands of canned sardines to be contaminated with roundworms. This comes after two canned sardine brands from China - TL Tan Lung and TLC - were recalled after they were found to be contaminated with roundworms.

Kuala Lumpur 'living library' bridges generation gap in aging Asia The Jakarta Post 25th Jun 2018
A “living library” project in Malaysia’s capital is lending out older people’s knowledge to the young, to improve the lives of pensioners and bridge Kuala Lumpur’s generation gap. It links groups of students with retirement homes so older people can discuss the challenges they face living in the city. The project is run by the World Economic Forum’s Global Shapers Community, an international network of young professionals from business, academia and civil society, seeking to make a positive impact in local communities.

Myanmar

President issues call to action on drugs, creates tipoff centre The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
Myanmar remains the second-largest poppy producing country in the world after Afghanistan and one the top manufacturers of methamphetamine in Southeast Asia. “I want to urge you all to destroy narcotics by cooperating with the people, as narcotics have engulfed the whole of our society gradually, destroying our country’s dignity and future and the potential of our youth,” he said at a speech marking the International Day Against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking held in Nay Pyi Taw. 

Health officials launch comprehensive cancer registry system for Myanmar The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
A two-day workshop was held last week in Nay Pyi Taw to start the process of establishing the registry.  Cancer specialists from Yangon, Mandalay, Nay Pyi Taw and Taunggyi General Hospital and officials from Department of Non-communicable Diseases of the Ministry of Health and Sports discussed the planned database and how it will help the ministry address the problem. There is no specific data on cancer in the country, according to experts. Dr Kaung Myat Shwe, consultant in the Department of Radiation Oncology at Nay Pyi Taw General Hospital, said the data collection system would be hospital- and population-based.

Drug advocacy groups urge public to help drug users The Myanmar Times 2nd Jul 2018
The “Support. Don’t Punish” campaign was launched on Sunday in Yangon to raise awareness about the plight of drug dependents who need medical treatment and help.  It is a global campaign to call for better drug policies anchored in public health and human rights. 

Philippines

Leptospirosis deaths hit 99 philstar.com 29th Jun 2018
The Department of Health (DOH) has recorded a total of 99 deaths out of 1,030 leptospirosis cases in various government hospitals nationwide from Jan. 1 to June 9, Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said yesterday, as cases of the flood-borne disease continue to soar nationwide. Among the fatalities, according to Duque, were nine patients taken to the National Kidney and Transplant Institute (NKTI) in Quezon City, including those admitted on June 22-27.

DOH warns public on risk of leptospirosis Philippines Magazine 28th Jun 2018
After different parts of Metro Manila and the provinces experienced flooding in recent weeks, the Department of Health (DOH) warned the public of the risk of acquiring leptospirosis. “Still, the best way is prevention. Avoid, if you can, wading in floodwaters to prevent being infected by the Leptospira bacteria. Or use boots when it cannot be avoided and go to the nearest health center if you have fever for two days,” DOH Secretary Francisco Duque III said in a statement on Wednesday

Vasectomy to address population boom philstar.com 25th Jun 2018
The Commission on Population (Popcom) wants more men to undergo vasectomy to address the country’s booming population. Popcom executive director Juan Antonio Perez said they are working to encourage more men to avail themselves of vasectomy and other family planning services. “We would like to bring up vasectomy and tubal ligation to higher rate this year. Our target is for 10 percent of our total contraceptives, be tubal ligation and vasectomy,” Perez said. He said Popcom has earmarked P5 million for free tubal ligation and vasectomy this year.

Research group: More than 5,000 drug-related deaths recorded in first 16 months of Duterte administration CNN 25th Jun 2018
More than 5,000 drug-related deaths had been recorded from May 2016 to September 2017, the first 16 months of the Duterte administration. This is one of the findings of a group of researchers led by experts from the Ateneo de Manila University, De La Salle University, University of the Philippines, and Columbia Journalism School. Ateneo School of Government Senior Research Fellow Clarissa David explained, the number was based on a set of publicly-available data on killings associated with the anti-drug campaign.

P6,000 subsidy for poor families pushed The Manila Times Online 25th Jun 2018
Rep. Michael Romero on Sunday pushed for a P6,000 yearly subsidy for 10 million poor families to cushion the impact of the Tax Reform for Inclusion and Acceleration (Train) law that hiked taxes on fuel and sugar-sweetened beverages. Romero, the representative of 1-Pacman party-list that is allied with the ruling coalition in Congress, made the proposal under his House Bill 7773. The bill seeks to grant poor families P500 per month instead of P200 for the first year implementation of the Train law’s Unconditional Cash Transfer (UCT) program.

ATMs accessible to visually-impaired clients pushed Manila Bulletin News 24th Jun 2018
The vice chairman of the House Committee on Appropriations wants to make automated teller machines (ATMs) accessible to visually-impaired individuals. Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte has filed House Bill 7272 requiring ATMs to have both a visual and audio transmission system.

Duterte signs law to treat mentally ill for free The Straits Times 22nd Jun 2018
President Rodrigo Duterte yesterday signed a law that extends free health services to some 20 million Filipinos suffering from various forms of mental illnesses. "Help is finally here. No longer shall Filipinos suffer silently in the dark. The people's mental health issues will now cease to be seen as an invisible sickness spoken only in whispers," Senator Risa Hontiveros, principal author of the Mental Health Law, said in a statement.

High-sugar product manufacturers buck ‘warning’ mark on labels Manila Bulletin Business 28th Jun 2018
The sugar sweetened beverage industry, which has been reeling from the impact of TRAIN 1, has opposed to putting a “warning” or “caution” mark for high-sugar content products, but agreed that sugar content in the label will be prominently displayed in the front of the product. This developed after the industry met Wednesday with Trade and Industry Secretary Ramon M. Lopez to discuss the sugar content labeling requirement in consultation also with the Food and Drugs Administration. “

Paralytic shellfish poison present in 5 coastal areas Philippines Magazine 26th Jun 2018
Shellfish from five coastal areas tested positive for paralytic shellfish poison, according to the latest laboratory results of the Bureau of Fisheries and Aquatic Resources (BFAR) and local government units. In a bulletin dated June 25, the BFAR said that shellfish collected from the following areas still have  paralytic shellfish poison that is beyond the regulatory limit: Moreover, Puerto Princesa Bay in Puerto Princesa, Palawan is now positive for red tide toxin.

Singapore

Move to allow cash withdrawals from Medisave offers greater flexibility for the severely disabled The Straits Times 3rd Jul 2018
Madam Quek Pong, 86, has dementia and needs help with even the simplest daily activities, such as feeding herself or getting out of bed. She gets $300 a month from ElderShield, which helps her family pay for such necessities as her special diet and and her live-in helper. But the rest of her expenses - about $900 a month - are paid by her nine children. From 2020, severely disabled Singapore residents like Madam Quek can draw up to $200 in cash from their Medisave accounts every month to pay for such necessities.

Can a bar of soap transmit infection? The Straits Times 3rd Jul 2018
A No. Bar soap does not appear to transmit disease. The most rigorous study of this question was published in 1965.

Incentives of between S$500 and S$2,500 for Singaporeans to join CareShield Life Channel NewsAsia 3rd Jul 2018
Singaporeans born in 1979 or earlier and are not severely disabled will receive “participation incentives” to encourage them to join CareShield Life from 2021, a year after the new national severe disability insurance scheme is launched. The group, aged at least 42 in 2021, will receive between S$500 and S$2,500 over 10 years, depending on their age cohort, with the older getting more. This will be used to offset the annual premiums. To qualify for the incentives, they will have to join CareShield Life in the first two years from 2021. Even those who have pre-existing medical conditions can join the scheme, but underwriting criteria will be tightened after two years. CareShield Life will provide higher payouts for life compared to ElderShield, where payouts are fixed at S$300 or S$400 a month, and capped at up to six years, depending on the scheme. To make joining CareShield Life more convenient, Singapore residents born in 1970 to 1979 or aged 41 to 50 in 2020 will be auto-enrolled into the scheme the next year, if they are insured under the ElderShield 400 scheme and are not severely disabled, said the Ministry of Health. They have up to Dec 31, 2023 to opt out and have their CareShield Life premiums refunded. 

Slimming drug could help stop lung cancer cells regenerating, Singapore scientists find The Straits Times 29th Jun 2018
Researchers may have found an unlikely way to deal with lung cancer cells resistant to treatment - a slimming drug. Through a five-year study focusing on non-small cell lung cancer, the most common type of lung cancer, scientists from the Cancer Science Institute of Singapore (CSI) at the National University of Singapore and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in America have found that lung cancer cells produce a protein known as fatty acid synthase (FASN).

MOH seeks measures to curb spread of infectious diseases The Straits Times 27th Jun 2018
The Ministry of Health (MOH) wants more powers to curb the spread of infectious diseases here, including stopping individuals who break quarantine from leaving the country, and turning back visitors with a high risk of yellow fever without first offering vaccination. Instead of tracking cases, carriers of infectious diseases or contacts in person, the ministry also wants to be able to carry out surveillance remotely, such as through phone calls and video-conferencing.

Unvaccinated foreign travellers may be denied entry to Singapore under proposed new law TODAYonline 26th Jun 2018
Foreign travelers who are not vaccinated against serious infectious diseases may be denied entry into the Republic under a new law proposed by the Health Ministry (MOH) to better protect citizens against a wider spectrum of infectious diseases. Announcing the start of public feedback on upcoming changes to the Infectious Diseases Act on Tuesday (June 26), MOH said the amendment to give the authorities “discretionary powers” to return unvaccinated non-citizens to their places of embarkation without first offering them vaccination, isolation or surveillance will put the country “in line with international practice”. The proposed changes come as infectious diseases such as avian influenza, ebola, and Middle East Respiratory Syndrome are becoming "serious public health threats globally", the ministry added.

Educating youth on ills of sugar more effective than imposing tax The Straits Times 25th Jun 2018
The rising number of diabetics is indeed a cause for concern in our nation, but I do not think that a tax on sugary drinks is the best way forward (Sugar tax, more access to water to help curb diabetes; June 19). For one thing, the tax will have an impact on socio-economic equity because it will most likely include cheap sweetened beverages and syrups commonly used by lower-income groups; even a slight increase in prices would harm them disproportionately.

Cordyceps products subject to rules and checks The Straits Times 22nd Jun 2018
The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) carries out regular checks to monitor the compliance to these requirements and recalls harmful products when necessary. Last year, the HSA checks on health products containing only cordyceps sinensis showed no safety concerns. The tested products complied with the HSA's limit of 5ppm for arsenic, which is in line with the Asean limit set for traditional medicines and health supplements.

Thailand

Act now on ageing society before it's too late Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
In the next three years, people aged over 60 in Thailand will account for 13.8 million, or 20% of the population. This means in a group of five, there will be one elderly person. In demographic science, a country where 20% of its people are aged 60 years old or higher is categorised as an ageing society. The problem is aggravated as a result of a low birth rate that causes the number of people of working age to drop sharply.

Govt mulls more carers for the elderly Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
The government is considering investing two billion baht a year in hiring certified carers to provide basic care to the estimated 300,000 bedridden patients living at home nationwide. A proposal to amend relevant laws -- to allow the local administrative organisations to spend state budget they receive for employing a sufficient number of carers to work in their communities -- was discussed last Thursday, PM's Office Minister Kobsak Pootrakool said Wednesday.

How cities are keeping people cool Bangkok Post 5th Jul 2018
The frequent occurrence of extreme climate conditions is threatening the life of urban dwellers. Currently, more than 50% of the world's population lives in urban areas. By 2050 this will increase to 70%. With rapid growth of urbanisation comes rapid changes in the landscape that affect the climate and air quality in urban areas, leading to higher temperatures -- or "heat islands" -- higher emissions, and more ambient pollution. During the summer, the higher urban temperatures may lead to more frequent health problems, and actually increase the mortality rate among the most vulnerable urban dwellers including elders and less economically fortunate, for example.

Pharmacy Week promotes rational drug use Bangkok Post 26th Jun 2018
Popping pills without medical supervision is a widespread practice among consumers who feel empowered to take charge of their health themselves. It's less time- and money-consuming than going to the doctor for a minor health condition which may even end up being misdiagnosed. The explosion of drug and health information on the internet has spurred self-medication, but it often proves ineffective, excessive or even unnecessary, and thereby, at best, a waste of money. Consumers may put themselves at risk due to incorrect self-diagnosis and self-prescription as well as possible side-effects and drug interactions.

Building a better spine Bangkok Post 26th Jun 2018
Spine surgery sounds like a big deal. But once it has to be carried out of necessity, patients only wish that their doctors could perform the most effective operation to alleviate their suffering with the smallest wounds, quickest healing and speediest recovery possible. Now such a wish is a dream come true, thanks to a new minimally invasive spine-surgery technique offering precise screw placement using a robotic arm to assist surgeons during the screw-insertion procedure.

The bad-fat blues Bangkok Post 26th Jun 2018
Prof Visith Chavasit of the Institute of Nutrition, Mahidol University, who has conducted research and surveys on trans fatty-acid contamination in food products, said Thailand should likewise see no difficulty wiping out trans fats from the menu. Yet to do so requires a huge collaboration from food manufacturers. "The main issue here is bakery products. Manufacturers could replace trans fat with the use of oil mixture. It's a technique called oil blending. But it requires research and development before such a new oil formula could bring about satisfying results," said Visith, former director of the Institute of Nutrition.

Govt funding sought to train 30,000 doctors The Nation 25th Jun 2018
The Consortium of Thai Medical Schools (Cotmes) is seeking Bt90 billion in government funding to help train an extra 30,000 doctors around the country over the next decade. “The budget request will go to the Cabinet meeting on July 3,” Deputy Education Minister Dr Udom Kachintorn said yesterday. The goal is to train 3,000 new doctors each year. State-run medical schools need an annual budget of Bt300,000 to train medical students and a further Bt2 million for related equipment and materials. 

Vietnam

International eye hospital resort opens in Bắc Giang vietnamnews.vn 28th Jun 2018
An international eye hospital was put into operation in northern Bắc Giang Province on Thursday. The DND hospital covers an area of some 10,000sq.m in Dĩnh Kế Ward, Bắc Giang City.

Hospitals urged to ensure quality after fees drop on July 15 vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
Hospitals in the country have been instructed to ensure health exams and treatment for insured patients as fees for 70 healthcare services will fall on July 15 under a newly issued circular, according to Deputy Minister of Health Phạm Lê Tuấn. The fees will fall on average from 5 per cent to 24 per cent compared to those issued in 2015.

First death of swine flu in Cà Mau vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
The southernmost province of Cà Mau on Wednesday confirmed the first death caused by swine flu in the province this year. Trần Văn Thời district medical centre announced that Trần Văn Chắc, 69, was admitted to Cà Mau General Hospital on June 28 wit symptoms of fever and coughing. He passed away three days later.

Domestic salbutamol medicine production fails to meet demands vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
The country is facing a shortage of Salbutamol, a medication approved by the World Health Organization (WHO) to treat respiratory illnesses such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and prevent premature births. Experts say the shortage results from the widespread misuse of the drug to increase lean mass in animal husbandry. The prolonged shortage of injection drugs that contained Salbutamol has led treatment centres to import the medicine from foreign countries at a cost many times higher than the typical domestic price.

Dangerous heat vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
The Central province of Thanh Hoá has witnessed a rising number of hospitalised patients as a prolonged heatwave has caused a spike in diseases including hand-foot-mouth, viral fever and diarrhea as well as other conditions such as sun stroke and high blood pressure. Children and elderly people are among the most vulnerable.

Heat wave tests hospitals vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
The Ministry of Health (MoH) has sent warning to provincial and city-level health departments, hospitals and health centres about the need to strengthen the monitoring of weather forecasts from the National Meteorological and Hydrological Forecast Centre and the implementation of medical examinations for people. The official message was sent yesterday by the Department of Medical Examination and Treatment under the MoH, in response to the increasing needs for medical examination and treatment of harmful effects during the on-going heat wave in the north.

Ministry of Health ensures sufficient supply of vaccines vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
The Drug Administration under the Ministry of Health has asked local health departments, vaccination centres, and vaccine producers and traders to ensure a sufficient supply of vaccines nationwide. Đỗ Văn Đông, deputy head of the Drug Administration, said the production, import and supply of vaccines for the national expanded immunisation programme was generally sufficient but that a shortage could occur in some situations.

Cancer can be controlled: experts vietnamnews.vn 5th Jul 2018
The development of new generation sequencing along with artificial intelligence help doctors quickly identify the best drugs for their patients, said doctor Phan Minh Liêm. Addressing at workshop on next-generation sequencing and genomics in cancer precision medicine and screening held in the central province of Khánh Hòa yesterday, Liêm said with these technologies, genetic experts can analyse genomes, detect genetic mutations that increase the risk of cancer and provide appropriate cancer prevention counselling.

Bạc Liêu begins construction of new $60m general hospital vietnamnews.vn 26th Jun 2018
The Cửu Long (Mekong) Delta province of Bạc Liêu has started construction on the Bạc Liêu – Sài Gòn General Hospital, a VNĐ1.37 trillion (US$60 trillion) project which is expected to reduce patient overcrowding at local medical facilities. Speaking at the groundbreaking ceremony last Sunday, Vương Phương Nam, the deputy chairman of the province’s People’s Committee, said the province has local hospitals, healthcare facilities and 12 other medical establishments facing patient overload.

Lao Cai border guards arrest heroin smuggler VOV 24th Jun 2018
Lu A Cau, born in 1977 and residing in Tam Dinh village, Son Thuy commune, Van Ban district, was stopped by local border guards patrolling Na Loc village for checking on June 23. He resisted fiercely but was then seized by the border guards. In the Ban Lau Border Post, Cau confessed that he was transporting the heroin to the border area for sale. Along with the drugs, the authorities also seized a motorbike, two cell phones, 191 RMB and VND878,000. The case is under further investigation.

Son La police bust big drug trafficking case VOV 24th Jun 2018
The two suspects, identified as Lau A Chu, also known as Lau A Mua, 37 and Giang A Mai, 21, reside in Huoi Mot commune of Song Mai district. They admitted to have transported the drugs from Co Ma B village of Huoi Mot commune. The authorities seized 36 bricks of heroin, two mobile phones, three motorbikes and other related exhibits.

Health tourism available in town VOV 24th Jun 2018
According to the Ho Chi Minh City Department of Health, the city is home to 114 public and private hospitals, 318 health stations, 196 polyclinics and nearly 6,000 private specialized clinics. However, the first edition of this Handbook of Health Tourism introduces only 14 hospitals participating in offering medical tourism services that meet the criteria of the health and the tourism sectors regarding prices, facilities and checkup and treatment services for foreigners.

Swine flu detected in Vietnam’s oldest hospital VOV 24th Jun 2018
The Cho Ray Hospital has announced that 12 of its patients have been infected with the influenza virus A/H1N1 so far. This makes it the second swine flu hotspot in the city after the Tu Du obstetrics hospital. The virus was detected in the Nephrology Department of the hospital after five kidney patients were tested positive for the A/H1N1 type influenza on June 11.

Red Journey attracts ethnic minority donors in Dak Lak VOV 23rd Jun 2018
Blood donation campaign “Hanh trinh Do” (Red Journey) has returned to the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak, attracting a large number of local ethnics, including those from rural areas, to the voluntary activity. The two donation events in Buon Ma Thuot city and Ea Sup district on June 21 and 23 have collected more than 1,640 blood units.

Vietnamese’s sugar intake almost doubles recommended level VOV 23rd Jun 2018
Each Vietnamese currently consumes about 46.5 grammes of free sugar every day, which is close to the maximum daily intake of 50 grammes and almost doubles the recommended daily intake of under 25 grammes. The information was revealed at a workshop in Hanoi on June 22 that announced the World Health Organisation (WHO)’s recommendations for controlling sugar-sweetened beverages to prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs). Deputy Director of the Health Ministry’s Department of Preventive Medicine Truong Dinh Bac said an unbalanced diet with much salt, sugar-containing products and saturated-fat and little vegetables and fruits, along with a lack of physical activities are risk factors of NCDs. Notably, the consumption of sugar-sweetened beverages is growing, especially in developing countries, he said.

Hanoi improves supply, quality of tap water VOV 23rd Jun 2018
The capital city of Hanoi is working to realise its set target to make tap water safe for drinking by 2020. As the city considers supplying clean water to local people as a way to improve living standards, it has plans to upgrade and build more water plants, pipelines and treatment system. A water plant using water from Duong River with a capacity of 300,000 cubic metres per day and night is expected to be completed and put into operation this year. Meanwhile, the existing plant using water supply from Da River will have its capacity raised from 300,000 cubic metres to 600,000 cubic metres per day and night.

Smallholder farmers to get support to improve food safety VOV 22nd Jun 2018
The International Finance Corporation (IFC), a member of the World Bank Group, will help Vietnamese smallholders farmers improve the safety of their products like poultry, fruits and vegetables in a new project. The project is expected to unlock new market opportunities and increase income for the smallholder farmers to get support to improve food safety. The project is expected to unlock new market opportunities and increase income for the smallholder farmers, thus contributing to better food security, the IFC announced during an event to launch the project in Vietnam on June 22.