Health & Life Sciences Update: October 26, 2018

Health & Life Sciences Update | October 26, 2018
Authors: Shay Wester, Hai Pham, Lucius Lee and Tra Nguyen
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 

US-ABC Membership Survey
If you have not done so already, please consider filling out our quick membership survey which helps gauge the job we are doing as well as helps us do an even better job for you in 2019 and beyond. The quick survey takes about 10 minutes to fill out. We appreciate your candid feedback, and your individual answers will be kept confidential and only the aggregate of all answers will be shared with our Board and membership: Click here to begin the survey

Health & Life Sciences Committee Quarterly Call
The Council's Health & Life Sciences Committee will hold its fourth quarter call in the first week of December. More details and an invitation will follow soon. If you have any questions, please contact Lucius Lee at llee@usasean.org.

 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 
Thailand Cabinet to Discuss Establishing National Health Policy Commission

The Thailand Ministry of Public Health recently sought the Cabinet’s approval on a bill to establish a national health policy commission led by Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha despite doubts about its usefulness and possible negative impact. 

If established, the commission would be granted full power to enact and govern public health policies, a function currently managed by the existing National Health Commission also led by the Prime Minister. The commission would be authorized to scrutinize key health policies including those concerning personnel and budget management before submitting them to the Cabinet. Earlier this month, the Cabinet met to discuss the bill but did not disclosed details of those discussions. The establishment of a national health policy commission would restructure the public health system and implicate many institutions and government functions.

The proposed commission would comprise 45 experts and representatives from private and public sectors. The relatively high number of members is to ensure that the commission’s composition reflects a variety of interests. However, various state agencies have voiced concerns over the makeup and power of the commission. Furthermore, the Council of State is wary of the commission’s potential power to affect budgetary plans and affecting public health. The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry is also worried the commission may have the power to intervene with its responsibilities and amend environmental protection laws when considering existing public health policies. The Secretariat of the Cabinet has questioned whether such a commission duplicates the functions of the existing National Health Commission.

Philippines is the First Country in Southeast Asia to Fully Digitize all Patient Drug Data
The Philippines passed a new law requiring all pharmacists to digitize information on patients’ prescriptions. The law aims to reduce bureaucracy, enhance transparency and efficiently connect patients and health agencies.

Prior to this law, pharmacists were required by the 1969 Philippine Pharmacy Act to maintain paper logbooks for recording prescription information. As part of the government’s efforts to modernize the public sector, the Food and Drug Administration signed a circular on June 27, 2018 announcing that paper prescription logbooks will be replaced by a new mobile app called the electronic Drug Safety System (eDSS) developed by mClinica. Pharmacists photograph prescriptions using the eDSS app, which uses artificial intelligence to digitize the prescription and send the data to a cloud database. This significantly reduces the amount of time needed for pharmacists to comply with regulations. More importantly, the data generated from these prescriptions will help health agencies gain more insights into specific medicine use so they can quickly fight and contain outbreaks, and understand patterns of treatment for diseases like diabetes or tuberculosis. There are 15,000 registered pharmacies serving 105 million people in the Philippines. The amount of data generated will help the government establish better public health programs and policies. The data will also help the government track medicine stockpiles and allocate resources, which is extremely valuable in disaster and emergency situations.

The new law will be implemented in stages, starting with Manila, Cebu and Davao in 2018 and expanding to all cities nationwide by 2020. Rural areas with limited internet access may file for an exemption from the law.

The Philippines is the first country in Southeast Asia to fully digitize all patient drug data, but Vietnam, which recently piloted a project to digitize citizens’ medical records, is not far behind - the project’s tremendous success led the Vietnamese government to plan on implementing the program nationwide next year.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 
Thailand's Innovation List
The Council has collected feedback and recommendations from members on how Thailand’s Innovation List affects U.S. healthcare companies. Introduced in 2015, the Innovation List includes products deemed to have been developed or improved through research and development by Thai majority-owned companies. Companies with healthcare products on the Innovation List are granted special government procurement privileges. For example, Thai public hospitals are mandated to spend at least 30 percent of their budget on Innovation List products without undergoing a public procurement process. Members’ input will be used to update the Office of the U.S. Trade Representative and other stakeholders, and in our engagements with the Thai Government. If you have any questions, please contact Lucius Lee at llee@usasean.org.
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
Mitsui expands health care business in Asia

Brunei
Obesity rates in Brunei highest in region

Cambodia
Malaria’s ticking time bomb

Indonesia
Stigma, discrimination hamper leprosy eradication
FAO calls for urgent action to fight hunger, malnutrition in Indonesia
Pharma companies still dependent on imported APIs, says ministry
Jakarta to get $1.4b from World Bank for disaster readiness, relief

Laos
Laos, EU, UNICEF to bolster information on nutrition
Lao-Thai cooperation targeting better treatment for gastrointestinal patients

Malaysia
Digital healthcare service seen positive for sector
Ministry denies claims of drug supplies monopoly and graft
Tackling anxiety and depression
WHO and Unicef ask govt to impose sugary drinks tax
World Bank: Malaysia doing well, but can do better in terms of children's health

Myanmar
Nets, darts and vaccines mobilised to fight rabies
Govt to Supply Rural Communities With Antivenom to Reach Farmers
59% of deaths in Myanmar related to smoking, tobacco consumption
Depression sufferers lack safety net

Philippines
Online community offers mental health support
Manila hospital invests in premium mammography technology
Using tech to bring transparency to Philippines’ pharmacies
PH total fertility rate highest in Asean – UN
UHC bill to lower price of medicines
Press Release - PRIB: Senate approves Universal Health Care bill
Sin tax hike may fund universal healthcare law
Senate passes Universal Health Care Bill

Singapore
Singaporeans' average life expectancy to reach 85.4 years in 2040, third-highest in the world: Study
Boosting immune system to fight malaria
MOH suspends 10 clinics from Chas scheme for severe non-compliance; case referred to police
Health Ministry to strengthen support for caregivers to the elderly
KKH apologises for dispensing expired nose drops to baby, engages independent review panel
More people seeking help for mental health conditions, community group says

Thailand
New law offers unprecedented medical benefits for workers
Researchers raise hopes for 'affordable' anti-cancer drug
‘Vaccine denial’ behind measles deaths in south Thailand
Latest tax break covers B60k of prenatal care, childbirth costs 
Health policy panel looks like one too many
Traditional medicine staff slam inequality
Medics on the frontline

Vietnam
Vĩnh Long Province gets hi-tech hospital
Việt Nam faces double health burden: malnutrition and obesity
Vietnam to invest over $240 million in three 1,000-bed hospitals
Health ministry kicks off campaign to prevent measles, HFM outbreak
Immunotherapy for cancer patients piloted in Vietnam
Government spells out ambitious plan to develop grassroots healthcare
People in Hanoi get free HBV tests
Tay Ninh: New hospital to boost poor people’ access to quality health care
Experts concern over virus Enterovirus 71
New facilities to be built at regional general hospitals in HCM City
Việt Nam, Japan cooperate in high-quality health services
Flexibility needed for hospital autonomy: Deputy PM
Chợ Rẫy Phnom Penh Hospital: a symbol of friendship between Việt Nam and Cambodia
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

Mitsui expands health care business in Asia Nikkei Asia Review 15th Oct 2018
Japanese trading house Mitsui & Co. is extending its reach in Asia's growing health care market, from hospital management to information services for doctors.

Brunei

Obesity rates in Brunei highest in region Borneo Bulletin Online 17th Oct 2018
Obesity rates among adults in Brunei Darussalam are the highest in the region, with nearly three out of 10 adults found to be obese, according to the 2016 Brunei National Survey on Risk Factors on Non-Communicable Diseases (NCDs) conducted by the Centre for Strategic and Policy Studies (CSPS).

Cambodia

Malaria’s ticking time bomb Nature.com 10th Oct 2018
To eliminate malaria, public-health officials are trying to cover the region with volunteers and health workers who can dispense malaria drugs promptly, and report any signs of an upsurge. They are also looking to researchers for tools that can forestall drug resistance, technologies that improve detection of the parasite, and evidence on strategies for rooting it out. The pressure is on. “Everybody has fears of malaria resurgence,” says Myaing Nyunt, a malaria researcher at Duke Global Health Institute in Durham, North Carolina. She worries that donors will tire of the cause, and that the people in the Greater Mekong region will grow to resent the obsession with malaria when they have more pressing needs. Yet if the effort lets up, malaria will roar back.

Indonesia

Stigma, discrimination hamper leprosy eradication The Jakarta Post 20th Oct 2018
Stigma and discrimination continue to hinder people with leprosy from having a normal life, according to World Health Organization (WHO) goodwill ambassador for leprosy elimination Yohei Sasakawa.

FAO calls for urgent action to fight hunger, malnutrition in Indonesia The Jakatar Post 19th Oct 2018
In the State of Food Insecurity 2018 report published by the United Nations, Indonesia shows a high prevalence in all three forms of child malnutrition, which are stunting, wasting and obesity.

Pharma companies still dependent on imported APIs, says ministry The Jakarta Post 18th Oct 2018
The Health Ministry has said that local pharmaceutical companies still relied heavily on imported chemical ingredients – active pharmaceutical ingredients (APIs) – because the industry was unable to carry out sufficient research on developing such materials.

Jakarta to get $1.4b from World Bank for disaster readiness, relief The Straits Times 15th Oct 2018
The World Bank will offer quake-stricken Indonesia up to US$1 billion (S$1.4 billion) to boost disaster preparedness and recovery.

Laos

Laos, EU, UNICEF to bolster information on nutrition Vientiane Times 8th Oct 2018
The European Union (EU) has forecast a budget of around US$3 million to strengthen information systems for nutrition in Laos from 2018-2021 with the project to be implemented by UNICEF. The new project, known as the National Information Platforms for Nutrition (NIPN), is part of ongoing development assistance to improve nutrition in the country and in support of the National Nutrition Strategy 2016-2025.

Lao-Thai cooperation targeting better treatment for gastrointestinal patients The Nation 8th Oct 2018
Mahosot Hospital is cooperating with experts from Asean countries including Thailand aiming to improve treatment for patients with gastrointestinal problems. The cooperation aims to improve treatment by developing local doctors’ skills in the use of new endoscopy equipment to respond to the increasing number of gastrointestinal problems being identified across the country.

Malaysia

Digital healthcare service seen positive for sector The Edge Markets 9th Oct 2018
Due to the shortcomings of traditional healthcare space, this industry is ripe for disruption especially via the introduction of digital healthcare.

Ministry denies claims of drug supplies monopoly and graft The Star Online 21st Oct 2018
The Health Ministry has dispelled accusations of drug supplies monopoly and corruption.

Tackling anxiety and depression The Star Online 20th Oct 2018
Anxiety and depression are the most common mental illness workers face in their workplace, say mental health advocates.

WHO and Unicef ask govt to impose sugary drinks tax The Star Online 18th Oct 2018
Unicef and World Health Organisation (WHO) are recommending that a tax be imposed on sugary drinks. In a joint statement, WHO representative to Malaysia, Brunei and Singapore, Dr Lo Ying Ru, and Unicef representative to Malaysia and Special Representative to Brunei, Marianne Clark-Hattingh, said such a tax would have both fiscal and health benefits.

World Bank: Malaysia doing well, but can do better in terms of children's health The Star Online 11th Oct 2018
Malaysia needs to do more to deliver better outcomes in terms of children's health and learning to boost the incomes of people and country, with returns far into the future, says the World Bank.

Myanmar

Nets, darts and vaccines mobilised to fight rabies Frontier Myanmar 17th Oct 2018
To mark World Rabies Day on September 28, Myanmar unveiled a national action plan to counter an insidious, preventable disease that is 100 percent fatal.

Govt to Supply Rural Communities With Antivenom to Reach Farmers The Irrawaddy 16th Oct 2018
Snake antivenom will be supplied to more than 1,700 rural health care centers starting next year, the Ministry of Health and Sports has announced. The ministry said it would buy the medicine from the state-owned Burma Pharmaceutical Industry (BPI), under the management of the Ministry of Industry, at a price well below the cost of production.

59% of deaths in Myanmar related to smoking, tobacco consumption Eleven Myanmar 11th Oct 2018
In Myanmar 59 percent of people who die results from diseases related to smoking and consumption of tobacco products, said Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr Myint Htwe.

Depression sufferers lack safety net Frontier Myanmar 10th Oct 2018
Figures from the Myanmar Mental Health Society show that the number of patients diagnosed with depression rose sharply from 130 in 2012 to 331 in 2015, before dropping to 301 last year. Depression is one of the most common mental health illnesses in Myanmar, affecting people at all levels of society, and is often a contributing factor in suicides.

Philippines

Online community offers mental health support Manila Standard 15th Oct 2018
The National Statistics Office said the Philippines has the highest number of depressed people in Southeast Asia, with mental illness being the third most common form of disability especially among the youth.

Manila hospital invests in premium mammography technology Manila Standard 8th Oct 2018
In a bid to help in early diagnosis and treatment, Manila Doctors Hospital brings to the country and Southeast Asia the latest imaging innovation from Siemens Healthineers, the Mammomat Revelation.

Using tech to bring transparency to Philippines’ pharmacies Techwire Asia 19th Oct 2018
The Philippines' 105 million people are served by 15,000 registered pharmacies — all of whom keep paper records of the prescriptions that they fill. The country recently adopted a law requiring all pharmacists to use a new platform called the Electronic Drug Safety System (eDSS), developed by mClinica. Pharmacists will use their smartphones to photograph each prescription they fill and upload it to the eDSS, which uses artificial intelligence to digitize the prescription and send the data to a cloud-based database, enabling real-time public health insights. Nearly 300 million prescriptions will be digitized every year. The eDSS pilot in 2016 demonstrated the system’s power to reveal previously hidden trends, such as low use of antibiotics for tuberculosis despite prescribed dosage.

PH total fertility rate highest in Asean – UN The Manila Times 18th Oct 2018
The Philippines, the second biggest country among members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations, has the highest total fertility rate (TFR) in the region, according to the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA).

UHC bill to lower price of medicines Manila Standard 14th Oct 2018
The enactment of the Universal Health Care bill will ensure all Filipinos will have access to quality and affordable medicines, a lawmaker said on Sunday.

Press Release - PRIB: Senate approves Universal Health Care bill Philippine Senate 11th Oct 2018
The Senate has passed today on third and final reading the landmark Universal Health Care Bill which seeks to guarantee equal access to quality and affordable health services for all Filipinos.

Sin tax hike may fund universal healthcare law BusinessWorld 11th Oct 2018
Senator Joseph Victor G. Ejercito is looking to increase so-called “sin taxes,” particularly on tobacco products, as a source of funding for the implementation of the universal healthcare (UHC) bill in the next years.

Senate passes Universal Health Care Bill CNN 10th Oct 2018
Soon, all Filipinos will have access to adequate health services. The Senate on Wednesday passed on third and final reading a bill that seeks to provide adequate healthcare services to Filipinos. All senators voted for the approval of Senate Bill 1986 or the "Universal Health Care Bill." Once enacted, all Filipinos will be given universal health care coverage and benefits under the National Health Security Program, which replaces the National Health Insurance Program or Philhealth. Under the proposed measure, contributors--or income earners--will have to pay for their premiums while the government will shoulder the contributions of non-contributors. Funds for the subsidy will be included in the annual General Appropriations Act. Health Secretary Francisco Duque has also said that sin taxes from cigarettes will also a major source of funding for the universal health care law. The House of Representative had previously passed a version of the bill (House Bill No 5784) in September 2017.

Singapore

Singaporeans' average life expectancy to reach 85.4 years in 2040, third-highest in the world: Study The Straits Times 17th Oct 2018
Singaporeans will have the third-longest lifespans globally in 2040, according to a study by the University of Washington's Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) published on Wednesday (Oct 17) in medical journal The Lancet.

Boosting immune system to fight malaria The Straits Times 11th Oct 2018
Scientists have discovered a potential treatment that could be effective in fighting severe malaria and other infectious diseases, by harnessing the body's own immune system.

MOH suspends 10 clinics from Chas scheme for severe non-compliance; case referred to police The Straits Times 8th Oct 2018
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has suspended 10 clinics from the Community Health Assist Scheme (Chas) for severe non-compliance.

Health Ministry to strengthen support for caregivers to the elderly Channel News Asia 23rd Oct 2018
The Ministry of Health (MOH) announced on Tuesday (Oct 23) that it is leading a review to see how it can better support caregivers to the elderly.

KKH apologises for dispensing expired nose drops to baby, engages independent review panel The Straits Times 10th Oct 2018
The KK Women's and Children's Hospital (KKH) apologised on Wednesday (Oct 10) for dispensing expired nose drops for a baby suffering from fever and flu. KKH said that it has also taken various actions to follow up on the case, which includes engaging an independent review panel.

More people seeking help for mental health conditions, community group says The Straits Times 9th Oct 2018
According to Dr Vincent Ng, chief executive officer of AMKFSC Community Services, there has been a 42 per cent increase in people seeking help from its mental health service MindCare over the past two years, either for themselves or their loved ones

Thailand

New law offers unprecedented medical benefits for workers The Nation 14th Oct 2018
Nearly 10 million Thai employees nationwide would enjoy enhanced healthcare benefits under the Workmen’s Compensation Act (second edition 2018).

Researchers raise hopes for 'affordable' anti-cancer drug Bangkok Post 20th Oct 2018
People and state-run health agencies have joined a fundraising drive, enabled by social media to help Chulalongkorn University researchers continue their ambitious 1.5-billion-baht research project to develop a new anti-cancer drug.

‘Vaccine denial’ behind measles deaths in south Thailand The Star Online 19th Oct 2018
The “vaccine denial” common in some Muslim communities has contributed to the deaths of at least six patients, including children, during a measles outbreak in the far South.

Latest tax break covers B60k of prenatal care, childbirth costs Bangkok Post 17th Oct 2018
The Revenue Department is letting individual taxpayers claim an income tax deduction for prenatal care and childbirth expenses of up to 60,000 baht per tax year, with retroactive effect from Jan 1 this year, according to a department announcement. The new tax deduction is aimed at encouraging people to have more children as Thai society ages.

Health policy panel looks like one too many Bangkok Post 10th Oct 2018
The cabinet will be asked on Wednesday to approve a bill on the establishment of a national health policy commission, despite doubts about its usefulness and possible negative impact

Traditional medicine staff slam inequality Bangkok Post 9th Oct 2018
State employees in the traditional Thai medicine industry want Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to increase the number of personnel in the field.

Medics on the frontline Bangkok Post 7th Oct 2018
Long nights and disappearing interns mark deep South's troubled hospitals

Vietnam

Vĩnh Long Province gets hi-tech hospital Vietnam News 22nd Oct 2018
Xuyên Á General Hospital on Saturday opened a branch in the Mekong Delta province of Vĩnh Long that provides affordable high-tech healthcare services to residents.

Việt Nam faces double health burden: malnutrition and obesity Vietnam Net 19th Oct 2018
Việt Nam is facing a dual burden of malnutrition and obesity, as its rapid development over the past two decades has resulted in the emergence of developed-world health issues without completely eradicating hunger.

Vietnam to invest over $240 million in three 1,000-bed hospitals Sai Gon Giai Phong News 15th Oct 2018
Vietnamese Prime Minister has given the green light to project of building three hospitals in the gate into Ho Chi Minh City with total investment of VND5,600 billion ($240 million)

Health ministry kicks off campaign to prevent measles, HFM outbreak Vietnam Net Bridge 14th Oct 2018
Hospitals in HCM City have been told to detect, classify and isolate patients with measles, dengue fever or hand-foot-mouth (HFM) disease to avoid cross-contamination, Minister of Health Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến has said.

Immunotherapy for cancer patients piloted in Vietnam Vietnam Net Bridge 12th Oct 2018
The immunotherapy treatment for cancer, which has just won the 2018 Nobel Prize for Medicine, has been brought to Vietnam.

Government spells out ambitious plan to develop grassroots healthcare Vietnam Net Bridge 11th Oct 2018
The Ministry of Health is making efforts to strengthen the grassroots healthcare system to improve the quality of primary healthcare and achieve universal health coverage, which will ensure that everyone can access quality healthcare services without facing financial hardship.

People in Hanoi get free HBV tests Vietnam Net Bridge 11th Oct 2018
The National Hospital of Tropical Diseases is offering 6,500 free hepatitis B virus (HBV) tests for people living in Hanoi and neighbouring provinces.

Tay Ninh: New hospital to boost poor people’ access to quality health care Sai Gon Giai Phong News 11th Oct 2018
The construction of a general hospital with 1,000 beds began in Go Dau district, the southern province of Tay Ninh, on October 10.

Street food sellers to be fined million dong for falling foul of regulation Sai Gon Giai Phong News 9th Oct 2018
Street food vendors will be fined million Vietnam dong if they fall foul of the present regulation taking effect on October 20.

Experts concern over virus Enterovirus 71 Vietnam Net Bridge 7th Oct 2018
The reoccurrence of virus Enterovirus 71 (EV71), a common cause of life-threatening illnesses for hand-foot-mouth (HFMD) patients, has made the disease dangerous and could easily spread into an outbreak, health experts have said.

New facilities to be built at regional general hospitals in HCM City Vietnam News 16th Oct 2018
HCM City will allocate more than 5.6 trillion (US$240 million) for new facilities at three regional general hospitals in the city’s gateway areas.

Việt Nam, Japan cooperate in high-quality health services Vietnam News 15th Oct 2018
Chợ Rẫy Hospital in HCM City in coordination with Japan’s International University of Health and Welfare (IUHW) on October 14 opened the Health Evaluation and Promotion Centre (HECI) at Chợ Rẫy Hospital.

Flexibility needed for hospital autonomy: Deputy PM Vietnam News 13th Oct 2018
The Ministry of Health should speed up financial autonomy for hospitals, especially at large national and city- level facilities, to meet patient demand for quality services, Deputy Prime Minister Vũ Đức Đam has said.

Chợ Rẫy Phnom Penh Hospital: a symbol of friendship between Việt Nam and Cambodia Vietnam News 8th Oct 2018
Many had to spend at least 8 hours travelling from Cambodia to HCM City in Việt Nam for health checkups and treatment. Today, they no longer have to face the grueling journey thanks to the inauguration of the Chợ Rẫy Phnom Penh Hospital.