Health & Life Sciences Update: April 18, 2019

Health & Life Sciences Update | April 18, 2019
Authors: Shay Wester, Hai Pham and David Mineo
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
USABC-EWEC Content Submission
As part of the Council's commitment to the UN's Every Woman Every Child (EWEC), we will be creating a website that highlights the work our members are doing in ASEAN focused on maternal and child health. In the first phase, we will be collecting submissions from members - these can be any past, present or future programs. We are currently building a submission template and will send a call-for-input to members soon. For more information, please contact Hai Pham at hpham@usasean.org
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Singapore Adopts New Smart Infrastructure for Healthcare Facilities
In its push for digitalization across all sectors, the Government of Singapore has adopted a new framework for smart healthcare infrastructure that will assist public healthcare facilities to make better, data-driven decisions with the use of smart technology. On April 3, at the Healthcare Infrastructure Technology and Engineering Conference, the Deputy Directory of Healthcare Infrastructure Projects at MOH Holdings Ms. Yvonne Lim announced that under the framework, new hospitals will be designed with the help of data analytics and other technologies. The new framework will allow designers and architects to simulate new facilities through virtual reality (VR), whereupon they may incorporate feedback on design blueprints from healthcare staff.

Ms. Lim noted that the framework will employ smart enablers—such as IoT devices, air quality sensors, and computer systems–which can be used to monitor conditions inside a facility, including air temperature and quality, as well as predict building maintenance needs. As those systems compile information, the data will be used to improve predictive models for that facility, which can then be used to improve upon the design of future facilities.

During the conference, Senior Minister of State for Health, Amy Khor, revealed that the new framework would be applied to new large-scale healthcare projects and could be used to propel the development of Singapore’s healthcare infrastructure in spite of limited resources. Senior Minister Khor also indicated that MOH Holdings is talking with the Building and Construction Authority (BCA) to develop a mock-up facility at the BCA Academy. As other members of ASEAN begin to update their respective healthcare infrastructure to better accommodate demand and overcome privations in human resources, Singapore’s new smart-enabled technology infrastructure framework can offer practical lessons which may be suitable for emulation under similar conditions.

Philippines to issue Universal Health Care Law IRRs by June/July
In a recent announcement, Philippine Senator Joseph Victor Ejercito revealed that the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) of the Philippine Universal Health Care law (UHC law) may be available by June or July. President Rodrigo Duterte signed Republic Act No. 11223, or the Universal Health Care Act, into law on February 20, 2019. According to Senator Ejercito, the drafting of the IRR is underway, and discussions on four main components of the UHC law—local health systems, health financing, governance, regulations and service delivery—have been concluded at the technical working group level. The Senator indicated that once the IRR is completely drafted, approved by the Department of Health (DOH) and PhilHealth, and published, Filipinos will have free access to healthcare services. Under the UHC law, all Filipinos are guaranteed access to quality and affordable healthcare, and may benefit from free medical checkups and certain laboratory testing.

Efforts to promote more affordable health goods and services via “universal” health related schemes have been expanding throughout ASEAN. Brunei’s Minister of Health, Dato Seri Setia Dr. Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar, has taken measure to highlight the World Health Organization’s 2019 focus on universal health coverage. In Cambodia, Minister of Health H.E. Mam Bunheng called on ASEAN members to work together to promote equitable access to affordable and quality health services. As ASEAN member states engage in closer cooperation on the development of their health sectors, the promotion of universal health services will likely become a common theme upon which members may share knowledge, experiences, and best practices.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

2019 Health & Life Sciences Mission to Vietnam
Last month, the US-ASEAN Business Council led a delegation of 13 major Health & Life Sciences (HLS) companies on our fourth annual HLS Industry Mission to Vietnam. The delegation met with top officials in the Vietnam Ministry of Health (MOH), Vietnam Social Security, National Assembly Committee on Social Issues, working-level officials from multiple MOH departments as well as a major private hospital and the US Embassy in Hanoi team. The top priorities of the Vietnamese Government stakeholders were, inter alia: (1) to ensure sustainable and cost-effective healthcare for its population; (2) attract foreign direct investment, technical assistance and capacity building programs to develop its domestic healthcare sector; (3) ensure access to innovative and high-quality pharmaceuticals, medical devices, systems and infrastructure; and (4) leverage digital technologies to improve service delivery. Throughout the mission, the delegation was able to raise priority issues and receive feedback, identify opportunities for further collaboration and seek clarifications on regulations related to the national tender process, reimbursement lists, and the implementation of different health decrees.

Vietnam Pharmaceutical Industry Foreign Invested Enterprises (FIE) Registration
Following the Council's meeting with the Ministry of Health during its Health & Life Sciences Industry Mission in March, the Council has sent a letter on behalf of its members in the pharmaceutical industry to request a meeting with the Drug Administration of Vietnam (DAV) to speak in more detail about the requirements for setting up and managing the operation of warehouses, which is a part of the requirement of establishing a Foreign Invested Enterprises (FIE) in Vietnam.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Brunei
Health symposium to be held on April 28
Health, cosmetic products found adulterated
Mental health awareness to the fore
Universal health coverage is every individual’s right: Minister
Donation paves way to access clean, healthy water
MoH conducts Health Ambassador Programme
MPK Labi 1 holds health activity for residents

Cambodia
Maternal death rate still high
Unauthorised medicines seized
Concerns over swine fever outbreak
Military personnel called on to prevent drug abuse
Quality Free Health Care Remains Elusive for Poorest Cambodians
Student health targeted under new gov’t policy
Ministry warns of food poisoning over New Year
Draft National Policy on Academic Health Approved to Improve Education Quality
Cambodia Urges Joint Efforts for Affordable, Quality, Effective and Safe Health Services
The woman aiming to transform healthcare sector in Cambodia 

Indonesia
Health centers gear up for post-election stress, depression
BPS records progress in Indonesia's 2018 human development index
Health advocates push for firm regulations on e-cigarettes
Leveraging jamu heritage using science and technology
Indonesia succeeds in reducing number of malnourished children: UN
Four rare diseases found in Indonesia
Lippo Cikarang Helps Communities Reduce Dengue Risk
Central Java works to reduce leptospirosis cases
Easing congestion to reduce air pollution in Jakarta

Laos
Laos joins other nations reviewing stance on sanitation, water
EU-UNICEF delegation takes stock of nutrition interventions in Phongsaly
Strengthening Government’s Capacity For Better Use Of Data For Nutrition
US$4 million in Korean tech for preventing infectious disease outbreaks
Vientiane Center Organises Blood Drive To Celebrate Its 4th Anniversary
Japan Funds Health Centres, Water Supply System Construction Projects

Malaysia
Health card for B40 group
5G technology won’t cause health issues, says MCMC
Drastic cancer drug price drop to benefit patients
Malaysian Health Ministry to consider rabies treatment medical research
PeKa B40 scheme to begin on Monday (April 15)
Mawar haemodialysis centres running out of cash
‘Dying well is part of living well’
Penang sees drop in TB cases
Govt looking to expand home care-based palliative care services
Halal vaccine poser
Patients free to choose paying service
Daily 15-minute exercises at ministries to start soon

Myanmar
Yangon General Hospital on heightened alert for Thingyan
Supplies of blood units ‘sufficient for Thingyan’
Myanmar Drafts National Strategy For Disabled
Public health hinges on safe medical waste disposal
Advancing universal health coverage
K3.9 billion allocated for buying medicines
Air pollution returns in Tachileik, Shan State

Philippines
Dengue cases rise in Western Visayas
Signing of 2019 budget means more funds for Filipinos’ healthcare needs
Creation of Philippine blood disease and transfusion center pushed
DOH: Gov’t hospitals on ‘White’ alert for Holy Week
UNICEF-WHO Philippines: Measles Outbreak, Situation Report 9, 14 April 2019 - Philippines
JV says IRR of universal health care law could be out by June or July
DOH-Calabarzon reminds elderly to be conscious of their health
DOT assures public of medical services in top tourist destinations
WHO urges PHL to invest more in primary health care

Singapore
New transplant centre to explore ways to increase access to organs
Singapore-developed cooling suit lowers body temperature in half the time: Study
Eleven known cases of super fungus Candida auris infections in Singapore since 2012: MOH
More than 2,000 dengue cases reported in first quarter
Public healthcare facilities to get data-driven design
HSA sets up committee to review management of sensitive data
Parliament: MOH will spell out doctors' obligations clearly so there's no need to second-guess: Gan Kim Yong
HSA recalls three brands of high blood pressure drug losartan over cancer risk

Thailand
New approach urged to protect the elderly
Deadline to register medical marijuana May 19, FDA chief says
Careful plans lead to success with office tech in healthcare 
Price limits pressure hospitals
Thailand in worst 14 for TB
Cabinet okays Bt148m to prevent outbreak of African swine flu
Healthcare workforce crisis looming
Haze causes thousands to fall ill in North
Most private hospitals overcharging
Private hospitals risk legal action
Northern provinces still shrouded by toxic air
Stroke rates on the rise

Vietnam
Improved healthcare services attract more foreign patients
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV officially launched in Hanoi
Health insurance coverage for ARV drug key to HIV treatment: VSS
Vietnamese awareness of cancer's early warning signs remains low
Health experts call on Vietnamese people for healthy lifestyle
100 patients receive free artificial knee and hip joint replacements
Stressed out Vietnamese falling mentally ill in the millions
European Union helps Vietnam reduce maternal, infant mortality ratios
IFC to help HCM City build medical facilities through PPP
Vaccine reactions raise concerns
Vietnam cracks down on drugstores selling without prescriptions
Biomedical research has potential to produce new Vietnamese drugs
CPTPP signals pharma breakthrough
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Brunei

Health symposium to be held on April 28 Borneo Bulletin 17th Apr 2019
THE Ministry of Health (MoH) announced that a health symposium titled ‘Antara Hati & Usus’ will take place at the multipurpose hall on the second floor of the Ministry of Finance and Economy on April 28. The symposium will be open to the public, free-of-charge. Two speakers from Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital and one speaker from the Department of Health Services will be featured. Consultant and Head of the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Unit at RIPAS Hospital Dr Hajah Dewi Norwani binti Haji Basir will speak on the topic of ‘Fatty Liver Disease’, while Consultant at the Gastroenterology and Hepatology Unit of RIPAS Hospital Dr Aza Zetty Feroena binti Jamaludin will cover the topic, ‘Colorectal Cancer’. Nutrition Officer of the Community Nutrition Unit, Department of Health Services Nur Ainiedza binti Haji Idris will speak on ‘Nutrition for Liver and Intestinal Health’. A question-and-answer session and a health exhibition will also be held.

Health, cosmetic products found adulterated Borneo Bulletin 12th Apr 2019
THE Ministry of Health (MoH) alerted the public to nine types of health products and three types of cosmetic products tested by the Pharmacy Section, Department of Scientific Services, MoH and found to be adulterated with undeclared, potent western medicines. According to an MoH press release, the health products are Jamu Gatot K-Ca Kapsul 500mg, found adulterated with Acetaminophen and Sildenafil, and manufactured by PJ Hd Jaya, Indonesia; Jamu Daun Kapsul found adulterated with Acetaminophen and manufactured by PJ Sami Jaya, Indonesia; Jamu Asam Urat Mengkudu Ginseng Kapsul found adulterated with Acetaminophen and manufactured by PJ Sekar Manjur, Indonesia; Jamu Beruang Salju Kapsul found adulterated with Sildenafil and manufactured by PJ Beruang Mas, Indonesia; Jamu Sura-Madu Kapsul found adulterated with Acetaminophen and Sildenafil, and manufactured by PJ Herbal, Indonesia; Jamu Long Kapsul found adulterated with Acetaminophen and Sildenafil, and manufactured by PJ Segar Sehat, Indonesia; Jamu Xtra Kuat Kapsul found adulterated with Acetaminophen and Sildenafil, and manufactured by PJ Mitra Sejati, Indonesia; Kama Sutra Kapsul found adulterated with Acetaminophen and Sildenafil, and manufactured by PJ Urac Cobra, Indonesia; and Urat Madu Black Kapsul found adulterated with Sildenafil, and manufactured by PJ Air Madu, Indonesia.

Mental health awareness to the fore Borneo Bulletin 10th Apr 2019
DULI Pengiran Muda Al-Muhtadee Billah College (Maktab Duli) organised a Mental Health Awareness Exhibition and Emotional Health Management workshop for teachers yesterday, in conjunction with World Health Day. The exhibition included activities and talks at the Science and IT building, while the workshop was held at the lecture theatre. Organised by the college’s Health, Safety and Environment Unit, the event aimed to raise awareness on mental health. The Mental Health Awareness Exhibition was organised by the Community Psychology Division of the Ministry of Health for the morning session. Exhibits and activities were organised, as well as games and mental health screenings. The Emotional Health Management workshop was held in the afternoon, seeing the involvement of 100 teachers. Haji Othman bin Haji Jaidin from the Religious Unit of the Co-Curriculum Education Department of the Ministry of Education presented the talk.

Universal health coverage is every individual’s right: Minister Borneo Bulletin 9th Apr 2019
IN CONJUNCTION with World Health Day 2019 that is globally commemorated on April 7 since 1948, Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar delivered a message in which he highlighted this year’s theme of ‘Universal Health Coverage’, which he said aims to further promote actions that can be undertaken by everyone around the world, towards realising the concept of Global Health Coverage. Universal health coverage means that all levels of society must have same access to quality health services anytime and anywhere, without being financially burdened. “This is the right of all individuals, who are entitled to the essential information and services, in ensuring the protection of their own health and that of their family members,” he added. According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), at least half of the world’s population do not receive the required health services, and about 100 million people live in poverty because of medical bills. In this regard, the minister said that this year’s celebrations will focus on aspects related to equity and unity, in addition to addressing barriers for access to healthcare and services. “In simple terms, in achieving universal health coverage, most of the healthcare – whether in the form of health promotion, disease prevention, treatment or rehabilitation – should be as near as possible to the patient’s place of residence.

Donation paves way to access clean, healthy water Borneo Bulletin 9th Apr 2019
CUCKOO International (B) Sdn Bhd donated a Deluxe water purifier to Brunei Darussalam AIDS Council (BDAIDSCouncil) recently as part of the company’s ongoing efforts to provide communities in Brunei with access to clean and healthy water. Cuckoo International Brunei’s Marketing Director Wong Hui Ting handed over the donation to the Vice President (Administration) of BDAIDSCouncil Mohd Hazrin bin Daud. The donation was made possible through Cuckoo International Brunei’s Cuckoo Care Foundation. The foundation is Cuckoo International Brunei’s community social responsibility (CSR) platform to give back to the community and environment through donations, educational activities and more. Cuckoo Care Foundation’s aim is to provide clean and healthy water with safe natural minerals to communities in Brunei, also known as the ‘Share the Drops of Joy’ initiative. The initiative targets several communities, particularly non-profit organisations, community centres and those in need.

MoH conducts Health Ambassador Programme Borneo Bulletin 2nd Apr 2019
THE Ministry of Health (MoH) through the Health Promotion Centre in collaboration with the Kampong Bebuloh Village Consultative Council yesterday ran its Health Ambassador Programme at Kampong Bebuloh, Mukim Pengkalan Batu. The community-based intervention is one of the health approaches taken by the MoH to manage and prevent non-communicable diseases (NCDs) among high-risk individuals. The strategy was adopted to reach out to communities not having ready access to healthcare via traditional settings. The Health Ambassador Programme represents one of these strategies, a cost-effective method to encourage the adoption of healthy lifestyles among communities and promote improvements in health through focus on disease prevention and control. The programme will be facilitated by appointed health ambassadors tasked with planning and overseeing activities on the prevention and control of NCDs, including working with government agencies, non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and local education institutions. This is the first time the Health Ambassador Programme is held in Mukim Pengkalan Batu. Activities carried out as part of the programme include hygiene-related activities at school and physical activities for all ages, including children and senior citizens.

MPK Labi 1 holds health activity for residents Borneo Bulletin 1st Apr 2019
THE Village Consultative Council of Labi 1 (MPK Labi 1) held its ‘Fitness Run and Walk’ health activity yesterday morning. It was held as part of an initiative to help promote healthy lifestyles among residents of Labi and provide families residing in the area the opportunity to spend quality time with each other before the start of the new school term. Sixty residents participated in the activity, with the government building at Kampong Terunan Jalan Labi Lama as its focal point. Present to oversee the event was Legislative Council member and Village Head of Kampong Labi 1 Yang Berhormat Hanapi bin Mohd Siput. The activity began with a warm up session led by Muhammad Nur Farhan @ Joehan bin Ummar, Muhd Izzat Izuddin bin Abdullah Leong and Halmi bin Haji Hamid. Yang Berhormat Hanapi flagged off the 3.1km walk for women and children, before participating in the 3.9km run for men. The event also included a cycling activity around the area.

Cambodia

Maternal death rate still high The Phnom Penh Post 12th Apr 2019
The UN Fund for Population Activities (UNFPA) released a report on Wednesday, showing that although live birth maternal mortalities in Cambodia have decreased significantly, the rate was still considered high. However, the UNFPA said that real progress had been made in the Kingdom since the UN agency’s founding in 1994. The State of World Population 2019 report shows that maternal mortalities have decreased from more than 900 among 100,000 live births in 1994 to 170 deaths today, and while the contraceptive prevalence rate had increased from 19 per cent in 2000 to 39 per cent in 2014, more needed to be done. “The modern contraceptive prevalence rate was 39 per cent in 2014, 33 per cent in the city and 40 per cent in the countryside,” the report said. The UNFPA considered the figures as low. “When a woman does not have a right to choose, her ability to capitalise on her skills and education are eroded, as are so many other key aspects of her life, including the power to decide whether and when to get married and whether and when to become pregnant,” UNFPA representative Rizvina de Alwis said.

Unauthorised medicines seized The Phnom Penh Post 10th Apr 2019
Nearly 20,000 units of unauthorised drugs, including Chinese herbal medicine and aphrodisiac substances, were confiscated during crackdowns on three different locations in Phnom Penh’s Daun Penh district late last month. Speaking at a press conference on Tuesday, the Ministry of Interior’s Counter Counterfeit Committee chairman Meach Sophanna, who is also the ministry’s secretary of state, said police on March 27 had raided three shops on a street near O’Russey Market. After receiving a tip-off from different sources, the authorities launched the clampdown and seized 18,160 units of drugs which are not registered with the ministry, including unlicenced sex enhancement substances for men and women, and expired medicine, he said. The evidence was displayed at the Tuesday press conference where Sophanna also said the police are preparing legal action against the owners of the shops. “We did not arrest the culprits immediately because they had fled. Right now, our forces are preparing the documents and will send this case to court,” Sophanna said.

Concerns over swine fever outbreak The Phnom Penh Post 9th Apr 2019
Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries specialists have raised concerns over African swine fever spreading from Ratanakkiri to its three border provinces – Mondulkiri, Kratie and Stung Treng. Officials suspect that the disease may have spread to Som Trak, Som Kol and Ten villages in Ratanakkiri province’s O’Yadav district, following an outbreak of the fever in Som Thom commune’s Som Kaninh village on March 22. The General Directorate of Animal Health and Production director-general Tan Phannara on Monday said suspicions arose as pig farming practices in the local family-owned operations entail allowing pigs out of their cages to forage for food and slaughtering those that died of diseases for food – unaware of the African swine fever outbreak. The three villages have seen a series of pig deaths as in the first outbreak in Som Kaninh village. A total of 193 pigs have been bought from the people to prevent further contagion. “What we have seen – the disease may have spread to the three villages. We are going to the villages and warning them to excise further caution due to the fever,” he said.

Military personnel called on to prevent drug abuse The Phnom Penh Post 9th Apr 2019
A senior official from the National Authority for Combating Drugs (NACD) on Monday called on would-be soldiers and military personnel to act as the focal persons for their communities to prevent an increase in narcotics abuse. Speaking in front of some 1,200 people – including students and soldiers – at the Tmat Porng Military School, NACD spokesperson Meas Vyrith said the responsibility to combat illegal drug abuse in society “does not belong to just one body or organisation”. “We must regard drug abuse as a common problem for all of us. Therefore, everyone must take part in efforts to combat the spread of drug use as it can affect the happiness of our society,” Vyrith said at the event, which was intended to raise awareness of laws on drugs control. In a related development, the Ministry of Interior Anti-Drug Department recently raided a clandestine laboratory used to manufacture narcotics in the capital’s Sen Sok district. More than 200kg of pyrovalerone and 587kg of other substances, as well as a set of equipment for making drugs, were discovered during the crackdown operation.

Quality Free Health Care Remains Elusive for Poorest Cambodians VOA Cambodia 9th Apr 2019
When Om Samath arrived at the provincial referral hospital last year to undergo eye surgery, she knew the operation would be performed free of charge.Two years earlier, her family was identified as one of the poorest in the commune and issued an Equity Card, a perk of the government’s IDPoor program that grants holders access to free treatment at state-run medical facilities.What the 53-year-old widow didn’t expect was that once the operation was performed, her inability to pay would relegate her to the status of second-class patient for the duration of her two-week recovery. She received a daily food stipend of 5,000 riel, or about $1.25, but no follow-up care.“They didn’t change the bandage on my eye as it should have been. I noticed that they changed others’,” Samath told VOA in an interview at the small tin-sided house she shares with her daughter, son-in-law and five young grandchildren.“If I had had money, I would have given it to them so that they would have taken proper care of me,” she added, swinging her 1-year-old granddaughter to sleep in a hammock. The IDPoor program was launched by Ministry of Planning in 2006 with the support of the German and Australian governments, which sought to simplify the process for identifying vulnerable households and targeting free health care and other services. With an initial focus on rural Cambodia, the program expanded to urban areas in 2016.“Before the project began its work, there was no standardized, universally recognized and nationally applied procedure for recognizing poor households in Cambodia,” according to Germany’s aid agency, GIZ. “This meant that poor households were unable to assert their rights to basic social services, such as free medical treatment.”The Cambodian government claims the IDPoor program has been a success, with more than 600,000 Equity Cards — also known as poverty cards and cards for the poor — having been distributed to households across the country, benefiting an estimated 2 million people.But more than a decade after the program was launched, recipients and non-recipients alike remain frustrated and confused about the criteria used to allocate the cards and the benefits bestowed on their holders.“I thought that I would be given donations of rice and other food,” said Pork Kep, who, like Samath and many other grandmothers in rural Cambodia, takes care of her grandchildren while her adult children seek employment in urban areas — or abroad.Kep, 46, suffers from headaches, high blood pressure and gastrointestinal issues. But instead of seeking treatment at the commune health center or provincial referral hospital, she self-medicates using pills purchased from a local pharmacy. The pills cost about $3 per week — a significant expense.

Student health targeted under new gov’t policy The Phnom Penh Post 8th Apr 2019
The Cambodian government has approved the “Draft National Policy on School Health” after hearing reports and holding discussions at a Council of Ministers meeting led by Prime Minister Hun Sen on Friday. “The draft national policy has as its vision the development of good physical, mental and spiritual health to develop Cambodian society in a sustainable manner." “This draft is formulated with the purpose of contributing to improving the quality of education and providing learners and educators with good health and wellbeing to [benefit] Cambodia’s human resources,” the Council of Ministers said. The Ministry of Education, Youth and Sport on Friday said it is to orient learners, educators and relevant parties to care for their health as a contribution to national development. The ministry said the implementation of the national policy aimed to change bad habits and instil a positive attitude in learners and educators to ensure quality and effectiveness.

Ministry warns of food poisoning over New Year The Phnom Penh Post 8th Apr 2019
The Ministry of Health has called on the people to take 11 preventive measures to protect themselves from food or alcohol poisoning during the Khmer New Year celebration. Those who felt unwell should immediately seek medical treatment, it said. On Friday, the ministry said hundreds of people had suffered food poisoning in provincial communities in the first three months of this year, with some losing their lives. The minister, Mam Bun Heng, reminded people to be careful about food that might not be fit for consumption. “I strongly advise people to be more careful about health problems that may occur during the Khmer New Year festival in conjunction with the current hot weather. Be especially careful regarding food preparation and improper storage, in order to avoid stomach aches, vomiting and diarrhoea." “These can be caused by eating unhealthy food or by alcohol poisoning from drinks that are not produced in a safe way,” he said.

Draft National Policy on Academic Health Approved to Improve Education Quality Agence Kampuchea Presse 5th Apr 2019
The draft national policy on academic health was approved in a plenary Cabinet Meeting organised here this morning under the presidency of Prime Minister Samdech Akka Moha Sena Padei Techo Hun Sen. According to a press release of the Press and Quick Reaction Unit of the Office of the Council of Ministers, this draft national policy has the vision to develop the Cambodian human resources physically, mentally and spiritually for the sustainable social development. It was designed to contribute to improving the quality of education and to providing learners and education staff with the possibility to gain good health and well-being to become potential human resources.

Cambodia Urges Joint Efforts for Affordable, Quality, Effective and Safe Health Services Agence Kampuchea Presse 4th Apr 2019
Cambodia has urged for joint efforts among ASEAN member countries to promote affordable, quality, effective and safe health services. Cambodia Minister of Health H.E. Mam Bunheng made the call in his opening address of the 14th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development (14th ASEAN SOMHD) and Related Meetings at Siem Reap province early this week. This would mean we have to work together to address emerging challenges faced by health sector in all ASEAN countries to ensure it can cover the most marginalised group, underlined the minister. After the ousted Khmer Rouge regime, there were only 40 medical doctors across Cambodia, but through the government’s commitment and hard work, the Kingdom has now more than 20,000 health staff. Ministry of Health has also been introducing equity fund to support public health access among Cambodians from unfortunate backgrounds. As added by H.E. Mam Bunheng in his address, healthy life skills, expansion of health system to respond to communicable diseases, food security, and demolition of fake and low quality medicines are priority areas that ASEAN countries should consider to further promote.

The woman aiming to transform healthcare sector in Cambodia  The Cambodia Daily 28th Mar 2019
Though we now live in a digital age, it is not uncommon to see nurses handwriting information or browsing physical files on the shelf searching for information in hospitals and private clinics across Cambodia. But with the technology that is on offer today, this is far from efficient. This is where the Peth Yoeung system, developed by First Womentech Asia, comes in. The web-based hospital operating management system helps the hospital work flow process, ranging from patient management, health records, appointments to pharmacy, stock management, as well as income and expenses.

Indonesia

Health centers gear up for post-election stress, depression The Jakarta Post 17th Apr 2019
The national health agency and medical facilities are bracing for a rise in cases of post-election stress among legislative candidates, particularly those who are defeated at today's polls.  The latest to join the ranks is the Karawang Healthcare and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan) in West Java. The head of the Karawang agency, Unting Patri Wicaksono Pribadi, said it would bear the costs for treating legislative candidates, if necessary. “Don’t worry, legislative candidates, if you become depressed because you fail in the election. We will settle your [medical bills] until you [have recovered],” Unting told kompas.com on Tuesday. He added that BPJS Kesehatan Karawang would even reimburse the candidates if they were to mental health hospitals, as long as they were registered and had paid their monthly premiums. The 2014 ministerial regulation on national health insurance standard premiums states that BPJS Kesehatan covers treatments for depression, personality disorders, bipolar disorder, schizophrenia and other mental disorders under the state-funded National Health Insurance-Healthy Indonesia Card (JKN-KIS).

BPS records progress in Indonesia's 2018 human development index Antara News 15th Apr 2019
The Central Statistics Agency (BPS) recorded that Indonesia's human development index (IPM) showed an upward movement, shooting up 0.58 points to 71.30 points in 2018 than a year earlier. "The human development index in 2018 increased owing to an improvement in all its components," BPS Chief Suhariyanto remarked at a press conference at the BPS Office in Jakarta on Monday. The IPM combines three key dimensions of a long and healthy life: life expectancy at birth; education index: mean and expected years of schooling; and a decent standard of living. Suhariyanto pointed out that in terms of a long and healthy life, infants born in 2018 had a life expectancy of close to 71.20 years, 0.14 years longer than those with the birth year of 2017. In the earlier eight years, Indonesia had succeeded in boosting its people's life expectancy to 71.20 years in 2018, as compared to 69.81 years in 2010, the BPS chief stated.

Health advocates push for firm regulations on e-cigarettes The Jakarta Post 10th Apr 2019
Health advocates have urged the government to regulate the use of e-cigarettes to prevent non-smokers, particularly young ones, from taking up the habit. Vaping — smoking battery-powered e-cigarettes — has been widely endorsed as an alternative to smoking tobacco cigarettes with claims that it produces no hazardous carbon monoxide and tar, unlike conventional smoking. However, a number of health advocates have argued that vaping is not without harm. They pointed out that vaping, which converts liquid into mist, has users inhaling vegetable glycerin, propylene glycol, flavoring, coloring and nicotine. According to Amaliya, a researcher from the Public Health Advocacy Foundation, e-cigarettes contain at least seven hazardous substances while tobacco cigarettes contain 400. However, several studies have revealed that e-cigarette use is linked to certain health problems. A recent survey conducted by the University of Kansas School of Medicine in the USA, for example, discovered that e-cigarette users or vapers are more likely to have heart problems. Such smokers are 25 percent more likely to have coronary artery disease and 55 percent more likely to suffer from depression or anxiety. The rate of heart attacks among vapers, furthermore, is 34 percent higher.

Leveraging jamu heritage using science and technology The Jakarta Post 8th Apr 2019
Almost all Indonesians know what jamu (traditional herbal medicine) is and have consumed it at one point in their lives. In fact, it is reported that 75 percent of all Indonesians consume jamu on a regular basis, either to prevent or treat diseases. It has been consumed for over a millennium, at least according to the oldest historic proof, reliefs carved on Borobudur Temple (although jamu might even pre-exist long before that). So jamu has been an integral part of Indonesia’s socio-cultural identity. However, despite its popularity and a 10 percent annual growth of the jamu industry, there is fear that the Indonesian jamu heritage will eventually wane due to the prevalence of modern medication. In addition to the traditional image of jamu (which is often regarded not as effective as modern medication), conventional health services in Indonesia do not yet facilitate a platform for the growth of jamu. Prescriptions for medications only use modern medicines, despite regulations to push the usage of jamu in healthcare. There are also increasing cases in which jamu is mixed with chemical compounds. The practice that is illegal due to synergistic effects of jamu and the chemical compounds that can potentially be dangerous. These issues can negatively affect the perception of people who consume or are interested in consuming jamu, which might also affect jamu’s long-term survival.

Indonesia succeeds in reducing number of malnourished children: UN Antara News 3rd Apr 2019
Indonesia has made tremendous progress in the fight against hunger, reporting a decline in the number of children suffering from malnutrition in the country. This was revealed in a joint press statement by Indonesia's Planning Agency and four other UN agencies in the country - the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF), World Health Organization (WHO), World Food Programme (WFP) and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The statement revealed that recent statistics showed positive trends in food security and malnutrition, with Indonesia reporting progress in the fourth year of implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). However, it cautioned that stunting from severe malnutrition still remained high in Indonesia, with one in three stunted children present in the country. Deputy Minister for Maritime Affairs and Natural Resources of National Planning Agency/ National Coordinator of SDG implementation Arifin Rudiyanto said that sustainable and productive agriculture would be Indonesia's real challenges in the near future. "In Indonesia, the food production system mainly relies on smallholders, and increasing the productivity of farmers is one of our critical policies," he said at the "Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Indonesia" Forum held in Jakarta on Tuesday.

Four rare diseases found in Indonesia Antara News 2nd Apr 2019
Of the 8000 rare disease in the world, at least four were found in Indonesia, namely Mukopolisakaridosis (MPS) type II, Gaucher, Pompe, and Glucose-Galactose Malabsorption (GSM).   This was revealed by Pediatrician, nutrition and metabolic diseases, from RSCM, Dr. Damayanti Rusli Sjarif, SpA (K), during a dialogue on "Challenges and Expectations of Rare Disease Patients in Indonesia" in Jakarta on Wednesday. Stating that 80 percent of these diseases were genetic, Damayanti said, "There are an additional 250 cases (rare diseases) every year in the world. A disease is referred to as rare if the number of patients is under 2,000.". Type II MPS MPS type II is caused by the lack of iduronate sulfatase enzyme activity. It occurs in one of 100,000 people and 170,000 cases were experienced by men, as stated in mpssociety.org. Some individuals will experience developmental delays and physical problems due to type II MPS.

Lippo Cikarang Helps Communities Reduce Dengue Risk Jakarta Globe 2nd Apr 2019
Township developer Lippo Cikarang held a dengue prevention counseling session, fogging and gave away lemongrass seeds to residents of Pasirsari village in Bekasi, West Java on Feb. 23. (Photo courtesy of Lippo Cikarang) Jakarta. Township developer Lippo Cikarang held a dengue prevention counseling session, fogging and gave away lemongrass seeds to residents of Pasirsari village in Bekasi, West Java on Feb. 23. The risk of getting dengue fever increases with the arrival of the rainy season. According to data from the Ministry of Health, at least 112 out of 11,293 patients with dengue fever did not survive. The Bekasi Public Health Office recorded 16 cases of dengue fever in January. One person from Pasirsari has died to the fever.   “We’ve been seeing an increase in the number of dengue cases, therefore, as a show of concern for the communities around us, we felt the need to ensure their safety by providing dengue prevention counseling, fogging and giving away lemongrass seeds,” Lippo Cikarang’s head of CSR, Ju Kian Salim said. In a press release, the company said it wants to help in any way it can to prevent dengue fever.

Central Java works to reduce leptospirosis cases Antara News 29th Mar 2019
Concerned over the rising number of leptospirosis cases in the province, the Central Java Health Department is cooperating with the province's Public Works Department and Environmental Agency to prevent and overcome the threat of the disease. Noting that the number of leptospirosis cases in the province is still relatively high compared to that of other provinces, the Head of Central Java Health Department, Yulianto Prabowo, said here on Friday, "The mortality rate from leptospirosis in Central Java is still quite high, at around 20 percent. There were 89 deaths from 427 leptospirosis cases in 2018." He pointed out that leptospirosis cases in the province were most likely found in the flood-affected districts, such as Demak, Klaten, Banyumas, Pati, and Semarang. Leptospirosis is transmitted to humans through water or soil that has been contaminated with rat urine carrying the leptospira bacteria. "We are trying our best to prevent leptospirosis, but the most important thing is for people to keep their surroundings clean and themselves free from bacterial threats during the floods by wearing boots," Yulianto stated.

Easing congestion to reduce air pollution in Jakarta Antara News 26th Mar 2019
Jakartans have been very enthusiastic in welcoming the country’s first subway called Mass Rapid Transit (MRT) Jakarta, which was inaugurated by President Joko Widodo (Jokowi) in the capital city on March 24, 2019. The long-delayed MRT Jakarta is expected to ease the notorious traffic congestion in the capital city and suburban areas that has caused annual losses amounting to some Rp65 trillion to Rp100 trillion. The first stage of the construction work of the MRT project, which was initially mooted in the 1980s, began on October 10, 2013, with a total investment worth Rp16 trillion. It serves a 15.7 km-long route connecting Lebak Bulus in South Jakarta and the Hotel Indonesia (HI) Circle in Central Jakarta in 30 minutes. The second phase of the MRT construction, connecting the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle to Ancol in North Jakarta, is expected to begin early next year, parallel to the East-West MRT line, connecting Bekasi in West Java and Tangerang in Banten. Bad traffic jams in the capital city are a major cause of air pollution. Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan had decided to apply the odd-even policy as a way to limit the number of cars entering Jakarta.

Laos

Laos joins other nations reviewing stance on sanitation, water Vientiane Times 12th Apr 2019
Laos joined other countries and development partners at the Sector Ministers’ Meeting (SMM) which was convened by the Sanitation and Water for All partnership in San Jose, Costa Rica on April 4-5. Topics at the meeting centred on supporting the achievement of the water, sanitation and hygiene-related (WASH) targets of the Sustainable Development Goals. Speaking at the meeting, Deputy Health Minister, Associate Prof. Dr Phouthone Moungpak, highlighted the importance of access to safely managed water supplies and sanitation facilities. He said the Lao government was encouraging aims to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 (SDG 6) to ensure the availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all by 2030. According to the Lao Social Indicator Survey in 2018, the proportion of the population having a water supply was 83 percent. “During the meeting, participants supported the achievement of the water, sanitation and hygiene-related targets of SDG 6 under the theme ‘Washing away inequalities’,” Dr Phouthone said. The meeting brought together ministers responsible for water, sanitation and hygiene and senior government officials from different regions and development levels, as well as leaders from other stakeholders, including civil society, the private sector, and donors.

EU-UNICEF delegation takes stock of nutrition interventions in Phongsaly Vientiane Times 12th Apr 2019
Delegations from the EU and UNICEF jointly observed the progress of efforts to improve nutrition in local communities during a four-day visit to Phongsaly province this week. The delegation, led by the European Union Ambassador to the Lao PDR, Leo Faber and UNICEF Representative, Octavian Bivol, began their visit to Bounneua and Nhot-ou districts on Monday, with the aim of observing nutrition interventions under the Partnership for Improved Nutrition. In Huay-yeuang village in Bounneua district and Savang village in Nhot-ou district, the delegation participated in two integrated health outreach activities, which are government-led service delivery strategies to facilitate access to health and nutrition services for people from villages that have no health centre. The services provided during the integrated outreach sessions include hygiene promotion, maternal, newborn and child health and nutrition interventions, such as antenatal and post-natal care, infant and child growth monitoring, immunisation, vitamin A supplementation, deworming for children between 6 and 59 months of age, screening children under five years of age for acute malnutrition using Mid-Upper Arm Circumference and health and nutrition education. Partners also visited the Northern Uplands Food Security project in Huaypae Neua village, implemented by Care International and in partnership with Comite de Cooperation avec le Laos (CCL) with EU support. This project aims to improve the food and nutrition security of ethnic women and their families by addressing the underlying causes of malnutrition and equipping communities with the tools to take sustainable action.

Strengthening Government’s Capacity For Better Use Of Data For Nutrition KPL Lao News Agency 8th Apr 2019
As part of the National Information Platforms for Nutrition (NIPN) initiative, the European Union (EU) and UNICEF are building the capacity of Government staff to make better use of evidence and data to design and implement nutrition related policies and programmes through a workshop in Vientiane on April 3. The workshop titled “Support to the implementation of the NIPN operational cycle: formulation of policy-relevant questions and analyses of existing data” seeks to build the capacity of the team to operationalize the initiative, provide guidance and discuss priorities in the action plan for the next sixth months. “The NIPN initiative is strengthening capacities in the Lao PDR to monitor progress towards under nutrition reduction, contributing to implement more cost-effective and evidence-based policies. This training will greatly contribute to build institutional capacity for evidence-based policy formulation and nutrition programming in the Lao PDR,” said Dr. Kikeo Chantaboury, Vice Minister of Planning and Investment. The Global Support Facility (GSF) which provides technical support to NIPN implementing countries globally will facilitate a workshop for the Lao NIPN Country Team and Data and Policy Analysis Units, including members of the NIPN Secretariat.

US$4 million in Korean tech for preventing infectious disease outbreaks Vientiane Times 2nd Apr 2019
The government of the Republic of Korea has forecast a budget of around US$4 million in additional assistance to Laos from 2019-2023 to improve information technology in preventing the spread of infectious diseases. A signing ceremony for the assistance took place on Friday in Vientiane between Deputy Director General of the Department of Communicable Diseases Control of the Ministry of Health, Dr Sisavath Soutthaniraxay, Executive Vice President of Korea Telecom (KT), Ms Hea-Jeang Yun and Country Representative of Korea Foundation for International Healthcare (KOFIH) Laos Office, Mr Juwang Baik. The “Public-Private Project for strengthening communicable diseases control in the Lao PDR” is supporting the upgrade of information technology in the health sector to enhance disease surveillance, risk assessment, and response systems through the training of field epidemiologists as well providing consultation in relevant issues. The agreement was witnessed by Minister of the Ministry of Health, Assoc Prof Dr Bounkong Syhavong and Ambassador of the Korean Embassy to Laos, Mr Sung-soon Shin.

Vientiane Center Organises Blood Drive To Celebrate Its 4th Anniversary KPL Lao News Agency 29th Mar 2019
The high-end shopping hub Vientiane Center, in cooperation with the National Blood Transfusion Centre, Vientiane Rescue 1623 and Vientiane Capital Rescue 1624, is organizing a blood drive and a free movies watching event to celebrate its 4th anniversary between Mar 28 and Apr 1. Also present at the event were the Deputy Director of Vientiane Shopping Center, Mr Xubo and all 20 Miss Vientiane 2019 finalists. The celebration event also featured the donation of relief items and necessaries by general public members for flood victims and charitable purposes.

Japan Funds Health Centres, Water Supply System Construction Projects KPL Lao News Agency 27th Mar 2019
The Japanese government has provided grant assistance worth over USD 414,000 for three health center projects and four water supply system projects through its Grant Assistance for Grassroots Human Security Projects (GGP). The grant contracts were signed at the Japanese Embassy in Vientiane Capital on Mar 27 between Mr. Kazuhiro Kuno, Minister of Japan to the Lao PDR, and representatives of the Ministry of Health, and the authorities of respective districts and provinces where the projects will be implemented. The three projects for the construction of health centers will be implemented in Beng district, Oudomxay province, Saravan district, Saravan province and Phonthong district, Champasak province. The current facilities are in poor condition and require frequent repair work. Therefore, these projects aim to improve access to health services by constructing new health centers, each with five to seven rooms, as well as provide medical equipment. As a result, over 13,000 residents in 20 villages will greatly benefit.

Malaysia

Health card for B40 group The Star 17th Apr 2019
The state government will introduce a health card for B40 (low income) households which will enable them to enjoy free health examinations at government hospitals and clinics. Chief Minister Adly Zahari said the initiative was among the promises in the Pakatan Harapan manifesto and was expected to be implemented by next year. He said discussions were being held with the relevant quarters to make the card a reality and help reduce the burden of those in the low-income group. ‘‘We have seen its model and will identify the target group who will receive the service. ‘‘However, the allocation has not been ascertained yet but it is expected not to exceed RM500 a year for a household,’’ he said at a celebration at the Melaka Hospital here. During the event, Adly visited and gave out hampers to patients.

5G technology won’t cause health issues, says MCMC The Star 15th Apr 2019
The rumours on social media claiming that 5G technology is detrimental to one’s health are not true, says Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC). According to Commission Member of the MCMC Prof Dr Tharek Abdul Rahman, public misconception that exposure to low Radio Frequency Electromagnetic Field (RF-EMF) causes headaches, depression, anxiety and lethargy is incorrect. He insists that extensive research has found no evidence to support claims that 5G technology can or will cause any health deterioration. Additionally, he adds that a study by the World Health Organisation – based on 25,000 research papers published in the last 30 years – also states that there is no scientific evidence to show that exposure to low-level EMF produces any adverse health effect. Tharek, who is also a professor at Universiti Teknologi Malaysia's Faculty of Electrical Engineering specialising in the field of wireless communications, explains that EMF is categorised as a non-ionising radiation where its waves are not capable of breaking or interrupting molecular structures, unlike the ionising radiation waves. In this context, exposure to non-ionising radiation results in the increased temperature of a subject, but the heat is not enough to cause long-term defect to body tissues.

Drastic cancer drug price drop to benefit patients The Star 15th Apr 2019
The price of the costly trastuzumab, a breast cancer drug for HER2-positive patients has dropped by more than half in the tender to the Health Ministry, resulting in more patients expected to be treated in the ministry hospitals. According to industry sources, the originator pharmaceutical company has dropped the price of the drug by about 52% in a tender approved by the ministry after a local drug company brought in a biosimilar version of the drug – the first in Malaysia – that costs about 50% of the original price. The Health Ministry called for a tender at the end of last year and it was recently awarded to the originator company, said an industry source. Patients treated in the ministry’s hospitals are subjected to the Fees (Medical) (Amend­ment) Order 2017, while patients in private hospitals pay around RM130,000 for a year’s treatment (17 cycles) before the price drop.

Malaysian Health Ministry to consider rabies treatment medical research Borneo Bulletin 14th Apr 2019
The Malaysian Health Ministry will consider proposals from universities or the industrial sector to conduct medical science research on the treatment of Rabies, particularly in Sarawak, said its Deputy Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye. He said the ministry was taking seriously the Rabies or Mad Dog epidemic, declared as a Stage Two Disaster in the state, which has recorded 16 fatalities so far. “We are keeping track of the data with regards to the number of (Rabies) cases, percentage of animals carrying the virus and hope all dog owners who love their dogs get them vaccinated,” he told reporters after opening of the Fourth International Conference on Advances in Medical Science 2019 organised by Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia (UKM) yesterday. Among others, his ministry is targetting to open up 15 more ‘Dog Bite’ clinics in early June in addition to the existing 10 clinics to overcome the outbreak in Sarawak. The Federal government has also spent more than RM2 million for the rabies vaccine injected on dogs in Sarawak. On the several police reports lodged by the public relating to the anti-Rabies operation in Padawan recently, Dr Lee said the ministry would get authorities to investigate the matter.

PeKa B40 scheme to begin on Monday (April 15) The Star 14th Apr 2019
The PeKa B40, a healthcare protection scheme for the low-income B40 group, will begin on Monday (April 15), says Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye (pic). He said the scheme involving an allocation of RM100mil will benefit 800,000 recipients of the Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) aged 50 and above. Dr Lee said recipient qualifications and participating clinics can be checked online at www.pekab40.com.my. “The benefits include medical examinations for hypertension, diabetes, kidney problems and cholesterol; medical aid such as artificial lenses for cataract, wheelchairs and hearing aids; incentive to complete cancer treatment; and transportation fare incentive of RM500 for patients in the peninsula and RM1,000 for those in Sabah and Sarawak to seek treatment at public hospitals or clinics,” he said. Dr Lee was also optimistic that the scheme would be extended to more recipients in the future.

Mawar haemodialysis centres running out of cash The Star 12th Apr 2019
The 13 Mawar haemodialysis centres providing treatment for over 500 kidney patients are running out of money. Established 20 years ago, the centres are now having financial problems after its headquarters in Seremban was shut down by the Health Ministry on Feb 14 this year. Lawyer Ng Kian Nam, who heads the "Save the haemodialysis patients committee", said on Friday (April 12) that the licences of five of the centres have also expired. The committee is an ad hoc committee set up by Ng who is also MCA civil society bureau movement chairman. "Our main concern is the patients who are from the lower-income group," he added. On Thursday (April 11), the committee held a peaceful protest outside the Rantau centre, calling for Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye's resignation over his alleged failure to sort out issues relating to licences. Ng said the management needed a licence from the ministry to resume operations as well as run the 13 centres.

‘Dying well is part of living well’ The Star 12th Apr 2019
The government is looking to expand its home care based palliative care services as part of its efforts to bring medical care right to the doorstep of patients, says Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye. “To date, 11 palliative care specialists have completed their training. Six public hospitals now have palliative care specialists,” he said. This came about after the government recognised palliative care medicine as a medical subspecialty in 2008. “We are expanding the services and through our health clinics we are providing home care based palliative care services apart from the usual home visit,” he said during the launch of Hospis Malaysia “Speak Up – Because I Matter” campaign in conjunction with Palliative Care Awareness Month yesterday. Dr Lee said the government was expanding its palliative care services as it was cheaper to keep patients at home rather than in the hospital for a patient’s end of life care. Such services were being done through the government’s health clinics he added. Hospis Malaysia chairman Datin Kathleen Chew said at the launch there was a need to recognise that those at the end of life also matter just as much as those in their prime of life. “To live well must include dying well and this is not wishful thinking. “At Hospis Malaysia, we know it is possible that with appropriate support, dying does not have to be chaotic, fear ridden, and a painful experience. In fact, families can be well supported and death can even be meaningful,” she said.

Penang sees drop in TB cases The Star 12th Apr 2019
THE number of tuberculosis (TB) cases in Penang has reduced by 8.8%, from 1,347 cases in 2017 to 1,228 last year. Chief Minister Chow Kon Yeow said death cases related to TB in the state were also reduced from 9.3 per 100,000 population to 8.6 per 100,000 population last year, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). “We want Penang to be free from TB in years to come. “But it’s only achievable if all parties strategise and continue to carry out their commitments each year,” he said after opening the state-level World TB Day at the MRSM Transkrian, Nibong Tebal, recently. He also called upon individuals who have symptoms of TB to get it examined and treated at health clinics or hospitals. “We believe TB can be cured in less than a year. But if left untreated, it would spread to family members or other working colleagues,” he said, adding that the theme for the celebration this year is “It’s Time For a TB–Free Penang”. Chow said according to WHO, there were nearly 10 million new TB cases in the world in 2017 with 1.3 million deaths.

Govt looking to expand home care-based palliative care services The Star 11th Apr 2019
As part of the its efforts on the 'uberisation' of healthcare, the government is looking to expand home care-based palliative care services, says Deputy Health Minister Dr Lee Boon Chye. Dr Lee said when palliative care medicine was recognised as a medical subspecialty in 2008, the government has churned out 11 palliative care specialists. He added that six public hospitals now have palliative care specialists. "We are expanding the services, and through our health clinics, we are providing home care-based palliative care services, apart from the usual home visit. "With the Health Director General's (Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah) uberisation of health care remarks, these are the things we are looking at," he said during the launch of the Hospis Malaysia "Speak Up - Because I Matter" campaign in conjunction with Palliative Care Awareness Month in Suria KLCC on Thursday (April 11). Dr Lee said the government was expanding its palliative care services, as it knew it was cheaper to keep patients at home rather than in the hospital for a patient's end-of-life care. He said the services were being done through the government's health clinics.

Halal vaccine poser New Straits Times 9th Apr 2019
Companies are gearing up for the production of halal vaccines to meet demands, but doctors say this may open doors to new problems. LAST August, doubts over the halal status of the measles-rubella (MR) vaccine led to millions of Indonesian parents rejecting the immunisation for their children. It happened after the Indonesian Ulama Council (MUI) of Riau raised concerns since the vaccine was not labelled as halal. The council believes the vaccine’s components are derived from porcine sources. Soon after, the central MUI body in Jakarta issued a fatwa that the MR vaccine is mubah (permitted for Muslims’ use) and that immunisation is permissible until halal vaccine could be produced. But resistance to the vaccine continued. In Indonesia, rejection to immunisation on religious grounds is still strong, especially in more conservative provinces such as Aceh, Sulawesi, and the Riau Islands.

Patients free to choose paying service The Star 8th Apr 2019
REFERRING to the letter “Protect private care patients” (The Star, April 4), the Health Ministry (MOH) would like to inform that there are numerous misleading and inaccurate information in it which we would like to clarify. The MOH’s full paying patient (FPP) service is offered by selected government hospitals to patients who can afford to pay. They are given the option and opportunity to be treated by an eligible specialist of their choice and would be charged fully without subsidies from the government for their medical treatment and services. This service is completely voluntary as it is entirely the patient’s choice to take it, and it is not to be commercialised as a profit-making scheme. Apart from providing options for these patients to receive treatment in public hospitals, the FPP service was also set up as part of a retention package for government specialists to earn additional income while continuously serving in public hospitals. This service is able to lower the government’s healthcare expenditure by reducing the subsidy on health services to people who can afford to pay fully for their treatment. In short, the FPP service does not abrogate the government’s responsibility towards the general public, especially the poor or B40 group. Actually, a large portion of revenue garnered from this service is channelled towards the government’s consolidated fund, which in turn will be used for annual budgeting by the Finance Ministry to continue the heavily subsidised public healthcare service for the general public.

Daily 15-minute exercises at ministries to start soon The Star Online 8th Apr 2019
KUALA LUMPUR: The Cabinet has agreed that every ministry will have 15-minute exercise sessions every day to encourage a healthy lifestyle, says Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad.

Myanmar

Yangon General Hospital on heightened alert for Thingyan The Myanmar Times 12th Apr 2019
Dr Khin Theingyi Myint, deputy medical superintendent of the hospital, said it will also augment its facilities in expectation of an increase in medical emergencies during the festival. “We usually double the number of staff in the emergency department during the four-day traditional Myanmar New Year celebration. Our staff members are on heightened alert,” he said.  Between 150 and 200 personnel, including doctors, nurses, technicians, and basic health staff, are assigned to work in the department during the festival. Usually only around 80 health staff are assigned to the department.  Hospital officials have been readying medicine, equipment and blood for emergency patients since last month.  All staff members have undergone training and discussions about all kinds of possible health emergencies that may occur during the holidays, including heat-related problems.  “We have air conditioners and electric fans in the rooms of every ward for heat stroke patients,” said Daw Moe Moe San, a senior consultant physician in the Tropical and Infectious Diseases Department.

Supplies of blood units ‘sufficient for Thingyan’ The Myanmar Times 9th Apr 2019
Dr Daw Thida Aung, head of the centre, assured the public that it has enough supplies of blood during the country’s biggest holiday.  “We plan to get volunteer donors at the NBC and Shwedagon Pagoda during blood donation campaigns,” she said. The centre supplied over 890,000 units of blood in the six months from October 2018 to March to 14 major hospitals and other medical facilities in Yangon. The centre now delivers at least 300 units a day to each hospital.  It constantly analyses the use of blood at major hospitals to determine if there is a need to expand its facilities.   The centre receives blood from almost 150 donors per day and at least 20 blood donation events per month. It receives at least 7000 units per month, according to the centre.  Volunteer blood donors must be between 18 and 55, and men must weigh at least 110 pounds and women at least 100 pounds. Donors are usually checked for contagious diseases such as HIV, hepatitis, malaria, and elephantiasis, among others.

Myanmar Drafts National Strategy For Disabled Myanmar Business Today 9th Apr 2019
Myanmar held a two-day workshop in the capital Nay Pyi Taw to draft a national strategy for people with disabilities, the Ministry of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement said on Thursday. At the two-day which ended on Wednesday, Deputy Minister of Social Welfare, Relief and Resettlement U Soe Aung stressed the need to clearly map sector-wise tasks in the national strategy by taking the Enabling Master Plan of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN)  and the Myanmar Sustainable Development Plan into consideration. He called for linking the draft strategy with the Sustainable Goals-2030, the national-level strategy for social welfare, and rules and bylaws of the related ministries. He also emphasized the need for the strategy to guarantee people with disabilities easy access to six priority sectors including health, education, jobs and social welfare and assistance when they face disaster and other emergency situation. The draft strategy is targeted to be completed by December.

Public health hinges on safe medical waste disposal The Myanmar Times 9th Apr 2019
He works until 6am the next day. While making his rounds, he often finds potentially dangerous waste discarded by hospitals in the area. The city and the Ministry of Health and Sports have specified that dangerous waste is not allowed to be disposed of in bins on the street but only in special trucks. Every three or four days, Ko Aung Si Thu finds hospital waste in the bins, including disposable needles and syringes, used hospital gloves and blood-transfusion tubes, so he has to handle them carefully. Sometimes, he finds discarded needles and syringes in old water bottles. Luckily, his superiors have briefed him in detail on handling such dangerous articles and arranged for him to have vaccinations. The city’s Department of Pollution Control and Cleansing also issues him gloves and masks to protect him from disease. Despite instructions from the YCDC to dispose of dangerous waste after separating it into different coloured bags, some hospitals and clinics disregard the rules. U Aung Myint Maw, deputy head of the department, said clinics and hospitals still tend to lump all their waste together.

Advancing universal health coverage The Myanmar Times 5th Apr 2019
The challenge today is how to accelerate its progress. This is where primary health care comes in. The majority of a person’s health needs – whatever their age or health condition – can be delivered by primary health care providers. There is plenty of evidence that this is both equitable and efficient. Frontline services tend to be geographically closer to people than hospitals, especially in remote areas. The case for primary health care is sound. Political momentum for universal health coverage is high, and there is renewed commitment to primary health care. In October 2018, at the Conference on Primary Health Care in Astana, Kazakhstan, countries from across the world agreed that providing quality primary health care is fundamental to advancing universal health coverage. In September 2019, the UN General Assembly will hold a high-level meeting of heads of government on how to accelerate progress on universal health coverage. Delivering more equitable access to quality primary health care will be core to the discussion. To deliver quality health care, sufficient health workers and improved access to quality medicine are needed, particularly in rural areas. As a recent WHO report outlines, the availability of doctors, nurses and midwives has improved. The momentum generated by the region’s Decade of Strengthening Human Resources for Health must be maintained and intensified: numbers still fall short of the Sustainable Development Goal for health workers.

K3.9 billion allocated for buying medicines The Myanmar Times 1st Apr 2019
U Zaw Myint Maung was answering a question in the hluttaw from Daw Nyein Thet Nwe, MP for Nwartogyi township, about medicine provided free of charge at the public hospital under the Ministry of Health. The Ministry of Health and Sports provides the medical departments of Mandalay with approved funds to buy medicine by calling tenders in accordance with the instructions of the President’s Office. The ministry provided medicine by using more than K2.8 billion for the Department of Medical Services and more than K2.3 billion for Public Health Services in the 2017-2018 fiscal year, he said. “The tender process is being carried out to provide funding of over K2.3 billion for the Department of Medical Services and K1.6 billion for the Department of Public Health,” said U Zaw Myint Maung. For transparency, the list of free medicines has been announced to the public hospitals under the Mandalay Regional Department of Medical Services through an official letter of notification. Patients undergoing operations and childbirth will need to buy the required medicine on their own if they run out, but a certain amount of medicine is provided by the Ministry of Health and Sports to minimise the amount spent by patients, he said.

Air pollution returns in Tachileik, Shan State The Myanmar Times 25th Mar 2019
The air quality in Tachileik declined on Saturday because of agricultural burning on the Thai border and was worse on Sunday than it was earlier in the month. Thick smoke from the burning of farm waste is covering the city and is expected to worsen in the next few days, residents said. “The government has recommended that people use masks. Even though we stay home as much as we can, our eyes are burning,” said Ko Soe Tun Naing, a resident of Tachileik. The government is trying to reduce the thick smoke by spraying water and announcing the air quality to the public daily. “I think that our two countries need to discuss ways to solve this problem because it’s not only our country where there is burning but in Thailand too. We are used to suffering from smog every year, but this year it’s worse,” Ko Soe Tun Naing added. The risk of air pollution was high and the air quality index was red for the first time. Smog covered the city all day like fog.

Philippines

Dengue cases rise in Western Visayas Manila Bulletin 16th Apr 2019
Dengue cases have increased significantly in Western Visayas, according to the Department of Health (DOH). DOH’s Regional Epidemiology Surveillance Unit (RESU-6) found a 159 percent increase in dengue cases in the region comprising of Aklan, Antique, Capiz, Guimaras, Iloilo, and Negros Occidental provinces. From January to April 6 this year, there were 5,527 dengue cases with 33 deaths.  In comparison, there were only 2,136 dengue cases and 27 deaths for the same period of last year. Maria Lourdes Monegro, DOH-6 entomologist, said Negros Occidental remains to have the most number of dengue cases with 1,863 and 15 deaths. Aklan had the highest attack rate.  It means that out of 100,000 people, there were 129 stricken with dengue. Meanwhile, DOH reminded the public to clean their surroundings and help avoid creating breeding places for mosquitos that carry the disease.

Signing of 2019 budget means more funds for Filipinos’ healthcare needs Manila Bulletin 16th Apr 2019
Reelectionist Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito on Tuesday said the signing of the 2019 national budget into law would now pave the way for more funds to spend for Filipinos’ healthcare needs. Ejercito, chair of the Senate committee on health and demography, said he was glad that funds allocated for the improvement of health services will now be readily available for implementation. “In particular, I am glad that the money can now be spent for our people’s health care, including the P7-billion Human Resources for Health (HRH) program of the Department of Health (DoH) which I fought for during budget deliberations,” Ejercito said. Ejercito had earlier sought the restoration of P30-billion for the DOH’s Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) in the proposed P3.757-trillion national budget for this year. The senator earlier described the initial zero-funding for the HFEP as “anti-poor and a great disservice to the people.”

Creation of Philippine blood disease and transfusion center pushed Manila Bulletin 16th Apr 2019
Camarines Sur Rep. Luis Raymund Villafuerte has sought the creation of the Philippine Blood Disease and Transfusion Center to cater to Filipinos with hematologic disorders. Under House Bill 8774, Villafuerte proposed the creation of the Blood Center that will offer comprehensive care for patients with blood diseases, including blood transfusion services, for public welfare. “The National Blood Services Act of 1994 or Republic Act 7719, sought the strengthening of voluntary blood services nationwide in the advent of rise of blood-borne infections, HIV threats, and dengue fever. This bill proposes to add to this by making sure that the adequate supply of blood assured by RA 7719 is coupled with appropriate research and laboratory centers for hematologic disorders,” Villafuerte said. He said his bill aims to help decrease the cases of hematologic diseases in the country. The Camarines Sur lawmaker said the Center will be under the direct supervision of the Department of Health (DOH) but managed by its own Board of Trustees for policy direction and control.

DOH: Gov’t hospitals on ‘White’ alert for Holy Week Manila Bulletin 16th Apr 2019
Government hospitals were placed under ‘code white’ alert during the observance of the Holy Week, the Department of Health (DOH) said. Health Undersecretary Rolando Enrique Domingo said code white alert refers to the readiness status of health facilities, assuring the availability of general and orthopedic surgeons, anesthesiologists, internists, operating room nurses, ophthalmologists, and otorhinolaryngologists, to respond to any emergency situation. Health service, nursing, and administrative personnel residing at the hospital dormitories are also placed on an on-call status to enable immediate mobilization. Earlier, the health department reminded pilgrims and penitents to observe measures to avoid heat stroke and other summer-related illnesses. The public is advised to bring bottled water, well-packed foods, and an umbrella for church visits or ‘Visita Iglesia.’ People with high blood pressure and other diseases should take their maintenance medicines.

UNICEF-WHO Philippines: Measles Outbreak, Situation Report 9, 14 April 2019 - Philippines ReliefWeb 16th Apr 2019
Between 1 January and 5 April 2019, 28,362 measles cases including 389 deaths were officially reported through the routine surveillance system from the DOH, with a Case Fatal-ity rate of 1,37% (see Table 1). With a median age of 3 years old, 53% of measles cases are under 5 years of age. 53% of measles cases are male. With a median age of 1 year old, 84% of all deaths are chil-dren under the age of 5, 61% of measles deaths are male. Most deaths are reported from Region III, IV-A, VIII and NCR. As of 5 April 2019, 90% of cases have no documented vac-cination status. DoH data shows that 3% of cases had been previously vaccinated with 2 doses of measles vaccine. The vaccination status of the remainder of cases is unknown.

JV says IRR of universal health care law could be out by June or July Manila Bulletin 15th Apr 2019
Reelectionist Senator Joseph Victor “JV” Ejercito said he was delighted to learn that the drafting of the implementing rules and regulations (IRR) for the Universal Health Care law is right on track. Ejercito, who spearheaded the passage of the UHC law, disclosed that the discussion of four main components of the law have already been completed at the Technical Working Group (TWG) level. These components include the Local Health Systems, Health Financing, Governance, and Regulations and Service Delivery. With the completion of the preliminaries in the ongoing drafting of the IRR, all Filipinos would soon be able to avail of free access to health care services. “I am happy because things are going well in the drafting of the IRR,” said Ejercito in a statement. “As soon as the document is finished and the law is already operational, our people will finally be ‘freed’ from financial stress when seeking primary, curative, and palliative services,” he stressed. “I hope we can have the IRR by June, or July at the latest,” the senator added. Ejercito, who is seeking another six-year term in the Senate, said the next stage of the process is the consolidation of the components and refinement of the final draft for approval of the Department of Health (DOH) and PhilHealth.

DOH-Calabarzon reminds elderly to be conscious of their health Manila Bulletin 14th Apr 2019
The Department of Health- Calabarzon reminded anew the senior citizens in the region to adopt a healthy lifestyle. Regional Director Eduardo Janairo said that it was important for the elderly to exercise regularly to avoid the risk of developing certain illnesses. “Ugaliin ring uminom ng maraming tubig upang maging aktibo at magkaroon enerhiya at napakaimportante at huwag kalilimutang kumain ng mga gulay at prutas dahil ang mga bitamina nito ang makakapagmigay ng lakas sa katawan,” he added. [Always drink plenty of water and be active. It is also important to eat vegetables and fruits as it contain vitamins that will make your body stronger.] Meanwhile, DOH-Calabarzon recently conducted a health summit wherein a total of 160 assistive devices, such as walkers, canes, and wheelchairs were distributed to the different groups of senior citizens in the region. Maintenance medicines for those with hypertension and diabetes were also distributed. It also conducted medical check-ups and lectures on mental health and aging, healthy lifestyle, and updates on their Philhealth benefits.

DOT assures public of medical services in top tourist destinations GMA News Online 10th Apr 2019
The Department of Tourism (DOT) on Wednesday assured the public that it is working to have medical services available in the country’s top tourist destinations. After a recent incident involving supermodel Kelsey Merritt’s boyfriend, who sustained a head injury in Siargao, Tourism Secretary Berna Romulo-Puyat said they have already gotten in touch with the local government unit. “We’ve already contacted local government especially in Siargao. They’ve already instructed all the municipalities, especially all the mayors, na dapat may doctors and nurses available," she said in a news forum. "This is a high tourist season, dapat available siya." Romulo-Puyat said areas of particular concern are Siargao and Boracay because other popular summer destinations — Cebu, Bohol, Palawan — already have hospitals. “With regard to Boracay, they’re already building a hospital, supposedly by June,” she said. Tourism Assistant Secretary Maria Rica Bueno said that in anticipation of the tourist influx this summer, they issued an advisory to their regional offices two weeks ago to “set up the emergency care systems and facilities as well as safety and security measures in these tourist destinations.”

WHO urges PHL to invest more in primary health care GMA News Online 5th Apr 2019
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Friday urged the Philippine government to invest more in a primary health care system and develop a "people-centered" approach to health services. During a press conference on World Health Day, Dr. Takeshi Kasai, the organization's regional director for the Western Pacific, said the tendency of countries to invest more in hospitals "has to change," as primary health care services sit closest to communities. Primary health care includes screening for and treatment of common diseases, vaccination, and family planning -- a range of services that the WHO says focuses on health improvement and maintenance more than the treatment of a single disease. "You don't have to be rich to have a very good primary health care," Kasai said, adding that primary health care is a "very wise investment." The WHO reports that four of five deaths in the region are caused by non-communicable diseases, such as diabetes, cancer and heart disease. "As people live longer and with multiple chronic conditions spanning many years, greater investment in primary health care are needed to promote health and well-being and to help manage disease," the WHO said.

Singapore

New transplant centre to explore ways to increase access to organs The Straits Times 12th Apr 2019
SingHealth and Duke-NUS Medical School have launched a new disease centre which brings together all of its transplant expertise, including research and education, in an effort to improve transplant care and increase access to organs. The SingHealth Duke-NUS Transplant Centre will consolidate all of the medical group's solid organ, tissue and cellular transplantation services. This includes kidney, liver and heart transplants, as well as corneal tissue, ovarian tissue and umbilical cord blood transplants, among others. Speaking at the launch on Friday (April 12), Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said: "This new transplant centre aims to harmonise SingHealth's clinical expertise for transplant with its research and education capabilities. "It will explore ways to improve the transplant survival rates, optimise the quality of patients' lives and keep transplant-related costs affordable for patients." Leading the centre is Associate Professor Prema Raj Jeyaraj, a senior consultant at the Singapore General Hospital's department of hepato-pancreato-biliary and transplant surgery.

Singapore-developed cooling suit lowers body temperature in half the time: Study The Straits Times 11th Apr 2019
A wearable cooling device that can help protect a patient's brain and other vital organs following a cardiac arrest has been developed by doctors from Singapore General Hospital (SGH) and an industry partner, Global Healthcare SG. The CarbonCool suit, as it is called, consists of a wearable suit made of neoprene and thermoplastic polyurethane. It holds 20 cooling pads filled with a graphite water solution that is about 15 times more thermally conductive than ice. At a press briefing yesterday, Professor Marcus Ong, a senior consultant and clinician scientist at SGH's Department of Emergency Medicine, said: "When a person's heart stops beating, there is no blood flow or oxygen supply to vital organs like the brain, liver and kidneys for a prolonged period of time. "Research has shown that cooling the body to about 34 degrees is one of the best ways to preserve brain function after cardiac arrest." The process, called targeted temperature management (TTM), would be initiated after a patient's heart has been restarted, for instance, by paramedics called to an emergency. Prof Ong said that the faster the body can be cooled to the target temperature, the more likely it is that the patient will regain good brain function, or, in other words, be able to walk, talk and return to work after recovery.

Eleven known cases of super fungus Candida auris infections in Singapore since 2012: MOH The Straits Times 9th Apr 2019
There were 11 isolated cases of Candida auris infections at public hospitals here since 2012 but no outbreak was reported, a Ministry of Health (MOH) spokesman said on Tuesday (April 9) in response to queries. Two of the patients found to be infected with the antifungal-resistant germ died while the other nine recovered. Three patients, including one of the two patients who died, were treated at the Singapore General Hospital between 2012 and 2017, it said on Monday. The MOH spokesman said: "The cases were immediately isolated and contact tracing conducted by the hospitals had not identified any disease spread. The patients' rooms were thoroughly cleaned and disinfected to remove the fungus." Healthcare institutions here have measures in place to prevent and control healthcare-related infections, including C. auris, and are required to report any outbreaks, but no outbreak was reported, the spokesman said. The spokesman added that public hospitals are also required to isolate infected patients when necessary and to adequately disinfect equipment and the environment of the infected patients.

More than 2,000 dengue cases reported in first quarter Channel NewsAsia 7th Apr 2019
The first quarter of this year saw a three-fold increase in the number of dengue cases compared to the same period in 2018, the National Environment Agency (NEA) said in a media release on Sunday (Apr 7). More than 2,000 cases have been reported since January while about 600 cases were registered in the first three months last year. NEA said even though it detected seven per cent less Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in March 2019, compared to March 2018, it found that the mosquito population remained high. "Our neighbouring countries have also reported sharp increases in dengue cases in recent months. The warmer months of June to October usually see higher transmission of dengue in Singapore, due to the accelerated development of the Aedes mosquito and the shorter incubation period of the dengue virus," NEA said. It expects an increasing trend in dengue cases in the warmer months ahead, if active steps are not taken to keep the mosquito population in check.

Public healthcare facilities to get data-driven design The Straits Times 3rd Apr 2019
A new framework for smart healthcare infrastructure has been developed to help public healthcare facilities better harness technology and make decisions driven by data. Under the framework, future hospitals and other facilities will be designed with the help of data analytics and other technologies such as virtual reality (VR), said Ms Yvonne Lim, deputy director of healthcare infrastructure projects at the Ministry of Health's holding company for public healthcare assets, MOH Holdings. Workflow simulations and evidence-informed design can help architects and designers improve the layout of a new facility's buildings, she said. The facilities can then be mocked up in VR so doctors and other healthcare professionals can provide feedback on how to improve the building plan before it gets built. Ms Lim announced the details of the framework on Wednesday (April 3) at the Healthcare Infrastructure Technology and Engineering Conference held in Max Atria at Singapore Expo. As part of the framework, a database of smart technology products and equipment - referred to as smart enablers - has been compiled, including Internet of Things (IoT) devices, air quality sensors and computer systems.

HSA sets up committee to review management of sensitive data The Straits Times 2nd Apr 2019
The Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has set up a committee to review its policies and processes for managing sensitive data, and recommend appropriate measures. This comes on the heels of a data breach involving the personal information of more than 800,000 blood donors, Senior Minister of State for Health Edwin Tong said in Parliament yesterday. The Health Ministry and its agencies will also review the life cycle management of the data being handled by their existing information technology vendors. The leaked data had been uploaded to a server last October without appropriate safeguards by HSA's vendor, Secur Solutions Group, which was appointed to maintain and enhance the queue management system for blood donors. Initially, it was thought the data had been accessed only by a US cyber-security expert who had spotted the vulnerability in the server last month. But subsequent forensic analysis showed the server was also accessed suspiciously from several other IP addresses between last October and March this year, Secur Solutions Group said last Saturday.

Parliament: MOH will spell out doctors' obligations clearly so there's no need to second-guess: Gan Kim Yong The Straits Times 1st Apr 2019
Singapore does not want to go the way of the United States where a "significant fraction of healthcare costs goes towards medical indemnity insurance", said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong. To prevent this, the Ministry of Health (MOH) will clearly spell out doctors' and healthcare institutions' legal and ethical responsibilities, and even introduce legislation if necessary. Mr Gan, in a ministerial statement in Parliament on Monday (April 1), said MOH will provide clear guidelines to doctors on what comprises informed consent, what they need to tell patients, how to help patients' next of kin, and what to do in emergency situations. He was replying to queries from Dr Chia Shi-Lu (Tanjong Pagar GRC) and Dr Lim Wee Kiak (Sembawang GRC) who asked for clear guidelines to help doctors who were concerned by two recent judgments by the Singapore Medical Council's disciplinary tribunals. Mr Gan said there was also uncertainty among medical professionals following comments from an Appeals Court after it found Changi General Hospital (CGH) guilty of not diagnosing a patient's cancer before it spread. Mr Gan also said he was deeply saddened to hear of the patient's death on Monday morning, and offered his condolences to her family.

HSA recalls three brands of high blood pressure drug losartan over cancer risk The Straits Times 28th Mar 2019
Three brands of a medicine prescribed for high blood pressure are being recalled because they contain higher than acceptable amounts of nitrosamine impurity, which can potentially cause cancer. However, patients currently taking these three brands of losartan are advised not to stop taking the medicine, as the immediate health risk is low, the Health Sciences Authority said in a statement on Thursday (March 28). The drugs affected are the 50mg and 100mg tablets from these brands: Hypergen, Losagen and Losartas. The Ministry of Health (MOH) said that about 137,000 patients in Singapore are using the three recalled brands of losartan. Of these, about 130,000 patients have been prescribed Losartas at public hospitals and polyclinics. With supplies of the safe varieties of losartan expected to be affected by the recall, the MOH has advised doctors to prescribe the medication on a one-month basis so that all patients have enough medicine to control their high blood pressure.

Thailand

New approach urged to protect the elderly The Nation 15th Apr 2019
IN RESPONSE to a study that found the rights of seniors being violated as the nation officially becomes an ageing society, the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) and allies are calling on the authorities to create a system of protection for the elderly.  Taking such action now will be a worthy Songkran gift to the 10.9 million seniors in the country, the foundation suggested. The ThaiHealth sponsored study, conducted by the Foundation of Thai Gerontology Research and Development Institute, will be used to create a legal and regulatory protection system for senior citizens. Previous studies had discovered that the elderly, especially those who have lost control over their bodies, were often deprived of their basic rights, underwent mental abuse and abandonment, or were cheated out of their assets. The research detailed the role related government agencies can play in the mission of protecting seniors, the laws and regulations required, as well as the establishment of a network to monitor the violation of elderly people’s rights and the setting up of clubs for elderly people.  Such findings are in line with ongoing work spearheaded by the Social Development and Human Security Ministry’s Department of Senior Services to support the increasing number of aged people in Thai society, said ThaiHealth’s Poranee Phuprasert, who is director of the foundation’s vulnerable group wellbeing promotion office.

Deadline to register medical marijuana May 19, FDA chief says The Nation 15th Apr 2019
Doctors and medical professionals who wish to obtain a license to legally prescribe medical marijuana as a treatment must register and undergo training with the Public Heath Ministry or those certified by the ministry, Tares added,  Registration opened on February 27 and so far 1,053 people have declared possession of medical marijuana and 8,850 others have called the FDA hotline 1556 (press 3) and the Office of The Narcotics Control Board's hotline 1386 (press 3) for more information, Tares said.  Just before the Songkran holidays, 239 people - most of whom were patients requiring medical marijuana to treat their ailments - declared their possession, he added. Those needing to use marijuana for medical purposes will not be punished for drug possession if they notify the administration before the May 19 deadline, Tares affirmed, urging such individuals to prepare the related documents (a Thai national ID card, a declaration form, a medical certificate to confirm the need for medical marijuana) as well as the marijuana in their possession (for large quantities, photographs might be sufficient) to present to the FDA in Bangkok or to the respective provincial health offices.  Medical professionals wishing to legally prescribe medical marijuana must register and undergo training with either of the two currently authorized agencies: doctors, dentists and pharmacists must be trained by the Department Medical of Service while traditional medicinal doctors or folk doctors must be trained by the Department of Thai Traditional And Alternative Medicine, he said.

Careful plans lead to success with office tech in healthcare  The Nation 12th Apr 2019
Around the world, health service providers struggle to keep up with the pace of change. In response, most healthcare providers have focused on back-office efficiency and improving simple transactions, while leaving the majority of patient-facing activities unchanged. Digital technology has a vital role in the healthcare industry, especially for senior and aftercare programmes, according to a report by KPMG.  “A combination of advanced technology can be used in multiple angles of healthcare through real-time data collection from IoT and wearable devices. Advanced analytic tools such as AI, precision medicine and Robotic Process Automation can certainly help hospitals and healthcare providers deliver healthy and quality living to the elderly.” Navigating this new landscape is challenging for organisations and their leaders as they try to increase productivity and quality through digital technology. There is no doubt, however, that technological transformation will be one of the major differentiators between successful and unsuccessful providers over the next decade. The competing pressures of cost and expectations of quality mean that doing nothing is not a sustainable option.

Price limits pressure hospitals Bangkok Post 11th Apr 2019
Rising cases of influenza and dengue fever are poised to generate revenue growth for hospitals in the first quarter, but resurfacing prospects of medical price controls will exert downward pressure on healthcare share prices, says Kasikorn Securities (KS). The Central Committee on Prices and Services (CPGS) is not expected to have a policy to control medical prices and healthcare services for private hospitals, but frequent inspections are likely, said KS senior analyst Piyachat Ratanasuvan. The resolution from the Health Facilities Board that drugs dispensed by hospitals should not be included with drugs placed on the Commerce Ministry's price control watch list is expected to be submitted to the sub-committee overseeing medical prices and healthcare services for consideration, said Ms Piyachat. The sub-committee should take some time before they come up with a proposal to the CPGS, she said. "We also expect the [healthcare] sector to remain under a regulatory overhang from potential price controls for drugs and services, which will resurface and exert downward pressure on share prices," said Ms Piyachat. KS forecasts revenue in the healthcare sector to exceed 7% in 2019-20, driven by cash patients and Social Security Office revenue recovery.

Thailand in worst 14 for TB Bangkok Post 10th Apr 2019
The government and health advocates are struggling to deal with tuberculosis as Thailand still has a high global ranking among TB-plagued countries. "We are one of the 14 worst countries hit by this severely infectious disease which has spread across 200 countries," Arth Nana, executive committee chairman of the Anti-TB Association of Thailand, said on Tuesday. "We must improve the situation in order to do away with TB by 2021," he insisted, referring to a goal put in place by the Disease Control Department. In 2017, the department set its five-year plan to control the disease and reduce the number of patients. But two years in, its goals remain far from complete. In Bangkok alone, new TB cases are on the rise, attributed to the influx of migrant workers, the most vulnerable group. The number of foreign workers who were registered for treatment increased from 853 in 2017 to 1,123 last year.

Cabinet okays Bt148m to prevent outbreak of African swine flu The Nation 9th Apr 2019
THE CABINET on Tuesday approved a Bt148.54-million budget for implementing measures to prevent the outbreak of African Swine Fever (ASF), the agriculture minister said. Agriculture Minister Grisada Boonrach said the Cabinet agreed to add this issue to the national agenda and approved the budget of carrying out necessary measures. The budget will be disbursed over three fiscal years – Bt53.6 million in 2019 fiscal year, Bt52.41 million in 2020 and Bt42.51 million in 2021. The budget will be used to implement measures for monitoring the disease and for building furnaces to destroy contaminated pig carcasses. Grisada explained that the ASF virus can survive if the infected animals are buried, so it would be safer to destroy the carcasses in special furnaces. He added that the Agriculture Ministry decided to propose these measures after the outbreak spread to 18 countries since 2018, including 10 countries in Europe, four in Africa and four in Asia. He said there have been 113 occurrences of the disease in 28 provinces in China, 10 in Mongolia, 221 occurrences in 17 provinces in Vietnam and one in Cambodia.

Healthcare workforce crisis looming Bangkok Post 9th Apr 2019
Healthcare is one of the largest sectors and employers in the world, worth over US$9 trillion globally and consuming an average of 10% of a country's GDP. However, with longer life expectancy and global population growth, having enough healthcare facilities and workforce is a growing concern -- especially in countries that are rapidly ageing, according to the global professional services consultancy KPMG. A shortfall of 18 million health workers by 2030 will have a devastating impact on the world's healthcare sector, warns Dr Mark Britnell, KPMG's global chairman for healthcare. There are not enough staff to care for patients, and if swift action is not taken, there will soon be a workforce crisis with severe implications on a global scale, he said. The increase in the elderly population and decrease in the number of children means that countries are faced with more challenges to care for and support not only the entire population, but significantly, the elderly. Thailand has been greying rapidly, with the UN projecting that the share of people aged 65 or older will increase from 10.5% of the population in 2015 to 19.5% in 2030 and 25.9% 2040. Generally, a society is considered "aged" when when its over-65 population exceeds 14% of the total and "super-aged" when the ratio reaches 21%.

Haze causes thousands to fall ill in North Bangkok Post 8th Apr 2019
CHIANG MAI: More than 8,600 residents in northern Thailand have sought treatment for haze-related respiratory illnesses since January, according to the National Health Security Office (NHSO). Since February, air concentrations of PM2.5 pollutants in the northern provinces have soared beyond the safe threshold set by the government and World Health Organisation (WHO). Recently, PM2.5 levels in Chiang Mai's Mae Taeng district reached an alarming level of 492.57 microgrammes per cubic metre (µg/m³), 10 times the safe limit imposed in Thailand and 20 times the safe limit of the WHO. In Chiang Rai's Mae Sai district, the PM2.5 level has remained above 100µg/m³ metre since March 13. Yesterday, the PM2.5 average in nine northern provinces was between 47 and 123µg/m³ in Chiang Rai, Chiang Mai, Lampang, Lamphun, Mae Hong Son, Nan, Phrae, Phayao and Tak. The highest level was reported in tambon Jong Kham of Muang district, Mae Hong Son, according to the Pollution Control Department.

Most private hospitals overcharging Bangkok Post 6th Apr 2019
The Commerce Ministry has found that more than half of private hospitals overcharge for medicines and medical services. Whichai Phochanakij, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, who chaired a meeting of the working group tasked with studying the production cost of medicines and medical services, said 295 of a total of 353 private hospitals in Thailand had submitted production cost information for their medicines and medical services to the working group as of Thursday. That leaves 58 private hospitals that have yet to provide any information to the panel, mostly smaller hospitals. The government set an April 4 deadline for all private hospitals, regardless of size, to submit the data or face penalties under the 1999 Prices of Goods and Services Act. According to the act, those that refuse to supply information to the regulator violate Section 18 and are subject to up to three months in jail, a fine of up to 5,000 baht or both.

Private hospitals risk legal action Bangkok Post 1st Apr 2019
The government has threatened to take legal action against private hospitals that refuse to provide production cost information for their medicines and medical services. According to Whichai Phochanakij, director-general of the Internal Trade Department, the working group tasked with studying the production cost of medicines and medical services asked all private hospitals to supply information on such production costs on Jan 31, but only half complied. "We would like to emphasise that by April 4, all private hospitals, regardless of size, must submit the data to the working group or they will face penalties according to the 1999 Prices of Goods and Services Act," Mr Whichai said. According to the act, those who refuse to supply information to the regulator violate Section 18 and are subject to up to three months in jail, a fine of up to 5,000 baht or both. The working panel will use information available to evaluate the appropriate production costs of medicines, medical supplies and medical services, while considering whether prices charged by private hospitals are exaggerated.

Northern provinces still shrouded by toxic air Bangkok Post 31st Mar 2019
Chiang Mai city and at least nine other locations in northern Thailand were plagued by toxic dust particles on Sunday as authorities were spraying water to ease the situation. The Air Quality Index on Sunday afternoon showed poor air quality in parts of Chiang Mai, Mae Hong Son, Lamphun, Lampang, Phayao, Chiang Rai and Nan. All -- including the city of Chiang Mai -- were in the red zone, meaning PM2.5 readings were above the acceptable standard of 50 microgrammes per cubic metre.  The worst air quality was in Mae Sai district of Chiang Rai, where the index was at 467, far beyond the 'unhealthy' threshhold of 200. PM2.5 in Mae Sai hit a level of 353 at 9am, according to latest figures released by the Pollution Control Department. Chaiyaphol Thitisak, the Disaster Prevention and Mitigation Department director-general, ordered trucks to spray water in hopes of reducing the heavy smog. People in the hardest-hit locations were advised to wear masks. Weerachai Chaimongkol, the kamnan of tambon Pah Dad in Muang district of Chiang Mai, urged the government to step in to tackle the problem as it was beyond the scope of provincial authorities.

Stroke rates on the rise Bangkok Post 25th Mar 2019
With about 50,000 people dying from stroke each year, the disease is becoming a leading cause of death among Thais, according to the Royal College of Physicians. Dr Nijasri Charnnarong, director of the Royal College of Physicians, said that from the estimated 250,000 new cases of strokes recorded in Thailand each year, about 50,000 patients lose their lives while around 30% of patients become paralysed. While strokes can be fatal, death can usually be prevented if patients are well-aware of the symptoms that precede an attack and how to deal with it -- which can be summarised by the acronym “FAST”, he said in an annual report on Thailand’s public health released recently. According to Dr Nijasri, the “F” in FAST stands for facial twitching, while the “A” refers to arm weakness. Meanwhile, “S” stands for slurred speech, while the “T” refers to the critical timing of action once the other symptoms have manifested, he said.

Vietnam

Improved healthcare services attract more foreign patients Vietnam News 17th Apr 2019
Improved healthcare services, especially for emergency treatments, have helped attract more foreign patients, including expatriates living and working in Việt Nam, travellers and visitors. In a recent case, a patient from Australia who collapsed at Tân Sơn Nhất International Airport on March 30 in HCM City because of sudden heart attack after the flight was brought to the City International Hospital in HCM City’s Bình Tân District for emergency treatment. His symptoms included dizziness, excessive sweating, fatigue and low blood pressure. After an examination and laboratory tests, the results showed that he had a complete heart block, right bundle-branch block, and other health problems. Much of his heart had stopped responding properly to nerve impulses telling it to beat, and other parts of the heart were beating poorly. An immediate procedure was performed by Dr Nguyễn Hữu Tùng, head of cardiology and vascular intervention at the hospital.

Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis for HIV officially launched in Hanoi Voice of Vietnam 17th Apr 2019
Pre-Exposure Prophylaxis (PrEP) service for HIV prevention was officially launched in Hanoi on April 16. PrEP allows people who do not have HIV but are at substantial risk of infection to prevent HIV by taking a pill every day, as part of a combination HIV prevention strategy. Phan Thi Thu Huong, vice director of the Vietnam Administration for HIV/AIDS Control of the Ministry of Health, said PrEP is extremely effective when taken correctly, and would reduce the risk of HIV infection via unsafe sex by 90 percent or via injection drug use by 70 percent. According to vice director of the Health Department of Hanoi Hoang Duc Hanh, the service will first be provided at the Dong Da healthcare centre, Long Bien healthcare centre, and Hanoi Medical University before it is expanded in Hanoi. PrEP was first piloted in Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City in 2016. The service is being provided in eight clinics in Hanoi.

Health insurance coverage for ARV drug key to HIV treatment: VSS Vietnam News 13th Apr 2019
Việt Nam's health insurance fund started covering HIV patients for anti-retroviral (ARV) drugs in March this year after international donors ended their sponsorship. Lê Văn Phúc, head of the pharmacy and medical supply department at Việt Nam Social Security talks to Thời Báo Kinh Tế Việt Nam (Việt Nam Economic Times). What has been prepared to ensure health insurance coverage for HIV treatment expenses? The health insurance fund along with other State budget sources have been contributing to ensuring HIV drug supplies. The health insurance fund has so far covered HIV opportunistic infections and other testing for HIV patients who hold health insurance cards. It is estimated that by the end of this year, about 48,000 HIV patients who hold health insurance cards will have their ARV drug covered by the fund. The rest of the patients will be covered by 2020. Việt Nam Social Security (VSS) has worked with the health ministry to sign healthcare contracts with HIV treatment facilities and set up a database to manage patients who are on ARV. The VSS and the health ministry also provide ARV drugs to HIV treatment facilities. The health insurance fund covers a first-class ARV treatment regimen.

Vietnamese awareness of cancer's early warning signs remains low Vietnam News 12th Apr 2019
Forty-eight out of 63 provinces and cities have joined the national cancer prevention network since the target programme on health and population began three years ago, the Ministry of Health announced at a conference on Thursday. From 2016 to 2018, the programme helped to control emerging diseases, reduce casualties caused by dangerous epidemics, eliminate neonatal tetanus, and maintain the immunisation coverage of 95 per cent for children under one year old as well as for pregnant women and women of childbearing age. Prevalence of stunting and underweight dropped from 29.3 per cent and 15.3 per cent in 2010 to 25.9 per cent and 13 per cent in 2018, respectively. The percentage of HIV/AIDS infection was controlled at under 0.3 per cent, with a reduction in the number of new cases. However, the country's aging population and poor lifestyle choices are among the risks leading to illness, disability and premature death. In addition, management of non-communicable disease in the community remains weak, said health minister Nguyễn Thị Kim Tiến. In 2018, Việt Nam had some 165,000 new cases of cancer compared to 126,000 cases in 2010.

Health experts call on Vietnamese people for healthy lifestyle Vietnam News 8th Apr 2019
Health experts called Vietnamese people to put their best feet forward, and walk 10,000 steps each day. This will help fight illness in later life such as high blood pressure, diabetes and cancer. The message was delivered at a meeting to celebrate the World Health Day (April 7) in Hà Nội on Sunday. “Please challenge your target number of 10,000 steps per day,” said Dr Kidong Park WHO Representative in Việt Nam at the event. “The 10,000 steps initiative will help you be physically active and healthy. “Today marks a very meaningful beginning of two key activities of the Healthy Việt Nam Programme - know your numbers and challenge your target numbers. I believe and I am sure that this programme will help Vietnamese journey towards universal health coverage and health for all,” said Dr Park. Park said that NCD screening activities would let people know their blood pressure, their blood glucose and their lung capacity. Those who then take part in NCD screening will be better placed to detect disease early. They will then be able to manage their disease at early stage at primary health care facility where they live, where they work and where they study.

100 patients receive free artificial knee and hip joint replacements Vietnam News 8th Apr 2019
The 108 National Military Medical Hospital in collaboration with the Operation Walk performed artificial knee and hip joint replacement surgery for 100 poor patients as part of a humanitarian programme taking place in Hà Nội from March 25 to April 5. “Joint replacement is a complicated medical technique that requires replaced joint matching with each patient’s age and pathology,” said the hospital’s Joint Surgery Department deputy director Nguyễn Quốc Dũng. “All expenses of artificial hip and knee joints, each worth VNĐ48-50 million (US$2,100-2,200), were funded by the progarmme,” said Dũng. Dũng added that patients were diagnosed with knee and hip joints problems or walking difficulties, can register for free replacement surgery at the hospital’s Joint Surgery Department at No 1 Trần Hưng Đạo Street in Hà Nội. This year is the 9th time that US based Operation Walk has visited Việt Nam to transfer new techniques in replacing knee and groin joints to the doctors of the 108 National Military Medical Hospital. Operation Walk is a US based humanitarian organisation that provides free hip or knee replacement surgeries to patients in developing countries, including Việt Nam, Laos, Cambodia and Myanmar. About 1,000 patients have been provided with free knee and groin surgery under seven co-operation programmes between the hospital and the US and Ireland Operation organisations.

Stressed out Vietnamese falling mentally ill in the millions VnExpress 7th Apr 2019
High-school students wait for their exam at a school in Ho Chi Minh City in March, 2019. Photo by VnExpress/Quynh Tran At a conference organized by the Vietnam National Institute of Mental Health in Hanoi this week, the ministry said that mental disorders related to stress have increased strongly in recent years. The institute received one or two patients needing treatment for psychological disorders and mental stress a day 15-20 years ago, but the number has risen to 300. Duong Minh Tam, head of the department dealing with stress-related disorders at the institute, said such problems were mostly found in young people, more females than males. Many youth have been admitted to the institute for damaging themselves physically due to stress at school and at home, he said. Institute doctors said most patients and their families were not aware of their conditions for a long time, preventing timely treatment and worsening the situation. In February last year, a study released by the United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) said mental health and psychosocial problems are widespread and increasing in Vietnam, particularly among children and young people, and despite some progress, the mental health response system remains largely inadequate.

European Union helps Vietnam reduce maternal, infant mortality ratios Voice of Vietnam 7th Apr 2019
The European Union has funded a number of projects that aim to help Vietnam reduce the maternal mortality ratio (MMR) and infant mortality ratio (IMR). Over the past two decades, the country has made considerable efforts in reducing MMR and IMR and gained significant achievements. However, it is still facing discrepancies in MMR and IMR between major cities and remote regions. To assist Vietnam in overcoming this problem, the European Union has supported to improve the professional skills for ethnic village birth attendants and midwives, upgraded or renovated health stations in disadvantaged regions, and raised the awareness of pregnant women and women of reproductive ages within ethnic minorities. As part of the support, 400 midwives are being trained to improve their knowledge and clinical skills following the ASEAN-UNFPA regional guidelines for minimum requirement for training and accreditation of skilled birth attendants. Koen Duchateau, Head of Cooperation, EU Delegation to Vietnam, has handed over certificates of graduation to trainees of a class in Lao Cai City in the northen upland province of the same name. The event was witnessed by deputy director of the Lao Cai Department of Health and deputy director of the Mother and Child Health Department under the Ministry of Health.

IFC to help HCM City build medical facilities through PPP Voice of Vietnam 6th Apr 2019
Standing Vice Chairman of the People’s Committee of Ho Chi Minh City Le Thanh Liem held a working session with Kyle Kelhofer, country manager for Vietnam, Laos and Cambodia of the International Finance Corporation (IFC), on April 5. On the occasion, the two witnessed the signing of a PPP advisory services agreement for the daycare hospital of the Pham Ngoc Thach University of Medicine between the IFC and the university. Vice Chairman Liem stressed that the signing of the advisory services agreement marks the success of the partnership between the IFC and HCM City’s Health Department, Department of Planning and Investment, and the Pham Ngoc Thach University. When completed, the project will provide a training centre, a general clinic and a daycare facility, serving around 300,000 patients a year. Moreover, the successful implementation of the project will pave the way for more projects in the form of public-private partnership (PPP) between HCM City and the IFC, he said. The official used the occasion to thank the IFC for its active coordination with HCM City’s agencies in implementing the content of the memorandum of understanding between the city and the IFC, which was signed during a trip of a city delegation to the US in December 2017.

Vaccine reactions raise concerns Vietnam News 3rd Apr 2019
After Tết (Lunar New Year) Holiday, medical facilities offering vaccination services in the central city of Đà Nẵng have received a huge influx of parents and infants, worrying about severe complications from the ComBE Five vaccine used in the national expanded immunisation programme (EIP). Half of the parents come from other provinces, including Quảng Nam, Quảng Ngãi and Bình Định. Đà Nẵng City Centre for Disease Control has been overwhelmed any time a new batch of a 6-in-1 vaccine preventing diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, hepatitis B, polio and meningitis is offered. While vaccines on the EIP are free, many parents have been paying for private doses as they don’t trust the free options, according to Trần Bảo Ngọc, deputy head of the centre’s General Examination Department. A private vaccine dose costs nearly VNĐ1 million (US$43), while a package for all necessary vaccines in early years costs some VNĐ20 million ($859), yet hospitals are running out of stock for these vaccines due to high demand. Some 400,000 ComBE FIVE vaccine doses have been distributed to 63 provinces and cities after replacing Korean-made Quinvaxem in December last year. Indian-made ComBE Five is a “five-in-one” vaccine that can help fight five common, potentially fatal diseases affecting infants – diphtheria, tetanus, whooping cough, hepatitis B and Haemophilus influenza type B.

Vietnam cracks down on drugstores selling without prescriptions Voice of Vietnam 2nd Apr 2019
Thousands of pharmacies might lose their licenses for failing to comply with new regulation on controlling medicine sales. The Ministry of Health has ordered that all drugstores should be connected to the national medicine database via the Internet by Monday, a move aimed at preventing the sales of drugs without prescription. But in Ho Chi Minh City, which has the highest number of pharmacies in the country at over 6,000, only 61 percent have linked up, according to the city Department of Health. In Hanoi, 90 percent of its over 4,600 drugstores have done so. Many pharmacy owners said they do not have a computer or Internet. Tran Thi Nhi Ha, deputy director of the Hanoi Department of Health, said the regulation requires pharmacies to invest in infrastructure and this takes time. Tang Chi Thuong, her HCMC counterpart, said inspectors would soon carry out checks to ensure compliance. "Licenses will be taken away from pharmacies that continue to disobey." Most pharmacies in Vietnam sell drugs without prescriptions. In fact, around 88 percent of all antibiotics sold in urban areas are without prescriptions while the rate is 91 percent in the countryside, the health ministry said.

Biomedical research has potential to produce new Vietnamese drugs Vietnam News 1st Apr 2019
Biomedical research by scientists nationwide has led to important findings that could produce new Vietnamese-branded drugs and medical treatments, but commercialisation of research results faces challenges, experts have said. Dr Nguyễn Đăng Quân, deputy director of the HCM City Biotechnology Centre, said the centre was involved in basic and applied research in agriculture, food, health and other fields that could be used commercially. Quân spoke at a conference on biotechnology and biomedicine held on Saturday (March 30) by the Hồ Chí Minh Communist Youth Union’s Centre for Việt Nam Youth Talents, Science and Technology, in co-operation with Military Hospital 7A. “Research on monoclonal antibodies, for example, could lead to a new drug to treat blood cancers for patients in the country,” he said. A group of scientists at the University of Science, a member of Việt Nam National University HCM City, are conducting research on redox nanoparticles for antimicrobial and anticancer therapies.

CPTPP signals pharma breakthrough Voice of Vietnam 31st Mar 2019
Vu Thi Thu Hien and Le Huu Hong Chuyen of Tilleke & Gibbins, Southeast Asia’s leading full service regional law firm, give an inside view into how these agreements and legislative changes can make an impact on the local pharmaceutical market in the future. The market for ­pharmaceuticals in Vietnam is developing rapidly, in step with the country’s growing and aging population, rising per capita income, and increasing awareness of foreign ­brand-name drugs, which many ­Vietnamese consumers consider to be more reliable than generics and local brands. ­Naturally, Vietnam has ­become an attractive ­investment ­destination for ­foreign pharmaceutical companies eager to ­target new ­customers. The government is doing its part to encourage this investment, as seen by its participation in international free trade agreements and ongoing legislative reform. A revised Law on Pharmacy was issued in 2016 followed by subsequent guiding legislation, but obstacles to overseas investment remain. One thing is certain: the business environment in the pharmaceutical sector is constantly changing. The Comprehensive and Progressive Agreement for Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), a multilateral trade agreement signed by 11 countries on both sides of the Pacific, officially came into force in Vietnam in January. Among its provisions, the CPTPP requires each of its members to have a system of pharmaceutical patent linkage. Prior to granting marketing approval to any generic drug, Vietnam must notify the original drug’s patent holder of the generic drug’s application for approval.