Health & Life Sciences Update: October 10, 2019

Health & Life Sciences Update | October 10, 2019
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham and Aree Tomes
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
  • November 20-21, 2019, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia: 2019 ASEAN Health Summit & Exhibition (SmartHealth-Embracing Digital Health)
    The Council is working with the ASEAN Business Advisory Council Malaysia on opportunities for U.S. companies to participate in the 2019 ASEAN Health Summit. Sponsorship opportunities are available, please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) for more information. 
     
  • Late October/early November 2019: First Planning Call to discuss Joint Antimicrobial Resistance Program in ASEAN/Selected ASEAN countries in 2020 (inaugural collaboration between Council’s Food & Agriculture and Health & Life Sciences Committee)
     
  • April 2020, Jakarta: 2020 Health & Life Sciences Industry Mission to Indonesia
    Confirmed dates within April 2020, and official registration will be shared in early January 2020. For more information, please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) for details. Details on other industry missions to Vietnam and Thailand will be provided later.
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Philippines Universal Health Care Act Rollout Scheduled
With a first-year budget of P166.5 billion, the Universal Health Care Act (UHC), signed by Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte on February 20, 2019 is expected to make healthcare services such as free medical consultations and laboratory tests accessible to all Filipinos. According to Health Secretary Francisco T. Duque III, the UHC implementation will achieve 100 percent enrollment by the first year and the mandatory enrollment of all Filipinos in the National Health Insurance Program will be accomplished. As of now, UHC is at 98 percent enrollment. Once enrollment reaches 100%, individual-based medical services reimbursed or paid for by the Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) will become available to all Filipinos in PhilHealth accredited facilities nationwide.

Among the few concerns about the UHC Integration Sites Program (UIS) expressed during the budget presentation of the Department of Health at the House of Representative was the Act’s extent of inclusion. Duque assured lawmakers that the UIS is not the only reform to happen in the health system and that effects will not occur overnight but rather according to the law’s clearly stated six-year period. Duque also emphasized the UIS Program’s importance in providing quality services efficiently and transparently.

Singapore Parliament Approves Bill For Long-Term Disability Insurance
The Singaporean Parliament passed the CareShield Life and Long Term Care Bill on September 2, 2019, adding to existing schemes like MediShield Life and ElderShield which cover Singaporean residents domestic and abroad. Once implemented, CareShield Life will automatically enroll residents born after 1980 or when residents reach 30 years of age regardless of their health, disability or financial status. By offering basic and affordable healthcare, the Government expects to assist a large portion of its constituents.

Premiums will be covered by Medisave while the Government provides subsidies of up to 30% of premiums for two in three households, with additional help to be offered to those unable to afford the premiums. All those opting for CareShield Life will be given a minimum of 10 years to pay the top-up premiums. Singaporeans still paying premiums on ElderShield will have their remaining premiums adjusted to take higher benefits into account, and those people on ElderShield who do not wish to upgrade will continue to be covered under the existing scheme.

Furthermore, a payout of $600 dollars cash per month will be allocated to those defined as severely disabled for the duration of their disability to help pay for their preferred care - these individuals are categorized as those incapable of performing daily life activities such as washing, feeding, dressing, toileting, mobility, and transferring independently. The payout for recipients is scheduled to increase 2 percent up until the fifth year to which the CareShield Life Council will adjust accordingly to keep the payout enough for the basic needs to the severely disabled. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong says those who desire higher payouts can turn to private insurance companies for supplementary schemes. Premiums for these schemes can be paid with Medisave up to an annual capped amount. Lastly, the Bill also grants the Central Provident Fund Board and the Agency for Integrated Care to access people’s disability information so that they can reach out to eligible individuals and inform them of available claims and other government disability schemes. In order to prevent abuse and protect vulnerable people, safeguards and penalties will be enforced.

Indonesia’s Healthcare And Social Security Agency Pleads For An Increase In UHC Premiums
BPJS Kesehatan, also referred to as Social Health Insurance Administration Body, was established in 2014 to provide health insurance program for Indonesian people. Currently, the Government of Indonesia is facing a major challenge with collecting enough premiums, with levels of regular premium payments being too low to carry the health insurance system and the amount of unpaid medical bills are rapidly increasing. The insurance is projected to accumulate Rp 28 trillion ($2 billion) in deficit in 2019, which is likely to backfire on the Indonesian Government.

In response, Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati explained the government’s arrangement to increase the health budget while simultaneously improving management by persuading local governments to be an influential actor in ensuring that the success of the program. Mulyani also called on the government to be attentive to purchasing strategy for the payment system and foster cooperation between insurance provides while maintaining reasonable operation expenses. Commissioner of the National Social Security Council, Achmad Ansori, requests that the government increase premiums for all members of BPJS Kesehan to decrease the deficit.

Healthcare Digitalization Initiatives in ASEAN
Vingroup Innovation Foundation (VINIF) in Vietnam announced US$5.32 million in investment for 20 science and technology projects which will serve to bring benefits to numerous areas including big data, biomedical science, genetics, materials science, smart traffic, IoT, image recognition and natural language processing. VINIF’s principle of non-profit operation encourages the development of science and technology by ensuring that all assets and products from projects belong to the respective product manager, research team, or host organization. Funding for VINIF will be used to compensate project members, local and international experts as well as to purchase raw materials, tools, equipment for research, international publications and patent registration. Prioritizing work conditions, minimal administrative procedures, flexible financial mechanisms, and powerful resources is VINIF’s key to supporting scientific innovation in Vietnam.

Singapore’s Aardvark Labs welcomes Catalyst, a Medtech hub connecting startups, organizations and professionals in the healthcare industry. Healthcare clusters including SingHealth, the National Healthcare Group and potentially the National University Health System are in support of the rising hub to enhance the development products and services contributing to disease prevention and curing. The co-working and event space is located inside the Alumni Association Medical Centre on College Road, next to Singapore General Hospital. Today, Catalyst has contributed to the establishment of more than 10 startups. Singapore takes another step towards innovation by means of digital healthcare provider WhiteCoat who has partnered with Grab to boost medication delivery. Quick and efficient telemedicine services offered by GrabExpress is an initiative to bring timely healthcare support within 90 minutes of consulting a doctor via its mobile app.

The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth), the lead implementing agency of the Universal Health Care Act (UHC), expects to have fully automated operations in the next two to three years. PhilHealth’s President and Chief Executive Officer, Ricardo Morales, acknowledged the high cost of the transition from a manual system to an automated one and noted that the state health insurance company is already pushing for the automated system. Although dealing with small clinics may be more meticulous, Morales is aiming for smooth and easy transactions between the agency and its partner hospitals and health care providers. Like the UHC Act, Morales expects PhilHealth’s transformation to an entirely automated system to take some time.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Health & Life Sciences Committee Activities Looking Forward
Please click here to view a presentation from the Council's recent Health & Life Sciences Committee Meeting in Singapore. If you have any input, or to express interest to participate in any program, please contact Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) by end of October 2019. Example of Study Tours:

3 Models: ASEAN Wide, Country Specific or Roadshow Format

  • Joint Antimicrobial Resistance Program (Between FA and HLS Companies)
  • Healthcare Transformation in the Context of the Ageing Society
  • Addressing Counterfeit, Illegal Medications/Pharmaceutical Products (Indonesia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam)
  • Elevating/Transforming Primary Healthcare in ASEAN in the Era of Universal Healthcare
  • Addressing Non Communicable Diseases in the Context of the Ageing Society
  • Addressing the Rise of Diabetes in ASEAN (Malaysia, Indonesia)
  • Self Care: Improved Individual Healthcare at More Sustainable Costs
  • Health Technology Assessments
 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Brunei
Launch Of Strategic Plan 2019 - 2023

Cambodia
As the world warms up, Dengue could spread

Indonesia
Aptorum Group announces the development of microbiome drug candidate targeting obesity and repurposed drug candidates targeting neuroblastoma
Bitter Pill to Swallow: Should BPJS Kesehatan Increase Premium to Cover Deficit?
Hospitals go outside Java to tap new growth potential
Local hospital chains step up expansion amid growing healthcare market
Higher healthcare premiums ‘urgent’, BPJS Kesehatan pleads as finances bleed
Indonesia e-doctor app connects patients to 500 hospitals
Seminary in Maumere builds 25 shelters to treat mentally ill humanely

Laos
ASF Laos: Virus spreads to most of the country
Laos, China extend partnership in treatment of cardiovascular disease

Malaysia
Wow! Taiwan aims to bring in new healthcare products for Malaysians
New plant a game changer for Apex Healthcare
UEM Edgenta aims to aggressively grow healthcare business
Purdue Pharma and its billionaire owners may end up giving billions in OxyContin profits to communities harmed by the opioid crisis
Al-'Aqar Healthcare REIT in RPT to buy hospital for RM78m cash
Thailand eyes Sabah potential in medical tourism

Myanmar
Thai Life insurance company enters Myanmar

Philippines
HIV Cases Soar in the Philippines, as Dating Apps Spread
Philippines Declares Polio Outbreak After 19 Years Free of the Disease
Ayala Group participates in UHC delivery
E-cigarette industry calls for ‘fair’ tax regime
W. Visayas LGUs urged to allot funds for anti-rabies program
PHL hospitals remain vulnerable to cyber attacks
Pru Life partners with SLMC on critical claims processing
‘No delay in UHC rollout’ - Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco
Antique chosen as advance implementation site of UHC Law
At last, a center for Diabetes
With 17% utilization rate, DOH facilities fund cut anew
Tax reforms to fund social services
Senate panel to grill DOF execs on tax measures
166 health workers deployed in Davao City villages
Youth’s mental health, a crucial challenge for educators–Briones
Expanded PhilHealth coverage for stroke needed – SSP - Roderick Abad
DOH: Make true, cheaper generics more accessible
More medicines covered by planned price cap
Polio makes a comeback in the Philippines 19 years after the country was declared free of the disease
PhilHealth operations to become fully digital in 2 to 3 years

Singapore
German orthopaedic implant maker Syntellix opens first overseas facility in Singapore
Team honoured for improved screening programme to assess diabetic eye disease
Parliament approves Bill for long-term disability insurance
Insurer seeking to recover medical fees Hyflux failed to pay
Aier Eye International to make pre-conditional offer for ISEC Healthcare shares
Medtech hub opens with support from S'pore's healthcare clusters
WhiteCoat partners Grab to boost digital healthcare delivery

Thailand
New hospital app cuts waiting time
Govt hemp exemption ratio called 'unrealistic'
Prayut urges people not to panic over pollution, while academic finds govt solutions ineffective
Can plastic waste be contained?
Eco-conscious Gen Z taking action
Climate Change is causing dire consequences for the Greater Mekong region
Thai health minister considers smoke haze as Asean issue
Two drugs taken off shelves in recall
Prayut hails Thai health system at UN
Thailand's Hospital Patients Can Now Buy from the Local Drugstores
Thailand puts 24 provinces on alert in swine fever watch
PM underlines Thailand’s healthcare success
Planned biorefinery first step to ‘Biopolis’
DIT proceeds with project to control price of medicines
Thailand to ban pig imports from Myanmar over African swine fever

Vietnam
Commercial health insurance helps to satisfy high-income earners
Health sector detects more than 50,600 new TB patients in the first six months of 2019
Prices of over 1,900 medical services increase slightly
Direct imports for pharma groups
First provincial geriatrics hospital to be built in Quảng Ninh
Vingroup to support science and technology projects
Vietnam emerges as a global pharmaceutical hub
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Brunei

Launch Of Strategic Plan 2019 - 2023 BruDirect 12th Sep 2019
The Ministry of Health underscored five strategic objectives under its Strategic Plan 2019 - 2023. Speaking at the launch of the Ministry of Health Strategic Plan 2019 - 2023 yesterday morning, Yang Berhormat Dato Seri Setia Doctor Haji Awang Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar, Minister of Health, said the strategic plan is hoped to provide a direction towards strengthening the health care system and services through the provision of services that are of better quality, efficient, effective, responsive, equal and easily accessible in line with the Universal Health Coverage concept. Yang Berhormat welcomed the drafting of the Strategic Plan implementation monitoring mechanism and framework including the use of approaches such as those proposed by the World Health Organisation which is through health indicators and targets.

Cambodia

As the world warms up, Dengue could spread The Cambodia Daily 27th Aug 2019
Record-breaking dengue outbreaks around the region have scientists and medical professionals questioning just how much climate change is to blame for the spike in cases. Experts in Bangladesh cite rising temperatures, between 27 and 32 degrees celsius—prime breeding conditions for Aedes aegypti, the mosquito that transmits dengue—as a compelling reason for this season’s severity. “Climate change is a key reason for the rising prevalence of dengue in Bangladesh. Warmer and humid weather along with irregular rainfall helps Aedes mosquitoes breed and Dhaka is a perfect place for that,” MM Akhtaruzzaman, manager of the Directorate General of Health Services’ malaria and dengue program, told The Daily Star.

Indonesia

Aptorum Group announces the development of microbiome drug candidate targeting obesity and repurposed drug candidates targeting neuroblastoma Antara News 9th Sep 2019
Aptorum Group Limited (Nasdaq: APM) (“Aptorum Group”), a biopharmaceutical company focused on the development of novel therapeutics to address global unmet medical needs, announces the development of two preclinical drug candidates which target obesity and neuroblastoma, respectively. Under the recently-announced microbiota modulation platform operated by Aptorum Group’s wholly-owned subsidiary Claves Life Sciences Limited, we have commenced the preclinical development of macromolecule candidate CLS-1 targeting the treatment of obesity. CLS-1 is undergoing lead optimization and is expected to progress into the IND enabling stage in 2020.

Bitter Pill to Swallow: Should BPJS Kesehatan Increase Premium to Cover Deficit? Jakarta Globe 27th Aug 2019
The government has finally admitted a fundamental problem with BPJS Kesehatan, its much-taunted social health insurance that was launched back in 2014: it has failed to collect enough premiums from its subscribers to keep it running smoothly. bMany Indonesians often skip paying their BPJS Kesehatan premiums until they actually get sick. Those who pay their premiums regularly — including company employees and poor families subsidized by the governments — do so at a level far lower than required to sustain the system. This happened because the government was at first reluctant to put too much burden on ordinary Indonesians to keep the system alive. Conversely, it was also a strategy to rein in the amount of subsidy for the poor. The government has now agreed that the insurance premium should be set at a more realistic level next year, which could be between 50 percent and 83 percent higher than the current premium. 

Hospitals go outside Java to tap new growth potential The Jakarta Post 26th Aug 2019
Several hospital chains are expanding their business to further tap into the country’s growing demand for quality healthcare services, which have emerged as one of the most lucrative in the country.Among those that have actively expanded in recent years include Medikaloka Hermina and Mitra Keluarga Karyasehat, which target middle-income patients.Hermina, which at present operates 33 hospitals in 21 cities across Indonesia, is building three more hospitals this year and will add four more next year to achieve its target of having 40 hospitals by the end of 2020.“The three hospitals that are currently under construction are expected to open in the fourth quarter,” Medikaloka Hermina finance and strategic development director Aristo Setiawidjaja said in Jakarta on Monday.

Local hospital chains step up expansion amid growing healthcare market The Jakarta Post 22nd Aug 2019
Several hospital chains are expanding their business to further tap into the country’s growing demand for quality healthcare services, which have emerged as one of the most lucrative in the country. Among those that have actively expanded in recent years include Medikaloka Hermina and Mitra Keluarga Karyasehat, which target middle-income patients. Hermina, which at present operates 33 hospitals in 21 cities across Indonesia, is building three more hospitals this year and will add four more next year to achieve its target of having 40 hospitals by the end of 2020. “The three hospitals that are currently under construction are expected to open in the fourth quarter,” Medikaloka Hermina finance and strategic development director Aristo Setiawidjaja said in Jakarta on Monday.

Higher healthcare premiums ‘urgent’, BPJS Kesehatan pleads as finances bleed The Jakarta Post 22nd Aug 2019
With a ballooning deficit over five years of operations putting pressure on the state budget, the Healthcare and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan), which is in charge of Indonesia’s universal healthcare insurance system, is pleading for an increase in premiums. BPJS Kesehatan's director of finance and investment, Kemal Imam Santoso, acknowledged that the increase in premiums would only address one of the many problems that cause a growing deficit in the institution’s finances. However, he said it is necessary to stem the financial losses suffered by the state insurer. “The need is quite urgent,” Kemal told the press after a meeting with House of Representatives’ Commission XI which oversees state budget and overall financial affairs, which was also attended by Finance Minister Sri Mulyani Indrawati.

Indonesia e-doctor app connects patients to 500 hospitals Nikkei Asian Review 24th Sep 2019
A startup led by a scion of Indonesian conglomerate Sinar Mas Group has developed a service for consulting with doctors via smartphone, an innovation made necessary by the Southeast Asian country's shortage of physicians and clinics.

Seminary in Maumere builds 25 shelters to treat mentally ill humanely The Jakarta Post 16th Aug 2019
Members of the St. Camilus Seminary in Maumere, East Nusa Tenggara, have built 25 facilities to house and treat people with psychosocial disabilities in a humane way, amid efforts in the country to end the common practice of keeping the mentally ill in shackles. The seminary's dean, Father Cyrelus Suparman Andi, said they had been moved to build such facilities as a social service after seeing the large number of people suffering from mental disorders in the province’s Sikka regency.

Laos

ASF Laos: Virus spreads to most of the country PigProgress 30th Aug 2019
In recent days, a great number of updates from the World Organization for Animal Health (OIE) came through about the situation in the South East Asian country. The total number of reported African Swine Fever (ASF) outbreaks has gone up to 94, with culling numbers rising to almost 26,000.

Laos, China extend partnership in treatment of cardiovascular disease Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 15th Aug 2019
Lao doctors are working with their Chinese counterparts to develop their diagnostic skills and the treatment of heart disease, in response to the increasing number of cardiovascular conditions being identified across the country. As part of this, they are learning about modern forms of heart surgery through the use of video.

Malaysia

Wow! Taiwan aims to bring in new healthcare products for Malaysians The Sun Daily 10th Sep 2019
ON Sept 4, a business matching event was held between key local disributors in the healthcare industry and 15 suppliers from Taiwan as part of “Wow! Taiwan”, a project that seeks to market lifestyle and consumer products from Taiwan. “In Taiwan, there is a lot of healthcare products that have yet to enter the Malaysian market, and this is a good opportunity for that to happen,” explained Commerce Development Research Institute’s (CDRI) senior marketing planner Tammy Ting. In organising the event, CDRI assisted Taiwanese enterprises in gaining insight into the needs and preferences of local consumers. “There’s a variety of programmes that allows Malaysians to know more about Taiwanese products. Previously, the healthcare products were not suitable for the Malaysian market, but this time, products such as the physiological monitors and blood glucose monitors appear to be more suitable for Malaysia,” she said.

New plant a game changer for Apex Healthcare The Edge Markets 10th Sep 2019
SUBANG JAYA: Apex Healthcare Bhd, which currently sells only 10% of its products to the government sector, is all set to boost the percentage following the completion of its new manufacturing plant in Melaka, known as SPP Novo. “Before this we could not take advantage of large volume production as we did not have the facilities, especially to cater to tenders in large markets or contract manufacturing. So now we are able to get into this space. “With SPP Novo, we will be able to price competitively and participate,” Apex Healthcare chairman and chief executive officer Dr Kee Kirk Chin said, stressing that government contracts would provide a steady continuous revenue stream. “For us to grow revenue rapidly, the quickest way would be to win some larger tenders or government-sector tenders. So we are working on those,” he told The Edge Financial Daily."

UEM Edgenta aims to aggressively grow healthcare business The Malaysian Reserve 5th Sep 2019
UEM Edgenta Bhd aims to secure healthcare support services contracts in Singapore and will participate in new tenders and opportunities following the republic’s move to restructure its healthcare sector. Its MD and CEO Datuk Azmir Merican Azmi Merican said the tendering process from this restructuring — which saw Singapore’s healthcare sector divided into three integrated clusters — is still ongoing and the company will participate in the bidding. “We feel we should be able to get more wins, (but) that depends on the timing and when these tenders are issued,” he told reporters during a briefing session at the company’s Kuala Lumpur headquarters yesterday. In 2017, Singapore’s public healthcare sector began a major restructuring process which saw six regional health systems regrouped into three integrated clusters.

Purdue Pharma and its billionaire owners may end up giving billions in OxyContin profits to communities harmed by the opioid crisis Business Insider Malaysia 28th Aug 2019
Could profits from the prescription opioid OxyContin help heal the damage wreaked by addictive opioids in the US? In an unusual solution reportedly proposed as part of litigation against OxyContin-maker Purdue Pharma and its billionaire owners, the answer might be yes. That’s according to a new report from The New York Times, which said that the proposed settlement could turn Purdue, a privately held company owned by some members of the Sackler family, one of the richest families in the US, into a “public beneficiary trust” by way of a bankruptcy filing. Under that structure, profits from OxyContin and other Purdue drugs could one day go toward states, cities, and others that have sued Purdue and the Sacklers over the impact in their communities, The Times reported.

Al-'Aqar Healthcare REIT in RPT to buy hospital for RM78m cash Edgeprop 27th Aug 2019
KUALA LUMPUR (Aug 27): Al-'Aqar Healthcare REIT is acquiring another hospital — KPJ Batu Pahat Specialist Hospital for RM78 million cash — to add into its list of properties under management. In a filing with Bursa Malaysia yesterday, its management company Damansara REIT Managers Sdn Bhd announced that the trustee of the REIT AmanahRaya Trustees Bhd had entered into a conditional sales and purchase agreement with Johor Land Bhd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johor Corp, for the purpose of the acquisition. Note that Damansara REIT Managers is also a wholly-owned subsidiary of Johor Corp, and that Al-'Aqar is 36% owned by KPJ Healthcare Bhd.

Thailand eyes Sabah potential in medical tourism Borneo Post Online 22nd Aug 2019
Thailand is looking to enhance its investment in Sabah, particularly in the medical tourism sector and niche tourism packages. Thailand Ambassador to Malaysia Narong Sasitorn said the country was also hoping to be part of Brunei, Indonesia, Malaysia and Philippines-East Asia Growth Area (BIMP-EAGA) via Kota Kinabalu. “With the port and terminal facilities in Kota Kinabalu, the Pan Borneo Highway and diversification of industrial base, we see Kota Kinabalu as the main gateway to BIMP-EAGA. “We hope Thailand can be part of this growth area,” he said, addressing a trade forum and business matching titled ‘Bridging Trade and Investment – Relations Between Thailand and East Malaysia (Sabah)’, here yesterday.

Myanmar

Thai Life insurance company enters Myanmar Mizzima Myanmar News and Insight 27th Aug 2019
Thai Life Insurance has struck a deal to take a 35% stake in Citizen Business Insurance (CB Insurance), becoming the first Asean insurer to enter Myanmar's insurance field, according to the Bangkok Post. Penetrating Myanmar's insurance market aligns with the company's strategy to expand operations to other countries in ASEAN, Chai Chaiyawan, president of Thai Life Insurance said in a statement. This partnership will give CB Insurance a competitive advantage by leveraging Thai Life's actuarial and managerial expertise, as well as product distribution channel development, which has proven to be successful in Thailand, Chai Chaiyawan noted.

Philippines

HIV Cases Soar in the Philippines, as Dating Apps Spread WSJ 3rd Oct 2019
HIV is spreading faster in the Philippines than anywhere in the world. The estimated number of new infections in this Southeast Asian nation has more than doubled from 2013 through 2018, reaching epidemic proportions among young men, according to the United Nations’ AIDS agency. The surge in the virus that causes AIDS stands out against the decline in estimated world-wide infections.

Philippines Declares Polio Outbreak After 19 Years Free of the Disease The New York Times 19th Sep 2019
The Philippines on Thursday announced an outbreak of polio, 19 years after the World Health Organization declared the Southeast Asian country free of the infectious disease. Health Secretary Francisco Duque said government scientists have confirmed the “re-emergence of polio” after one case in the southern province of Lanao del Sur and another suspected case of the disease. He blamed “poor immunization coverage,” a lack of sanitation and proper hygiene and poor surveillance by health workers as among the reasons the disease returned.

Ayala Group participates in UHC delivery Philstar 12th Sep 2019
How the current administration will pursue its avowed universal healthcare program for Filipinos with the broad participation of the private sector’s health delivery services will be crucial in defining its success, especially during the first few years. With current government health services still not ready to respond to an expected influx of more than six million newly enrolled PhilHealth members through the law, the network of established private clinics and hospitals in the country would be in the better position to act. AC Health CEO Paolo Borromeo says initiatives by the private sector, like FamilyDoc of Ayala Healthcare Holding Inc. (AC Health), are working examples of how community-based primary care clinics can offer reliable healthcare through the services of qualified doctors and health personnel.

E-cigarette industry calls for ‘fair’ tax regime Business World 11th Sep 2019
THE electronic cigarette lobby said its products need to be fairly taxed and regulated, especially if the Philippines hopes to fund its Universal Health Care system in part with the proceeds of a tax on e-cigarettes. Tikki Pang, who was conducting a briefing on behalf of e-cigarette manufacturer Juul Labs Inc., added that the industry’s products offer an opportunity for smokers to wean themselves from traditional tobacco products, effectively improving health outcomes. “Universal Health Care is about prevention, about reducing the harm not about discouraging a product. That will burden your healthcare system,” he said. “To deny smokers of a product that can improve their health, to me, is a human rights violation.”

W. Visayas LGUs urged to allot funds for anti-rabies program Philippine News Agency 9th Sep 2019
The Department of Health-Center for Health Development (DOH-CHD) in Western Visayas has urged local government units (LGUs) in the region to allot funds for their anti-rabies program. Ame Liz G. Mardoquio, program coordinator of the CHD-6 Rabies Prevention and Control Program, in a press conference on Monday, noted that the vaccine allocation both for canines and humans in the region is not yet “stable”. “There is a shortage (of) vaccines, both for canines and humans,” Mardoquio said. She explained that from January to August this year, Western Visayas had a total supply of 29,084 vials; 27,000 vials came from DOH central office while 2,084 vials were purchased using the PHP2.5-million regional allocation for the year.

PHL hospitals remain vulnerable to cyber attacks Business World 5th Sep 2019
Medical facilities in the Philippines will continue experiencing high rates of cyber attacks, with seven out of 10 medical machines compromised this year, according to data from cybersecurity firm Kaspersky. The Russia-based company said it found 76% of medical machines in the country were attacked in the past eight months, making it the most vulnerable in Southeast Asia and second in the Top 15 nations it reviewed. “In case of Southeast Asia, medical organizations are not in a vacuum. There are computers around them. If you look at the statistics in the Philippines, in general, the number of infections is quite high,” Yury Namestnikov, head of Kasperky’s Global Research and Analysis Team (GReAT) in Russia, said at a forum here on Thursday.

Pru Life partners with SLMC on critical claims processing Business World 5th Sep 2019
PRU LIFE UK has partnered with St. Luke’s Medical Center (SLMC) to improve the processing of critical illness claims of its policy owners. Speaking to reporters at the launch of the partnership at SLMC Bonifacio Global City, Pru Life UK President and CEO Antonio G. De Rosas said the tie-up allows its policy owners with critical illness claims to authorize St. Luke’s to release their medical records by signing a consent form. Mr. De Rosas said this is a departure from the original process where patients have to get their medical history files by themselves and submit it to Pru Life for verification, where approval usually takes a few days. He added that policy holders still need to file for reimbursements as insurance firms do not work like health maintenance organizations where patients only need to bring their cards for their medical transactions.

‘No delay in UHC rollout’ - Claudeth Mocon-Ciriaco BusinessMirror 3rd Sep 2019
HEALTH Secretary Francisco T. Duque III has expressed confidence about achieving 100 percent enrollment by the end of the first year of the Universal Health Care (UHC) implementation, insisting “there is no delay” in the rollout of the program.“The implementation of Universal Health Care is right on schedule. There is no delay to speak of,” Duque said on Monday. “Right now, we are at 98 percent enrollment. We expect to achieve 100 percent enrollment by the end of the first year of UHC implementation,” Duque said. Once 100 percent enrollment is achieved, the individual-based medical services which the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. reimburses or pays for will become available to all Filipinos at all PhilHealth-accredited facilities nationwide. One key reform under the UHC Program, which Duque expects to be completed by next year is the mandatory enrollment of all Filipinos in the National Health Insurance Program (NHIP).

Antique chosen as advance implementation site of UHC Law Philippine News Agency 3rd Sep 2019
SAN JOSE DE BUENAVISTA, Antique -- Antique is one of the four provinces in Western Visayas identified as an Advance Implementation Site of Republic Act 11223 or the Universal Healthcare (UHC) Law, which is just waiting for its Implementing Rules and Regulation (IRR). Junie Sabusap, who heads the Philippine Health (PhilHealth) Insurance Corporation in Antique, said Antique and the provinces of Guimaras, Iloilo, and Aklan will be given a special health fund or advance payment starting next year for the no balance billing (NBB) program of the state health insurance. “So long as the patients are admitted at the basic ward, they could avail of the NBB or will have no out of the pocket payment,” he said on Tuesday.

At last, a center for Diabetes Philstar 27th Aug 2019
MANILA, Philippines — About 6.2 percent of adult Filipinos have diabetes and the number is increasing. “Despite our efforts we are unable to curve the incoming pandemic,” says Dr. Juan Maria Ibarra Co, UERM Department of Medicine chairman and head of the UERM Diabetes Center. “People are not physically active anymore and unhealthy food is so easy to come by, so they become overweight or obese and pre-disposed to diabetes.” About 31 percent of adult Filipinos are either overweight or obese. The UERM Medical Center recently inaugurated the UERM Diabetes Center, which is dedicated to patients with diabetes. n“We are launching the program first in our outpatient department (OPD),” Dr. Co explains. “Our endocrinology and diabetes specialists will be there every Thursday afternoon to see patients. As the patient population grows, we hope to make it a daily activity.”

COA to Laguna hospital: Fix waste storage and disposal Rappler 27th Aug 2019
MANILA, Philippines – The Commission on Audit warned of the potential health hazard posed by the Laguna Medical Center, which it found to have poor waste management practices. COA said in its 2018 audit report of the province of Laguna that the hospital violated Republic Act (RA) No. 9003 or the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act of 2000 and the Health Care Waste Management Manual. “Ocular inspection made by the Audit Team together with the Waste Management Officer of the Medical Center disclosed that the hospital did not strictly observe the proper management of their wastes,” COA said. Laguna Medical Center, according to COA, failed to sort radioactive, sharp, and pressurized waste in color-coded containers. The hospital, COA added, also left waste containers uncovered, making them susceptible to rummaging animals and insect infestation.

With 17% utilization rate, DOH facilities fund cut anew BusinessMirror 26th Aug 2019
FOR the second year in a row, the Department of Budget and Management (DBM) has cut its proposed budget for the Health Facilities Enhancement Program (HFEP) of the Department of Health (DOH) due to a low budget utilization rate. Under the proposed P4.1-trillion national budget submitted by the DBM to Congress, the budget department is proposing only P5.86 billion for HFEP, particularly for medical equipment. This is 63 percent lower than its budget allocation under the 2019 General Appropriations Act (GAA) at P15.87 billion, which already includes funding for infrastructure and motor vehicle.

COA flags Laguna hospital over poor waste management ABS-CBN News 26th Aug 2019
The Laguna Medical Center was told to comply with the provisions of the Ecological Solid Waste Management Act after the Commission on Audit found that containers for infectious waste in the hospital were not marked properly, among others. mState auditors also said the hospital poorly maintained color-coded containers for waste, used receptacles without covers rummaged through by animals and infested with insects, and the lack of proper signage for the storage area and sewage treatment. The 2018 COA report stated that the "improper handling and storage of medical wastes pose serious threat to human health and the environment."

Economic cost of alcohol consumption seen at P211-B Philippine News Agency 22nd Aug 2019
Authorities have reiterated that reforms under the sin tax law are primarily health measures rather than a revenue-targeted move. Finance Undersecretary Karl Chua, in a presentation during the hearing of the Senate Ways and Means Committee Tuesday, said the topmost reason for this proposal is to have funding for the Universal Health Care (UHC) program. mFor a five-year period, or from 2020 to 2024, the UHC needs about PHP1.438-trillion allocation.m Before President Rodrigo R. Duterte signed in July Republic Act 11346 increasing higher taxes on tobacco products, the UHC had a funding gap of about PHP426 billion. Under the annual budget program, the allocation is about PHP1.012 trillion for the five-year period. 

Tax reforms to fund social services BusinessMirror 21st Aug 2019
TAX reforms are needed to bankroll government’s various social services, Senator Pia Cayetano said Wednesday, as Congress is poised to pass enabling bills providing upward adjustments in existing tax rates. Cayetano, who chairs the Senate Ways and Means Committee tasked to endorse additional tax impositions, said “improving the government’s delivery of services to Filipino families is the primary goal of reforming the country’s tax measures.” Fielding questions at the Kapihan sa Manila Bay media forum, Cayetano clarified that “we are passing taxation measures not because it is being imposed upon us by any international body.” She added: “We’re in a position where we are cleaning up our [own] house, not because we have to but because it’s the best thing to do.”

Senate panel to grill DOF execs on tax measures BusinessMirror 19th Aug 2019
SENATORS are poised to grill Finance officials on Tuesday as the Senate Ways and Means committee resumes scrutiny of the government’s Comprehensive Tax Reform Program (CTRP), which will impose higher taxes to raise more revenue to bankroll the Duterte administration’s Build-Build-Build projects, among others. Senator Pia Cayetano, committee chairman, confirmed that the panel has set for review Package 2+ of the CTRP setting upward rate adjustments in excise taxes on alcoholic beverages, e-cigarettes, and vapor products. The government crafted this in a determined bid to discourage consumption of various sin products among Filipinos, “especially the youth and the poor.” Cayetano added the revenue-raising bill aims to also “ensure financial sustainability” of the government’s Universal Health Care (UHC) program.

166 health workers deployed in Davao City villages Philippine News Agency 19th Aug 2019
The City Health Office (CHO) and the Department of Health (DOH) deployed 166 health professionals to several barangays in the city to further boost the delivery of health services. Monday's deployment is composed of doctors, dentists and nurses under the national government's Human Resource for Health (HRH) program with the aim of addressing the lack of doctors, dentists, nurses in poor villages, CHO chief, Dr. Josephine Villafuerte said. Villafuerte said the health professionals will provide public health and clinical services, strengthen the other administrative and managerial concerns in the rural health unit such as operational health planning, researches, disease surveillance, staff capability building, and program management.

Youth’s mental health, a crucial challenge for educators–Briones BusinessMirror 7th Oct 2019
EDUCATION Secretary Leonor M. Briones has reminded teachers that mental health among students is a “crucial challenge”  that they need to address. Keynoting the launch of the ninth year of the Values Advocacy Program of Fortune Life Insurance Co. recently, Briones advised teachers to be alert to signs of mental health problems among their learners. The Values Advocacy Program is a project of Fortune Life promoting the values of hard work and discipline among public school pupils in partnership with the Department of Education (DepEd) and advocacy organization Marylindbert International.

Expanded PhilHealth coverage for stroke needed – SSP - Roderick Abad BusinessMirror 6th Oct 2019
THE Stroke Society of the Philippines (SSP) is pushing for higher coverage by Philippine Health Insurance Corp.’s (PhilHealth) for the treatment of patients who have suffered a stroke. This initiative, according to Prof. Dr. Jose Navarro, is their way of helping ease the burden of this second most common cause of death in the country, after heart disease. “The stroke prevalence in our country is about 1.2 percent to 1.4 percent. So what does it mean? For every hundred people in the community, you will see that one or two of them had stroke,” he told reporters in a roundtable discussion at the SMX Convention Center in Pasay City over the weekend.

DOH: Make true, cheaper generics more accessible Daily Inquirer 2nd Oct 2019
Filipinos favor generic medicines over branded ones but they still pay more for “branded generics” than true generics, according to the Department of Health (DOH). Dr. Ana Melissa Guerrero, chief of the DOH’s pharmaceutical division, said branded generics comprise 52 percent of the country’s drug market share and true generic drugs, only 6 percent.

More medicines covered by planned price cap Malaya 1st Oct 2019
More medicines are planned to be included in the proposed maximum retail price (MRP) program of the government .From an earlier list of 120 medicines released in July, the list has been nearly doubled to 210, data from the Department of Health (DOH) showed. The DOH has given interested parties until Friday, October 4, to comment on the updated list for deliberation and final recommendation.The expanded list covers some of the medicines widely-used to treat some of the most critical ailments in the Philippines, from cancer to asthma to diabetes and hypertension.It has also been updated from data collected through the Drug Price Watch 2018 and actual inquiries and hospitals done in the first quarter of 2019

Polio makes a comeback in the Philippines 19 years after the country was declared free of the disease CNN 19th Sep 2019
The Philippines has reported its first case of polio since it was declared free of the childhood disease 19 years ago, dealing a blow to the campaign to eradicate it. The country's department of health said the disease was "re-emerging," with a case confirmed in a 3-year-old girl from Lanao del Sur, on the southern island of Mindanao, and a suspected case awaiting confirmation.

PhilHealth operations to become fully digital in 2 to 3 years The Inquirer 27th Aug 2019
Operations of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) is expected to be fully automated in the next two to three years, according to its president and chief executive officer, Ricardo Morales. “The plan is first to automate the system. That will take a lot of money and maybe two to three years before we fully automate and integrate PhilHealth’s operation,” Morales said in an interview with ABS-CBN Channel when asked how he planned to fix problems gripping the agency.

Singapore

German orthopaedic implant maker Syntellix opens first overseas facility in Singapore The Straits Times 10th Sep 2019
Syntellix, a German medical technology company that introduced bioabsorbable bone implants, opened a production site in Singapore on Tuesday (Sept 10), its first facility outside its home country. The Magnezix implants, which are made from a patented magnesium alloy, dissolve completely in the bone, Syntellix said in a statement. Unlike conventional metal implants, the patient does not have to undergo a second surgery to remove the implants as they are converted into bone tissue which aid the healing process.

Team honoured for improved screening programme to assess diabetic eye disease The Straits Times 5th Sep 2019
Investment in research and innovation is one of Singapore's key strategies in enabling transformation in healthcare, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong. Mr Gan told an awards event on Thursday (Sept 5) that the healthcare system has to transform to meet the population's changing needs and ensure that appropriate and affordable care is available for Singaporeans while being sustainable in the long term. His remarks were exemplified by the range of healthcare professionals honored for their innovative thinking at the National Medical Excellence Awards.

Parliament approves Bill for long-term disability insurance The Straits Times 3rd Sep 2019
Long-term disability insurance will become compulsory for people born from 1980 onwards, after a Bill to that effect was passed in Parliament yesterday. This move plugs another gap in Singapore's healthcare and ageing support. In 2015, MediShield Life was made compulsory to provide universal health coverage. Older people were then offered support through the Pioneer and, later, Merdeka Generation packages. With an eye on the future, the CareShield Life and Long Term Care Bill was passed yesterday.

Insurer seeking to recover medical fees Hyflux failed to pay The Straits Times 27th Aug 2019
Raffles Health Insurance is reportedly taking action to recover medical fees that embattled water treatment firm Hyflux failed to pay it for staff medical treatment. The issue arose after Hyflux stopped making prompt payment for employee healthcare early last year. While Raffles Health Insurance failed to receive payment from Hyflux, it continued to pay its panel clinics for services they provided to the company's staff. The arrears are not large in most cases - up to $700 or so for each clinic.

Aier Eye International to make pre-conditional offer for ISEC Healthcare shares The Business Times 26th Aug 2019
CATALIST-LISTED ISEC Healthcare said on Monday evening that Aier Eye International has agreed to buy about 186.3 million ISEC Healthcare shares in a sale and purchase agreement which, when completed, will trigger a mandatory general offer for the remaining shares at the same price. Aier Eye International, a direct wholly owned subsidiary of Aier Eye Hospital Group which is incorporated in China, on Monday entered into the conditional sale and purchase agreement to purchase the shares at S$0.36 apiece in a deal valued at S$67.1 million. The agreement will be completed on the fifth business day after the last pre-condition is fulfilled, at which point Aier Eye International will own 35 per cent of ISEC Healthcare's total number of issued shares.

Medtech hub opens with support from S'pore's healthcare clusters The Business Times 19th Aug 2019
A NEW hub connecting startups, organisations and professionals in the healthcare industry opened its doors to the community on Monday. The medtech hub, Catalyst, aims to quicken and improve the development of products and services that prevent or cure diseases. It is supported by healthcare clusters SingHealth and the National Healthcare Group, and innovation and enterprise office the National Health Innovation Centre. The third healthcare cluster, National University Health System (NUHS), is in talks to come onboard as a partner as well. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister for Foreign Affairs and Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation initiative, officiated the opening ceremony.

WhiteCoat partners Grab to boost digital healthcare delivery The Business Times 27th Aug 2019
DIGITAL healthcare provider WhiteCoat has partnered Grab to bolster its medication delivery services via GrabExpress – the ride-hailing firm’s courier and parcel delivery service. This is in a bid to provide better healthcare support, as the partnership allows patients of WhiteCoat to receive their prescribed medication within 90 minutes after consulting a doctor via its mobile app, compared with the current average of three hours. WhiteCoat CEO and co-founder Bryan Koh said: "Our collaboration with Grab will boost our capabilities by providing expedited medication delivery to patients, so that they are able to obtain timely medical attention." According to the statement, WhiteCoat’s collaboration with GrabExpress is in line with Grab’s vision to support local tech companies in Singapore.

Thailand

New hospital app cuts waiting time Bangkok Post 11th Sep 2019
CHON BURI: Chon Buri Hospital has become the first hospital in the country to offer a mobile app that allows patients to check information on government medical welfare packages, a step that can reduce patient waiting times and ease hospital congestion. The government-run provincial hospital has worked with Kasikorn Bank to create a friendly user-mobile app, known as CBH Plus, which stands for Chon Buri Hospital Plus. The app has been downloadable since early this year for patients at the most crowded government hospital in the province. CBH Plus has been linked to the government database that provides information on all three government medical welfare schemes -- the 30-baht universal healthcare, social welfare and medical welfare given to government officials. The app can help patients check their welfare packages and their entitlements.

Bhumjaithai calls ganja forum Bangkok Post 5th Sep 2019
The Bhumjaithai Party is holding a public forum on Saturday to gather public input on a bill that seeks to allow people to grow cannabis plants at home. Key party member Supachai Jaisamut said various interest groups have been invited, including patients, state officials, Thai traditional medicine practitioners and folk doctors. "This bill will be tabled before the House next week," he said. The draft, Mr Supachai said, seeks to amend the Narcotics Act to allow each household to grow a maximum of six cannabis plants. Bhumjaithai won plenty of support in the last election by pledging to liberalise the use of marijuana and promote the cannabis plant as a cash crop. However, the pledges have yet to materialise as the government has only moved to allow the use of marijuana for medical and research purposes. Separately, the Minister of Public Health, Anutin Charnvirakul, promoted  the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) secretary-general, Tares Krassanairawiwong, to director-general of the Department of Health Service Support (DHSS) on Wednesday.

Govt hemp exemption ratio called 'unrealistic' Bangkok Post 3rd Sep 2019
The Public Health Ministry has been asked to review its new regulation, which saw seeds and oils from the hemp plant removed from the list of controlled substances under Category 5 of the Narcotics Act. Panthep Puapongpan, a coordinator for the People's Civil Network for Cannabis for Medical Treatment, on Monday called the ministry's exemption criteria "unrealistic" and said it will not benefit local growers. "It will be very difficult for local growers to benefit from this simply because the cannabidiol (CBD) to tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) ratio outlined in the regulation is too low, which makes it hard for small-scale growers to follow," said Mr Panthep.

Prayut urges people not to panic over pollution, while academic finds govt solutions ineffective The Nation Thailand 5th Oct 2019
In his weekly televised show on Friday (October 4), Prime Minister General Prayut Chan-o-cha said his government has always been concerned about air pollution, especially PM2.5 or microscopic dust particles, which he put down to smog from other countries, traffic jams, burning of farming waste, factory emission and dust from construction sites. “PM2.5 is dangerous, especially for children, babies, pregnant women and elders, whose immunity is too fragile to tackle the microscopic dust,” he said, adding that people should be particularly careful during December as there are no winds or rain to blow away the dust.

Can plastic waste be contained? Bangkok Post 2nd Oct 2019
For Covestro (Thailand), plastic waste is a serious challenge globally. That is why it joined the Alliance to End Plastic Waste as a co-founder. The Alliance to End Plastic Waste was founded in January this year. It is a non-profit organisation consisting of more than 35 global companies. Its mission is to eradicate plastic waste in the environment. And it plans to do so by spending 1.5 billion USD in the next five years to finance infrastructure, education and engagement, innovation, and clean-up efforts to keep plastic waste in the right place, according to its website.

Eco-conscious Gen Z taking action The ASEAN Post 2nd Oct 2019
If there is one thing millennials are happy about, it would be transferring most of the ageism stereotyping they have endured over the past decade to the new Generation Z or Gen Z. Based on a 2018 McKinsey article titled ‘True Gen: Generation Z and its implications for companies,’ Gen Z is the cohort born between 1995 and 2010. They are currently between the ages of nine and 24-years old. Gen Z is observing the onslaught of devastation left by man-made disasters as well as natural disasters brought on by climate change, which is raising awareness among them. They are practising an eco-conscious lifestyle and have early interest in environmental issues. Last week’s Global Climate Strike which was attended by thousands of Gen Zs is evident that this generation has made climate change their issue. 

Open burning is a needless way to lose money Bangkok Post 2nd Oct 2019
As PM2.5 air pollution has recently exceeded the unsafe level in Bangkok and adjacent provinces, and attention is needed on factors that caused the ultra-fine dust particles including open field burning. As a general definition, open field burning is a human-initiated activity involving the burning of living and dead vegetation in the open air. Rice residue open burning is a part of biomass burning which occurs annually and is widely used in Thailand, particularly in the central and lower northern regions to remove residue, control weeds and release land for the next crop cycle. This process is a source of greenhouse gases, such as carbon dioxide (CO2) which is the principal product of the combustion, carbon monoxide (CO), methane (CH4), nitrous oxide (N2O), and nitrogen oxide (NOx) and comparatively less sulphur dioxide (SO2).

Climate Change is causing dire consequences for the Greater Mekong region Mashable SEA 2nd Oct 2019
From shrinking ice caps to drawn out drought seasons, it seems that every country across the globe has experience some sort of impact from the drastic changes in weather patterns. And one of climate change's victims, Southeast Asia's trans-boundary river, the Mekong River is in danger. The Mekong River stretches for more than 4,350 kilometres from its source in China and flows through Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, and Cambodia. It then joins the South China Sea in Vietnam.

Thai health minister considers smoke haze as Asean issue EdgeProp 2nd Oct 2019
Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul has pointed out that smoke haze is a major issue that members of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (Asean) would have to tackle seriously while their citizens should adjust their lifestyles to protect themselves.

Western waste sickens Thai villagers La Croix International 2nd Oct 2019
Shadowy, unlicensed recycling plants are damaging people's health and polluting the environment Thailand's waste import industry has grown rapidly in recent years. In 2016, the country imported 69,487 tonnes of plastic waste from other countries. In 2018, that number had grown to 481,381 tonnes, almost seven times more than two years earlier, statistics from environmental group Greenpeace show. Most of the waste — mainly plastic and discarded electronics — comes from European Union countries, the United States, Japan, Hong Kong and Australia. While some of it is recycled by licensed companies, a huge amount ends up in places like Khao Hin Son, a village about 100 kilometers east of Bangkok in Chachoengsao province. Numerous small, shadowy industrial complexes have popped up in recent years. Many dump trash illegally or burn it at night.

Two drugs taken off shelves in recall Bangkok Post 2nd Oct 2019
Two pharmaceutical companies have recalled their brands of rantidine, a drug that treats stomach ulcers, after the brands Xanidine and Aciloc, were found by the US Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to carry carcinogenic properties.

PM holds urgent haze meeting Bangkok Post 2nd Oct 2019
Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha on Monday held an urgent video-conference with 16 provincial governors and related ministries after PM2.5 air pollution exceeded the so-called safe level in Bangkok and surrounding provinces. Also present were Deputy PM and Public Health Minister Anutin Charnvirakul, Interior Minister Gen Anupong Paojinda, Transport Minister Saksayam Chidchob, and the head of the Pollution Control Department. Gen Prayut said the conference dealt with preparations, cooperation and measures to combat the air pollution problem. The urgent meeting was called after fine PM 2.5 dust haze returned to blanket the capital and its vicinity.

Prayut hails Thai health system at UN Bangkok Post 30th Sep 2019
New York: Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha highlighted the achievements of Thailand's universal health coverage at the 74th Session of the United Nations General Assembly (UNGA 74) in New York on Tuesday (Bangkok time). Gen Prayut said the government has promoted equality in access to public health services in all areas, including health promotion, disease prevention and treatment of chronic and costly diseases. "From Oct 1, Thailand will expand health benefits by offering pre-exposure anti-HIV drugs to vulnerable groups. It will further the successful initiative of Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha, UNAIDS Goodwill Ambassador for HIV Prevention for Asia Pacific," he said during a high-level meeting on universal health coverage. The premier said the government is also boosting the efficiency of universal healthcare coverage.

Thailand's Hospital Patients Can Now Buy from the Local Drugstores CTN News 29th Sep 2019
Hospital patients in Thailand will be able to receive prescribed medication at drugstores as of October 1st. Including gold card holders Public Health Anutin Charnveerakul said yesterday. The new measure aims to tackle overcrowding at hospital pharmacies. Initially, 50 hospitals and 500 drug stores will participate in the campaign. Mr. Anutin, said the board of the National Health Security Office (NHSO) also approved to include gold card holders. Under the Healthcare Coverage scheme gold card holders can also receive medication at hospitals or at drugstores.

Thailand puts 24 provinces on alert in swine fever watch CNA 27th Sep 2019
Thailand has designated 24 provinces as "surveillance areas" for African swine fever and ordered strict animal controls in hopes of preventing an outbreak of the deadly disease that has hit its neighbours, an agriculture official said on Friday (Sep 27).  Thailand has been on high alert since the outbreak of African swine fever among pigs in Myanmar, Laos, Cambodia, but it has yet to report an outbreak.

PM underlines Thailand’s healthcare success Pattaya Mail 27th Sep 2019
Prime Minister Gen. Prayut Chan-o-cha attended the opening ceremony of the High-Level Meeting on Universal Health Care this week, one of the conferences of the 74th United Nations (UN) Summit currently taking place in New York. At the proceedings, Gen. Prayut outlined Thailand’s public health successes, including the provision of universal health insurance. The prime minister said that from October 1 onwards, the country will provide HIV vaccinations to all risk groups in a continuation of the work of Her Royal Highness Princess Soamsawali Krom Muen Suddhanarinatha, in turn it represents an extension of the UN’s work against AIDS in the Asia Pacific region.

Wasting away Bangkok Post 16th Sep 2019
A government ban on single-use plastics deals with a scourge in Thailand, but a pilot project in Rayong also shows promise Plastic is omnipresent in Thailand. It's found everywhere, from luxury shopping malls to 7-Eleven convenience stores, on almost every street corner and beneath the skin of some individuals. It's even inside the stomachs of much marine life. The unprecedented death rate of dugongs and microplastics found in mackerel have sparked alarm among happy-go-lucky Thais, with the government finally issuing an ultimatum to end single-use plastic by 2022.

Thailand drops cannabis extracts from narcotics list; firms eye... Reuters 2nd Sep 2019
Thailand has removed cannabis and hemp extracts from its narcotics list, officials said on Monday, the latest effort to promote the development of marijuana products for medical purposes. Thailand, which has a tradition of using cannabis to relieve pain and fatigue, legalized marijuana for medical use and research last year to help boost agricultural income. “The intention is to allow extracts to be used in medicine, cosmetics and food and support hemp as a cash crop,” Tares Krassanairawiwong, Secretary-General of the Thai Food and Drug Administration, told reporters, adding that hemp seed and oil would also be exempt.

Planned biorefinery first step to ‘Biopolis’ The Nation Thailand 22nd Aug 2019
The National Science and Technology Development Agency will invest Bt3.4 billion in a pilot biorefinery in the Eastern Economic Corridor of Innovation (ECCi). The aim is to add value from biological research to industrial manufacturing and create innovative products, while raising Thailand’s as a hub for bio-technology in Southeast Asia. President Narong Sirilertworakul said the agency in charge of managing the EECi had arranged for Prime Minister Prayut Chan-o-cha to lift the symbolic first shovel of soil next February 27 and construction of Phase 1A would be completed in the first quarter of 2021.

DIT proceeds with project to control price of medicines The Nation Thailand 20th Aug 2019
The Department of Internal Trade (DIT) will proceed with its project to control the price of medicines at private hospitals now that it has received their price lists. Hospitals selling medicines above the median price set by the department will face fines and/or imprisonment. Also, since August 16, every hospital has been required to print out QR codes so patients can compare prices.  Prayoth Benyasut, the department’s deputy director-general, said private hospitals, manufacturers, importers and dealers provided the department with their price lists on July 31, and DIT has used this data to set a price for each item, which will be made accessible to customers. 

Thailand to ban pig imports from Myanmar over African swine fever Reuters 15th Aug 2019
Thailand will ban the import of pigs from Myanmar for 90 days, the country’s livestock department told Reuters on Thursday, after the neighboring country confirmed its first case of the African swine fever this week. The ban, expected to start next week, would cover live pigs and wild boars as well as carcasses from Myanmar, to prevent the disease from spreading into Thailand. It followed a similar ban Thailand issued for pig imports from Laos in June.

Vietnam

Commercial health insurance helps to satisfy high-income earners SGGP English Edition 3rd Sep 2019
Director of a tourist company Le Thi Huong still pays VND100 million ($4,305 ) a year to buy a commercial health insurance package for family members in case that her relatives have serious illness though all of them have participated in the state’s health insurance program. Sharing why she buys commercial health insurance package, she said that she has rarely come to any medical facilities for examination because of endless wait, complicated formalities and lower-than-expected quality. On the contrary, she and her relatives can opt for hospitals and medical premium services as per our wishes without thinking much about medicine and cost for commercial health insurance. Head of the Department of Health Insurance Le Van Kham said health insurance holders presently ought to pay for expensive medicine, materials, periodic check-up, high technologies, eye diseases, and dental services.

Health sector detects more than 50,600 new TB patients in the first six months of 2019 Vietnam News Agency 4th Sep 2019
More than 50,000 new tuberculosis (TB) patients have been discovered nationwide in the first six months of 2019. The health sector say that’s a detection rate of 52/100,000, but more than 90 per cent of new and relapsed TB patients have been successfully treated. The figure is a slight increase from the same period last year, according to the latest figures released by the National Tuberculosis (TB) Prevention Programme. Programme director Prof. Nguyễn Viết Nhung said that they will continue to achieve the objective of implementing tuberculosis prevention in 100 per cent of districts, communes and wards nationwide.

Prices of over 1,900 medical services increase slightly Vietnam Plus 27th Aug 2019
The prices of about 1,900 different services offered at public hospitals have increased, according to the Ministry of Health. The current healthcare prices were calculated on the basis of the basic salary of 1.390 million VND (60 USD). Once the basic salary has been revised up to 1.490 million VND (64 USD), effective from July 1, the medical pricing needs to be adjusted. Accordingly, the price of health check-ups and bed charges rose by 4.4 percent while technical service fees increased by 1.1 percent from August 20. The cost of a health check at first-grade hospitals – those under the direct management of the health ministry or the centrally-run cities or provinces people's committees – for example, is 38,700 VND instead of 37,000 VND. Bed charge per day at the special class hospitals goes up from the current 753,000 VND to 782,000 VND.

Direct imports for pharma groups VietNamNet 21st Aug 2019
The pharmaceutical market was aroused when French-invested Sanofi Vietnam received the certificate of eligibility for a pharmacy business from the Ministry of Health to directly import drugs to the country. With Sanofi Vietnam becoming the newest foreign-invested enterprise joining the race to import drugs directly, pressures on local manufacturers are forecast to heat up in the months to come on the back of the landmark enforcement of the EU-Vietnam Free Trade Agreement.  “With the certificate, Sanofi Vietnam is among the multi-national corporations (MNCs) to get such a ticket in line with Decree No.54/2017/ND-CP dated 2017, guiding the implementation of the Law on Pharmacy 2016,” a senior MoH official told VIR. “To get the certificate, Sanofi Vietnam and others have to meet the conditions regulated in Decree 54. Accordingly, the most important thing is to have qualified warehouses, or contracts with local Vietnamese companies to hire such warehouses,” he said.

First provincial geriatrics hospital to be built in Quảng Ninh Vietnam News Agency 20th Aug 2019
Construction work on the Quảng Ninh Geriatrics Hospital, the country's first of its kind at the provincial level, started on Monday in the northern city of Hạ Long. The costs of the 200-bed hospital are estimated at VNĐ429 billion (US$18,650), with the provincial Department of Health being the main investor. Covering more than four hectares, the facility will have wards for medical examination, diagnostic imaging, testing, physiotherapy, treatment and rehabilitation. The hospital will be built towards environmental-friendly model to ensure the best atmosphere for the elderly.

Vingroup to support science and technology projects Vietnam News Agency 20th Aug 2019
Vingroup Innovation Foundation (VINIF) on Monday announced VNĐ124 billion (US$5.32 million) in investment for 20 science and technology projects. After six months of announcing funding for science and technology oriented projects, VINIF has selected the top 20 projects from nearly 200 registration documents. These are excellent and ground-breaking projects, bringing practical benefits in important areas such as big data, biomedical science, genetics, materials science, smart traffic, IoT, image recognition and natural language processing.

Vietnam emerges as a global pharmaceutical hub VietNamNet 15th Aug 2019
International drugmakers are increasingly cashing in on the potential of the Vietnamese market, helping the country emerge as a global pharmaceutical hub, experts said. The European Chamber of Commerce in Vietnam (Eurocham) has recently highly valued the potential of Vietnam to become a center for the research-based pharmaceutical industry including production, export and supplies of high-quality healthcare services in the ASEAN region. Pharma Group (PG) – the Pharmaceutical Sector Committee of EuroCham, which represents the voice of the international research-based pharmaceutical industry in the country – has highlighted that Vietnam has many advantages in the sector thanks to its population of 95 million, stable political climate and trained human resources. In addition, it is the gateway to ASEAN countries.