Health & Life Sciences Update: February 18, 2020

Health & Life Sciences Update | February 18, 2020
Authors: Sunita Kapoor, Hai Pham, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, J-Ren Ong and Minh Vu
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
  • March 3-52020 Vietnam Business Mission
  • March 5-6Health & Life Sciences Industry Mission to Vietnam
  • March 17: Health & Life Sciences Committee Meeting with Leslie Mancuso, Co-Chair of Health and Life Sciences Committee; President and CEO of Jhpiego
  • March 26The Economist Events-War on Cancer Asia 2020 Summit
  • April 6-10 (exact date not confirmed): Potential USABC Presentation at the 15th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development

  • April 21-22: Health & Life Sciences Industry Mission to Indonesia
  • 1st Half of 2020: Joint Antimicrobial Resistance Program in ASEAN (inaugural collaboration between Council’s Food & Agriculture and Health & Life Sciences committees)
  • 1st Half of 2020: Regional HLS Presidents Luncheon and Potentially Regional HLS Presidents Industry Mission to Thailand
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

Philippine House Representative Filed Bill Seeking More Comprehensive Control of Drug, Medical Equipment Prices
Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda, who also heads the House Ways and Means committee, on February 6 filed House Bill 6219 or the “Affordable Medicines, Medical Equipment and Supplies Act” (AMMESA). The Bill will allow the Secretary of Health to put price ceilings on and negotiate the prices of all medicines, including medically necessary assistive equipment and medical supplies purchased by the government. This measure will compel companies to price these products lower if they want to sell medicine in the Philippines, since the government is a single-payer system under the Universal Health Care Law. The bill also urges the Philippine National Drug Formulary (PNDF) to encourage the use of generics whenever possible, such as encouraging doctors to prescribe generic medicines if there are no difference between generic and branded medicines. The bill seeks to amend the existing Republic Act 9502 or the “Cheaper Medicine Law”, under which the Philippine government can set a Maximum Drug Retail Price (MDRP). Rep. Salceda said that the MDRP is still too high for poor Filipinos to buy medicine, accounting for only 10% of health expenditures nationally compared to 65% by the wealthier half of the population.

Following the filing, on the same day the Pharmaceutical and Healthcare Association of the Philippines (PHAP) gave a press statement calling the price control proposal flawed. PHAP said the bill will not benefit patients because it will distort prices and even lead to higher retail prices. The Department of Health (DoH) formula sets very low prices at the manufacturers’ level while mandates retailers to impose as much as 45 percent markup, and most outlets do not reach that level of markup. In addition, PHAP questions whether the DoH has considered costs of doing business in the country. Forcing companies to sell at a loss will make some manufacturers pull their operations out of the Philippines and the country will have to import at higher cost. Lastly, the industry is also wrongly accused of pricing too high and earning too much profit, when in fact, its prices are at par with comparable countries within ASEAN. PHAP, as a counterproposal, is offering a comprehensive approach to sell various medicines not only at low prices but sustainably making these available to the public.

Malaysia, Myanmar Step Up to Fight Cancer, Join ASEAN Countries and WHO to Fight NCDs
Malaysia and Myanmar are stepping up on their fights against cancer and NCDs, joining a number of other ASEAN members. On February 4, World Cancer Day 2020, Malaysia Minister of Health Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad announced plans to increase the number of oncologists in the country by encouraging more young medical officers to take up the specialization. He noted that Malaysia has only 114 practitioners, including 68 in the private sector, 33 in public cancer treatment centers, and 14 in universities, while the Malaysian National Cancer Registry recorded a total of 115,238 new cases from 2012 to 2016. The Minister aimed to have one specialist per 100,000 in the population or a total of 300 oncologists by inviting the private sector to assist in funding oncology students.

On February 10, the Myanmar Minister of Health and Sports Dr. Myint Htwe announced plans to add cervical cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV) vaccine as the 13th one in the regular vaccination program. In addition, the Ministry’s Extended Program on Immunization plans to conduct the first nationwide vaccination campaign in July 2020, aiming at vaccinating over 450,000 girls between nine and ten years old against cervical cancer and HPV. The campaign will be supported by Gavi the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization (WHO), and UNICEF. Gavi will pay 90 percent of the cost and the government will pay the rest.

These announcements came after WHO and the Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth) signed a memorandum of association to fight against non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in six ASEAN countries in late January. According to the memorandum, Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand, and Vietnam will jointly develop a monitoring system for control of NCDs and health promotion by exchanging knowledge and best practices. According to a WHO 2018 statistic, NCDs, including cancer, are the leading causes of death globally with 85 percent of premature deaths occurred in low and middle-income countries, including the six ASEAN countries.

Coronavirus (Covid-19) in ASEAN Update
As the World Health Organization (WHO) officially named the Novel Coronavirus “CoVid-19” that spread from Wuhan, China in late December 2019, ASEAN countries are reassuring the public of adequate capacity to screen the virus, imposing price control on necessary medical supplies, and clamping down on misinformation on the virus. As of February 13, Singapore reported 58 cases, Thailand 33, Malaysia 19, Vietnam 16, Philippines reported 3 cases and 1 death, and Cambodia reported 1 case.

After confirming several Covid-19 cases, Singapore on February 7 raised its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) level to Orange, one level below the top level (red), followed by a message from Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on February 8 on the government’s ongoing efforts to contain the outbreak and to caution against circulating online rumors and hoarding medical supplies and food. Following this development, Indonesia raised travel alert for Singapore to level yellow on February 8, as other trade events were being cancelled or postponed. More than 70 exhibitors have pulled out of the Singapore Airshow while the annual premier healthcare platform CAREhab 2020, previously scheduled in mid-February, is delayed until July 2020.

After WHO declared Covid-19 outbreak a global health emergency on January 30, countries are assessing the risks and disruption to their economy. On February 11, Malaysia Ministry of Economic Affairs began crafting a stimulus package for industries affected by the outbreak, namely tourism, retail and aviation.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

Malaysia’s Draft on Medical Device Guidance Document: Notification of Refurbished Medical Devices
On February 7, the Malaysia Ministry of Health’s Medical Device Authority (MDA) issued for public feedback a Guidance Document (accessible at this link) to help the industry and healthcare professionals to comply with the Medical Device Act (Act 737) and the regulations under it, and/or to facilitate their business endeavor. Organizations that refurbish medical devices are subject to Malaysian rules about the need to register products before they are exported or placed on the market, as well as a circular outlining the requirement for manufacturers to submit notifications to MDA for refurbishment activities. The draft guidance sets out what information MDA wants manufacturers to include in notifications. MDA wants companies to submit the requested information via email. MDA is accepting feedback on the draft until February 19.

Call for Input: 15th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development

The 15th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development (SOMHD) will be held from April 6-10, 2020 in Yogyakarta, Indonesia. The Council’s Health & Life Sciences (HLS) team has been in discussion with ASEAN Secretariat on a potential inaugural participation in this annual engagement. Council’s HLS committee may be allocated a two hour presentation slot during this year’s SOMHD (date and time not confirmed yet). In preparation of this opportunity, the Council is drafting a concept note in alignment with priorities that are based on ASEAN health-related declarations adopted by the ASEAN Summit Leaders and/or included in the joint statements from the ASEAN Health Ministers Meeting (adopted in August 2019). These topics include:

  1. Addressing threat of emerging infectious diseases or other health-related threats;
  2. Addressing antimicrobial resistance through One Health Approach;
  3. Ending all forms of malnutrition;
  4. Disaster health management;
  5. Addressing substandard and falsified medicines; or
  6. ICT in the healthcare sector (digital health)

Please review these priority areas, and let us know of your company’s interest in potentially presenting a specific topic. Please also provide background information on your selected topic. In considering these topics, a focus on public-private partnership can also be proposed.

A notional example for Topic #2 Addressing Antimicrobial Resistance through One Health Approach: Antimicrobial resistance (AMR) poses a serious global public health threat. This presentation will explore how the U.S. private sector can partner with ASEAN governments on addressing the threat of AMR, and support the implementation of the National Action Plans. Speakers will also discuss new diagnostics and antibiotic solutions, and explore how healthcare companies, governments, health agencies and universities can play a role in ensuring rational use, and work to improve public awareness.

Please submit your inputs to Sunita Kapoor (skapoor@usasean.org) before COB on Wednesday, February 19, 2020.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
ASEAN
Executives call for track-and-trace schemes in Southeast Asia: CPhI Southeast Asia Report
ASEAN countries at risk of dengue
Six Asean nations ink accord with WHO to fight diseases together

Brunei
MoU on ‘Medical Bank’ signed
Health Promotion Centre unveils Healthy Dining Programme –
DCCA warns against hiking medical mask, hand sanitiser prices

Cambodia
CCCC and pharma association to jointly crack down on fake products

Indonesia
Indonesia Raises Travel Alert for Singapore After City-State Declares Orange Alert for Coronavirus Outbreak
Indonesia plans to set up special facility for contagious diseases

Laos
Laos establishes specialised committee for fighting nCoV
No coronavirus in Laos, tests done at ministry lab confirm
Why Laos Has Not Reported Any Coronavirus Cases

Malaysia
Expanded mySalam will benefit 8 mil people this year
Prudential Malaysia extends special coverage on Wuhan virus treatment for policyholders
Public Comment Draft Medical Device Guidance Document Notification of Refurbished Medical Device
SME Bank offers temporary relief to clients affected by coronavirus outbreak
Coronavirus: M’sia to discuss preventive measures with S’pore after Orange Alert
FWD Takaful to offer mobile therapeutics service
Amid dearth, Health Ministry says committed to increase number of cancer experts
Sarawak requires two more drug rehabilitation centres: Nada
AADK identifies seven high-risk areas for drug abuse in Sarawak

Myanmar
Ministry to conduct demographic and health survey (2020-2021)
Govt plans cervical cancer vaccination campaign in July
China virus infects Myanmar Belt and Road plans
Myanmar: Prudential and MyanCare partner to offer free healthcare
Central Committee on coronavirus prevention holds first meeting
Immunization programme to include rotavirus and fourth diphtheria-tetanus vaccinations - Myanmar

Philippines
Bill seeks more comprehensive control of drug, medical equipment prices
Duterte orders ASF zoning implementation as 2 Davao City villages placed on lockdown
2020 census of population, housing kicks off May 4
Fort Magsaysay will be virus quarantine site | Samuel P. Medenilla
PPA to let in ships from China
It is now ‘business as usual at Clark,’ airport official says | Ashley Manabat
Dominguez sees temporary strain on exports, tourism
Philippines confirms 3rd case of novel coronavirus
Juul seeks clarification on e-cigarette importation
Philippine FDA Posts Guidance on Classifying Drug Production Deficiencies
CAB tells airlines to heed ban; CEB quarantines crew
No entry now for all of China
Economy may suffer from prolonged coronavirus outbreak | BusinessWorld
P13-billion fund can be tapped to deal with 2019-nCoV

Singapore
300 vacated after coronavirus case confirmed at DBS Asia Central in Singapore
Coronavirus: Singapore Government to foot bills of infected patients at public hospitals, except outpatient expenses
Singapore, Malaysia to form joint working group to curb COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak
Dengue up with 400 cases last week and higher infections expected says NEA
Singapore working with international body to develop vaccine for novel coronavirus
Singapore Braces as Coronavirus Cases Emerge in Finance Hub
Singapore raises risk alert to SARS level as coronavirus cases rise to 33
Coronavirus: Politicians, supermarkets urge calm amid panic-buying of groceries
20th Anniversary ISPE Singapore Affiliate Conference opens "Call for Papers"
Citibank cancels annual investor conference in Singapore over coronavirus outbreak
Singapore at yellow alert for coronavirus outbreak but employing more stringent measures
Singapore-based HiDoc to set up condo-based telehealth kiosk
Healthcare platform CAREhab 2020 postponed due to coronavirus threat in Singapore
Gmedes launches medication delivery app in Singapore

Thailand
WHO holds first global technical partnership meeting on AMS
Young Thais at Highest Risk for STDs, Health Official Warns
Free Mental Health Workshops for Thai Teens in February
Cabinet imposes controls on masks, synthetic yarn for masks and sanitizers

Vietnam
Teleconference updates 700 hospitals on nCoV prevention measures
Vietnam scraps import tariffs on face masks, liquid hand soaps
Vietnam's Mekong Capital-backed Pharmacity raises $31.8m in Series C round
Update nCoV: Vietnam PM declares national outbreak
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
ASEAN

Executives call for track-and-trace schemes in Southeast Asia: CPhI Southeast Asia Report Express Pharma 10th Feb 2020
CPhI’s ASEAN Pharma 2020 Report points to Thailand and Indonesia having the largest near-term generics export potential, as regional executives come out in favour of an ASEAN-wide track and trace scheme. The report’s findings which have been released ahead of CPhI Southeast Asia (Bangkok, March 4-6) summarise the opportunities and threats across the major pharma markets in the region. The event, now in its 9th edition, is a regional hub for the emerging pharma industry and last year saw a sudden surge in attendance, rising 50 per cent to more than 7,000 attendees, highlighting the dynamism now accelerating in the region. Access the Report https://www.cphi.com/sea/visit/news-and-updates/asean-pharma-report-oppo...

ASEAN countries at risk of dengue The ASEAN Post 7th Feb 2020
One of the most infectious diseases to haunt Southeast Asia for decades is dengue fever. An estimated 390 million infections of dengue occur every year. The mosquito-borne viral disease is transmitted to humans through the bites of female mosquitoes, mainly of the species Aedes aegypti and, to a lesser extent, Ae. albopictus. Aedes mosquitoes are identified by the black and white stripes on their bodies. According to the WHO, these mosquitoes are vectors of chikungunya, yellow fever and Zika viruses. Severe dengue can cause bleeding that leads to organ impairment or plasma leakage and eventual death. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in the United States (US) said that 40 percent of the world’s population live in areas at risk of dengue, including ASEAN countries.

Six Asean nations ink accord with WHO to fight diseases together The Phnom Penh Post 4th Feb 2020
The Thai Health Promotion Foundation (ThaiHealth), World Health Organisation (WHO) and partner networks have signed a memorandum of association on non-communicable diseases (NCDs) in six countries. The development of monitoring systems for control of non-communicable diseases and health promotion in Asean countries such as Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Vietnam is another activity that has been organised to develop surveillance, disease prevention and control systems for non-communicable disease and chronic disease to global standards through the development of each region.

Brunei

MoU on ‘Medical Bank’ signed Borneo Bulletin Online 6th Feb 2020
Yayasan Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) on Medical Bank with Jaya Hypermart to help patients who receive Yayasan’s assistance, yesterday. Yayasan is a charity platform for His Majesty Sultan Haji Hassanal Bolkiah Mu’izzaddin Waddaulah ibni Al-Marhum Sultan Haji Omar ‘Ali Saifuddien Sa’adul Khairi Waddien, Sultan and Yang Di-Pertuan of Brunei Darussalam and members of the royal family. One of its aims is to provide medical assistance and treatment to patients who are not eligible under the government medical scheme.

Health Promotion Centre unveils Healthy Dining Programme – Borneo Bulletin Online 5th Feb 2020
The Ministry of Health (MoH), through its Health Promotion Centre (HPC), implemented a Healthy Dining Programme in collaboration with several food outlets, which also include juice outlets to boost the availability of healthy drink options. The programme aims to create a local market that is conducive to healthy eating choices, in addition to fostering the custom and practice of healthy food choices among restaurant and café owners, managers and customers. With the launch of the programme at The Energy Juice Shop, it is hoped that other food outlets, particularly juice or drinks outlets will also participate and become key partners in supporting healthy eating initiatives in Brunei Darussalam, in helping to achieve the MoH’s 2035 Vision of ‘Together Towards a Healthy Nation’.

DCCA warns against hiking medical mask, hand sanitiser prices Borneo Bulletin Online 4th Feb 2020
The Department of Competition and Consumer Affairs (DCCA) under the Department of Economic Planning and Statistics (DEPS) at the Ministry of Finance and Economy (MoFE) yesterday reminded all retailers and private clinics not to take advantage of the novel coronavirus outbreak by hiking prices for medical masks and hand sanitisers. The department has begun monitoring costs and retail prices of these items, following numerous formal complaints received in the past few days on price hikes.

Cambodia

CCCC and pharma association to jointly crack down on fake products Khmer Times 9th Feb 2020
The Cambodian Counter Counterfeit Committee (CCCC) and the Association of Pharmaceutical Sales signed a Memorandum of Understanding yesterday to intensify joint efforts to prevent fake medicines and cosmetic products from being sold within the Kingdom. Lieutenant General Meach Sophana, CCCC president, said that the CCCC will destroy more than 10 tonnes of fake products and medicines at some point in the middle of this year in Kampong Thom province, where they were seized in crackdowns last year. Association president Ley Sopheap said at the event that the collaboration with the CCCC to curb the sale of counterfeit products will not only benefit consumers but also protect the copyrights of legitimate investors and businesses in the Kingdom.

ICT

E-commerce tasked with mask control Bangkok Post 11th Feb 2020
Leading e-commerce platforms such as Shopee, JD Central and Lazada are being asked to control overpriced face masks, a move aimed at dealing with the shortage. Boonyarit Kalayanamit, the commerce permanent secretary, talked on Tuesday with representatives from the leading e-commerce platform providers, asking for their help in limiting price gouging for face masks. “The sales prices should not exceed 2.50 baht per piece,” said Mr Boonyarit. “Vendors who sell at excessive prices should be ready to explain themselves when they are caught.” He threatened to take legal action against the vendors who sell overpriced face masks online through other channels such as Facebook, Instagram and Line. Mr Boonyarit said if authorities find overpriced face masks sold via those platforms, they will first send notices to stop selling overpriced products. If the vendors ignore the notices, the authorities will obstruct the visibility or permanently block the access for those vendors. To ensure mask supplies, officials recently issued an order demanding that domestic face mask producers supply masks to a centre set up by the department so that face masks are distributed to the public at affordable prices through 120,000 Blue Flag shops. On Tuesday last week, the cabinet also approved a proposal to put face masks and alcohol-based hand sanitiser on the state price control list as part of efforts to deal with the deadly virus outbreak. Once an item is on the price control list, manufacturers, distributors, exporters and importers have to inform the Internal Trade Department of the production cost, sales price, production volume, export/import volume and inventory.

Indonesia

Indonesia Raises Travel Alert for Singapore After City-State Declares Orange Alert for Coronavirus Outbreak Jakarta Globe 10th Feb 2020
The Foreign Affairs Ministry on Saturday raised its travel alert for Singapore to level yellow, urging Indonesian citizens to take extra precautions when they visit the city-state. The new warning was issued after Singapore's Ministry of Health on Friday upgraded its disease outbreak response system condition, or Dorscon, to Orange, one level below top alert, as the coronavirus outbreak continued to spread in the neighboring country. A Dorscon Orange alert means the novel 2019-nCoV coronavirus is dangerous and can spread easily from human-to-human but its spread is still contained. Singapore has 43 confirmed cases of coronavirus infection as of Sunday, according to the ministry.

Indonesia plans to set up special facility for contagious diseases Antara News 7th Feb 2020
Health Minister Terawan Agus Putranto highlighted the government’s plan to build a special facility to handle contagious diseases as a precautionary measure against an outbreak in future. "Hence, today's meeting is for brainstorming, collecting data on what's best for the future. Not for now," the minister stated at the Office of the Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs here on Friday. He notified the press that during the meeting, the discussion centered on a particular place or island to host the planned facility to treat infectious diseases, such as the coronavirus. He denied any rumor that the facility was required since the coronavirus outbreak would go on for long time At least 100 islands have been mapped out as possible sites, but the meeting did not take a decision since it was the first of its kind held to discuss the matter, he remarked.

Laos

Laos establishes specialised committee for fighting nCoV VietnamPlus 4th Feb 2020
The Lao Prime Minister on February 3 decided to set up a committee specialised on fighting the acute respiratory disease caused by a new coronavirus (nCoV), in response to the complicated development of the disease. Under the decision, Lao Deputy PM and Finance Minister Somdy Duangdy and Health Minister Bounthong Sihavong are the head and deputy head of the committee, respectively.

No coronavirus in Laos, tests done at ministry lab confirm Vientiane Times 4th Feb 2020
Health officials have confirmed that 13 people with symptoms of the new coronavirus (nCoV) have tested negative for the virus at the National Centre for Laboratory and Epidemiology, run by the Ministry of Health. Eleven of the people tested were Lao and examination of their blood samples gave negative results. The other two, who were Chinese, also tested negative for the virus but are being monitored at the Centre.

Why Laos Has Not Reported Any Coronavirus Cases Laotian Times 4th Feb 2020
Laos, officially at least, remains free of the new coronavirus. A Laos-shaped imprint stands out stark and white against a sea of red on any map of the pandemic. And yet many within the country question the authenticity of this claim.

Malaysia

Expanded mySalam will benefit 8 mil people this year The Edge Markets 11th Feb 2020
The public health protection scheme mySalam is expanded by covering nine more critical diseases including polio, making it 45 illnesses against 36 before, effective Jan 1 this year. Finance Minister Lim Guan Eng said the scheme expansion also involved an increase in age limit to 65 from 55 previously, Bantuan Sara Hidup (BSH) recipients who are single and the disabled persons. The scheme is also extended to M40 group with an annual gross income of RM100,000 and below, he said. The protection includes a one-off payment of RM4,000 and daily hospitalisation allowance of RM50 for a maximum 14 days for those admitted in a government hospital, university medical hospital and army hospital, he said. 

Prudential Malaysia extends special coverage on Wuhan virus treatment for policyholders The Edge Markets 11th Feb 2020
Prudential Malaysia will be extending a special coverage for the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), (which we refer to as Wuhan virus) for all of its insurance policyholders and takaful certificate holders. In a statement, the company said upon diagnosis of the disease, all policyholders and certificate holders will be eligible for an RM5,000 lump sum — should they be diagnosed with Wuhan virus before or on Feb 29. It added that the coverage for the virus comes at no additional cost and is applicable for all enforced policies and certificates of Prudential Assurance Malaysia Bhd and Prudential BSN Takaful Bhd, except for group policies and certificates.

Public Comment Draft Medical Device Guidance Document Notification of Refurbished Medical Device Ministry of Health Malaysia 8th Feb 2020
The Malaysian Medical Device Authority (MDA) has outlined its planned approach to the regulation of refurbished medical devices. MDA created the guidance to help companies comply with rules that require the submission of notifications about refurbished medical devices. Malaysian law permits organizations to restore used medical devices, for example by replacing worn parts. Organizations that refurbish medical devices are subject to Malaysian rules about the need to register products before they are exported or placed on the market, as well as a circular outlining the requirement for manufacturers to submit notifications to MDA for refurbishment activities. The draft guidance sets out what information MDA wants manufacturers to include in notifications. Essential information includes details of the company responsible for the refurbished devices, batch numbers for the refurbished products and the manufacturer quality management system certificate. MDA wants companies to submit the requested information via email.

SME Bank offers temporary relief to clients affected by coronavirus outbreak The Edge Markets 7th Feb 2020
Malaysian SME Bank is offering temporary relief on financial commitments to customers affected by the 2019 novel coronavirus outbreak in order to alleviate their financial burden. Group president and chief executive officer Aria Putera Ismail said customers could come forward to the bank to be reviewed and considered for the relief to ensure the continuation of their business. “With this temporary relief initiative, our affected clients will be able to manage their finances effectively to ensure sustainability,” he said in a statement on February 6. He said the bank, an agency under the supervision of the Ministry of Entrepreneur Development and Cooperatives, remained committed to supporting the Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) during this difficult time. “Our mandate of nurturing and developing the SMEs continues to be our focus and various support efforts are undertaken in ensuring the goal of making Malaysia an entrepreneurial nation as envisioned in the National Entrepreneurship Policy is achieved,” Aria Putera said.

Coronavirus: M’sia to discuss preventive measures with S’pore after Orange Alert www.thesundaily.my 6th Feb 2020
Malaysia will hold discussions with Singapore following the island-state’s move to raise its Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (Dorscon) level from Yellow to Orange in efforts to curb the spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus infection. Deputy Prime Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Azizah Wan Ismail said the discussions, among others, will include talks on measures to be taken to protect workers from both countries.

FWD Takaful to offer mobile therapeutics service The Edge Markets 6th Feb 2020
FWD Takaful Bhd, previously known as HSBC Amanah Takaful (Malaysia) Bhd, is partnering Naluri Hidup Sdn Bhd to provide a digital therapeutics programme to certificate holders of its online family cancer plan, FWD Care Direct. “The Digital Therapeutics Programme will provide an optional value-added service for our FWD Care Direct customers that is personalised to support their emotional, mental and physical needs upon cancer diagnosis,” said FWD Takaful chief executive officer (CEO) Salim Majid Zain. The FWD Care Direct plan provides instant coverage of RM100,000 to RM250,000 — offering a 100% payout for cancer diagnosis. FWD Care Direct offers cancer protection for an entire family of up to four people in a single plan. According to Azran, the Naluri application has some 8,000 users. Naluri offers access to health coaches, medical advisers, pharmacists and dieticians to its subscribers.

Amid dearth, Health Ministry says committed to increase number of cancer experts Malay Mail 4th Feb 2020
The Health Ministry is working towards increasing the number of oncologists ― or doctors dealing in prevention and treatment of cancer ― in Malaysia, primarily by encouraging more young medical officers to take up the specialisation. Its minister Datuk Seri Dzulkefly Ahmad said efforts to do so are continuous, and would involve producing more graduates in the field. “At present over 50 graduates enter oncology every year via Master’s [degree] programmes, with two more produced via the ministry’s parallel pathway programme in the same period,” he said following the launch of the World Cancer Day 2020 at KL Sentral here. During his speech, Dzulkefly noted the dearth of available oncologists, with only 114 practitioners in Malaysia. The minister added that other ways to increase the number of oncologists in Malaysia include roping in the private sector to assist by providing funding and scholarships for oncology students.

Sarawak requires two more drug rehabilitation centres: Nada www.thesundaily.my 3rd Feb 2020
Sarawak requires at least two more Cure and Care Rehabilitation Centres (CCRC) and Cure and Care (C&C) Clinics either in Bintulu or Miri, according to National Anti-Drugs Agency (Nada) director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abdullah (pix). He said the additional centres were important to meet the needs in northern Sarawak so that those seeking treatment did not have travel all the way to Kuching, located hundreds of kilometres away. The construction of the RM25.8 million facility is expected to be completed by April, and will be capable of accommodating 250 residents at a time.

AADK identifies seven high-risk areas for drug abuse in Sarawak Borneo Post Online 3rd Feb 2020
The National Anti-Drug Agency (AADK) has identified seven high-risk areas for drug abuse in Sarawak, said its director-general Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abdullah. He said AADK, together with the village security and development committee (JKKKK), hoped to reduce the high-risk areas in Sarawak. The commonly abused drugs nowadays, he noted, are synthetic drugs. In noting that traditional drug abuse is getting less, he said the trend of abusing synthetic drugs is all over in Malaysia, not in Sarawak only.

Myanmar

Ministry to conduct demographic and health survey (2020-2021) Eleven Media Group Co., Ltd 11th Feb 2020
The Ministry of Health and Sports will conduct the demographic and health survey (2020-2021) in cooperation with the ICF.  The ministry started conducting the social and health survey in 2015-2016. The 2nd basic survey will cover around 100 clusters. The survey will ask verbal questions over the cause of death. It also includes field studies, designation of survey plots, the compilation of survey questions and giving training to those who will be involved in the survey.  The ministry will select those who can speak different languages and release the survey in 2021.  The Ministry of Health and Sports conducted the survey (2015-2016) with the funds provided by the USAID and 3 MDGs and technical assistance by the ICF. 

Govt plans cervical cancer vaccination campaign in July The Myanmar Times 10th Feb 2020
The Ministry of Health and Sports plans to conduct the first nationwide vaccination campaign in July to prevent cervical cancer and human papillomavirus (HPV), a senior official said. Daw Htar Htar Lin, programme manager of the Department of Public Health’s Extended Programme on Immunisation, said the campaign will be supported by Gavi, the Vaccine Alliance, the World Health Organization, and UNICEF. “A cervical-cancer vaccination programme will be conducted for the first time in Myanmar,” she said. “We expect that it will prevent 90 percent of cervical cancer cases in Myanmar women.” According to a 2018 report by the HPV Information Centre of Myanmar, 6472 cervical cancer cases are diagnosed annually across the country. The illness is the most common female cancer in women between 15 to 44 years of age in Myanmar.

China virus infects Myanmar Belt and Road plans Asia Times 5th Feb 2020
During Xi Jinping's historic visit to Myanmar in mid-January, he vowed to build and finance big new infrastructure projects to connect the two neighbors in unprecedented trade-promoting ways in a so-called China-Myanmar Economic Corridor. If realized as envisioned, it would serve as a poster child for his wider Belt and Road Initiative in Southeast Asia. Fast forward three weeks to the coronavirus outbreak, Myanmar has suspended visas on arrival for Chinese tourists, while the national hotels and tourism ministry has asked travel agencies to stop providing services to all Chinese nationals. Those measures could deal a hard blow to Myanmar’s nascent but crucial tourism industry. Chinese nationals accounted for over 17% of Myanmar’s documented 4.36 million visitors in 2019, a figure that is sure to fall drastically with the new visa ban.

Myanmar: Prudential and MyanCare partner to offer free healthcare LaingBuisson News 4th Feb 2020
Life insurer Prudential Myanmar is to partner with telemedicine company MyanCare to provide free healthcare consultation to 5,000 families in Myanmar. The PRUCare programme will identify 5,000 teachers, nurses, social workers, security personnel and janitors across the country and provide them and their families with unlimited free voice and video healthcare consultations facilitated through the MyanCare mobile application. The programme will be rolled out in phases across 2020.

Central Committee on coronavirus prevention holds first meeting Global New Light Of Myanmar 4th Feb 2020
The Central Committee on Prevention, Control and Treatment of 2019 Novel Coronavirus held its first meeting yesterday in Nay Pyi Taw. In attendance were the Union MInister for International Cooperation U Kyaw Tin, and Union Minister for Health and Sports Dr. Myint Htwe. The purpose of the meeting was to discuss preparations and lay down plans for tackling challenges and dealing with the consequences of the outbreak in the long run, said committee chairman U Kyaw Tin. Those present at the meeting discussed coordination among the Union-level and State/Regional levels, monitoring foreign visitors at the hotels, real-time and correct media reports, medical monitoring teams at the international airports, jetties and border checkpoints and preparations for imports of personal protective equipment and face masks.

Immunization programme to include rotavirus and fourth diphtheria-tetanus vaccinations - Myanmar ReliefWeb 1st Feb 2020
Today, Ministry of Health and Sports introduced the rotavirus and fourth dose of diphtheria-tetanus vaccinations into the routine immunization programme. In Myanmar, almost every child has rotavirus infection at least twice before five years old. Currently, between 35 to 60 per cent of severe diarrhea cases among children under one year old are induced by rotavirus. Giving rotavirus vaccine is the most effective way in preventing severe diarrhea caused by rotavirus. Starting from February 1, 2020, children aged one and a half years old who have already received the first three doses of five-in-one (DTP-HepB-Hib) will be given a fourth dose of five-in-one (DTP-HepB-Hib), in order to enhance the duration of immunity.

Philippines

Bill seeks more comprehensive control of drug, medical equipment prices Business World 10th Feb 2020
Albay Rep. Jose Maria Clemente S. Salceda, who also heads the House ways and means committee, filed House Bill 6219 on Thursday, which, if passed, will be known as the Affordable Medicines, Medical Equipment and Supplies Act (AMMESA). Under House Bill 6219, the Secretary of Health will be able to negotiate the prices of all medicines, including medically necessary assistive equipment and medical supplies purchased by the government. This will compel companies to price these products lower if they want to sell medicine in the Philippines, since the government will be a single-payer system under Universal Health Care. The bill also urges the Philippine National Drug Formulary to encourage the use of generics whenever possible.

Duterte orders ASF zoning implementation as 2 Davao City villages placed on lockdown Business World 10th Feb 2020
President Duterte has issued the order for the implementation of the national zoning plan to contain the spread of the African Swine Fever (ASF). In Administrative order No. 22 dated February 5, he directed all national government agencies and local government units to comply with the National Zoning and Movement Plan for ASF issued earlier by the Department of Agriculture (DA).The zoning plan divides the country into two general zones: the free zone and the containment zone. The four categories under containment zone are the protected zone, the buffer zone, the surveillance zone, and the infected zone.

2020 census of population, housing kicks off May 4 Philippine Information Agency 10th Feb 2020
The Philippine Statistics Authority (PSA) will begin the official census count of the country’s population and housing on May 4, 2020. All persons, including those alive as of 12:01 A.M. of May 1, 2020, will be enumerated and counted during the CPH which involves the entire process of collecting, compiling, evaluating, analyzing, publishing and disseminating data about the population and living quarters in the country.

Fort Magsaysay will be virus quarantine site | Samuel P. Medenilla BusinessMirror 6th Feb 2020
GOVERNMENT preparations are now under way to convert the drug rehabilitation center in Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija into a quarantine facility for Filipinos coming from countries with confirmed cases of 2019-novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). Presidential spokesman Salvador S. Panelo said Health Secretary Francisco Duque III made the confirmation during the 46th Cabinet meeting on Tuesday evening at the Palace. “Secretary Duque reported that they are now preparing Fort Magsaysay in Nueva Ecija as a quarantine area, which can accommodate 10,000 individuals,” Panelo said.

PPA to let in ships from China philstar.com 5th Feb 2020
The Philippine Ports Authority (PPA) will not ban the entry of ships originating from China or from any of its special administrative regions so as not to paralyze the country’s supply chain, as the novel coronavirus (nCoV) menace persists and threatens to get worse. Instead, it has laid down rules to restrict the movement of ships’ crew and passengers as precaution against spreading the disease. “We are banning the disembarkation of the crew of any vessel which called in China or any of its SARs within the 14-day period prior to its arrival in any Philippine port,” he said, referring to China’s Special Administrative Regions.

It is now ‘business as usual at Clark,’ airport official says | Ashley Manabat BusinessMirror 5th Feb 2020
CLARK INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT—Other than the 14 passengers that were turned back to Hong Kong on Sunday, as well as some canceled flights, airport operations here is “business as usual.” This was the observation made by Teri Flores, spokesman of the Luzon International Premiere Airport Development, which operates and maintains this airport. Flores said following the directive of Malacañang, the airport management has immediately approved the temporary ban on the entry of any person, regardless of nationality, except Filipino citizens and holders of permanent resident visa issued by the Philippine government, directly coming from China and its Special Administrative Regions.

Dominguez sees temporary strain on exports, tourism philstar.com 5th Feb 2020
The spread of the 2019 novel coronavirus (nCoV) may create a temporary adverse impact on the local tourism industry as well as the export sector, according to the Department of Finance (DOF). “A significant impact on the economy will most likely be centered on the tourism sector. The travel and tourism industry around the globe is taking a hit as a result of the various levels of travel bans imposed by national governments and of voluntary decisions of airlines to cut flights to and from China,” DOF Secretary Carlos Dominguez said. Citing historical data, Dominguez said tourist arrivals to the Philippines during the SARS episode in 2003 dropped by 1.3 percent to 1.9 million from 1.93 million in the previous year. Tourist arrivals slightly decreased back in 2009, during the H1N1 outbreak.

Philippines confirms 3rd case of novel coronavirus Rappler 5th Feb 2020
The Department of Health (DOH) on Wednesday, February 5, reported the Philippines’ 3rd confirmed case of novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV). A 60-year-old woman from Wuhan, China, tested postive for 2019-nCoV. She traveled from Wuhan through Hong Kong and arrived in Cebu on January 20, and headed directly to Bohol. The woman consulted a private hospital after developing fever and colds, and was admitted to a hospital in Bohol. The DOH said it is now probing a total of 133 patients for 2019-nCoV.

Juul seeks clarification on e-cigarette importation philstar.com 4th Feb 2020
Juul Labs Philippines has sought the assistance of the Department of Finance (DOF) in clarifying President Duterte’s ban on the importation of electronic cigarettes, noting that the passage of new sin tax laws should have legitimized these products in the country. The DOF said the e-cigarette manufacturer encountered delays in the importation of its products as a result of Duterte’s ban on e-cigarettes, which was announced in November last year. Sought for his response, the finance chief said Juul Philippines should instead seek the help of the Executive Secretary to clear up the importation policy. Duterte in July last year signed RA 11346, which increased taxes on tobacco products and introduced a tax on e-cigarettes. However, the President, four months later, ordered a ban on electronic cigarettes and tobacco alternatives, after the Philippines confirmed its first case of vape-related illness.

Philippine FDA Posts Guidance on Classifying Drug Production Deficiencies Regulatory Affairs Professionals Society 4th Feb 2020
The Philippine Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has updated its guidelines on the classification of deficiencies identified by inspectors of manufacturing facilities. The changes affect the handling of hard-to-classify deficiencies and manufacturer responses to the discovery of critical failings. FDA published guidelines on the classification of good manufacturing practice (GMP) deficiencies early last year. The guidelines defined “critical”, “major” and “other” deficiencies and described the steps manufacturers need to take when an inspector finds the most severe type of failing. However, the document lacked details set out in a Pharmaceutical Inspection Co-operation Scheme (PIC/S) text on the risk-based classification of GMP deficiencies that was issued in January 2019. The latest FDA update revises its original guidelines in light of the PIC/S. One of the biggest changes is the addition of a section that describes “cases where a deficiency may not be clearly classified.” In such situations, the FDA guidelines call for inspectors to follow PIC/S guidance on determining GMP deficiencies, starting with the initial classification steps before evaluating factors that could increase or reduce the risk.

CAB tells airlines to heed ban; CEB quarantines crew BusinessMirror 3rd Feb 2020
THE Civil Aeronautics Board (CAB) ordered all airlines operating to and from the Philippines to comply with a travel ban that it issued to help prevent the spread of the nCoV 2019 in the country, following the death of a Chinese national due to the virus on Sunday. The order reinstates the directive of President Duterte to bar entry of any person—except Filipinos and holders of permanent resident visas—coming from China and its Special Administrative Regions (SAR) or have been to the said areas in the past 14 days.

No entry now for all of China BusinessMirror 3rd Feb 2020
AS health authorities announced the death of the second case of 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) in the country on Sunday, President Duterte ordered a ban on the entry of non-Filipino travelers coming from all of China, which is currently beset by an outbreak of the dreaded, new disease. Last week, the ban only covered the province of Hubei in China, where the 2019-nCoV is said to have originated. Although there have been calls for the Philippines to impose a lockdown for nearly a week, Duterte’s decision on Sunday—announced twice, first by trusted confidante Sen. Christopher Go and later by Executive Secretary Salvador Medialdea—caught a lot of people by surprise as Malacañang had kept saying it’s unwise to impose a total travel ban.

Economy may suffer from prolonged coronavirus outbreak | BusinessWorld Business World 2nd Feb 2020
PHILIPPINE economic growth is likely to take a hit from a global coronavirus outbreak, with trade and tourism bearing the brunt, according to a Union Bank of the Philippines, Inc. note. The country’s gross domestic product (GDP) growth could decline by 0.3% to 0.8% this year “if and when the outbreak lasts at least six months,” the lender’s Economic Research Unit said in a note emailed on Friday. The estimate is based on the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) outbreak in 2002 to 2003 when growth rates of Southeast Asian economies declined by an average of 0.5% when the situation lasted for seven months, the bank said. The Philippine economy grew by 5.9% last year, its slowest pace in eight years and missing the government’s minimum goal of 6%.

P13-billion fund can be tapped to deal with 2019-nCoV BusinessMirror 31st Jan 2020
Speaker Alan Peter Cayetano on Thursday said President Duterte can tap the P13-billion contingency fund in the 2020 national budget to prevent the spread of the novel coronavirus, 2019-nCoV, in the country. Cayetano said Congress could also augment the funds of the Department of Health (DOH) and other agencies involved in responding to the public health threat, as long as it is “part of the budget.” “Health is a priority, housing is a priority, education is a priority, the ‘Build, Build, Build’ program is a priority, so it is unavoidable that some may lack funds [in the process of implementation]…but so long as it is part of the budget, it can be augmented,” he said.

Singapore

300 vacated after coronavirus case confirmed at DBS Asia Central in Singapore The Jakarta Post 12th Feb 2020
About 300 DBS employees were vacated from their office at Marina Bay Financial Centre on Wednesday (Feb. 12), after an employee was confirmed to be infected with the coronavirus. There was a confirmed case at the DBS Asia Central office on the 43rd story of Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 3. A DBS spokesman said the employee was tested on Tuesday and the bank was informed of the confirmation on Wednesday morning. The 300 staff working on the same floor vacated the premises by 12pm as a precautionary measure and have been told to work from home for the time being.

Coronavirus: Singapore Government to foot bills of infected patients at public hospitals, except outpatient expenses The Straits Times 12th Feb 2020
The Government is paying for hospital bills incurred by coronavirus patients in public hospitals, the Ministry of Health (MOH) said. This coverage does not extend to outpatient treatment at general practitioner clinics or polyclinics, nor does it apply to treatment sought at private medical facilities. The MOH said all patients suspected of being infected by the coronavirus, which causes the disease officially called Covid-19, must be admitted to hospitals for isolation and management to prevent community transmission.

Singapore, Malaysia to form joint working group to curb COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak The Star Online 12th Feb 2020
Singapore and Malaysia will set up a joint working group to strengthen cooperation in tackling the spread of the COVID-19 (coronavirus) outbreak. The authorities from both countries announced the working group on Monday (Feb. 10) after a video conference meeting between Singapore Health Minister Gan Kim Yong and his Malaysian counterpart, Dr Dzulkefly Ahmad. The ministers had agreed that it is important for both countries to continue working closely together on the outbreak, especially given the high volume of travel between Singapore and Malaysia, Singapore's Ministry of Health said in a statement. Senior health officials from both sides will work over the next few days to determine the composition and terms of reference of the group.

Dengue up with 400 cases last week and higher infections expected says NEA The Straits Times 11th Feb 2020
Dengue infections are rising, even as Singapore is battling to contain the spread of the novel coronavirus. And it is expected to go up even further, said the National Environment Agency. There were 400 infections last week, up from 371 in the previous week. There were another 63 between Sunday and 3 pm Monday (Feb 10). The weekly cases had been rising steadily since mid-December, peaking at 404 cases in mid-January. It dropped the following week, but is again on the upswing. The number of dengue infections this year has ranged between 303 and 404 a week. The 1,723 cases in the first five weeks of the year is 60 per cent higher than the 1,057 infections diagnosed over the same period for last year, when Singapore saw the third highest annual rate of dengue infections which resulted in 20 deaths.

Singapore working with international body to develop vaccine for novel coronavirus CNA 10th Feb 2020
Singapore is working “very closely” with an international body to deploy a vaccine against the novel coronavirus. The Republic is working with the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI), a public-private coalition created to develop vaccines to stop future epidemics. CEPI last week opened a call for proposals to rapidly develop and manufacture a vaccine that can be used against the novel coronavirus. Under the CEPI initiative, front runners will be chosen by the end of this week, and they will be given at least 16 weeks to develop the vaccine. It will be then decided if the vaccine is ready for a Phase 1 clinical trial.

Singapore Braces as Coronavirus Cases Emerge in Finance Hub Bloomberg.com 10th Feb 2020
Singapore’s coronavirus outbreak has spread to its financial center, with some staff at major companies being told to work from home for at least the next few days and temperature screening checkpoints set up at the front doors of several towers. A worker at an unnamed firm in Marina Bay Financial Centre Tower 1 has been confirmed as being infected with the virus over the weekend. Another case at nearby Clifford Centre, in the heart of the central business district, is an employee of United Industrial Corp, according to an advisory to tenants in the building where UIC is located. The affected premises in both buildings have been disinfected and all tenants informed.

Singapore raises risk alert to SARS level as coronavirus cases rise to 33 CNBC 7th Feb 2020
Singapore raised its risk assessment to the second highest level of alert on Friday as the number of coronavirus cases linked to China rose to 33.The Southeast Asian nation — which has one of the most confirmed cases of the mysterious new virus — raised the Disease Outbreak Response System Condition (DORSCON) to orange. That means the disease can be easily transmitted and is severe, but contained.The system is color-coded, starting from green at the lowest level, followed by yellow, orange and red — the highest risk level. During the SARS outbreak 17 years ago, which killed 33 people in Singapore and infected 238, the status was orange.On Friday, three new cases were announced, which took Singapore's total confirmed cases to 33, according to the health ministry. The youngest patient so far is a six-month-old baby.

Coronavirus: Politicians, supermarkets urge calm amid panic-buying of groceries The Straits Times 7th Feb 2020
Politicians and supermarket chain representatives on Friday (Feb 7) called on shoppers to remain calm, saying Singapore has sufficient stocks of essential supplies and food. This was after items began flying off shelves at some supermarkets here when Singapore announced earlier in the day that it will be raising its disease outbreak response to the coronavirus situation by a notch to orange, which is just below the highest level of red. Minister for Trade and Industry Chan Chun Sing in a Facebook post gave his assurance that Singapore’s supply lines for essential supplies like rice and instant noodles are intact.

20th Anniversary ISPE Singapore Affiliate Conference opens "Call for Papers" BioSpectrumAsia 6th Feb 2020
The International Society for Pharmaceutical Engineering (ISPE) Singapore Affiliate is pleased to announce that the 20th Anniversary of the Singapore conference is now confirmed for 26 to 28 August 2020 at Suntec Convention Centre. With a record of 1000+ participants, the ISPE Singapore Conference and Exhibition broke new ground in 2019. We saw a strong presence of Pharma and Manufacturers, supported in an equal measure by Regulators, EPCM, and various other stakeholders and service providers. As one of the largest pharma manufacturing shows in the region, the conference keeps track of innovation, and constant need to change in the industry. The 20th edition will address global developments and trends and features cutting-edge case studies and best practices in the region.

Citibank cancels annual investor conference in Singapore over coronavirus outbreak CNA 6th Feb 2020
Citibank has cancelled an annual investor conference originally scheduled for this month, adding to the list of events that have been called off or postponed in Singapore due to the outbreak of a novel coronavirus. The Asia Pacific Investor Conference is one of Citibank's largest annual conferences held in the region, attracting over 1,000 institutional investors, issuers and C-suite financial professionals. The bank does “not have a new date set at this stage”, said the Citi spokesperson.

Singapore at yellow alert for coronavirus outbreak but employing more stringent measures The Straits Times 5th Feb 2020
The authorities have designated the status of the novel coronavirus outbreak in Singapore as Yellow - which generally means that, on the whole, life can go on as normal. Yellow - the status now - refers either to a mild infection, or a severe infection that is not spreading in Singapore, but of which the community needs to be careful. Health Minister Gan Kim Yong said on Tuesday (Feb 4) that the situation could change to Orange if there is widespread transmission from unknown sources. That would be just one level below Red, which signifies an out-of-control pandemic.

Singapore-based HiDoc to set up condo-based telehealth kiosk Health Care Asia Magazine 5th Feb 2020
Singapore-grown telehealth startup HiDoc has partnered with EVIA real estate, the developer of the upcoming Ola executive condo (EC) in Singapore, to set up HiDoc’s first telehealth kiosk in Ola, according to a press release. The kiosk will enable residents living in Ola to conduct virtual medical consultations with doctors. Ola is a 548-unit EC project in Sengkang, Singapore, which is set to be completed by December 2026. Kiosks in Ola will feature a webcam and a touchscreen for the video-enabled doctor consultations. It will contain sensors and devices to capture patients’ temperature, blood pressure, and heart rate amongst others.

Healthcare platform CAREhab 2020 postponed due to coronavirus threat in Singapore BioSpectrumAsia 5th Feb 2020
Due to the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) situation in Singapore, annual premier healthcare platform CAREhab 2020, originally scheduled to take place at MAX Atria at Singapore EXPO on 14-15 February 2020, has been postponed to 10-11 July 2020. 

Gmedes launches medication delivery app in Singapore MobiHealthNews 4th Feb 2020
Singapore's digital health startup Gmedes announced the launch of G-MEDS, a clinic app service that allows clinics to electronically prescribe, bill, dispense and deliver routine medication directly to the homes and offices of patients or their caregivers. The service is targeted towards busy professionals, the elderly, home-bound patients and their caregivers. Through the G-MEDS app, clinics are able to gain access to a broad on-demand stock of locally approved medications as well as over-the-counter drugs and supplements. According to Gmedes’ website, the company “works closely with a well-established Malaysia pharmacy chain and a reputable Singapore pharmacy, to source and deliver a wide range of branded and branded generics worldwide.”

Thailand

WHO holds first global technical partnership meeting on AMS BioSpectrumAsia 10th Feb 2020
Thailand to host a 3-day international AMS technical partners meeting organised by WHO in collaboration with the Government of Thailand WHO in collaboration with the Government of Thailand is organizing a 3-day international AMS technical partners meeting, to bring together country representatives, global experts, organizations and funders to establish a global Antimicrobial Stewardship (AMS) network to support country implementation on AMS. The Theme of the meeting will be “Fostering Partnerships and Capacity on Antimicrobial Stewardship” with the aim to accelerate the implementation of the AMS toolkit and turn policies into action at a country level. The event will be held from 24th to 26th February 2020 in Bangkok, Thailand.

Young Thais at Highest Risk for STDs, Health Official Warns Khaosod English 6th Feb 2020
Thais, especially those under 25, are increasingly at risk of sexually transmitted diseases, a health official said Wednesday. Gonorrhea, syphilis, chlamydia, chancroid, and venereal diseases in the lymph nodes among the young people appear to be on the rise, according to Atsadang Ruayajin, deputy director of the Department of Disease Control, who said the infection rates have been rising steadily since 2015. While the average age group has 33.9 STD patients per 100,000 Thais, the number surges to 124.6 per 100,000 for the age group of 15 to 24.

Free Mental Health Workshops for Thai Teens in February Khaosod English 5th Feb 2020
In a city where counselling sessions can run for thousands of baht per hour, free mental health workshops for teens will run for four therapeutic days. At “The Nook” four-day workshop from Feb. 29 to March 3 at Yelo House, young people will be able to speak to mental health professionals and participate in group therapy activities for free. The event is hosted by Love Frankie, a Bangkok-based creative agency. “Data from the Mental Health Department shows that there are currently 1 million young Thais dealing with clinical depression and around 2 million at risk of developing this and other mental illnesses,” Matt Love, one of the founders of Love Frankie said in a statement. “This situation along with the increase of suicide rates among youth in Thailand requires us to act fast and show up for the young people struggling with mental illnesses.”

Cabinet imposes controls on masks, synthetic yarn for masks and sanitizers Thai PBS World 4th Feb 2020
The cabinet has endorsed the Commerce Ministry’s proposal to add face masks, the synthetic yarn used to produce them, sanitizers and the import of scrap and recycled paper to the list of controlled products, the production, distribution, import and export of which are now subject to control by the Internal Trade Department. Controlling face masks, sanitizers and synthetic yarn is intended to ensure sufficient supply due to high demand as a result of the novel coronavirus outbreak in China and concerns over the spread of the virus in Thailand, which attracts ten million Chinese tourists annually.

Vietnam

Teleconference updates 700 hospitals on nCoV prevention measures VietnamPlus 9th Feb 2020
The Ministry of Health on February 8 held a teleconference to discuss and popularise prevention and treatment measures against the acute respiratory disease caused by the novel coronavirus (nCoV). The event, which was connected to 700 hospitals at all levels nationwide, saw the participation of experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO), domestic hospitals and universities; representatives from health departments and disease control centres in provinces and cities, and local authorities across the country. Vietnam has successfully cultivated and isolated the novel coronavirus, enabling quicker tests of the virus, Long said.

Vietnam scraps import tariffs on face masks, liquid hand soaps VnExpress International 8th Feb 2020
Finance Minister Dinh Tien Dung Friday signed a decision exempting import tariffs on a list of items needed to improve hygiene in the fight against the novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) epidemic. The list includes medical masks, liquid hand wash products and the materials needed to produce them, protective clothing, helmets, goggles and gloves approved by health authorities. The import tariff exemptions would apply from Saturday until the end of the epidemic, the decision said. Mask prices have been soaring across the country and drugstores are running out of supply as people seek protection from the deadly pneumonia causing virus.

Vietnam's Mekong Capital-backed Pharmacity raises $31.8m in Series C round DealStreetAsia 3rd Feb 2020
Mekong Capital-backed Pharmacity Pharmacy JSC, which owns the largest pharmacy network in Vietnam, has raised VND735 billion ($31.8 million) in a Series C funding round, according to a statement. The names of the investors, however, were not disclosed. The company said that the fresh funding will support its expansion plans. Going forward, it plans to open 350 new stores and hit the target of 1,000 stores across the nation by the end of November 2021.

Update nCoV: Vietnam PM declares national outbreak hanoitimes.vn 1st Feb 2020
Vietnam’s Prime Minister Nguyen Xuan Phuc on February 1 signed a decision to declare the national epidemic of the new coronavirus (nCoV). The decision was made shortly after the Ministry of Health announced the outbreak in the coastal province of Khanh Hoa, a tourist hub, a day ago after the locality confirmed a resident positive with nCoV under human-to-human transmission from Chinese visitors.