Health & Life Sciences Update: May 28, 2020

Health & Life Sciences | May 28, 2020
Authors: Hai Pham, Nguyen Thi Phuong Thao, J-Ren Ong, Minh Vu
 
LOOKING AHEAD
 
 
  • June 2, 2020: USABC-Obama Foundation Webinar: Leading Beyond COVID-19 in Southeast Asia
    • Please join the US-ASEAN Business Council and the Obama Foundation for an interactive virtual conversation with business and sustainability leaders from the Asia-Pacific region, as they share lessons they’ve learned in responding to COVID-19, explore ways that different sectors can come together and take collective action, and discuss what leadership may look like in the post-pandemic world.
  • Save the Date - June 30 / July 1: Senior Leaders Forum on U.S. - ASEAN Health Cooperation​​​​​​​

    • ​​​​​​​​​​​​​​The US-ASEAN Business Council and the U.S. Department of State are working together to host a virtual senior leadership forum as a program under the US-ASEAN Health Futures Initiative, to discuss the public and private responses to important health issues including the COVID-19 outbreak and identify opportunities for collaboration during the recovery phase. This program will take place on evening June 30 EDT / morning July 1 SGT, and opportunities to participate on a panel or attend are available. For more information, please contact Hai Pham (hpham@usasean.org) and Bernie Baskin (bbaskin@usasean.org)
  • August 2020: Potential USABC Presentation at the 15th ASEAN Senior Officials Meeting on Health Development

  • 2nd Half of 2020: Joint Antimicrobial Resistance Program in ASEAN (inaugural collaboration between Council’s Food & Agriculture and Health & Life Sciences Committees)
 
THE COUNCIL'S TAKE
 
 

COVID-19 Sets ASEAN Countries Up to Develop Healthcare Infrastructure

As ASEAN countries continue to ramp up their healthcare systems to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, attention is also focusing on increasing productive capacities to address supply shortages of equipment and strengthen local medical device and pharmaceutical sectors. The Indonesian Ministry of Industry on May 13 said it aimed to make Indonesia self-reliant in the health and pharmaceutical sectors, capitalizing on the high demand for medical equipment and medicines. The Ministry issued a ministerial regulation on procedures to calculate the Domestic Component Level for pharmaceutical products in an effort to support the development of raw materials manufacturing and research in the country. In addition, the Ministry said it was also discussing initiatives to produce ventilators in Indonesia. On May 19, the Government of Cambodia approved a request by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia for garment factories to produce all kinds of personal protective equipment (PPE) for both domestic consumption and export. On May 21, the Philippine Department of Trade and Industry announced that 10 Philippines-based companies had agreed to convert some of their capacity to produce PPE for frontline medical workers in the country. On the same day, Thailand Board of Investment (BOI) announced its plan to spotlight the medical devices industry for the first time in the Subcon Thailand 2020, ASEAN’s largest international industrial subcontracting event. The move followed BOI’s April measures taken to attract further investments in the industry and aimed to set up joint ventures or convince foreign firms to move their manufacturing operation for medical devices to the country. Thailand has identified the medical industry as a strategic sector, guided by the Public Health Ministry’s 2016-25 “Thailand: A Hub of Wellness and Medical Services” plan prior to the outbreak.

The growth in the demand for drugs and medical products has led to an increase in sales and exports for pharmaceutical firms in the region. On May 18, government agency Enterprise Singapore said that although overall trade declined, pharmaceutical sales expanded Singapore export by 9.7 percent year on year. Singapore’s pharmaceutical exports to the EU and Japan surged by 467 percent and 864 percent year on year respectively. Pharmaceutical firms in Vietnam also recorded strong growth in Q1 2020, expecting revenue in 2020 to reach double digit growth. DHG Pharmaceutical Joint Stock Company (DHG), the largest Vietnamese pharmaceutical firm by market cap and revenue, recorded the highest profit among the listed pharmaceutical firms in Q1 at 177 billion VND (US$5 million) or a 31 percent increase year-on-year.

Pharmaceutical sectors in several ASEAN nations have also been participating global efforts in developing a COVID-19 vaccine. Thailand on May 24 announced that it could begin human trials of a locally developed vaccine as early as August 2020. The vaccine is being developed jointly by the Chulalongkorn University, the National Vaccine Institute, the Department of Medical Sciences, and the private sector. The Government of Malaysia has also expressed an interest in participating in clinical trials for a vaccine. Singapore-based university researchers and biotechnology firms are also cooperating with foreign counterpart including those in the U.S. and Japan to study the virus and develop vaccines. On May 14, Vietnam’s state-owned firm VABIOTECH, in cooperation with the UK’s Bristol University, had begun testing vaccine on mice.

Philippines Senator Proposed Four Bills to Boost Healthcare System

In a bid to strengthen the country’s healthcare system during the pandemic and to promote equitable economic development across the countries in both urban and rural areas, on May 25 Senator Christopher “Bong” Go, Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography, filed four Senate Bills aimed at strengthening the hospital capacity, personnel, and pandemic public health response. In addition to controling the pandemic, the bills would also improve the healthcare system in the long run. The four bills include:

  • SB 1226 or “DOH Hospital Bed Capacity and Service Capability Rationalization Act” - The Bill would develop a Philippine Health Facility Development Plan to guide modernization and development plants and to access capital outlay investment for the purpose of increasing bed capacities and corresponding services capabilities of all hospitals retained by the Department of Health (DOH). Under current regulations, public hospitals can only increase its bed capacity through legislation.
  • SB 1451 or “Medical Reserve Corps Act of 2020” - The Bill aimed to establish a Medical Reserve Corps that comprises of all persons who have degrees in the field of medicine, nursing, medical technology, and other health-related fields but have yet to have their respective licenses to practice for reasons such as, but not limited to, not having taken and/or passed the licensure examinations in their respective professions. The Corps would be mobilized to assist the national and local government during national emergencies.
  • SB 1259 or “Mandatory Quarantine Facilities Act of 2020” - The Bill would establish quarantine facilities in every region in locations easily accessible to a DOH hospital.
  • SB 1528 amending the Republic Act 11332 or “Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act” - The Bill would enhance disease surveillance and control in the country by enhancing testing and contact tracing capabilities during pandemics.

The proposed Bills are viewed as ways of strengthening domestic responses to the pandemic. Prior to the proposal, the Inter-Agency Taskforce for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) on May 22 approved a proposal by the Department of Science and Technology to reactivate the pharmaceutical development unit and to establish a virology institute in the country. The unit and the institute would focus on the development of vaccines, diagnostics, and therapeutics as well as research in the field of virology, respectively. On May 19 the DOH sought an additional P67.72 billion (US$1.3 billion) to battle COVID-19. The DOH has been reallocating its budget to purchase test kits and personal protective equipment to control the diseases and to hire about 3,000 more health workers.

Myanmar to Increase Healthcare Spending to Supply Free Medicine

As the number of patients seeking treatment at public hospitals increases, on May 18 the Ministry of Health and Sports said it would increase its health expenditure to 300 billion kyats (US$216 million) starting October for the 2020-2021 fiscal year to provide free medicine. According to Minister Dr. Myint Htwe, the number of inpatients has increased year on year, from 2.75 million in 2016 to 3.15 million in 2019, leading to a rising demand for medicines. Accordingly, the ministry’s expenditures on the provision of certain medicines at no cost to consumers has also increased to meet the demand, from 98 billion kyats (US$70 million) in 2016-2017 to 143 billion kyats (US$201 million) in 2019-2020. The spending proposal came in response to Lower House lawmaker’s complaint that the supply of medicines for patients at public hospitals was insufficient. In addition, the minister also recognized that Myanmar has a waste issue in pharmaceutical products at hospitals. While the supply of some medicines ran out, others had to be discarded in large quantities after passing their expiry dates. The minister said the Ministry is working to improve the supply chain to address waste issue.

 
ADVOCACY UPDATE
 
 

US-ABC Advocacy Tracker

In response to member feedback and in our effort to improve members' ability to plug into our many ongoing advocacy efforts, we have launched a simple Advocacy Tracker on the Council website. The Advocacy Tracker lists all active Call for Inputs with due dates and contacts for which Council staff to reach out to for more information. The tracker can be found on our website under the Members Only section. You may reach out to Kim Yaeger at kyaeger@usasean.org if you have any questions or feedback regarding the Advocacy Tracker.

 
IN THIS UPDATE
 
 
Regional Affairs
APEC pushes for improvements, bolstering trust in global supply chains

ASEAN
Early estimates of the indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on maternal and child mortality in low-income and middle-income countries: a modelling study
We need a Financial Stability Board for health

Brunei
Plans to widen use of BruHealth app, says minister
MoH holds blood donation drive tonight
Associations organise blood donation campaign

Cambodia
Two Thai provinces to open border for Cambodians seeking emergency medical help
Anti-virus measures in place after travel ban lifted
Covid-19 response project unveiled
Cambodian government gives approval for garment factories to produce masks and PPE’s

Indonesia
Indonesia looks to domestic innovations to tackle COVID-19
Frontline health workers left waiting for promised stimulus
More Indonesian doctors, nurses die fighting against COVID-19
BPOM musters resources to expedite COVID-19 testing
From test kits to medical robots, research ministry launches innovations in fight against COVID-19
Major Indonesian hospitals go digital to tap into growing telemedicine market
Gov't Needs to Broaden Definition of 'Vulnerable Groups': Child Protection Expert
Manulife Indonesia Fulfils Rp4.6 Billion COVID-19 Claims
Kresna Life Insurance prepares scheme to pay policyholders
US pharma firms think twice about relocating to Indonesia: Experts
Kalbe Farma looks to digital platforms to cushion COVID-19 impact
US Pharma Company to Relocate Plant to Central Java From China
Indonesia aims for self-reliance in medical devices, products
Crisis beyond health premiums
Hemodialysis patient group to challenge BPJS Kesehatan premium increase for second time
Industry Ministry to boost self-sufficiency in medical devices - ANTARA News

Laos
“Noi Yakhoo Mobile App”: Keeping Lao youth healthy and safe!
US announces US$3 mn support for Covid-19 response in Laos
Over 1,200 infected with dengue
Health Officials Strive To Take Sting Out Of Dengue Fever
Health Minister calls for unity as he joins world leaders in opening World Health Assembly
Lao PDR receives support from the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund

Malaysia
Jemilah: Childcare centres for children of frontliners on par with those overseas
Malaysia’s MDA resumes some in-person interactions as government eases restrictions
Covid-19: MOH detects new cluster in Sepang Immigration Detention Depot
MOH confirms Muhyiddin and 34 others on 14-day self-quarantine
Hospital University Malaysia Sabah launches state's first telemedicine service
Why the leeway for private hospitals over mask profiteering? Pharma firms ask | Malay Mail
Health D-G urges Malaysians to do more to protect young after Kawasaki-like Covid-19 complication afflicts kids abroad | Malay Mail
Malaysia’s PPE shortage, supply issues: Doctors propose national stockpile, centralised unit for better distribution | Malay Mail
Digi, AXA Affin launch prepaid internet plan with life insurance coverage
Guidance Document on Verification of Translated Official Document - May 2020

Myanmar
Govt to vaccinate health workers for flu in Myanmar
To alert double infection of COVID-19 and dengue virus in coming months
MoHS, Tatmadaw medical corps take body temperature with mobile infrared thermal detection units
Myanmar to Double Health Spending to Supply Free Medicines
Govt cancels immunisation in strife-torn areas in Rakhine
New bill aims to update Myanmar’s communicable diseases law
Myanmar to Introduce Tougher Law to Control Communicable Diseases

Philippines
Senate bills to boost Philippines healthcare system
Coronavirus gloom spawns physical, mental health troubles
Bong Go files health-related bills to boost country's healthcare system
PRRD to study DOST proposal to create a virology institute
Drilon wants PhilHealth revamp amid 'overpriced' test kits mess
CL stakeholders discuss tuberculosis treatment amid COVID pandemic
DTI: Philippines can now locally produce PPEs
DOST grants P4.7-M for sanitation cubicle fabrication
PhilHealth to review P8,150 COVID-19 package after overpricing allegations
Philippines invited to global clinical trial for COVID-19 vaccine by Chinese pharma
Health dep’t seeks P68B more to fight coronavirus pandemic
HCWs with virus now 2,000; DOH still hiring

Singapore
CXA Group receives fresh round of funds from existing investors Humanica and HSBC
More healthcare services, including some surgical ops, to resume from June 2
Digital health company Holmusk secures $21.5M in Series A funding
Intellect launches digital therapy app for masses
With only one bidder, no tender awarded for Singapore's first dementia care village
S'pore researchers in global search for Covid-19 vaccines
SMART receives NMRC grant to develop rapid non-invasive paper-based tests for COVID-19
Singapore's Experian connects COVID-19 impacted consumers in Asia
Pharma shipments lift Singapore exports for third straight month
529 dengue cases reported last week; NEA warns of higher dengue risk in homes during circuit breaker period
Surging demand for Singapore's pharma output amid pandemic
Singapore’s HeartVoice extends the use of its telehealth platform to all healthcare providers
Novena establishes new biz unit for PPE supplies

Thailand
Health chiefs eye human trials of vaccine this year
Thai-made vaccine could be available sometime next year
Thailand healthtech field set to grow: Report
BoI seeks to lure makers of medical equipment
Over 700 cases of dengue fever found in Korat
Bangkok guards against ‘Dengue Fever’, new spread fear in Thailand
Medical hub ambitions

Vietnam
Pharmaceutical enterprises enjoy good earnings in Q1
Telecom industry expects high growth in next 5 years
Mekong Delta healthcare system growing rapidly, eases pressure on HCM City hospitals
ASEAN senior officials meet online
Pharma groups to profit from virus?
Multinationals riding high in Vietnam’s pharma landscape
 
ARTICLE CLIPS
 
 
Regional Affairs

APEC pushes for improvements, bolstering trust in global supply chains Antara News 21st May 2020
The novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic calls for urgently ushering in improvements and strengthening trust in global supply chains, according to Executive Director of the APEC Secretariat Rebecca Fatima Sta Maria. In the wake of the medical products industry currently becoming more specialized and globalized, scores worldwide are increasingly relying on the global marketplace for basic health requirements. APEC has in place several tools to help economies find such solutions, specifically an already existing supply chain security toolkit that sets protocols and serves as a roadmap for the promotion of global medical product quality and supply chain security.

ASEAN

Early estimates of the indirect effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on maternal and child mortality in low-income and middle-income countries: a modelling study The Lancet Global Health 14th May 2020
While the COVID-19 pandemic will increase mortality due to the virus, it is also likely to increase mortality indirectly. In this study, we estimate the additional maternal and under-5 child deaths resulting from the potential disruption of health systems and decreased access to food. Our least severe scenario (coverage reductions of 9·8–18·5% and wasting increase of 10%) over 6 months would result in 253 500 additional child deaths and 12 200 additional maternal deaths. Our most severe scenario (coverage reductions of 39·3–51·9% and wasting increase of 50%) over 6 months would result in 1 157 000 additional child deaths and 56 700 additional maternal deaths.

We need a Financial Stability Board for health Financial Times 14th May 2020
We have invested in building resilience in our financial system, but not in our global health system. That must change. The World Health Organization’s handling of the pandemic has been heavily criticised. The solution is not to cut the WHO — it’s to reinforce it. What the world needs is a second international organisation to work alongside the WHO with a singular focus on preparedness, response and management of threats to global health. There is already a successful model. As we confront Covid-19, we are relearning many of the lessons that emerged from the bitter experience of the 2008 financial crisis. Among them: we are more interdependent than ever. The consequences of underinvesting in resilience can be catastrophic. And everything moves faster than we imagined.

Brunei

Plans to widen use of BruHealth app, says minister Borneo Bulletin Online 24th May 2020
It takes time to adapt to changes, including the BruHealth app, which was implemented to combat the COVID-19 outbreak. This was said by Minister of Health Dato Seri Setia Dr Haji Mohd Isham bin Haji Jaafar during the daily press conference yesterday in view of some businesses failing to paste QR codes at the entrances for customers despite having registered with the app. He added, “Once we have been acquainted with the app, we will widen the use of the QR code to other premises.”

MoH holds blood donation drive tonight Borneo Bulletin Online 21st May 2020
The Ministry of Health, through the Blood Donation Centre of the Laboratory Services Department, will hold a blood donation campaign today from 8pm-10pm at the Blood Donation Centre of the Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital. The blood donation campaign is open to Muslim donors in particular. For non-Muslim donors, it is advisable to donate during the day.

Associations organise blood donation campaign Borneo Bulletin Online 20th May 2020
Over 20 individuals attended the blood donation campaign, co-organised by Taiwan Graduates Association of Brunei Darussalam, Taipei Economic and Cultural Office and Taiwan Business Association at the Blood Donation Centre of Raja Isteri Pengiran Anak Saleha (RIPAS) Hospital yesterday. The representative of Taipei Economic and Cultural Office Andrew Lee participated in the blood donation drive with members of the Taiwan Business Association in Brunei Darussalam and Taiwan Graduates Association of Brunei Darussalam.

Cambodia

Two Thai provinces to open border for Cambodians seeking emergency medical help Khmer Times 19th May 2020
While Cambodia and Thailand are continuing a lockdown of their common border to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, low-level negotiations between both sides at the Oddar Meanchay international checkpoints have yielded a compromise – The Thais will allow residents in the province needing medical attention to cross the border and seek emergency treatment in Thailand.

Anti-virus measures in place after travel ban lifted Khmer Times 20th May 2020
The government yesterday announced the lifting of the entry ban on people from six countries, more than two months after it was put in place to prevent imported virus cases from entering Cambodia. A statement signed by Health Minister Mam Bun Heng, who is also head of the Inter-Ministerial Commission for Combating COVID-19, said Prime Minister Hun Sen approved a request made by Health and Foreign Affairs Ministries to lift the entry bans.

Covid-19 response project unveiled Phnom Penh Post 19th May 2020
As governments strive to revive their economies amid the Covid-19 pandemic, the World Bank has launched a project to help Cambodia mitigate the virus’ impacts on its economic growth. The aim of this project is to assist Cambodia in its efforts to prevent, detect and respond to the threat posed by Covid-19 and strengthen national systems for public health preparedness. This will help Cambodia to reduce and delay the transmission of Covid-19, help reduce the incidence of serious disease and deaths, and ensure ongoing essential health services, particularly during the pandemic period. This is a $20 million project. The project will finance the upgrading of the national reference laboratory for testing Covid-19, improving diagnostic capacity at four regional laboratories and 21 associated laboratories in the provincial hospitals. It will also support the supply of medical equipment, including personal protective equipment and other consumables for isolation and treatment wards in all 25 provincial hospitals.

Cambodian government gives approval for garment factories to produce masks and PPE’s Khmer Times 17th May 2020
The government has approved a request by the Garment Manufacturers Association in Cambodia (GMAC) for garment factories to produce all kinds of face masks, medical equipment and protective clothing for both domestic consumption and export. As masks, medical equipment, and protective clothing are being sought after by the world to help curb COVID-19, the government supports and encourages factories to produce the aforementioned items, according to the Ministry of Economy and Finance’s letter sent to GMAC president.

Indonesia

Indonesia looks to domestic innovations to tackle COVID-19 The Jakarta Post 25th May 2020
Indonesia is striving to tackle the COVID-19 outbreak with domestically produced innovations, but researchers say the government may face roadblocks in the mass production of such products because of the absence of pro-innovation policies. The government’s research consortium on Wednesday launched nine products, including ventilators, a type of polymerase chain reaction (PCR) test and rapid antibody testing kits, in an effort to overcome the shortage of critical medical equipment in Indonesia’s fight against COVID-19.

Frontline health workers left waiting for promised stimulus The Jakarta Post 22nd May 2020
Medical workers treating COVID-19 patients in Jakarta have reported that they have yet to receive the financial incentives announced by the central government and provincial administration in March. President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo said previously that the government had allocated Rp 5.9 trillion to be given as incentives to medical workers treating confirmed patients. The government said it would provide each medical specialist an incentive of Rp 15 million, physicians and dentists Rp 10 million, nurses Rp 7.5 million and other medical staff members Rp 5 million.

More Indonesian doctors, nurses die fighting against COVID-19 The Jakarta Post 20th May 2020
As the country still struggles to flatten the COVID-19 transmission curve, more medical workers have fallen victim to the disease, with dozens of doctors and nurses across the country succumbing to the coronavirus. According to the Indonesian Medical Association (IDI), at least 27 doctors have died due to the disease as of Wednesday.

BPOM musters resources to expedite COVID-19 testing Antara News 20th May 2020
The National Agency of Drug and Food Control (BPOM) has mobilized its resources throughout Indonesia to accelerate laboratory testing for novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) specimens, according to BPOM Head Penny Lukito. "We have mobilized all resources in the central office and branch offices in regions. We try our best to accelerate the handling of COVID-19, including the utilization of our laboratories for specimen testing," Lukito noted in a statement here on Wednesday.

From test kits to medical robots, research ministry launches innovations in fight against COVID-19 The Jakarta Post 20th May 2020
The National Research and Innovation Agency’s (BRIN) COVID-19 research consortium launched nine new inventions to support Indonesia’s advanced pandemic countermeasure on Wednesday. Research and Technology Minister and BRIN head Bambang Brodjonegoro said he hoped the new products would become the nation’s templates in terms of medical innovation.

Major Indonesian hospitals go digital to tap into growing telemedicine market The Jakarta Post 20th May 2020
(Shutterstock/File) Many major hospital operators in Indonesian have launched their own teleconsultation services to tap into the growing telemedicine market in the country, which has been further accelerated by the COVID-19 outbreak. Siloam Hospital chief information officer Ryanto Marino Tedjomulja said the hospital chain had launched its online outpatient services or teleconsultation on April 13 in partnership with Aido Health, an online healthcare provider.

Gov't Needs to Broaden Definition of 'Vulnerable Groups': Child Protection Expert Jakarta Globe 20th May 2020
The government needs to expand its definition of vulnerable groups during the coronavirus pandemic to be able to help more people in need, Santi Kusumaningrum, the director of the University of Indonesia's Child Protection and Wellbeing Center, or Puskapa, said on Tuesday. "The government has been helping the poor and the sick. But during the pandemic, more people are vulnerable in many different ways. We need a broader definition of 'vulnerable group,'" Santi said.

Manulife Indonesia Fulfils Rp4.6 Billion COVID-19 Claims Tempo 20th May 2020
Director and CEO of Life insurer Manulife Indonesia, Ryan Charland, on Wednesday expressed optimism that his firm will be able to maintain positive financial performance in 2020 despite the negative effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic looming over the life insurance industry. The director’s written statement assured that the company “believes that the business growth can record healthy investment returns.” He also noted that Manulife Indonesia is optimistic that it will overcome future challenges with the company’s assets in the form of overabundance product distribution, pension fund businesses, and strong management over the plethora of assets.

Kresna Life Insurance prepares scheme to pay policyholders The Jakarta Post 19th May 2020
Privately-owned insurer PT Asuransi Jiwa Kresna (Kresna Life Insurance) is preparing a scheme to pay out its policyholders, as the company reels from the impact of COVID-19 on its finances. The company announced on May 14 that it would postpone insurance claim and benefit payments for Kresna Link Investa (K-LITA) and Protecto Investa Kresna (PIK) policyholders, citing force majeure as its reason. The details of the scheme will be disclosed to its policyholders as late as 30 days from the date of the notification letter issuance on May 14, Kresna Life announced in a statement on Monday.

US pharma firms think twice about relocating to Indonesia: Experts The Jakarta Post 19th May 2020
Indonesia’s infamous red tape could dissuade investment from US pharmaceutical companies looking to relocate from China, experts say. The Indonesian government is in talks over the possibility of offering US-controlled pharmaceutical firms that wish to move factories out of China a new production base, according to Coordinating Maritime Affairs and Investment Minister Luhut Pandjaitan. Indonesian Pharmaceutical Association (GP Farmasi) chairman Tirto Koesnandi said an unsupportive regulatory framework and high wages could deter investors from setting up operations in the country.

Kalbe Farma looks to digital platforms to cushion COVID-19 impact The Jakarta Post 18th May 2020
PT Kalbe Farma is bracing for the impact of COVID-19 on its business in the second quarter and hoping to cushion the blow through cashflow management and by making better use of digital channels. Kalbe Farma president director Vidjongtius said that, while the COVID-19 impact was not apparent in the first quarter, it would be more significant in the second quarter with an expected decline in the number of patient visits and limited consumer mobility. “We will take greater advantage of digital platforms as an alternative for our stay-at-home consumers,” the president director said on Monday.

US Pharma Company to Relocate Plant to Central Java From China Jakarta Globe 18th May 2020
Indonesia is preparing a 4,000-hectare industrial complex in Brebes, Central Java, for a US pharmaceutical company relocating from China, after a discussion last month between President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo and US President Donald Trump. Sanny Iskandar, the chairman of the Industrial Estates Association (JKI), confirmed the news to Investor Daily at the weekend, saying that state-controlled Kawasan Industri Wijayakusuma industrial estate in Brebes would soon welcome the as-yet-unnamed company.

Indonesia aims for self-reliance in medical devices, products Antara News 16th May 2020
In addition to lack of PPEs, Indonesia is also facing shortages of other medical devices, such as COVID-19 test kits, ventilators, and medical masks, as well as medicines. In early April, Trade Minister Agus Suparmanto relaxed a regulation on the export and import of health equipment and PPEs to resolve the problem of their scarcity. The Trade Minister's Regulation No. 34 of 2020 temporarily bans the exports of antiseptics, mask raw materials, PPE, masks, and ethyl alcohol, until June 30, 2020, as domestic demand has jumped owing to the pandemic.

Crisis beyond health premiums The Jakarta Post 16th May 2020
Among the latest controversial government policies is the new hike in premiums for the national health insurance (JKN) program, seen as a blatant defiance of a Supreme Court ruling issued in March that annulled an earlier increase. In defense of the latest hike issued on May 5, the Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan) has said that while the premiums are indeed higher for first- to third-class services, the government has upped its subsidies for the third-class option, thus making the increase “within the corridor” of the court ruling, said BPJS Kesehatan president director Fachmi Idris. Legal technicalities aside, the government must have expected the outrage, coming in the face of hardships under the COVID-19 pandemic.

Hemodialysis patient group to challenge BPJS Kesehatan premium increase for second time The Jakarta Post 15th May 2020
The Indonesian Hemodialysis Patient Community (KPCDI) will once again file a judicial review to the Supreme Court against the government’s decision to increase the premiums of the Health Care and Social Security Agency (BPJS Kesehatan) after the former annulled a similar policy earlier this year. "The KPCDI is currently discussing [the plan] with a team of lawyers and preparing the lawsuit dossier,” KPCDI chairman Tony Samosir said in a statement published on the group’s website on Wednesday.

Industry Ministry to boost self-sufficiency in medical devices - ANTARA News Antara News 14th May 2020
he Industry Ministry is encouraging domestic industries to manufacture medical devices and pharmaceutical products to meet the rising demands in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. "The products of medical equipment and pharmaceutical industries are in high demand. We need to capitalize on this to make Indonesia self-reliant in the health and pharmaceutical sectors," Minister of Industry Agus Gumiwang Kartasasmita stated during a virtual meeting with the Association of Indonesian Medical Devices Manufacturers (Aspaki) and Association of Pharmaceutical Entrepreneurs on Wednesday (May 13), as quoted in a press statement from the Ministry of Industry here on Thursday.

Laos

“Noi Yakhoo Mobile App”: Keeping Lao youth healthy and safe! Lao News Agency 26th May 2020
The Centre for Communication and Education on Health (CCEH), Ministry of Health with support of UNFPA developed a mobile application “Noi Yakhoo” to increase access of adolescents and young people to technically accurate and high quality basic sexual and reproductive health information and to develop referral linkages with adolescent helpline for needs based in-depth information. This mobile application was recently launched by Dr. Khamphone Phoutthavong, Deputy Minister of Health and Ms. Mariam A. Khan, UNFPA Representative to Laos.

US announces US$3 mn support for Covid-19 response in Laos Vientiane Times 25th May 2020
The United States has announced additional funding worth US$3.17 million to help Laos fight the novel coronavirus disease (Covid-19). US Ambassador Dr Peter M Haymond on Friday announced the additional funding, according to a statement from the US Embassy in Vientiane. The committed funding support, provided through the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (US CDC), is for prevention, preparedness and response activities in response to Covid-19 in Laos.

Over 1,200 infected with dengue Lao News Agency 21st May 2020
Since Dec 28, 2019 more than 1,200 people have been infected with dengue and two have died from the disease including one each in Vientiane Capital and Xayaboury. Some 149 dengue cases were reported over the past nine days, according to the Centre of Information and Education for Health, Ministry of Health.

Health Officials Strive To Take Sting Out Of Dengue Fever J&C Group 21st May 2020
Health authorities are advising provincial health departments to actively monitor their areas in the fight against dengue fever, as the prevalence of the disease in the provinces is higher this year than last. As of May 18, 1,234 people had been diagnosed with dengue fever and two deaths were recorded. Most of the cases occurred in Attapeu province with 184, while 327 cases were reported Vientiane, and 169 cases were reported in Vientiane province.

Health Minister calls for unity as he joins world leaders in opening World Health Assembly Lao News Agency 20th May 2020
Minister of Health, Dr Bounkong Syhavong, participated in the opening session of the 73rd World Health Assembly (WHA 73), giving the Presidential Address in his role as President of last year’s Assembly (WHA 72). Dr Bounkong Syhavong, Minister of Health, began his opening speech building on UN Secretary-General Guterres’ call for unity.

Lao PDR receives support from the UN COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund Lao News Agency 20th May 2020
The United Nations will support the Lao government’s preparedness and response to COVID-19 under the United Nations COVID-19 Response and Recovery Fund with two UN projects approved under the fund last week. The fund was launched last month by the UN Secretary-General to support low- and middle-income countries overcome the health and development crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and support people most vulnerable to economic hardship and social disruption.

Malaysia

Jemilah: Childcare centres for children of frontliners on par with those overseas The Star Online 26th May 2020
The provision of childcare centres for children of frontline staff currently being studied by the Health Ministry (MOH) is in line with standard operating procedures (SOPs) implemented overseas. Special adviser to the Prime Minister on Public Health Tan Sri Dr Jemilah Mahmood (pic) said the SOP was reviewed through best practices implemented by the Centre for Disease Control, in the United States and the United Kingdom. "Over there the focus is on the children of healthcare workers because they need to work in the frontline and their children need to be well cared for.

Malaysia’s MDA resumes some in-person interactions as government eases restrictions Malaysian Medical Device Authority 25th May 2020
Limited counter service has resumed at the Malaysian Medical Device Authority (MDA) as the national government begun to reopen after a period of lockdown. Malaysia implemented a movement control order in mid-March, forcing MDA to stop the counter service it uses to support regulatory activities including medical device registration. The order will stay in place until 9 June, but the government wants to start reopening the economy, including the public sector, before then. People who want to collect medical device registration certificates and other paperwork now can do so. Those using the in-person service to comply with new procedures, including the wearing of face masks.

Covid-19: MOH detects new cluster in Sepang Immigration Detention Depot www.thesundaily.my 24th May 2020
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has detected a new Covid-19 cluster, with six cases, at the Immigration Detention Depot (DTI) in Sepang, Selangor, making it the third cluster involving a DTI. Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah confirmed this in his statement today.

MOH confirms Muhyiddin and 34 others on 14-day self-quarantine www.thesundaily.my 23rd May 2020
The Health Ministry (MOH) has confirmed that Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin is among 35 people asked to self-quarantine at home for 14 days after an officer, who attended the post-Cabinet meeting chaired by the PM on Wednesday, tested positive for Covid-19. Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah (pix) said swab tests were conducted on all 35 of them and the results were negative.

Hospital University Malaysia Sabah launches state's first telemedicine service The Star Online 21st May 2020
Sabah’s first telemedicine service is now available at a portal by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) at https://tanyadoc.ums.edu.my. The portal is a platform that allows the public to directly access consulting physicians through video conferencing in an initiative with Hospital Universiti Malaysia Sabah (HUMS), as it will give people remote access to experts from the university's Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences. HUMS Head of Information Technology Section Mohd Nizar Hamild said in terms of privacy concerns, Tanya Pakar uses the proprietary MIRUBA UMS private video conferencing system designed and made specifically for UMS.

Why the leeway for private hospitals over mask profiteering? Pharma firms ask | Malay Mail Malay Mail 17th May 2020
The Malaysian Pharmaceutical Society (MPS) has criticised the Ministry of Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs (KPDNHEP) today for treating a private hospital with kid gloves for over-pricing face masks during the Covid-19 pandemic. In a statement, MPS said the ministry had itself imposed RM20,000 to RM30,000 fines against pharmacies that sold the masks at an exorbitant price, rather than “waiting for explanation” like it is doing with the private hospital.

Health D-G urges Malaysians to do more to protect young after Kawasaki-like Covid-19 complication afflicts kids abroad | Malay Mail Malay Mail 16th May 2020
The Ministry of Health (MOH) has called for Malaysians to be more vigilant when it comes to protecting children and infants from contracting Covid-19, stressing that they are considered a high-risk group. Health director-general Datuk Dr Noor Hisham Abdullah said that to date, 317 children under 12 have tested positive for Covid-19. Of this number, 112 or 35 per cent are under the age of four; 22 (7 per cent) are infants. “So far we have not seen severe cases or deaths in our children aged 12 or less.

Malaysia’s PPE shortage, supply issues: Doctors propose national stockpile, centralised unit for better distribution | Malay Mail Malay Mail 16th May 2020
To help Malaysia cope with reported personal protective equipment (PPE) shortage problems amid the Covid-19 pandemic, several measures can be taken including keeping a national stockpile of PPE, having a centralised unit dedicated to handle the distribution of PPE to health facilities nationwide, several doctors have proposed. Backed by news reports, five Malaysian doctors — Dr Timothy Cheng, Dr Nur Asyikin Mohd Yunus, Dr Imran Idris, Dr Khairil Idham Ismail, Datuk Dr Amar-Singh HSS — made these suggestions following their own recent survey of Malaysian healthcare workers on the supply of PPE in their workplaces.

Digi, AXA Affin launch prepaid internet plan with life insurance coverage The Edge Markets 15th May 2020
Digi Telecommunications Sdn Bhd and AXA Affin Life Insurance are teaming up to offer Digi Abadi, Malaysia’s first of its kind prepaid internet plan that comes bundled with free life insurance cover. In a joint statement, the companies said this limited-edition prepaid plan is an effort by both companies to ensure Malaysians continue to stay connected and well protected, especially when health is a key concern for everyone at this time. It said Digi Abadi bundles both connectivity and insurance cover into one single plan and it is exclusively available via Digi Online Store for 100,000 customers, open to all eligible Malaysians aged 30 to 55 years. To subscribe to Digi Abadi, customers would need to purchase the starter kit at RM28, preloaded with a life insurance cover of up to RM40,000 for death, accidental death and funeral expenses, providing them protection at no additional cost. The plan would also offer customers 3GB of fast internet quota with 30 days validity, 10 sen/minute for calls and SMSes to all networks, and a 365-day SIM validity. Every 30 days, this plan would subsequently renew at RM20 where customers could continue to enjoy the life insurance cover and internet quota, as well as, loyalty bonuses of up to RM55,000 life insurance and 6GB internet quota the longer they stay on the plan.   Digi chief marketing officer Loh Keh Jiat said the companies aimed to provide customers with an easy and affordable way to look after their family as Malaysians brave through these unprecedented times.

Guidance Document on Verification of Translated Official Document - May 2020 National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency 13th May 2020
Malaysia’s National Pharmaceutical Regulatory Agency (NPRA) has issued guidance on submitting translations of official documents related to good manufacturing practices. NPRA typically issues official documents in Malay, the national language of Malaysia. The documents may need translating to enable people outside Malaysia to understand them, for example when a national regulatory authority asks a company to submit official documents to support a request to import a product into its geographic jurisdiction. To help companies in that situation, NPRA has identified three recognized translation bodies in the guidance. Translations that fail to meet a certain standard, such as those with “excessive” spelling and grammatical errors, may be rejected.

Myanmar

Govt to vaccinate health workers for flu in Myanmar The Myanmar Times 27th May 2020
The Health and Sports Ministry will vaccinate its 110,000 health workers against seasonal influenza starting in June in preparation for the rainy season when the disease is most common, a senior official said. The vaccine is expected to cost about US$4 (K5600) per person. The ministry has also vaccinated all health workers against hepatitis B, measles and rubella. The ministry urged high-risk groups, such as pregnant women and children aged six months to five years, people aged over 65, and those who have diseases such as diabetes, cardiovascular and chronic respiratory illness, to be vaccinated for seasonal influenza yearly.

To alert double infection of COVID-19 and dengue virus in coming months Global New Light Of Myanmar 23rd May 2020
While fighting with the spread of coronavirus, we will have to struggle to cope with dengue fever outbreak which occurs in the rainy season. It is a great encouragement to know that frontline health workers and volunteers are carrying out activities to prevent larvae formation and kill mosquitoes in populated areas these days. It is best to prevent rather than to treat, and public health awareness is key for prevention. Meanwhile, government investment in public health to promote a healthy lifestyle among the public and proper sanitation facilities at public places is also paramount.

MoHS, Tatmadaw medical corps take body temperature with mobile infrared thermal detection units Global New Light Of Myanmar 23rd May 2020
Mobile teams of Ministry of Health and Sports and the Tatmadaw medical corps used vehicles installed with infrared thermal detection units in taking body temperature of people in Mayangon Township in Yangon yesterday morning, as a move to prevent transmission of COVID-19 among the public. The Public Health and Medical Services Department of Yangon Region led in using these vehicles in wards 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 of Mayangon Township, out of 10 residential quarters, while other combined teams carried out door to door medical tests.

Myanmar to Double Health Spending to Supply Free Medicines The Irrawaddy 19th May 2020
The Ministry of Health and Sports will double its expenditure on health care to provide free medicine at public hospitals, according to minister Dr. Myint Htwe. The ministry will increase its health expenditure to 300 billion kyats (US$216 million) starting from the next fiscal year that will start in October to provide free medicine as the numbers seeking treatment at public hospitals has increased year by year, he said.

Govt cancels immunisation in strife-torn areas in Rakhine The Myanmar Times 19th May 2020
Health workers cancelled the annual immunisation programme in war-torn areas in Rakhine State over safety fears, a senior state health official said. Dr Sai Win Zaw Hlaing, chief of the State Public Health Department, said health workers will not go into areas where there are clashes due to safety concerns.

New bill aims to update Myanmar’s communicable diseases law The Myanmar Times 19th May 2020
The health ministry on May 18 submitted to parliament a new bill aimed at controlling communicable diseases. Health Minister U Myint Htwe said the bill would update the 1995 Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases Law. The new bill’s 11 chapters and 51 sections outline “control and containment measures regarding the current COVID-19 crisis that weren’t included in the previous law,” he said. Health experts said the bill could help the country come up with preventative measures against communicable diseases in line with the WHO’s 2005 International Health Regulations.

Myanmar to Introduce Tougher Law to Control Communicable Diseases The Irrawaddy 18th May 2020
Myanmar’s Union minister of health and sports submitted a draft of the new Prevention and Control of Communicable Diseases Law to the Lower House of Parliament on Monday. The law is aimed at improving the government’s effectiveness in preventing and controlling outbreaks of infectious disease. The bill was written to replace the country’s outdated law on communicable diseases enacted in 1995.

Philippines

Senate bills to boost Philippines healthcare system philstar.com 26th May 2020
Sen. Christopher Go is pushing for more health-related bills to boost the healthcare system as the country moves to contain the coronavirus disease 2019 or COVID-19. Go filed Senate Bills 1226 or the DOH Hospital Bed Capacity and Service Capability Rationalization Act, SB 1451 or the Medical Reserve Corps Act of 2020, SB 1259 or the Mandatory Quarantine Facilities Act of 2020 and SB 1528, which seeks to amend Republic Act 11332 or the Mandatory Reporting of Notifiable Diseases and Health Events of Public Health Concern Act.

Coronavirus gloom spawns physical, mental health troubles Business World 25th May 2020
Linda L. Varona, head of the Lifestyle Medicine Department of the Adventist Medical Center Manila, said the quarantine has affected people’s lifestyles. “It has also changed our food habits. Some are forced to save money and would now buy noodles instead of fruits,” she said by telephone. Health frontliners also rely on food delivered or donated to them. But people should stop blaming the lockdown for their bad food choices, said Ms. Varona, a former president of the Philippine Society of Allergy, Asthma and Immunology, Inc.

Bong Go files health-related bills to boost country's healthcare system Philippines Information Agency 25th May 2020
- The coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic has exposed gaps in the Philippine healthcare system. As the country continues to battle the virus, Senator and Chair of the Senate Committee on Health and Demography Christopher Lawrence "Bong" Go is pushing for legislative measures which seek to further strengthen and enhance the country's healthcare system. “Bilang Chair ng Senate Committee on Health, sisiguraduhin natin na magiging mas maayos ang ating healthcare system habang sinusubukan nating lampasan ang krisis na dulot ng COVID-19. Let us all learn from this experience and better prepare ourselves for any health emergency that may come,” Go said.

PRRD to study DOST proposal to create a virology institute Philippines Information Agency 24th May 2020
President Rodrigo Duterte will study the proposal of the Department of Science and Technology (DOST) to reactivate the pharmaceutical development unit at DOST-ITDI (Industrial Technology Development Institute) and establish a virology institute in the country, Malacañang said Sunday. In a statement, Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque made this remark after the Inter-Agency Task Force for the Management of Emerging Infectious Diseases (IATF-EID) approved the DOST proposal for possible legislation.

Drilon wants PhilHealth revamp amid 'overpriced' test kits mess GMA News Online 24th May 2020
Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon on Sunday called for a reorganization of the Philippine Health Insurance Corp. (PhilHealth) after he flagged the agency over its supposedly overpriced COVID-19 testing packages. In a Dobol B sa News TV interview, Drilon said there may have been groups within PhilHealth that bloated the prices of test kits. Earlier, the senator pointed out that PhilHealth will shoulder the cost for P8,150 per test, but this is double the price in comparison with the ones acquired by the private sector, including the Philippine Red Cross, which can do the same test for only P3,500.

CL stakeholders discuss tuberculosis treatment amid COVID pandemic Philippines Information Agency 21st May 2020
About 312 government and private sector stakeholders participated Thursday in a webinar focused on ensuring continuous tuberculosis (TB) services amid the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) pandemic. Entitled “Business-not-as-usual”, it was organized by the TB Platforms Project of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) in partnership with Department of Health (DOH) Region 3.

DTI: Philippines can now locally produce PPEs GMA News Online 21st May 2020
The Philippines is now able to locally produce personal protective equipment (PPEs) for frontliners amid the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), the Department of Trade and Industry said Thursday. During a hearing of the Committee of the Whole, Trade Secretary Ramon Lopez said that 10 companies in the Philippines have agreed to produce protective gear.

DOST grants P4.7-M for sanitation cubicle fabrication Philippines Information Agency 20th May 2020
The Department of Science and Technology (DOST) provided more than PHP4.7 million grant for the design and fabrication of sanitation cubicles meant to be distributed to various hospitals. The amount will cover the production of five prototypes to be used in the Philippine General Hospital, said DOST-Philippine Council for Health Research and Development executive director Jaime Montoya in an email to the Philippine News Agency (PNA) on Wednesday.

PhilHealth to review P8,150 COVID-19 package after overpricing allegations GMA News Online 20th May 2020
The Philippine Health Insurance Corporation (PhilHealth) on Wednesday said it is reviewing its coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) package in response to allegations of overpricing. During the Senate Committee of the Whole hearing, Senate Minority Leader Franklin Drilon asked why test kits were priced at P2,700 for the P8,150 package. According to PhilHealth chief Ricardo Morales, the costs were based on data collected early in the pandemic.

Philippines invited to global clinical trial for COVID-19 vaccine by Chinese pharma GMA News Online 20th May 2020
The Philippines has received an invitation from China to participate in a global clinical trial for a possible vaccine for the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), Health Secretary Francisco Duque III said Wednesday. Duque said the offer was made by the Sinopharm Group, the biggest pharmaceutical company in China.

Health dep’t seeks P68B more to fight coronavirus pandemic Business World 19th May 2020
HEALTH authorities are seeking P67.62 billion in additional budget in the battle against a novel coronavirus pandemic, as infections neared 13,000. The budget department has approved P45.72 of the total but the agency needs more, Health Undersecretary Gerardo V. Bayugo told congressmen at an online hearing on Tuesday. He said DoH had realigned P2.28 billion from its budget for the control of other infectious diseases to the purchase of test kits and personal protective equipment, staff hiring and to augment its quick response fund against the coronavirus.

HCWs with virus now 2,000; DOH still hiring BusinessMirror 13th May 2020
INFECTED health-care workers (HCWs) in the country hit the 2,000-mark on Tuesday, but the Department of Health (DOH) continued to call on nurses to join the fight against Covid-19 as the government considers easing the lockdown in the coming days. As of 4 p.m. of May 11, a total of 2,067 HCWs were confirmed cases, while 643 have already recovered, with 35 deaths.

Singapore

CXA Group receives fresh round of funds from existing investors Humanica and HSBC MobiHealthNews 13th May 2020
Singapore-based health technology startup CXA Group, which offers an employee benefits and wellness marketplace platform, announced it has raised fresh funding from Thai human resource company Humanica and HSBC, a commercial banking company. In addition to the funding, CXA Group has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Humanica to integrate its Human Capital Management platform with CXA Group’s platform in Thailand. The MoU between the two companies will result in business and technology integration between Humanica’s leading Human Capital Management solutions and the CXA Group’s platform in Thailand. The collaboration brings a combined digital HR payroll and employee benefits offering to better serve Humanica’s 3,000 local enterprise customers and their 700,000 employees.

More healthcare services, including some surgical ops, to resume from June 2 The Straits Times 20th May 2020
Cancer screening, surgical operations for advanced cataracts, flu vaccinations and dental procedures are among healthcare services that can be carried out from next month. These are some of the treatments under the broad areas of specialist outpatient, allied health, community-based and preventive health services, as well as medical procedures and chronic disease management, that will be accessible to patients from June 2, the Ministry of Health (MOH) announced yesterday. Other examples of procedures that can soon proceed are joint-related operations for patients with severe impairment, scopes for high-risk groups and diabetic foot screening.

Digital health company Holmusk secures $21.5M in Series A funding MobiHealthNews 19th May 2020
Founded in 2015, Singapore-headquartered digital health and data analytics company Holmusk yesterday announced a $21.5 million funding round, led by Optum Ventures (OV) and Health Catalyst Capital (HCC) and included existing investors Heritas Capital and other individuals. Dr Vijay Barathan from OV and Charles Boorady from HCC will be joining the Board of Directors. Holmusk has offices in New York City, London and Shanghai. The new funding round allows Holmusk to expand its US operations in New York City, and enables investment in its proprietary technology to harness and analyze real-world data to accelerate drug development and data-driven medicine.

Intellect launches digital therapy app for masses BioSpectrumAsia 19th May 2020
Singapore based mental health tech startup Intellect has launched an app that provides a new form of digital therapy without any human intervention. Unlike typical wellness apps, Intellect's modern approach to therapy is developed by a team of psychologists and behavioral experts to help users manage their mental health, but more distinctively to help them hone and develop new behavioral traits using cognitive behavioral therapy.

With only one bidder, no tender awarded for Singapore's first dementia care village CNA 19th May 2020
No award was given for what would have become Singapore's first dementia care village, after only one bid was submitted for the tender, the Urban Redevelopment Authority (URA) announced on Tuesday (May 19). The sole price bid of S$15 million for the site near Sembawang Park was deemed too low, leading to the rejection of the tender, said the URA on behalf of the Ministry of Health (MOH). The rejected offer - at S$1,392.76 per sq m - for the Gibraltar Crescent site was made by Pre 11 and Orpea Singapore.

S'pore researchers in global search for Covid-19 vaccines The Straits Times 19th May 2020
Researchers in Singapore have joined hands with their overseas counterparts in the race to discover vaccines or treatments for Covid-19. The Agency for Science, Technology and Research has partnered with Japanese pharmaceutical company Chugai Pharmabody Research to develop an antibody that targets specific areas of the coronavirus, preventing it from infecting cells. Duke-NUS Medical School, together with United States medicine company Arcturus Therapeutics, is working on a vaccine that gets the human body to produce part of the virus in order to fight it.

SMART receives NMRC grant to develop rapid non-invasive paper-based tests for COVID-19 MobiHealthNews 19th May 2020
Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research and Technology (SMART), MIT’s research enterprise in Singapore, has received a grant from the National Medical Research Council (NMRC) COVID-19 Research fund for the acceleration of research and development of rapid paper-based serological and diagnostic tests for COVID-19.

Singapore's Experian connects COVID-19 impacted consumers in Asia BioSpectrumAsia 18th May 2020
Experian, the world leader in information services, 18 May 2020 announced that it is working with its existing telco partners across Southeast Asia and the wider region to better support subscribers digitally during this challenging period. Experian is actively collaborating with telcos to help them broaden existing criteria to enable them to rapidly roll out extended offers to subscribers who have been impacted by the lockdown measures. As part of the containment strategies of several countries, forced lockdowns and movement controls have disrupted livelihoods across the region, leaving individuals and communities struggling as a result of the downstream impact on the economy.

Pharma shipments lift Singapore exports for third straight month Reuters 18th May 2020
Singapore’s annual exports rose for the third straight month in April, bolstered by a sharp rise in pharmaceutical shipments, official data showed on Monday. Non-oil domestic exports (NODX) rose 9.7% on a year-on-year basis, easing from a 17.6% jump the month before, data from trade agency Enterprise Singapore showed. The median of seven economists’ estimates in a Reuters survey had forecast a 5% decline. On a seasonally adjusted month-on-month basis, exports fell 5.8% in April after expanding 12.8% in March.

529 dengue cases reported last week; NEA warns of higher dengue risk in homes during circuit breaker period CNA 18th May 2020
The number of dengue cases in Singapore is on the rise, with a total of 529 dengue cases reported in the week ending May 16, said the National Environment Agency (NEA) in a media release on Monday (May 18). This is higher than the 300 to 400 weekly cases in the first four months of the year, said the agency, as it warned of an increased risk of dengue in the warmer months ahead.

Surging demand for Singapore's pharma output amid pandemic The Star Online 18th May 2020
A huge jump in sales of pharmaceuticals saw Singapore's exports expand by 9.7 per cent year on year in April amid the coronavirus pandemic, though overall trade declined. Enterprise Singapore, a government agency, said on Monday that Singapore's exports of pharmaceuticals to the European Union and Japan rose by 467% and 864% respectively compared to the same period a year ago. Dutch bank ING attributed Singapore's April exports surge to the new coronavirus, saying on Monday that "the global pandemic has lifted pharmaceuticals to be the star-performer."

Singapore’s HeartVoice extends the use of its telehealth platform to all healthcare providers MobiHealthNews 15th May 2020
Singapore-based HeartVoice, which was formed in February 2019 as a joint venture between both iAPPS and Omron Healthcare, announced last week that it will extend the use of its telehealth platform to all healthcare providers for free in the country until 31 July, 2020. HeartVoice said the reason for this was to support safe distancing amongst the public and contribute to the fight against COVID-19 situation.

Novena establishes new biz unit for PPE supplies BioSpectrumAsia 14th May 2020
In current challenging times, Singapore based Novena Global Lifecare (NGL) pivots its business and is now appointed by the various Government's Coronavirus task force to support with both sourcing and compliance management across a number of medical supplies. NGL has now mobilised medicals teams, with over 200 dedicated staff to supply PPE materials globally. In Singapore, NGL is now able to distribute medical grade equipment such as Ventilators, Hand Sanitizers, Face masks, Surgical Gowns, Protective eyewear and COVID-19 test kits.

Thailand

Health chiefs eye human trials of vaccine this year Bangkok Post 25th May 2020
The government is hoping to start testing its locally manufactured Covid-19 vaccine on humans before the end of the year, according to Suvit Maesincee, Minister of Higher Education Science Research and Innovation. "If our vaccine trial on monkeys proves successful, we will start the human trial phase after August," Mr Suvit told the media on Saturday.

Thai-made vaccine could be available sometime next year The Thaiger 24th May 2020
Human trials of a locally manufactured Covid-19 vaccine could begin as early as the end of the year, according to Thailand’s Minister of Higher Education. Thailand is currently testing several vaccines. This one involves the government, Chulalongkorn University’s Centre of Excellence in Vaccine Research and Development, the National Vaccine Institute, the Department of Medical Sciences and the private sector. “If our vaccine trial on monkeys proves successful, we will start the human trial phase after August.” The world history of successful vaccines for coronaviruses has been poor up to this stage and most scientists agree it could take several years to bring a viable vaccine to market with a high success rate.

Thailand healthtech field set to grow: Report The Business Times 21st May 2020
THAILAND’S health technology (healthtech) industry is poised for growth as the government doubles down on digitalisation of the healthcare sector, industry analysts believe. Hospital systems, pharmaceuticals and information technologies such as electronic health records and clinical decision support have been identified as segments that could do with disruption, according to a recent report from consultancy GlobalData.

BoI seeks to lure makers of medical equipment Bangkok Post 21st May 2020
As Asian supply chains reshuffle in the wake of the pandemic, the government is focusing its efforts to attract foreign investors in need of a new manufacturing base around the medical devices sector, a promising industry in light of the health crisis. The Board of Investment (BoI) aims to set up joint ventures or convince foreign firms to move their manufacturing base for medical devices here.

Over 700 cases of dengue fever found in Korat Bangkok Post 17th May 2020
A campaign is being launched in Muang district to prevent the spread of dengue fever after 737 cases of the mosquito-borne tropical disease were found in this northeastern province. The campaign involves village health volunteers going out to villages to distribute abate sand granules to kill mosquito larvae. Dr Kittipong Sanchartwiroon, director of the 9th Disease Control Office, said the numbers of people who contracted dengue fever in four lower northeastern provinces under the jurisdiction of his office have increased rapidly.

Bangkok guards against ‘Dengue Fever’, new spread fear in Thailand Pattaya Mail 14th May 2020
The Bangkok Metropolitan Administration (BMA) has put in place preventive measures against dengue fever in the rainy season as dengue fever shares similar symptoms to COVID-19. Permanent Secretary for BMA, Silapasuai Rawisaengsun said Thailand is entering the rainy season. She warned people to eradicate stagnant water, an ideal mosquito breeding ground. According to the statistics of the BMA-run hospitals, 1,295 dengue patients were recorded from Jan 1- April 20.

Medical hub ambitions Bangkok Post 14th May 2020
As Thailand begins to gradually ease coronavirus-related restrictions, the government is looking to cement the country's position as an advanced medical hub in Asia. Thailand's response to the coronavirus pandemic has been aided by a robust healthcare system. Guided by the Public Health Ministry's 2016-25 strategic plan entitled "Thailand: A Hub of Wellness and Medical Services", stakeholders have been working to develop an advanced medical industry ecosystem underpinned by innovation and R&D.

Vietnam

Pharmaceutical enterprises enjoy good earnings in Q1 Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 26th May 2020
Increasing demand for medicine amid the COVID-19 pandemic has helped most pharmaceutical enterprises report positive business results in the first quarter of this year. Pharmaceutical stocks have attracted investors since the outbreak of the disease due to rising need for medical equipment and drugs, as well as forecasts that the pandemic may be prolonged due to the long timeline of vaccine manufacturing.

Telecom industry expects high growth in next 5 years Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 22nd May 2020
Five sectors of telecoms, information and technology, clean agriculture, clean technologies, retail, health care and pharmaceuticals have potential for high growth in the next three years. This was revealed in the FAST 500 Ranking Lists 2020, drawn up annually since 2011, which was announced by the Vietnam Report on May 20. The survey said this also reflects the current development trend of promoting technologies in parallel to protect local firms. They, therefore, have enhanced clean technologies, applying IT in automation, machine learning and data exchanges to reduce time and saving costs as well as strengthen connection among countries.

Mekong Delta healthcare system growing rapidly, eases pressure on HCM City hospitals vietnamnews.vn 20th May 2020
The healthcare system in the Mekong Delta has been steadily expanding and becoming increasingly sophisticated, and the large number of choices available now is helping reduce overcrowding at HCM City hospitals. Many public hospitals there have begun using the latest diagnosis and treatment techniques.

ASEAN senior officials meet online vietnamnews.vn 19th May 2020
The ASEAN Senior Officials’ Meeting (SOM) at the Deputy Foreign Ministerial level was held on Monday online with Deputy Foreign Minister Nguyễn Quốc Dũng, head of Việt Nam ASEAN SOM, in attendance. He proposed focusing on the implementation of four major points agreed at these gatherings: establishing a COVID-19 ASEAN Response Fund and regional reserve warehouses of medical supplies, developing standard procedures in response to emergency public medical conditions, and setting post-COVID-19 recovery plans.

Pharma groups to profit from virus? Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 19th May 2020
The top 10 global pharmaceutical companies are being scrutinised and advised not to prevent or delay a vaccine for COVID-19 from reaching vulnerable people to gain profits, triggering global concerns over their social responsibility. In early May, Dan Millard, chief representative of GlaxoSmithKline (GSK), announced an unprecedented collaboration with Sanofi to bring together two of the world’s largest vaccine makers with proven pandemic technologies and significant scale, all with the aim of developing an adjuvanted COVID-19 vaccine. If successful, they could be able to make hundreds of millions of doses annually by the end of next year.

Multinationals riding high in Vietnam’s pharma landscape Vietnam Investment Review - VIR 15th May 2020
Multinational corporations like Sanofi, GlaxoSmithKline, and Reckitt Benckiser gaining the advantage in Vietnam’s over-the-counter channel, or non-description drugs, in the first quarter of 2020 has in part fuelled their global performance. A few days ago, multinational corporations (MNCs) officially announced their first-quarter results, with many reporting good performance despite the COVID-19 outbreak. Swiss pharma conglomerate Novartis, French pharmaceutical firm Sanofi, and UK-headquartered GlaxoSmithKline (GSK) and Reckitt Benckiser have all reported positive results globally.