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Weekly Asian Medical News Bulletin – 9 Dec 2022

COVID

Welcome to Medical Channel Asia’s regular segment, the weekly Asian medical news bulletin. Each week, we will bring you essential medical news from within the region to keep you up-to-day on the healthcare industry.

This week, we look at China’s relaxing of COVID-19 measures, the 2nd Vaccine Cooperation Forum, and the future of public health in Asia as it moves on from the pandemic.

China

China has announced the easing of Covid-19 measures, which is a major diversion from the country’s Covid-19 policy and is likely to have a substantial impact on the rest of Asia and the world. 

Philippines 

The Philippines, along with other representatives from the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN), joined South Korea, the United States and Australia at the 2nd Vaccine Cooperation Forum in calling for free and universal access to Covid-19 vaccines and other vaccines. 

A poultry sample from Capiz, Roxas City, has tested positive for influenza virus type A (IVA) subtype H5N1, colloquially known as bird flu. This has led to the provincial government of Iloilo temporarily banning imports from the region, with the nearby Aklan region expected to follow suit.  This comes a month following recurring cases of African Swine Fever found across several regions last month and is the latest test for the agriculture ecosystem in the country.

Indonesia 

Indonesia Health Minister Budi Gunadi Sadikin stated that the focus for department will now switch the focus from managing Covid-19 to the improvement of public health services. In the statement, he added that the primary focus is allocating a budget to improve the community health centre and integrated health services, as well as promotive and preventive programs. The second focus is to improve hospitals servicing deadly diseases with high costs.

Singapore

Singapore is expected to see a new wave of Covid-19 infections in the coming weeks, according to health minister Ong Ye Kung. He stated that it is expected with the influx of international travel, as well as new strains of Covid-19 and the ongoing developments in managing the virus in China. 

Thailand

Thailand has opened a new branch of the Shoklo Malaria research unit in Mae Ramat, aimed at providing quality healthcare to marginalised populations living on both sides of the Thai-Myanmar border near Mae Sot, as well as Tak Province.

The Ministry of Public Health has also announced plans to produce an additional 400 qualified psychiatrists in the next five years to cope with the country’s rising number of drug addict patients who require treatment.

Malaysia

Free health screening will be provided to members of the public aged 40 and above to access risk factors for non-communicable diseases (NCD) such as diabetes, hypertension and high cholesterol, as part of a collaboration between Viatris Malaysia and the Malaysian Medical Association, and is targeting 1000 people in Klang Valley and Negri Sembilan in the pilot phase. 

Vietnam

The maternal and child health department in the Ministry of Health has stated that the country requires 7,000 more village-based midwives. The ministry will strengthen its training measures with relevant local bodies where home-based births are prevalent. The ministry emphasised the importance of these midwives, as they bridge the gap between ethnic minorities and medical care. The current number stands at 3,000. 

India

Union Health Minister Mansukh Mandaviya believes that India can leverage the learnings from managing Covid-19 to strengthen the country’s health system to provide affordable and quality healthcare to its citizens. Meanwhile, the co-chairperson of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation Melinda French Gates congratulated the health minister on India’s successful Covid-19 vaccination program and the efforts by the government in managing the pandemic. 

The healthcare industry has also been warned about its vulnerability to cyber-attacks. Local cybersecurity think tank CyberPeace Foundation documented nearly 1.9 million cyberattacks against the industry this year alone.

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