Weekly Asian Medical News Bulletin – 29 September 2023

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Medical Channel Asia presents the weekly Asian medical news bulletin, bringing you essential healthcare news from across the region. This week’s bulletin covers Tuberculosis in Malaysia, Non-Communicable Diseases in Indonesia and more.


Mintel’s research reveals a discrepancy between Thai consumers’ health aspirations and actual behaviours, with 35% struggling to stick to workout schedules due to time constraints. Despite economic concerns and 75% worrying about rising living costs, 78% of Thais trust ‘healthy’ products backed by evidence. The research indicates a holistic view of well-being, emphasising the balance between mental and physical health. Thai consumers, particularly the younger demographic, seek enjoyable and sustainable health routines rather than quick fixes. Brands are advised to offer practical, evidence-backed, and enjoyable solutions, leveraging technology to incentivise and integrate healthy habits into consumers’ lives.

Also reported this week:

Thailand PM Vows Tighter Medical Cannabis Control amidst Sprouting Dispensaries


Malaysia, addressing its ongoing challenge with Tuberculosis (TB), has implemented a National Strategic Plan (2021-2030) aiming to eradicate the disease, as outlined by Health Minister Dr Zaliha Mustafa at the UN General Assembly High-Level Meeting. The plan focuses on prompt diagnosis, and treatment, leveraging digital tools like the MySejahtera app, and expanding screening for latent TB. Dr Zaliha emphasised the importance of public-private partnerships, community support, and enhanced research efforts as Malaysia seeks to align with the Sustainable Development Goal to eliminate TB by 2030.

Also reported this week:

AstraZeneca And Institute Kanser Negara Partner to Introduce AI Technology


Taal Volcano, near Manila, Philippines, emitted elevated levels of sulfur dioxide and volcanic smog on September 22. This led to school closures, advisories for residents to stay indoors, and reports of respiratory issues. The volcano remains on alert level 1, indicating a slight increase in activity. Taal is one of the Philippines’ most active volcanoes and caused mass evacuations and disruptions in January 2020. The country, part of the Pacific “Ring of Fire”, frequently experiences earthquakes and volcanic activity.


Singapore’s Health Sciences Authority (HSA) has directed e-commerce sites to delist three products found to contain harmful medicinal ingredients. Fercy Dietary Supplement contained the banned sibutramine and a laxative, posing serious health risks. Tanduk Rusa Kuat Lelaki and Mentalk Candy contained high levels of erectile dysfunction medication with potentially severe side effects. The HSA warned against purchasing from unknown sources and will enforce strict penalties against sellers of such products, including fines and imprisonment.


As of September 2023, only 16.4% (30.6 million) of Indonesians have been screened for non-communicable diseases (NCD), according to Health Ministry official Eva Susanti. The province of West Nusa Tenggara has the highest screening rate at 48%, while Papua has the lowest at 2.2%. The Ministry is implementing various programs and efforts to expand early detection and aims to screen 140 million people to reduce the risk of NCD-related fatalities in Indonesia.


A woman in southern Vietnam has contracted monkeypox from her boyfriend, marking the first community transmission of the disease in the country. The woman is quarantined. Additionally, authorities are conducting contact tracing and disinfecting relevant areas. Vietnam’s first two cases of monkeypox were contracted abroad in 2022. The source of the latest infections is unknown. However, the WHO declared a global health emergency over the monkeypox outbreak in July 2022. Symptoms include rashes, fever, and fatigue, and the incubation period is 5-21 days. Vietnam currently has no vaccine or cure for monkeypox.

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