Weekly Asian Medical News Bulletin – 31 March 2023

Weekly Asian Bulletin

Medical Channel Asia presents the weekly Asian medical news bulletin, bringing you essential healthcare news from across the region. 

This week, Medical Channel Asia covers food poisoning in Vietnam, sugar consumption in Thailand & more.


A recent survey by Social Weather Stations (SWS) found that despite the voluntary nature of wearing face masks in indoor and outdoor spaces, the majority of adult Filipinos still wear face masks when leaving their homes. The Department of Health (DOH) stated that they are pleased with the survey results. Despite that, they would prefer if more Filipinos continued to wear face masks, especially those considered high-risk.

Meanwhile, the donation of the COVID-19 bivalent vaccine from the World Health Organisation’s COVAX facility that we reported on last week, is on hold. However, it is still expected to go through.


The Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine at the National University of Singapore (NUS Medicine) and the National University Health System (NUHS) have launched the Centre for Innovation and Precision Eye Health. The centre aims to detect and identify early stages of eye diseases and to provide effective screening and treatment options for patients. The centre will use novel medical devices, artificial intelligence (AI), and population-based data to proactively and pre-emptively spot patterns and trends in Singaporeans’ general eye health.


The Public Health Ministry in Thailand has launched a campaign to encourage people to consume less sugar, following a report that showed many Thais consume far too much sugar. The campaign urges people to consume no more than 25 grammes or six teaspoons of sugar per day. Also, the Department of Health has called on beverage makers to reduce the amount of sugar in their sweet drinks from the present 6% to 5% per serving size.


Rumours have spread of a nationwide strike next month by healthcare workers in Malaysia. A group identifying themselves as contract doctors currently serving with the Ministry of Health have threatened mass resignations and a ‘strike’ involving up to 8,000 contract doctors. The group has demanded the absorption of all contract medical officers into permanent positions, without any conditions or interviews, an increment of basic salary and on-call rate. In addition, they want a resolution for the shortage of specialists, medical officers, and house officers. In response, the Health Ministry in Malaysia has reiterated that strikes are not the best solution.


Vietnamese public health officials are investigating an outbreak of foodborne botulism that has resulted in one fatality. The Vietnam Food Administration (VFA) said that three instances of food poisoning have occurred in Quang Nam province. The outbreak occured in the town of Phuoc Duc and resulted in four cases and one death. The source was a pickled carp dish that had been contaminated with Clostridium Botulinum type E.


The Indonesian government has issued a circular to warn against the Marburg virus disease. The government is asking the public to stay alert, although there have been no reported cases or suspicions of the disease in Indonesia. The World Health Organization (WHO) received a case report of Marburg disease that originated from Equatorial Guinea. There have been nine deaths and 16 suspected cases reported. Bats/primates directly transmit the Marburg virus through body fluids, and there is no vaccine against it yet.  Symptoms of the disease are similar to those of other diseases, such as malaria, typhus, and dengue fever. These are common diseases in Indonesia.

Medical Channel Asia will continue to monitor developments across Asia and report on any significant medical news in the region.

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