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Weekly Asian Medical News Bulletin

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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 the detection of Polio in Indonesia, the ramifications of Vice-President Kamala Harris’ visit to the Philippines for medical care, and the legalisation of cannabis in Thailand.

Philippines 

As part of United States of America Vice-President Kamala Harris’ visit to the Philippines, it was announced that the current US-Philippines Health Security Partnership will be enhanced with an additional $5 million investment in vaccination support for COVID-19 and an additional $8 million to strengthen the global health security partnership with the Philippine health system, to assist with preventing avoidable outbreaks, detect health threats early, and respond rapidly and effectively when outbreaks occur. Vice-President Harris also participated in a moderated panel with women’s rights advocates, where the topic of female reproductive health rights was brought up.  

The Department of Science and Technology-Food and Nutrition Research Institute (DOST-FNRI) reported a rise in obesity rates in the country. The report also revealed that food security was a primary reason, where one in three families are unable to match their nutritional requirements because they have no food. 

Indonesia 

As Europe celebrates its 20th year of being Polio-free, Indonesia has reported its first case of Polio in the Aceh province. 

Polio is a highly infectious disease that could cause meningitis and paralysis among children. The Indonesian Health Ministry will carry out immunisations in the province as a response.

Thailand

Deputy Prime Minister Wissanu Krea-ngam told reporters that cannabis would not be criminalized again, amid backlash from the community. The government’s Narcotics Control Board will still meet on Tuesday to discuss concerns about the recreational use of cannabis among adolescents.

Singapore

Food caterer Rasel Catering has been suspended after 284 cases of gastroenteritis have been reported after consuming food from the caterer. The caterer will be required to be cleaned and sanitised, dispose of existing food items and food handlers re-attend a food safety course before being allowed to reopen.

Singapore health minister Ong Ye Kung also shared that up to 4,000 new nurses will be progressively onboarded in the system in the coming year to address the current shortage and ease the workload on the current workforce. He also shared that the median wait time for warding at emergency departments has decreased to four hours, and will continue to improve by expanding Transitional Care Facilities (TCF) and removing the ringfencing of beds for COVID-19 patients.

Malaysia

Malaysia Health Minister Khairy Jamaluddin allayed fears by stating that the COVID-19 wave has been controlled despite the emergence of the XBB variant. Khairy also shared that an inhalable vaccine is being clinically tested and urged everyone to get vaccinated.

Vietnam

A study found that 85% of healthcare workers in Vietnam have developed symptoms after contracting COVID-19, as a reflection of a need for more support for healthcare workers in the country.

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