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Weekly Asian Medical News Bulletin – 8 December 2023

Singapore cases

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

This week’s bulletin covers the COVID-19 spike in cases in Singapore, HIV in the Philippines and dengue in Indonesia.


In Bangkok, a multi-discipline clinic faces legal charges after an internet influencer sustained third-degree burns during an herbal burning therapy session. The Department of Health Service Support (DHSS) has charged the clinic’s operator with running a healthcare facility without a licensed practitioner and advertising medical services without permission. The clinic, located in a shopping mall in Bang Khen district, is under scrutiny for the treatment that involved heating herbs on the woman’s abdomen with flaming alcohol.


Health professionals in Malaysia are criticising the government’s decision to drop a generational smoking ban from a proposed tobacco law. Initially, the Generation Endgame (GEG) Bill aimed to prevent future generations from smoking by making it illegal for individuals born on or after January 1, 2007, to buy and consume tobacco and smoking products. This move would have positioned Malaysia as the second nation in Asia-Pacific to enact such a law, following New Zealand, which is now considering repealing its law.

Also reported this week:

Malaysian Ministry Of Health (MOH) Orders More Than 1,000 Doctors To Resign Prior To Accepting Permanent Posts


HIV infections in the Philippines are rapidly increasing, with experts attributing the spike to online dating, inadequate sex education, and conservative societal attitudes. Despite less than one percent of the over 110 million population being diagnosed with HIV, the country is experiencing one of the fastest-growing epidemics globally, according to UN data. Health officials warn that the number of HIV cases could surpass 400,000 by 2030, with most new infections occurring among men who have sex with men, transgender women, and, increasingly, teenagers.

Also reported this week:

Biyaheng Kalusugan: Transformative Initiatives Against Substance Abuse in PH

Philippines Halts COVID-19 Vaccine Distribution: A Strategic Evaluation

Record Number of Malaria Cases in the Philippines Highlight Dangers


The Ministry of Health (MOH) in Singapore has issued a public advisory in response to a recent spike in local COVID-19 cases and the rise in respiratory illnesses observed in temperate regions. In the week from November 19 to 25, local COVID-19 cases doubled to 22,094, compared to 10,726 in the previous week. Despite this increase, the average daily hospitalizations and intensive care unit cases remain stable.

The dominant sub-variants in Singapore are currently EG.5 and its sub-lineage HK.3, constituting over 70% of cases. The surge in cases may be attributed to factors like the year-end travel season and declining population immunity.

Also reported this week:

Rising Prostatitis Cases in Asia: A Growing Health Concern

Understanding and Managing Premature Ejaculation With Dr Taufiq
New Implant Revolutionises Sleep Apnoea Treatment in Singapore


The World Organisation for Animal Health (WOAH) has raised concerns regarding the need for further testing of African swine fever vaccines, particularly in light of Vietnam’s recent move to export its newly developed doses. In July, Vietnam became the first country to authorise two attenuated live-virus vaccines against African swine fever, a highly infectious disease in pigs that has significantly impacted the global pork industry, valued at approximately $250 billion in 2022. WOAH has indicated that AVAC Vietnam JSC, the manufacturer of one of the two vaccines, has not provided adequate data to international researchers and organisations.


Indonesia’s plan to release 200 million Wolbachia-injected Aedes aegypti mosquitoes in Bali to fight dengue fever has faced criticism and has been indefinitely postponed. Critics argue that the pilot study in Yogyakarta was too small to justify such a large-scale release. Concerns revolve around ethical, health, and legal implications, with calls for a national risk assessment to ensure public safety. The program’s aim is to reduce the spread of diseases like dengue, Zika, and yellow fever by breeding mosquitoes with Wolbachia bacteria, which block virus growth. However, Indonesian experts and locals have raised questions about potential risks and the adequacy of public communication regarding the program.


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