MEDICALLY REVIEWED

Weekly Asian Medical News Bulletin – 27 Jan 2023

Weekly Asian News Bulletin - 27 Jan 2023

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 informed about the healthcare industry.

This week, we will look at the hospital shortage in Malaysia, the COVID-19 corruption crisis in Vietnam, and mental health and cancer research in Asia.

Philippines 

The recent policy by the Ministry of Health to eliminate trans-fat in the food supply system was mentioned by the World Health Organisation in a recent report. The report highlighted the dangers of trans-fat, and that five billion people in the world and unprotected from its dangers. 

In the policy announced last year, food producers in the Philippines are required to eliminate the amount of trans-fat found in their foods by June 2023. 

Trans-fat is commonly found in processed foods and should be avoided in daily diet and nutrition.  

Singapore

An old primary school in Singapore has been converted into a mental health hub called Kampung Siglap. The facility, run by New Hope Community Services, aims to provide a holistic approach to mental health and social service support and offers wellness programs such as retreats, life skills training, and workshops for social service professionals and vulnerable families. 

The main program, Wellness Program for Social Service Professionals, began in August 2020 and has attracted nearly 20 workers every month. The retreats also aim to change the mindset of vulnerable families, helping them to overcome poverty and improve their life perspectives. The hub’s location in the “asset-rich” community of Kampung Siglap allows neighbours to support the work being done, through volunteering, expertise, time, and money. The initiative is seen as an important step towards preventive care and is expected to serve as an example for other similar initiatives to follow.

Singapore’s KK Women’s and Children’s Hospital (KKH) is reviewing its procedures after a baby died of a type of injury stemming from a decrease in oxygen or blood flow to the brain. The State Coroner has encouraged the hospital to implement continuous documentation of a newborn’s vital signs, noting that the lack of it “was not ideal” in the case. The 11-day-old baby died on April 12, 2021, of natural disease causes and the case was referred to the coroner after the hospital alerted the police about the baby’s death.

Thailand

The U.K.’s 100,000 Genomes Project and Thailand’s 50,000 Genome Initiative have partnered to work together on understanding rare and undiagnosed diseases and cancer, and build stronger academic and institutional links. The two countries will start working groups as early as February 2023. The partnership was established through a memorandum of understanding signed by the U.K. Health Minister Lord Nick Markham CBE and Thailand’s Minister for Public Health and Deputy Prime Minister HE Anutin Charnvirakul. This partnership is the first between Thailand’s Ministry of Public Health and the U.K.’s Department of Health and Social Care and is expected to deliver better health outcomes at lower costs.

Malaysia

The public healthcare system in Malaysia is trending on social media this week as users take to sharing their experiences. The system is experiencing significant strain, with patients reporting long wait times, including a more than 24-hour wait to be admitted to the emergency department of Hospital Kuala Lumpur, with almost 100 patients stranded during peak hours. At another government hospital in the Klang Valley, a patient with acute appendicitis was seen sitting on the floor holding their own IV bag, and a 3-year-old child with dengue was seen standing with an IV bag held by their father. Malaysia’s Health Minister Zaliha Mustafa said her ministry will seek comprehensive solutions to ease the problem and has introduced short-stay wards as a temporary solution.

Vietnam

The director of the health department in Kien Giang province in southern Vietnam, Ha Van Phuc, has been removed from all his positions, including the Provincial Party Committee Executive Board, the director of the Department of Health and a delegate to the Kien Giang People’s Council, amid an investigation into the bidding for substandard COVID-19 test kits. Phuc was disciplined in August 2020 for approving healthcare company Viet A’s bids to provide hospitals with medical supplies, biological products and COVID test kits, which were later found to be substandard. The company’s CEO later admitted to paying officials $34 million in bribes to win contracts at inflated prices, earning Viet A $172 million in profits.

This scandal has blown up in Vietnam, with more than 130 government officials and businesspeople detained. 

Indonesia

The Indonesian Ministry of Health will begin administering the second dose of the COVID-19 vaccine to the public beginning on January 24 in an effort to accelerate vaccination and increase protection against the virus. The second booster shot can be given six months after the first booster shot and can be administered at a health service facility or COVID-19 vaccination service post. 

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