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This healthcare fund is giving aid to needy patients

Expand nurses’ roles to meet healthcare challenges: Ng Eng Hen

Developed Asian countries need to re-think role of technology in healthcare: Gan

Minister for Health Mr Gan Kim Yong (Photo: MOH)

Developed Asian societies which are ageing will need to re-think the role of technology in the delivery of healthcare, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong at the opening of the Healthcare in Asia 2014 at the Swissotel Merchant Court on Thursday.

SINGAPORE: Developed Asian societies which are ageing will need to re-think the role of technology in the delivery of healthcare, said Health Minister Gan Kim Yong at the opening of the Healthcare in Asia 2014 at the Swissotel Merchant Court on Thursday.

The event brought together more than 180 of Asia’s leading health ministers and officials, alongside industry figures, policymakers, private-sector providers and front-line medical professionals.

Speaking at the event, Mr Gan said those countries need to find new ways to meet the rising healthcare and social needs of their elderly to guard against healthcare inflation.

One way is to adopt healthcare technologies in a big way.

Mr Gan said developing Asian societies will need to invest further in their healthcare systems.

He added that healthcare systems may also need to re-think the roles of healthcare workers and patients to support patients to administer care themselves.

He gave the example of a self-dialysis programme in Sweden.

“Under the programme, patients operate the dialysis machine, interpret lab values, and document their own care on a report form themselves. The initiative has allowed patients to play an active role in their treatment, which resulted in increased compliance, lower costs, and fewer complications,” said Mr Gan.

– CNA/nd

via Developed Asian countries need to re-think role of technology in healthcare: Gan – Channel NewsAsia.

Singaporeans welcome govt moves to tackle healthcare affordability

File photo of patients at a polyclinic in Singapore.

One analyst described the Budget measures as “generous, elderly-friendly and pro-poor”. But more needs to be done, said healthcare policy expert Dr Phua Kai Hong from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

SINGAPORE: Ensuring the supply of medical services in future will be cost-effective so that it will not bring about over-consumption – this was a key observation made by a healthcare policy expert.

Dr Phua Kai Hong explained that the government will have to strike a balance between supply and demand side as well as public and private spending, as the government brings in substantial financing on the demand side.

Increased subsidies for specialist outpatient clinics for lower- and middle-income Singaporeans and more Medisave top-ups were some of the measures announced in Budget 2014 to make healthcare costs more affordable for locals, especially the elderly.

The moves earned the nods of many.

“Of course, it’ll help me, because at the moment I’m getting the health subsidies,” said Mr Robert Tan, aged 72.

“My mom is already 81, so she’s the only one who will benefit,” said Mr Liau Thian Sing, aged 45.

“If they (parents) have insufficient cash or insufficient funds, we (being their children) will actually have to help them,” said Ms Fiona Kam, 48.

One analyst described the Budget measures as “generous, elderly-friendly and pro-poor”.

But more needs to be done, said healthcare policy expert Dr Phua Kai Hong from the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy.

“What we are worried is the middle-class crunch, the generation that’s in between, who not only have to support their elderly parents but will also have to take care of their own healthcare needs in the future,” said Dr Phua.

“So, for this group, I think, as we go along we have to tweak the system to ensure that the Medisave top-ups will be enough.”

On the minds of many, having a more extensive list of conditions that can be covered by Medisave would be a bonus.

“Those people who are already ill, they hope so much that the list can go longer so that it will actually help them,” said Ms Fiona Kam.

The government has said that with higher Medisave contributions, it will allow elderly Singaporeans to use a portion of their Medisave more flexibly across a range of outpatient treatments.

– CNA/ir

via Singaporeans welcome govt moves to tackle healthcare affordability – Channel NewsAsia.

US magazine: Malaysia’s healthcare is No. 3 worldwide


PETALING JAYA:  A study by the American publication International Living rates Malaysia’s healthcare system as the third best out of 24 countries in its 2014 Global Retirement Index – beating out Spain, Italy, Ireland and New Zealand, among other countries.

The index, which was recently released by the Baltimore-based magazine, praised Malaysia’s healthcare, which scored 95 out of a possible 100 points, as the medical expertise of Malaysian healthcare practitioners is “equal to or better than what it is in most Western countries”, according to’s Asia correspondent Keith Hockton.

“At this time, foreigners cannot access the public healthcare system here, but the low cost of healthcare and the range of health insurance options mean that paying for healthcare is no hardship. Healthcare costs are so low that you can pay out of pocket for many standard procedures. A regular doctor’s visit costs (US)$16 and a dental check-up costs (US)$9,” he said.

The monthly publication, which caters to subscribers seeking places in the world to live, retire, travel, and invest, added in a Feb 6 article that Malaysia has “gained fame as a medical-tourism destination as its healthcare is among the best and cheapest in the world.”

The top two countries, France and Uruguay, scored 97 and 96 points respectively.

On the methodology of the index’s ratings, the magazine said both the cost and quality of healthcare were evaluated.

“How much a typical visit to a general practitioner tells you a lot, as does cost and the coverage particulars of health insurance.

“Also considered are the number of people per doctor, the number of hospital beds per 1,000 people, the percentage of the population with access to safe water, the infant mortality rate, life expectancy, and public health expenditure as a percentage of a country’s GDP,” said the magazine.

via US magazine: Malaysia’s healthcare is No. 3 worldwide – Nation | The Star Online.

Health Ministry: Health Services Will Be GST-Exempt


: Health Minister Datuk Seri Dr S. Subramaniam admitted that there may, in fact, be an increase in healthcare costs after the implementation of the Goods and Services Tax (GST).

He, however, assured that the Government would not allow the hike to be “substantial” and would continue to find ways to minimise costs by providing highly-subsidised healthcare for the rakyat.

“The Government is committed to ensuring that there would be no substantial increases in healthcare costs even after GST is implemented,” Subramaniam said in an e-mail statement.

He was responding to DAP publicity chief Tony Pua’s comments that the health minister was “either ignorant or lying” to claim that healthcare costs will not be impacted by the GST.

The Petaling Jaya Utara MP had claimed that a price increase over healthcare costs was imminent and the only question was “by how much.”

Pua’s attacks came following media reports quoting Subramaniam as saying that healthcare costs would not be impacted when the GST is implemented in 2015.

Clarifying his statement made over the weekend, Subramaniam said he had told the media that health services were generally GST-exempt and the government would ensure prices would stay affordable.

“Unfortunately, my reply did not appear in full in many of the Press releases, thus giving rise to the wrong impression resulting in Pua’s statement,” he said.

Explaining further, he said the Government is very much aware of the need to ensure the continuation of providing affordable healthcare, particularly for the poor, once GST is implemented.

“Towards this noble objective, the Government has declared that healthcare services provided by the Government will not be subjected to GST.”

The Government has declared health services as GST- exempt, whereby all services which are defined as health services by the Health Ministry will be GST- exempt.

Subramaniam reiterated that the ministry would have continuing discussions and engagement with the Finance Ministry “to look at the entire spectrum of health services to minimise the effects of GST in increasing healthcare cost.”

“Rest assured, the Health Ministry will continue to play a proactive role in minimising the effects of GST on essential health services to ensure that all Malaysians, particularly those in the low-income group, will continue to have access to affordable healthcare.”

Rising healthcare expenses


PUTRAJAYA: The country’s healthcare expenditure is projected to rise about three percentage points to 7% of gross domestic product (GDP) by the year 2020, said Health Minister Datuk Seri S Subramaniam Sathasivam.

“The healthcare sector is expected to generate RM35.5bil in gross national incomes and create 181,000 jobs by the year 2020,” he said at the National Key Economic Area (NKEA) healthcare progress update yesterday.

Subramaniam said the healthcare sector is fast becoming a crucial segment in the overall economy and wants the private sector players involved in this vital industry to drive growth moving forward including to improve citizens’ accessibility to quality healthcare.

“It is mandatory that we set in place industry-friendly policies to sustain high growth momentum in the coming years. We will support collaborative efforts between public and public healthcare providers,” Subramaniam said.

He noted that to date, 15 out of 17 sub-sectors had been completely liberalised and including dental specialists, private hospitals, medical specialists sub-sectors where 100% foreign equity participation is allowed.

Subramaniam also announced five new projects under the healthcare NKEA with a total investment value of RM388.1mil and a projected gross national income of RM445.2mil.

This initiative could potentially reduce reliance on imports of these healthcare products by manufacturing them locally instead through locally incorporated companies and multinational ones.

“Currently Malaysia relies on imported infusion products which are costly. It is timely to have a manufacturing capability on our home ground,” he said in his speech.

Five locally incorporated companies will expand their investments through this initiative. They are: ABio Orthopaedics that will invest RM224.5mil for the expansion of orthopaedic devices contract manufacturing in Penang, Karl Mueller Scientific Sdn Bhd that will invest RM1.4mil to produce single and disposable medical devices and accessories, Kotra Pharma that will invest RM60mil to produce sterile injectables or infusion products, RB Lifescience Sdn Bhd investing RM94.5mil for the construction of a new pharmaceutical plant and Sima Medical to invest RM7.7mil for the development of orthopaedic clinical devices.

via Rising healthcare expenses – Business News | The Star Online.

S’pore can learn from others to improve healthcare: PM Lee

File photo: Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong (AFP/MARTY MELVILLE)

Singapore has made progress on public health care challenges, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says there is still room for improvement and learning from other countries can help in this.

SINGAPORE: Singapore has made progress on public health care challenges, but Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong says there is still room for improvement and learning from other countries can help in this.

Mr Lee made these comments at the opening of the World Health Summit on Monday evening.

This is the first time the summit is holding its regional meeting in Asia, with Singapore playing host.

Looking ahead, Mr Lee said there are four challenges that all countries, including Singapore, need to prepare for.

They are non-communicable diseases, ageing, healthcare affordability and emerging infectious diseases.

While the government will study how to provide more targeted financial support in areas such as chronic disease management, preventive and long-term care, Mr Lee said efficient delivery systems are required to keep health affordable.

He also said Singapore can tap innovations from other countries in this – such as e-consultations and mobile phone diagnostic kits.

He also cited techniques the UK has used to encourage people to live and eat healthily.

Mr Lee said: “For instance, the UK has gotten some fish and chip shops to use salt shakers with fewer holes to reduce salt consumption. Stanford University researchers have found that people who watched avatars of themselves running on a treadmill were more likely to exercise, compared to those who watched their avatars lounging.”

Strengthening international cooperation is also key when it comes to fighting infectious diseases.

He said: “New infectious diseases have continued to emerge around the world, including the first cases of H7N9 infection in humans just days ago. Infectious diseases do not respect international boundaries. Viruses don’t need passports. Early warning surveillance systems, information sharing and coordinated cross-border infections control remain critical to combating this threat. Therefore, we must continue to strengthen our links with the WHO and other public health agencies as a vanguard against future pandemics.”

The threat of infectious diseases such as H7N9 is an example of some of the topics of discussion which will take place at the three-day summit.

The event will see some 900 delegates from 46 countries gather to discuss pertinent issues in Asia. This includes innovations in financing, community-based care and endemic infections.

– CNA/xq

Can S’pore’s healthcare sector cope with population growth?

File photo of patients at a polyclinic in Singapore.
File photo of patients at a polyclinic in Singapore.

SINGAPORE: MP for Nee Soon GRC, Patrick Tay said people are generally concerned whether Singapore would be able to cope with the future healthcare needs with an increased population.

Speaking during the debate on the White Paper on Population, Mr Tay said there will be an increase of 4,100 hospital beds by 2020 and at the same time, the population will be projected to increase to six million compared to 5.31 million now.

Mr Tay, who is also the Executive Secretary of the Healthcare Services Employees’ Union (HSEU) representing healthcare employees, added that he is also deeply concerned about the huge strain placed on healthcare employees in meeting the healthcare needs of a burgeoning population.

He said there must be concrete plans in place to beef up the healthcare workforce to cope with this surge in demand.

To meet the healthcare needs of the nation, he noted that Singapore may well need sufficiently trained healthcare professionals at all levels from allied, ancillary, nursing and doctors.

Mr Tay stressed that the Singapore core should remain and the healthcare sector should continue to hire Singaporeans first, with the need to supplement with a foreign workforce to ensure the country provides the best care for its people.


Healthcare sector running short of medical staff

What is a solution to tackle the issue, both in number and quality?

According to Deputy Minister of Health Nguyen Viet Tien, despite intensive efforts to provide adequate for the healthcare sector, supply is still far from meeting demand.

Many faculties of medical universities and colleges are short of students majoring in forensic science, surgery and psychiatry, even though the number of newly-established medical facilities has doubled in recent years.

A survey on community-based medical workers, nurses and bachelors of health conducted at 11 universities and 6 colleges shows that the country now has 6.5 doctors for every 10,000 people but they are distributed unevenly, 60 percent of them based mostly in urban areas which account for only 28.4 percent of the total population.

In the mean time, only 25 percent of trainees have higher education qualifications.

The Minister of Health, Nguyen Thi Kim Tien, states that there remain gaps in the staff and limitation that requires the healthcare sector to fill in as soon as possible.

The Director of the Hanoi Healthcare Department, Nguyen Khac Hien, says they badly need qualified personnel to develop the local healthcare sector in the next ten years, and beyond.

Under a master plan for the 2011-2020 period adopted by the Hanoi municipal People’s Council, Hanoi will build 25 public hospitals with a total of 8,850 beds, a traditional medicine hospital, three first-aid hospitals and 9 satellite first-aid stations and needs as many as 18,000 medical workers including 4,000 doctors and 1,000 pharmacists.

This is a hard nut for Hanoi to crack as many hospitals in the outlying districts are already understaffed.

Minister of Health Tien says some medical universities only focus on training students as they wish without caring about real social demands so it is imperative to work out a clear strategy as well as a roadmap for the healthcare sector to improve the quality of its staff to regional and international standards.

Hien says the Hanoi Healthcare Department is trying its best to attract more doctors, medical practitioners and students after graduation for suburban hospitals.

There is a plan to upgrade 5 to 6 secondary-level medical schools and two colleges and use medical workers from central hospitals based in the capital to do extra work when need be.

Target for medical resources by 2020:

– 8 doctors for every 10,000 people by 2015 and 12 for every 10,000 by 2020

– 1.5 pharmacists for every 10,000 people by 2015 and 2 for every 10,000 by 2020

– 20 nurses for every 10,000 people by 2015 and 25 for every 10,000 by 2020.


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