US aid to reinforce ASEAN protection

17:00 | 06/04/2020
The ASEAN is receiving more attention from the US government and its enterprises in healthcare, particularly in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.
us aid to reinforce asean protection
US healthcare groups have increased their footprint in Vietnam over recent years

Currently 3M, a global leader in personal protective equipment, is increasing global production of respiratory protection products as quickly as possible in response to the COVID-19 outbreak. “We committed to supporting the public health and governmental response to help protect and treat people. We have donated medical supplies including respirators, surgical masks, and hand sanitiser in affected areas, including the ASEAN,” a representative of 3M told VIR.

BAT, a leading, multi-category consumer goods business, and its US bio-tech subsidiary, Kentucky BioProcessing (KBP) are wishing to support more the world, especially the ASEAN region in the battle against coronavirus. Quickly developing a potential vaccine for COVID-19, KPB is now putting the vaccine in pre-clinical testing. If testing goes well, BAT is hopeful that, throught its right partners and support from government agencies, between one and three million doses of the vaccine could be used per week, beginning in June.

“Vaccine development is challenging and complex work, but we believe we have made a significant break-through with our tobacco plant technology platform and stand ready to work with Governments and all stakeholders to help win the war against Covid-19 disease,” David O’Reilly, director of Scientific Research at BAT said.

According to O’reilly, KBP has been exploring alternative uses of the tobacco plant for some time. One such alternative use is the development of plant-based vaccines. “We are committed to contributing to the effort of the world in general and the ASEAN region in particular to halt the spread of Covid-19 using this technology,” he said.

Meanwhile, GE Healthcare is continuing to look for opportunities to provide sustainable improvements to healthcare delivery in Vietnam and other emerging markets in the ASEAN. “This requires investment in training and education of the local workforce to successfully operate and service devices and build capacity at the frontline of healthcare,” said Son Pham, Vietnam country leader for GE Healthcare.

According to Pham, GE Healthcare has led continuous education and training courses for radiologists, radiographers, sonographers, and other clinical practitioners to support local workforce in Vietnam in successfully operating and keeping up to date with the latest in medical innovations.

In another case, nutrition and healthcare group Abbott is committed to help solve related challenges in Vietnam and other ASEAN nations. “We will further invest in innovating more trusted science-based solutions and products that are more accessible to people in the region,” said Daniel Salvadori, Abbott’s executive vice president of Nutritional Products.

According to Salvadori, Vietnam and neighbouring countries are facing clear healthcare challenges – from childhood malnutrition and stunting to malnourishment and muscle loss in ageing populations. “As a company with scientific heritage, we work closely with our stakeholders to overcome the challenges in order to see the countries quite literally grow and succeed through the power of nutrition and health,” he said.

Over the years, the ASEAN has been a target market for US businesses, particularly those operating in healthcare. Moreover, the US government is also positively co-ordinating with the regional governments, particularly in the context of the coronavirus outbreak. The US Department of State announced last week that the United States will provide over $18 million in emergency health and humanitarian assistance to ASEAN member states.

The Philippines, Myanmar, and Vietnam are the top three recipients, receiving $4 million, $3.8 million, and $3 million, respectively. Indonesia will get $2.3 million, Cambodia and Laos $2 million each, and Thailand $1.2 million. The funding will be used for preparing laboratories for large-scale testing for COVID-19; infection prevention and control and risk communication, and implementing public-health emergency plans for border points of entry; activating case-finding and event-based surveillance for influenza-like illnesses; and training and equipping rapid-responders in investigation and contact-tracing and updating training materials for health workers.

Besides this financial support, the US is also working with the ASEAN to promote co-operation between the two sides in responding to the global health emergency and other public healthcare issues.

US support for Vietnam has exceeded $706 million in health assistance and $1.8 billion in total assistance. The US has provided training to 15 hospitals in conjunction with the World Health Organization, and has assisted with training in 63 cities and provinces on COVID-19 surveillance, reporting, and sample collection.

By Phuong Hao

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