BAYER LAUNCHES HEALTHY HEARTS, HEALTHY AGEING MALAYSIA REPORT
NOV 27, 2019 @6.56PM
Bayer (Malaysia) Sdn Bhd (Bayer) commemorated its 10-years of managing healthy hearts with the launch of the Healthy Hearts, Healthy Ageing Malaysia report.
The report examines the burden of cardiovascular diseases (CVD) on the national health system, which is rising in tandem with Malaysia’s ageing population, and calls for the adoption of innovative technologies and therapies through active collaboration with stakeholders from government, public, private and communities to achieve better prevention, treatment and care for CVDs.
Developed in partnership with NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), the report is the Malaysian edition of the Healthy Hearts, Healthy Ageing Asia Pacific Report, and it collates curated insights from local CVD experts.
The report was launched in conjunction with Bayer’s 10 years celebration in managing healthy hearts. Present at the event were guest speakers Dr Feisul Idzwan deputy director, Non-communicable Disease, Ministry of Health and Associate Professor Dr Sazzli Kasim, the head of Cardiology department for the Faculty of Medicine, University of Technology MARA, both of whom were instrumental in contributing their insights to the report, and Dr Kenneth Sim, country medical director, Bayer Pharmaceuticals division, Singapore and Malaysia.
The burden of cardiovascular diseases
Cardiovascular diseases (CVD) are major health concerns in Malaysia. The latest national statistics show that ischaemic heart diseases remained as the principal cause of death, responsible for close to 16% of all deaths in 2018. Cerebrovascular diseases – including stroke – ranked third and accounted for 7.3% of all deaths in the same period. There has been a sharp increase of 54% and 47% in mortality rates of coronary heart diseases (CHD) and stroke respectively over a period of 10 years from 2007 to 2017. For CHD alone, there were 13,503 deaths in 2017, compared to 8,776 in 2007.
In the next couple of years, as Malaysia makes a demographic transition to become an ageing society, the incidence of heart attacks and stroke will potentially rise. This poses a serious economic burden as rising healthcare costs add pressure to the current healthcare delivery structure. A tertiary hospital reported that healthcare providers incurred a direct medical cost of MYR5,000 per patient, per admission for inpatient stroke care. Post-hospitalisation, patients typically spent about 40% of their income on rehabilitative care, despite government subsidies for inpatient medical care.
Speaking on the burden of cardiovascular diseases, Dr Kenneth Sim shared, “Over the last few decades, innovations in medicine and technology have resulted in remarkable improvements in the management of cardiovascular diseases. In the wake of our nation's demographic shift to an ageing population, we require a new era of health innovation, focused on preventing disease progression and providing better care to help patients and societies cope with the disease burden.”
“Whilst Bayer is dedicated to developing innovative solutions for CVD patients and their caregivers to improve their quality of life, we hope the insights gathered from this report will spur a wide range of multisectoral collaborations amongst stakeholders to support health system sustainability. This can be achieved by embracing health innovations and therapies to prevent the serious effects of cardiovascular diseases,” he added.
According to him, Bayer remains committed to developing innovative solutions that are founded in intensive research and development. These have resulted in significant outcomes with the introduction of new treatment options such as the prevention of venous thromboembolism (VTE) following elective total knee and hip replacement surgery; stroke prevention in atrial fibrillation; treatment of deep vein thrombosis (DVT) and the prevention of recurrent DVT and pulmonary embolism.
He further explained that over the last 10 years, as many as 3.4 million patients have benefited from Bayer’s therapies to be effectively protected from and treated for CVD. This will continue to spur our commitment to deliver cutting-edge solutions for CVD patients and their caregivers, helping them to cope with the disease burden and improving their quality of life,”
Recommendations for the adoption of health innovation
The role of innovative technologies and therapies is crucial to support the National Strategic Plan for Non-communicable Disease (NSP-NCD) which covers primary care and community-level outreach initiatives.
The report highlights three core areas on health innovation to address rising CVD rates:
1. Digital health innovation
According to Dr Feisul, “Many people do not undergo screening at early stages of the disease, leading to high rates of undiagnosed CVD despite nationwide screening programmes. There is also the issue of people’s mindsets and behaviours as compliance rates for lifestyle changes and medications have been suboptimal. In hypertensive patients, the medication adherence rates of those in primary care facilities is only 53%.
“We need new innovative ways to correct people’s mindsets and behaviours. Even when people have the information or, have been diagnosed and offered free treatment, they still make counter-intuitive choices about their health. We need to research why people make certain decisions. We are collaborating with several digital health innovators to explore how we may help people make lifestyle changes and improve medication compliance. Providing customized information and advice for individual lifestyle needs are needed to effect change,” he added.
Dr Feisul believes that digital health innovation has strong potential to change people’s behaviour. However, there is a need to understand the individual’s motivation to remain engaged with digital health tools, to overcome the public’s reluctance to use such technology and to avoid underutilisation.
2. Newer evidence-based medicines
Suboptimal CVD control is attributed to the under-utilisation of new preventive therapies. As newer oral anticoagulants therapies are not subsidised by the government, many patients are still using older medications. In the case of warfarin - an older anticoagulant medication for stroke prevention, a higher level of patient management, regular testing and monitoring are required by healthcare providers. Complexity in warfarin usage can also cumulatively lead to poor patient adherence.
Commenting on this, Associate Professor Dr Sazzli explained that there is room for improvement in adopting newer-evidence based medicines to prevent serious cardiac events, achieve better disease control and improve health service efficiency. While cost is often a hurdle, investing in research to generate local cost-effectiveness data will give policymakers the confidence in adopting these innovative therapies in public health systems.
3. Telemedicine solution
The concentration of primary care physicians working in the private sector and in larger urban settings has resulted in a shortage of such personnel in public health facilities and smaller rural areas. Telemedicine has been identified as one of the ways to address this.
‘Teleprimary Care’ - a teleconsultation and distance-learning solution for healthcare professionals, has been adopted to allow doctors and nurses in rural areas to consult specialists and send test results to specialist centres for interpretation. As a result, only patients with inpatient care needs are transferred to the hospitals and this presents significant time and cost savings for both patients and the healthcare system. With the distance-learning feature, doctors practising in rural health centres are also trained and updated on the latest advancements in medicine. This has improved both their efficiency and satisfaction and translated into more comprehensive care for their patients.
The report concluded that in order for the nation to successfully advance with its universal healthcare plans, the current challenges of a healthcare treatment gap for the underprivileged, changing mindsets and behaviours through technology, and developing tele-health and pushing through healthcare reforms must be tackled. For health innovation to thrive and result in best outcomes for all, multisectoral collaboration and cooperation at national and state levels are indispensable.
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