EMPOWERING CHANGE FOR HEALTHIER HEARTS AND PATIENT OUTCOMES
MARCH 7, 2020 @ 8.01AM
The Healthy Hearts, Healthy Aging Malaysia Report which was launched by Bayer to commemorate its 10 years of managing healthy hearts, is a Malaysian edition and a spin-off from an Asia Pacific report.
Dr Kenneth Sim, Country Medical Director for Bayer Pharmaceuticals Division, Singapore and Malaysia revealed that the regional report developed earlier between Bayer and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore (NUS), involved authors and reviewers from various countries across Asia Pacific. The report has since been published and is available on NUS website in Singapore (https://enterprise.nus.edu.sg/entrepreneurship-initiatives/innovfest-unbound/healthy-hearts-healthy-aging-asia-pacific-report). Following that, the Malaysian edition of the Healthy Hearts, Healthy Aging APAC Report was developed with insights from a panel of local reviewers which comprises cardiovascular experts.
The report is a call to action to increase the awareness on non-communicable diseases which is forecasted to increase in tandem with the rise of the aging population.
“An aging population is not just an Asia Pacific problem. It impacts many countries worldwide. With the advent of modern medicine, people are living longer. Malaysia is no exception. There is a need for an urgent call to action to increase awareness about how we can tackle challenges that come with an aging population,” Sim said.
Collaborative effort for improved outcomes
Speaking about the findings from the ‘Healthy Hearts, Healthy Aging Malaysia Report’, Sim said that while Bayer supported the report, it was an initiative independent of the company’s involvement.
“Nonetheless, we concur that non-communicable diseases are growing in prevalence and will pose an increasing challenge with healthcare becoming more complicated in the future. We can’t look at healthcare simplistically i.e. we develop medicines, doctors prescribe and patients take them. It is more complicated than that. The many stakeholders in healthcare need to be aligned - pharmaceutical companies, healthcare professionals, patients, policy makers and health authorities. There are also those who write guidelines and treatment protocols in the hospitals.
“You can have the best therapies in the world but it wouldn’t mean anything if no patients take them. Ensuring a smooth pathway from when this drug is developed to where patients get the drug will impact patient outcomes positively,” he explained.
Taking ownership of one’s health
The key phrase here is ‘a call to action’.
“If the report actually leads people to start thinking about their health more seriously and make lifestyle changes, our objectives would be met. A great deal can be achieved if more people seek health advice from their doctors, go for more check-ups or screenings and take their cardiovascular medications for longer period of time.
Innovative health tech solutions
Although Malaysians are tech savvy, Sim opined that digital technology such as smartphones hasn’t been fully utilised in health-related matters.
In response, Bayer has spearheaded ‘Grant 4 Apps’ to improve patient outcomes. This is a global initiative to invest in potential start-ups that produce healthcare related digital technologies.
In Malaysia, Bayer also launched the ‘Ask Maya’ chat bot to provide general information about contraception and family planning and also help bust myths. Patients can key in questions and the chat bot actually provides automated answers. Patients are also encouraged to seek medical consultation.
The report also highlighted that teleprimary care has also been adopted by the government to bridge the gap between the rural and urban areas in Malaysia.
With teleprimary care, patients in rural areas can reach out to healthcare professionals digitally instead of travelling a distance to seek medical advice or consult with a specialist at a major hospital.
This also paves the way for a seamless healthcare system that enables doctors in rural and urban areas to connect. For example, laboratory results and screening tests when stored digitally are easily accessible to other healthcare professionals.
Bayer aims to play its part in exploring digital technology to ensure therapies are more accessible.
“We are already working closely with hospitals and healthcare professionals to ensure that our therapies are listed in the hospitals and are accessible to patients. We are certainly open to explore avenues together with healthcare professionals to further enhance patient accessibility,” added Sim.
Reducing the Burden of Cardiovascular Diseases (CVD)
As a pharmaceutical company, Bayer is committed to continuous research and development investment to develop new innovative therapies.
Sim stressed, “Non-communicable diseases will continue to rise and prove to be more and more challenging. We need to create better medication to combat the rising prevalence in cardiovascular diseases. We cannot keep relying on the same medications in the future although many drugs have been developed for cardiovascular diseases.
“Over the past 10 years, Bayer has developed a range of therapies in the cardiovascular space which has helped patients with various indications such as preventing stroke, blood clots, heart attacks. During this 10-year period, more than three million patients in Malaysia have benefitted from our therapies.”
New CVD drug in pipeline
While Bayer continues to undertake research and development into new innovative therapies, Sim mentioned that the company is currently looking into heart failure therapy to counter its expected increasing incidence over the next few years.
There is no cure for heart failure and the more times a patient is hospitalised, the expected outcome worsens. So, there really is a growing need to develop medications to delay hospitalisations and to improve patients’ quality of life between their hospital stays.
“Once the new drug is available, Bayer will certainly make an announcement. Driving the ‘Healthy Hearts, Healthy Aging’ agenda remains at the core of Bayer’s CVD management goals,” he concluded.
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