Essilor Takes Far-Sighted View of Myopia Management
Jun 14, 2018

Essilor takes lead on Myopia Management by launching the inaugural National Myopia Convention in partnership with Singapore Optometric Association

Singapore, 12 June 2018 --( ASIA TODAY )-- Essilor, in partnership with the Singapore Optometric Association, is organising the first National Myopia Convention in Singapore on 12 and 13 June 2018 to bring 600 optometrists to the forefront of myopia management. Renowned speakers with expertise on myopia management from Australia, China and Taiwan will share their experience and best practices in managing their patients’ myopia progression with different solutions.

By 2050, 5 billion people, half the world’s population, will be myopic[1]. Despite the epidemic size of the challenge, the science of myopia is still young. Many people affected by myopia are unaware of what is available to correct and control it now, as well as reduce long-term risks, especially for high myopes who have a high probability of developing serious eye conditions and potentially losing their sight. Continuing to innovate solutions to correct and control myopia is integral to Essilor’s mission of improving lives by improving sight.

“As the world leader in the eye care industry, we believe it is the company’s responsibility to be the leading player in the management of myopia and offer a comprehensive range of solutions for children, teens and adults, to manage the evolution of myopia over their lifetime” commented Eric Bernard, President of AMERA and Instruments, Essilor. He continued: “Organising this inaugural Myopia Management Convention is a further step in our drive to equip eye care professionals with the essential myopia management knowledge and skills to support myopic patients throughout their progression journey.”

In Singapore, data from the Health Promotion Board and Singapore National Eye Centre, indicate that about 65% of children are myopic when they reach 12 years old1, increasing to 80% when they arrive at adulthood2 (18 years old). Not just a vision impairment or inconvenience that affects learning at school, playing sport or pursuing hobbies, it has long consequences as high myopia increases the risks of degenerative conditions such as retinal detachment, early cataract development, macular degeneration and glaucoma. These risks are not mitigated by refractive surgery.

The myopia epidemic presents significant implications for planning comprehensive eye care services globally, including managing and preventing myopia-related ocular complications and vision loss among almost those with high myopia. More recent studies indicate that myopic macular degeneration is becoming a serious issue, especially in East Asia, and is already one of the 3 leading causes of blindness.


About Essilor

Essilor International (Compagnie Générale d’Optique) (“Essilor”) is the world’s leading ophthalmic optics company. Essilor designs, manufactures and markets a wide range of lenses to improve and protect eyesight. Its mission is to improve lives by improving sight. To support this mission, Essilor allocates more than €200 million to research and innovation every year, in a commitment to continuously bring new, more effective products to market. Its flagship brands are Varilux®, Crizal®, Transitions®, EyezenTM, Xperio®, Foster Grant®, BolonTM and Costa®. It also develops and markets equipment, instruments and services for eyecare professionals.

Essilor reported consolidated revenue of around €7.5 billion in 2017 and employs approximately 67,000 people worldwide. It has 34 plants, 481 prescription laboratories and edging facilities, as well as 4 research and development centers around the world. For more information, please visit

The Essilor share trades on the Euronext Paris market and is included in the Euro Stoxx 50 and CAC 40 indices. Codes and symbols: ISIN: FR0000121667; Reuters: ESSI.PA; Bloomberg: EI:FP.

For media enquiries, please contact The Rainmaker Marketing Group Pte Ltd at 6475 8368.

Nalini Naidu
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Dean Johari
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Ong Yu Fan
mobile: 9030 8619

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Medical Devices ASEAN 2018 drives Thailand’s ambition to become the medical hub of Asia
Jun 14, 2018

Bangkok, Thailand, June 2018 --( ASIA TODAY )-- IMPACT Exhibition Management Co., Ltd. (“IMPACT”), strongly supported by the Ministry of Public Health, as well as numerous medical and healthcare related, presents Medical Devices ASEAN 2018 (“MDA 2018”) - the international exhibition and academic congress on medical devices, technologies, services and general healthcare. This trade exhibition features a comprehensive range of products and services, including general surgery; orthopedic surgery and rehabilitation medicine; radiology and diagnostic imaging; medical laboratory; IT in healthcare; and medical instruments and consumables. More than 150 exhibitors and 4,000 medical and healthcare professionals are expected to attend the three-day event. The event will be held from 11 to 13 July 2018, at hall 1-2, IMPACT Exhibition Center, Bangkok, Thailand.

The medical devices and equipment industry is among the New S-Curve targeted industries, established by the government to strengthen Thailand’s competitive potential in becoming the “Medical Hub of Asia” and a medical devices export center; in compliance with the Thailand 4.0 policy, in which the market for medical devices is expected to grow at 8.5 to 10% per year.

Comprehensive information and advice by Ministry of Public Health at MDA 2018

Ms. Korrapat Trisarnsri, Director of Medical Device Control Division for Food and Drug Administration, Ministry of Public Health, said “The Food and Drug Administration (FDA), with the role of regulating, monitoring and overseeing medical devices to meet quality, safety and efficacy as standards in accordance with international laws, has a mission to promote and enhance international competitiveness of all medical device stakeholders and non-government parties, including manufacturers, dealers and distributors, in Thailand. At MDA 2018, FDA will be offering comprehensive information and advice to researchers, innovators and inventors on how to have their innovations and products legally approved by the FDA: from product testing/diagnosis; establishment registration; product registration and licensing via e-submission system; assembling and submission of the required information as evidence of conformity of medical device through the Common Submission Dossier Template (CSDT) advertising and promotion guidance; to exporting medical devices. These activities aim to strengthen the capability of medical device entrepreneurs in manufacturing, supplying, exporting or importing medical devices, as well as to enhance the potential of medical and healthcare professionals; thus, prepping Thailand to become the medical hub of Asia.”

Mr. Siri Srimanorot, Director, Radiation and Medical Devices Division, Medical Sciences Department, Ministry of Public Health, said “The Department of Medical Sciences will be participating in MDA 2018, in the consultancy clinic dedicated to provide guidance for international standard medical devices testing services by recognized accredited testing laboratories, such as ISO/IEC 17025 or ISO 15189, for analysis and testing of physical properties, chemical properties, microbiology, and compatibility; as well as blood borne disease diagnostic kits, including HIV diagnosis kits, Hepatitis B diagnosis kits and Hepatitis C Virus diagnostic kits. The test results are required for the application of the Certificate of Manufacture, Import Certificate and Free Sales Certificate for medical devices from the FDA or for quality assurance of the product, such as surgical gloves, blood bag, infusion tube, which is available at no cost.”

Medical Devices: a new investment opportunity in Thailand

Ms. Krongkanoke Managitjonggol, Director of Industrial Linkage Development Division, Thailand Board of Investment (BOI), stated that “BOI has the core roles and responsibilities in promoting valuable investment with both tax incentives and non-tax incentives through BOI Investment Promotion Policies; of which include promoting medical devices industry, being one of the New S-Curve targeted industries, to position Thailand as the medical hub of the region. Thailand has a strength with an excellent medical foundation that includes world-class medical facilities, premium healthcare services at highly competitive prices, qualified healthcare specialists and various internationally accredited medical facilities. Holding onto the mission of promoting investment that helps enhance national competitiveness in the medical devices industry and to uncover the potential of Thai medical device industry to the international exhibitors, BOI will be hosting Medical Industry Networking at MDA 2018. The objective is to build networks between investors; entrepreneurs, both local and international; and public organizations related to medical devices industry to develop knowledge and understanding, and create investment concentration in accordance with regional potential, as well as push Thailand forward to become the medical hub of Asia.”

MDA 2018 in response to Thailand 4.0

Mr. Preecha Bhandtivej, President, Thai Medical Device Technology Industry Association (“THAIMED”), said that “THAIMED was established with the main objective of assembling all businesses related to medical devices, including manufacturers, suppliers, dealers and distributors in the Thai medical devices industry; following Thailand 4.0's strategic policy of including medical device in the S-Curve, a value-based economic model driven by innovation, technology, and high-value trade and services. MDA 2018 serves as a platform to bring together the producers, distributers, buyers, and medical professionals, to develop business networks; to generate new ideas and innovations; and to leverage the business. THAIMED will also be speaking on the topic, ‘The Future Exploration of Forthcoming Challenges and New Possibilities for Thailand's Medical Devices Industry’ to enhance potential of the medical device stakeholders.”

MDA 2018 – the all-encompassing trade platform

Mr. Loy Joon How, General Manager, IMPACT, said that “MDA 2018 offers an all-encompassing trade platform for the manufacturers, suppliers, dealers and distributors involved in the medical device industry to showcase their products. We are expecting more than 150 companies and brands from across the world, including America, China, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Indonesia, Italy, Japan, Malaysia, Singapore, South Korea, and Taiwan. In addition, the ‘MDA Congress’, in collaboration with the Royal College of Orthopaedic Surgeons of Thailand; the Radiological Society of Thailand; the Nurses' Association of Thailand; Association of Medical Technologists of Thailand; Thai Medical Informatics Association; and Thai Association for Medical Instrumentation, is a series of academic conferences held alongside MDA 2018, to enhance and develop the potential of medical and healthcare professionals. Some of these conferences also provide credits for the continuing professional development of healthcare professionals.”

For more information, please visit

Media Inquiry
IMPACT Exhibition Management Co. ltd.
Nicha Akaramethakul

Company Impact
Telephone +662 833 5308
Novotech Signs MOU with China Medical University Hospital in Taiwan to Offer Enhanced Services for Global Trials
JCN Newswire
Jun 14, 2018

SYDNEY, AUS - (ACN Newswire) - Asia-Pacific specialist CRO Novotech announced today it has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the China Medical University Hospital (CMUH) in Taiwan to facilitate high-quality and rapid feasibility, start-up and recruitment processes.

The CMUH is a 2,054-bed facility with a dedicated Clinical Trials Centre (CTC).

The CMUH deal is designed to give Novotech clients:
- Faster start-up times
- Access to the CMUH patient database
- World-class clinical research - regulatory compliance with FDA, PMDA and EMEA
- Outstanding recruiters across many therapeutic areas: breast cancer, lung cancer, colorectal cancer, Hepatitis, SLE, RA, Stroke, Diabetes, etc.
- Leading principal investigators

The CTC of CMUH was established in 2008 and has been led by distinguished Professor Chung Y. Hsu since 2010.

According to the CTC, Professor Hsu's management principle is to deliver international standard clinical research to facilitate market approval of new drugs and devices for domestic and global pharmaceutical companies.

In 2016 CTC CMUH joined the "International Clinical Trials Center Network" (ICN) which includes Switzerland Zurich University, US Harvard University, UK Cambridge University and HK University.

Clinical trials in Taiwan are regulated by the Taiwan FDA, Ministry of Health and Welfare - who establish and enforce compliance with ICH-GCP standards.

Under the terms of the MOU, the CMUH will provide professional and medical clinical trial advice to the Novotech team including feasibility, principal investigator selection, and assistance with patient recruitment. Novotech will promote the clinical research capabilities of CMUH internationally, in particular their Phase 1 unit.

Novotech Executive Director, Asia Operations Dr. Yooni Kim said Taiwan with a population of 23.3 million has a world-class medical system and is well established as a premier clinical research location with a rich diversity of patient ethnic groups.

"The MOU means Novotech will also have dedicated clinical experts within the CMUH to support and prioritise rapid clinical processes for Novotech biopharma clients," Dr. Kim said.

"Novotech is the Asia-Pacific CRO, so is committed to establishing ongoing engagement with leading medical institutions in each country across the Asia-Pacific region. We have offices and teams on the ground as well as MOUs and long-term relationships with major hospitals that directly benefit our clients."

"Our in-country relationships enable a more comprehensive understanding of local regulatory changes, access to leading PIs, strong site connections, and productive patient populations to deliver success for our clients within timelines and budgets."

Novotech is the Asia-Pacific specialist contract research organization (CRO) established in 1996, headquartered in Australia with offices in 11 countries across the region, and 5 MOUs with major health providers.

See the latest data on Asia clinical trials here:

About Novotech
Headquartered in Sydney, Novotech is internationally recognised as the leading regional full-service contract research organisation (CRO). With a focus on clinical monitoring, Novotech has been instrumental in the success of hundreds of Phase I - IV clinical trials in the Asia Pacific region.

Novotech provides clinical development services across all clinical trial phases and therapeutic areas including: feasibility assessments; ethics committee and regulatory submissions, data management, statistical analysis, medical monitoring, safety services, central lab services, report write-up to ICH requirements, project and vendor management. Novotech's strong Asia Pacific presence includes running clinical trials in all key regional markets. Novotech also has worldwide reach through the company's network of strategic partners.

For RFP enquiries: Please fill out the form available at

Media Contact
Susan Fitzpatrick-Napier
AU: +61 2 8218 2144
USA: +1 415 951 3228
Asia: +65 3159 3427

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Company JCN Newswire
Contact Tiara Liu
Telephone +81-3-5791-1821
Taurine deficiency in sperm causes male infertility, study finds
May 21, 2018

Sperm are highly specialized cells adapted to achieve a single goal: fertilize an egg. Along the road to fertilization sperm must embark on a lengthy journey to the female oviduct, avoiding several fatal stresses that occur when they pass through different physiological environments. However, the events that allow sperm cells to achieve fertilization under these conditions are only partially understood.

In a study published in The FEBS Journal, Atsushi Asano at the University of Tsukuba reports his research grouphas uncovered a cell volume regulator in sperm cells that plays a key role in maintaining their shape and fertility.

Most of a cell’s mass consists of water, and this water can determine a cell’s volume. The membrane that surrounds each cell is leaky, so cells can take in or release excess water depending on how much water surrounds them (a phenomenon known as “osmosis”). This property is analogous to how a sponge behaves—like a sponge taking on too much water, changes in water levels can drastically change the volume, and eventually the shape, of a cell.

“Cells have sensor mechanisms that let them compensate for changes in their osmotic environment,” says corresponding author Atsushi Asano, an assistant professor of the University of Tsukuba. “Without these compensatory sensors, cells would experience excessive volume changes leading to a ruptured membrane or other morphological problems. This type of sensor is fairly common in cells, but we were surprised to find one that plays a significant role in the function of sperm cells.”

Previously, it was found that male mice lacking cysteine dioxygenase (CDO) are infertile. CDO is a protein known to make the amino acid taurine, which in turn is known to play a role in osmosis. While these facts are not new, the precise role of CDO and taurine in fertilization has been a long-standing controversy.

In the study, the researchers confirmed that male mice missing CDO are indeed more likely to be infertile compared with their healthy counterparts – over 10 times more likely, in fact. They also found taurine levels dropped dramatically in the sperm cells of these mice. This suggested a clear link between the two defects, but was a conundrum in these findings: sperm are unable to make proteins, including CDO. How, then, were the sperm obtaining the taurine that was so critical to their function? The team discovered that, rather than making their own taurine, the sperm cells absorbed taurine while passing through the male genital tract.

“The absorption process looks to be an important survival strategy for sperm during fertilization, since mature sperm cannot produce proteins on their own,” co-author Ai Ushiyama says. “The findings convinced us that taurine was essential to the fertilization process, but we still had to figure out what exactly taurine was doing in sperm cells.”

The researchers keyed in on one telling clue, an unusual “kink” in the tail of the sperm. Sperm cells in CDO-deficient mice were nearly twice as likely to have a wrongly-angled tail when placed in an environment like that of a uterus. Strikingly, the defect disappeared when the sperm were supplied with extra taurine. These observations led the authors to conclude that, by controlling osmosis, taurine helped to maintain the right shape of sperm during fertilization.

“Our findings show that the production of taurine by CDO in the male reproductive tract, and its absorption by sperm, are pivotal mechanisms for male fertility,” Asano concludes. “We believe that as sperm travel through different osmotic environments, the level of taurine inside the cell shifts to balance the change in cell volume. This prevents excess changes in shape caused by an influx or efflux of water, allowing the sperm to successfully complete fertilization under difficult environmental conditions.”

SOURCE / University of Tsukuba Japan

Grateful for the Little Blessings
May 15, 2018

She was only in her early twenties when Zaliha binti Sis discovered that her kidneys were failing. Noticing that her legs and face were unusually swollen, she decided to go for a medical check-up, and was diagnosed as having nephrotic syndrome, a type of kidney disorder.

Two years later in 1978, Zaliha got married and began her lifelong journey with dialysis. Later that same year, due to her chronic kidney condition, Zaliha was also forced to abort her pregnancy. Her husband, a health officer, whom she had confided in about her illness before marriage, was understanding and supportive.

She received a glimmer of hope in 1979 when her mother donated one of her kidneys, but after undergoing surgery the following year, Zaliha’s body rejected it, leaving the latter with no choice but to resume dialysis.

Back then, the former assistant nurse used to commute to Hospital Kuala Lumpur (HKL) from Banting to undergo 8-hour dialysis treatments three times a week.

“I am very fortunate to have had the strong support of my husband and his family while I was ill and undergoing treatment. Even my hospital superiors were understanding and gave me the flexibility to choose my work shifts based on my treatments,” shares Zaliha.

In 1982, the couple adopted a daughter, her husband’s niece, who is now an engineer with two sons of her own. Zaliha’s treatments have now reduced to four hours per session, and despite all she has been through, the 63-year-old seems content.

“Even though I have to undergo these treatments I’m still able to do the things I love, like sewing and cooking for my family. I made sure I controlled my child’s diet when she was younger so she wouldn’t go through what I did,” says Zaliha, who currently lives in Ampang with her daughter and grandsons.”

“My only wish”, she says, “is to see my grandsons grow up healthily and hope that I don’t become a burden to anyone as I get older.”
Meanwhile, Melini binti Ismail has been through quite a different journey. Born in Kota Bharu, Kelantan, Melini pursued her further education in accounting (ACCA) in the United Kingdom many years ago.

The former accountant at TV3 found out about her failing kidneys after a blood test in 2012. Prior to that, Melini and her family members had suspected that her kidneys were not functioning well as she was already suffering from diabetes and hypertension (high blood pressure).

However, despite advice from the nephrologist she decided to delay her dialysis treatments due to her work commitments at a German firm at that time.

Since commencing dialysis treatments in late 2012, the 62-year-old admits that one of the things she has had to give up, and that she misses most, is traveling.

“When traveling I need to find areas with dialysis centres and book well in advance, which can be quite troublesome, especially if I’m going overseas. So the only traveling I do these days is back to my hometown in Kota Bahru, which incidentally has an NKF branch,” shares Melini, who has only been under NKF’s care since 2012, undergoing dialysis treatments at a private hospital prior to this.

Having a chronic kidney condition also means that Melini has to watch her diet closely, which can prove to be quite challenging for a self-proclaimed food-lover like her.

She admits that she was once admitted to hospital for two days after indulging in nasi dagang. Since that scare, she has been more careful about her diet and has started cooking healthier food for herself.

These days, Melini, who has two daughters and a son, spends her free time helping her husband plant figs and lemons at his farms in Rawang.

“These days I prefer to stay home, cook and spend time with my family. I’m actually happy with what I have, and wouldn’t want to consider a kidney transplant from any of my family members. My only regret is perhaps that I did not have more children when I was younger, but otherwise, I have lived a good life. I am happy.”

For more information on these and future NKF activities or to donate towards the organisation’s efforts, please visit - or call 03-7954 9048.


Plight Story
by National Kidney Foundation Malaysia

National Kidney Foundation of Malaysia
The National Kidney Foundation (NKF) Malaysia is a non-profit charitable organization dedicated to helping Malaysians suffering from end stage kidney failure who lack access to or cannot afford dialysis treatment. NKF currently has over 1,600 dialysis patients receiving subsidized dialysis treatment in over 27 dialysis centers nationwide.

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2018 MEDICARE TAIWAN & SenCARE Three New Themes Synchronizing the Latest Medical Trends
May 09, 2018

The 2018 MEDICARE TAIWAN (Taiwan International Medical & Healthcare Exhibition) and SenCARE (Taiwan International Senior Lifestyle and Health Care Show) create an international platform for traders in medical industry in Taiwan.

To take place from June 21 to 24 at Taiwan World Trade Center, Hall 1(TWTC), these two trade shows will gather 400 key exhibitors in the medical industry to demonstrate their latest products in the categories of electro-medical equipment, diagnostic equipment, medical disposables, rehabilitation equipment, and mobility aids.

With Taiwan's mature ICT and high-tech industries, many key industrial players have been keen to explore the medical and healthcare markets. The trend encourages the development of medical services, as well as increases medical tourism in Taiwan.

Some new themes are set for 2018:

Medical Technology & IoT Applications

Taiwan's smart healthcare companies such as AVALUE, Manifold Health Tech, and SOMNICS will showcase intelligent systems, medical solutions and medical monitors.

Factory of Intelligent Additive Manufacturing Medical Devices (FoiAM)

Taiwan's first demonstration area focusing on 3D-printed implantable medical devices was established by Industrial Technology Research Institute (ITRI).

Taiwan Medical Specialty Alliance

Hospitals and clinics form partnerships to impress international visitors with high quality service and the first-class healthcare facilities, which attract overseas tourists to experience Taiwan's customized medical treatments.

Several events will run simultaneously at the venue, including professional seminars, procurement meetings, and new product launches. These events are arranged to help our buyers discover more about our exceptional exhibitors and provide them with the opportunity to access the latest of the medical industry.

Medical Devices and Supplies Fair Concludes
May 09, 2018

9 May 2018 – The ninth HKTDC Hong Kong International Medical Devices and Supplies Fair (Medical Fair) concluded its three-day run today. Organised by the Hong Kong Trade Development Council (HKTDC) and co-organised by the Hong Kong Medical and Healthcare Device Industries Association (HKMHDIA), the fair welcomed over 11,500 buyers from 70 countries and regions, up 6.7 per cent over last year.

Record exhibitor number; bigger group pavilions
“Increasing health awareness is driving the continual growth of the global medical equipment and supplies market,” said HKTDC Deputy Executive Director Benjamin Chau. “This year, the Medical Fair recorded encouraging growth in buyer attendance, both from mature markets such as the United States and Australia, and from emerging markets including Russia, Thailand and Macau, indicating there is flourishing demand for medical products and services across many markets.”

Continued expansion saw the Medical Fair feature a record 280 exhibitors from 13 countries and regions this year, showcasing an extensive array of medical equipment, technologies and services to global buyers. The fair welcomed new group pavilions from Taiwan, Guangdong Association for Medical Devices Industry and Southern California Biomedical Council (SoCalBio) from the US, as well as returning pavilions, with expanded exhibiting area, from HKMHDIA, the Czech Republic, the Wielkopolska region of Poland and the Ningbo Association for Medical Devices Industry. The Czech Republic and SoCalBio also conducted on-site seminars to introduce the country’s latest medical technology.

Start-ups explore medical market
The medical industry is becoming a popular sector for the new generation of entrepreneurs, with many start-ups developing innovative medical products and services to capitalise on business opportunities in the sector. This year's Medical Fair saw the return of the Startup zone, gathering a number of start-ups to present innovative ideas.

MedEXO Robotics, a local start-up exhibiting at the fair for the first time, showcased the smart pillbox MedPot and the WalkAid, which helps Parkinson’s disease patients walk. More than 100 buyers made enquiries with the company on the first two days of the fair alone, including a Hong Kong foot care products expert who planned to use the WalkAid technology to develop insoles for children with splay feet. Meanwhile, a local non-government organisation serving the elderly planned to buy the MedPot.

Business matching boosts business
To facilitate sourcing, the Medical Fair featured 18 thematic zones covering various medical supplies, including the World of Health & Wellness, which showcased healthcare products and services such as fitness products, functional food and beverages, cosmetic supplies and services, as well as physiotherapy supplies and equipment.

“The World of Health & Wellness attracts a large number of professional buyers. We are happy to have met with potential distributors from Canada, the United Kingdom, France, Spain, Malaysia and the Chinese mainland for our V-Meds-brand lung cleansing kits,” said Winson Heung, Marketing Director of V-Meds (Asia) Limited. “We expect that about 10 of them will become our distributors. Meanwhile, two buyers from the Chinese mainland and India have expressed their intention to buy around 1,000 pieces. The fair’s results have been encouraging.”

The HKTDC also provided a range of quality services to help the industry capture business opportunities. Through the HKTDC’s business matching service, Bulgarian buyer Krassimir Christov from Aichhorn and Co EOOD, visiting the Medical Fair for the first time, found two potential suppliers from the Chinese mainland and Hong Kong. “They supply different items such as surgical drapes, plastic scissors and absorbent pads. I plan to buy 100,000 pieces per item,” he said.

To help industry professionals monitor the pulse of the market, a series of seminars was organised, covering such topics as trends in Medtech and smart healthcare, as well as updates on procurement guidelines and medical device regulations. The Hospital Authority Convention 2018 (7-8 May), another major event for medical professionals in the Asia Pacific region, was held on the first two days of the Medical Fair, attracting more than 5,600 attendees.


For more comments from exhibitors and buyers, please visit:

Media Enquiries
Please contact the HKTDC’s Communication and Public Affairs Department:

Selina Fan
Tel: (852) 2584 4298

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Thai Scientist Invents Webcam Microscope to Beat Back Malaria
May 07, 2018

Innovation allows distance learning and diagnosis

April 2018 — One could say that Angkana Saejeng got her professional start in life at a tender age in the shade of the White Elephant Gate in Thailand’s city of Chiang Mai. Here, a few steps from the 700-year-old wall protecting the country’s second city, Saejeng’s family boiled and ladeled fishball noodle soup in their small but popular Ong Tipros shop.

From her earliest days on, Saejeng’s mission was to help her family succeed. Unlike some other young girls in her neighborhood, she had a knack and a passion for all things technical. Always fiddling, she fixed broken pipes and replaced light bulbs. One day, watching her mother struggle to keep up with a long line of customers, she fashioned an improved, larger noodle strainer to speed things up.

As she continued in school, she contemplated becoming an engineer, which seemed like a natural career path. “I love finding solutions,” she said. “When I spot a problem, I can’t help but find a way to solve it.”

Like the imposing wall behind her, however, the needs of the family kept her close to home, where she, as traditionally expected of many Thai women, could care for her parents.

Her siblings suggested that she consider a career in health. She agreed, becoming a trailblazer in the field of medical technology and protecting her parents and many others over many years from disease. Luckily, she never could shake the impulse to innovate.

This region is the epicenter for the development and spread of malaria that is multidrug-resistant, including resistance to the most widely used antimalarial throughout the world — artemisinins. The spread of drug-resistant malaria to Africa and beyond would have dire consequences for the continent that is most affected by the disease and would undermine global progress to date.

There have been significant gains in Thailand's fight against the disease in recent years, however. Reported malaria cases have decreased 68 percent since 2011, dropping from 44,000 cases to only 14,000 last year. The number of villages with malaria transmission has also decreased 56 percent.

Today, Saejeng is a medical technologist at the Office of Disease Prevention and Control in Chiang Mai. She started malaria work at the city’s Vector Borne Disease Control Office and was later offered a doctoral scholarship at the University of Sheffield. There, her studies on viral resistance in insects paved the way for developing a simple yet impactful innovation.

While working on her thesis, Saejeng needed a microscope camera, but models available in the market were costly. Undaunted, she invented her own by attaching a webcam to a microscope. It came as a surprise to many that her low-budget device valued locally at $124 worked as well as the high-end microscope cameras. Emboldened and inspired by this early success, she set her sights on something bigger.

While pursuing her Ph.D., her determination to work in health intensified after hearing that a close friend died from malaria. “I asked myself, ‘how could this happen?’ I deeply regretted that even though I worked in the malaria field at that time, I wasn’t there and couldn’t save her,” said Saejeng. “Looking back, if diagnosis was done accurately and timely, it could have saved many lives.”

Currently, malaria diagnosis is conducted by microscopic examination of the patient’s blood. Errors in diagnosis can occur when blood slides are poorly prepared. Realizing this could hinder diagnosis, Saejeng invented a “webscope,” or webcam microscope—a webcam connected to a microscope using basic, everyday materials.

Linking to the internet, this cost-effective, user-friendly device enables microscopists to provide real-time consultation on difficult or critical malaria diagnostic cases to malaria field workers in remote areas.

And the big news: The webscope reduces blood slide cross-checking time on average from 21 days to only 10 minutes. Before remote cross-checking became available, slides had to be delivered back to laboratories by hand, which could take days. To cut costs, health technicians would often wait to accumulate slides before sending them back to the lab. Now, patients receive a more accurate diagnosis and timely treatment. The device has made a dramatic impact on the poor and vulnerable people living in rural and remote areas with limited access to health care.

“The real-time consultation has improved malaria field workers’ skills and abilities to provide a high-quality diagnosis with less errors,” said Saejeng. “This is a sustainable approach toward the long-term goal of malaria elimination.”

The webscopes were initially deployed in five malaria-affected areas in Mae Hong Son province in northern Thailand and later expanded to 94 malaria clinics throughout the country. The initiative has earned several awards, including the Excellence Award 2016 of Sustainable Innovation Thailand Public Service from the Office of Public Sector Development Commission.

The webscope has also been adapted for distance learning about other diseases from labs/patient wards. Hospitals and medical schools have widely used this technique for remote medical consultation and teaching among public health staff and medical students nationwide.

Currently, Saejeng monitors antimalarial drug resistance with the support of the U.S. President’s Malaria Initiative through USAID and in collaboration with the World Health Organization. Her work, drawing on the success of her device, has helped to better diagnose and treat malaria in Thailand, with potential benefits to the entire region.

"To end malaria for good, it’s important for all stakeholders to join hands and build a network of health professionals where effective and timely communications can be achieved,” said Saejeng.

To realize her goal, Saejeng places importance on her plan to build a data bank as a resource and a training center for inexperienced or non-expert health professionals. The data bank, together with the webscope, is poised to improve and enhance health professionals’ skills in malaria diagnosis, case management and preventive treatment.

Armed with a powerful weapon called innovation, this groundbreaking professional woman continues her fight against malaria in a small lab largely unknown to the world. This lab, a short drive from her family noodle shop where she still forms fishballs in the early morning and strains noodles at night, is where she cooks up innovation to help build a virtual wall to protect us all from malaria.


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Advancing Maternal Health Care in the Philippines
May 07, 2018

Clinics gain accreditation and reimbursement from national health program

April 2018 — Throughout Estela Tudio’s first pregnancy in 2013, she worried about medical expenses. Estela, a homemaker in Bayambang — a town in the Philippines’ northern region of Luzon — and her husband, Almar, who earned $6 (300 Philippine pesos) per day as a tricycle driver, could not afford birth at a hospital. So Estela gave birth at home.

Giving birth at a facility with a skilled attendant greatly increases the chances of survival for both mother and baby. The Philippine Government has been seeking ways for low-income families to access this critical health care, including by subsidizing the cost of joining PhilHealth — the national health insurance program.

USAID helped build the foundation for PhilHealth in the 1990s.

Families insured by PhilHealth can receive affordable treatment at any accredited hospital or health clinic, which are reimbursed by the insurance program. Reimbursement funds are used to maintain daily operations, pay workers’ salaries, and make improvements to buildings. But many clinics in the region lack the workforce and services needed for accreditation.

In response, USAID’s LuzonHealth project partnered with the Department of Health in 2013 to build health workers’ skills and improve operations of over 350 hospitals and clinics. In the Bayambang health clinic, USAID helped train midwives in emergency obstetric and newborn care. The midwives also learned to counsel parents seeking family planning services and safely administer or dispense their chosen method.

Meanwhile, USAID helped the clinic identify and resolve the gaps in administrative requirements that were holding them back from getting accredited. For example, the project standardized the clinic’s hiring practices to boost efficiency and transparency. As a result of the Bayambang health clinic’s diligent work, it is now accredited with PhilHealth.

Today, women in Bayambang can safely and affordably give birth at the clinic. Couples can receive family planning and counseling services, too. When Estela became pregnant with her second child in 2017, she received regular prenatal care and delivered her baby with a skilled birth attendant.

“I was happy that I could give birth here and afford all of this care!” she said.

Meanwhile, the facility claimed reimbursements from PhilHealth amounting to $30,000 (1.5 million Philippine pesos) last year. This additional income helps the clinic expand and sustain its work.

“We are continually improving our services and providing for more people’s health needs,” said Dr. Paz Vallo, Bayambang’s municipal health officer.

Since 2013, USAID’s five-year LuzonHealth project, in partnership with the Research Triangle Institute, has been working with the Philippine Government to reduce maternal and infant deaths and help couples access quality family planning services. Of the 364 public birthing facilities that USAID has partnered with in Luzon, 80 percent are now accredited and receive reimbursements from the Philippine Government.


- ASIA TODAY News Global Distribution

Antibody treatment leads to motion recovery after paralysis
May 04, 2018

RGMa administration improves dexterity following spinal cord injury in monkeys

Spinal cord injury, or SCI, damages motor function and frequently leaves the patient paralyzed. A major reason is that the body cannot regenerate the lost neural connections.

In a report in Cerebral Cortex, Kyoto University researchers report that treatment with an antibody for repulsive guidance molecule-a (RGMa) leads to recovered motor function in rhesus monkeys that had experienced SCI, suggesting that a similar antibody treatment could benefit humans.

"The mature mammalian central nervous system has a limited capacity to grow or regenerate because of inhibitor factors," says Kyoto University's Masahiko Takada, who has been investigating the inhibitory factor RGMa in the primate central nervous system. RGMa is naturally expressed by immune and inflammatory cells that localize on traumatized spinal cord regions.

Suppressing RGMa, he continues, has been shown to be effective at promoting axonal growth in rodents with SCI, but "the mechanisms that lead to the recovery of motor functions may differ in higher primates."

The team surgically induced SCI in 12 rhesus monkeys, while continuously delivering an RGMa antibody to one group for four weeks. Following these procedures, all the monkeys performed a series of dexterity tasks.

One such task was to take food pellets out of vertical or horizontal slots. Those that received the antibody treatment showed almost full recovery when challenged with vertical slots, as though they had never undergone SCI. But while they could perform better than untreated monkeys when challenged with horizontal slots, the performance did not match pre-SCI levels.

Subsequent neuroanatomical study indicated that the antibody treatment promoted axon growth in certain regions of the spinal cord.

"In antibody-treated monkeys we found that sprouting corticospinal tract fibers penetrated into laminae VII and IX, where spinal interneurons and motor neurons are located. This shows that the contralesional motor cortex is significantly involved in recovery," notes Takada. Laminae VII and IX, he adds, are below the SCI lesion site and include motor neurons crucial for manual dexterity.

What remains unclear, however, is how the axons released from the RGMa suppression know how to reach these regions. Considering that the antibody was delivered directly into the brain for four weeks, clarifying uncertainties about the recovery mechanism and a more practical delivery system will be required before RGMa antibodies can be considered for human treatment.

One test to determine recovered dexterity after SCI. Subjects pick out food from thin slots and their time is recorded. (Kyoto University / Takada Lab)

Paper information

Hiroshi Nakagawa, Taihei Ninomiya, Toshihide Yamashita, Masahiko Takada (2018). Treatment With the Neutralizing Antibody Against Repulsive Guidance Molecule-a Promotes Recovery From Impaired Manual Dexterity in a Primate Model of Spinal Cord Injury. Cerebral Cortex.

SOURCE / Kyoto University