Indian health experts seeking cooperation

September 09, 2021 | 10:00
Vietnam and India are stepping up their partnership in healthcare with both countries sharing many common interests amid the struggle to recover from the pandemic.
Indian health experts seeking cooperation
Vekaria Healthcare LLP will produce Nanocovax vaccine by Nanogen in India

According to Dr. Madan Mohan Sethi, consul general of India in Ho Chi Minh City, the only way forward for India and Vietnam is to make strong partnerships in healthcare and related sectors. “There is a lot of untapped potential in this area,” he said.

The current crisis has given an opportunity to both sides to help each other and revive supply chains for different pharmaceutical products that had been disrupted.

“We all know that vaccines are important to control the pandemic. Due to the mutation of the virus, scientific studies are now more important than ever. We will be happy to arrange meetings for Vietnamese companies with our vaccines manufacturers,” Sethi added.

Nanogen Pharmaceutical Biotechnology JSC has reached a deal with Vekaria Healthcare LLP to transfer technology, manufacture, and distribute Nanocovax vaccines in India. The collaboration between Nanogen and Vekaria is a testament to the stronger partnership between India and Vietnam in the healthcare area.

Meanwhile, some Indian pharmaceutical companies are manufacturing anti-viral drugs like Remdesivir and Molnipuravir. These drugs, manufactured by Indian companies, are cheaper and quite effective. Therefore, Vietnam is looking to import these from India for usage at frontline hospitals.

Further, Vietnam will receive one million doses of Remdesivir for the treatment of COVID-19 from India. A contract was reached between the Vietnamese embassy and major pharmaceutical companies like Hetero, Dr. Reddy, Cipla, Jubilant, Mylan, Zydus, and Cadila.

Another potential segment for cooperation is the medical device industry. The impact of the pandemic increases the demand for several critical care supplies like low-cost ventilators, personal protective equipment, and sanitation supplies – as India happens to emerge as one of the largest producers of these.

“India produces quality and cheap medical devices required for intensive care units and routine use. We are discussing partnerships with Vietnamese companies and also look for further investment in this important sector,” Sethi explained.

According to Tran Phu Lu, deputy director of the Ho Chi Minh City Investment and Trade Promotion Centre, the healthcare sector is considered a potential area for trade and investment cooperation between India and Vietnam.

Vietnam has so far secured over 100 million doses of vaccines in 2021 – not enough to meet the current demand. This will open up opportunities for cooperation in vaccine production and supply for both countries.

Meanwhile, domestic medical equipment production only meets up to 2 per cent of the demand. Most medical equipment is imported from developed countries. India is the fourth-largest market for medical devices in Asia and among the top 20 markets for medical devices in the world. Thus, Vietnam could increase imports of medical devices from India to supply its field hospitals.

Lu noted that India has been Vietnam’s third-largest pharmaceutical supplier in recent years. However, Vietnam has not opened its pharmaceutical market to foreign investors to distribute drugs to end-customers on a retail basis as this remains subject to stringent regulations.

Foreign investors can only import and export pharmaceutical products into Vietnam and sell their imported products to licensed local distributors. Despite these restrictions, Indian enterprises and manufacturers could research and promote mergers and acquisitions within the industry.

India is considered “the pharmacy of the world” but due to the restrictions on travel and interactions, the Pharmaceuticals Export Promotion Council of India could not visit Vietnam as planned. Once the situation improves, the council will plan a business and investment meeting with the participation of companies from the pharmaceutical sector on both sides to explore partnerships and investment opportunities.

To strengthen partnerships in the sector, Sethi said that India has organised webinars and training sessions for healthcare workers. Indraprastha Apollo Hospital in New Delhi has agreed to partner with the General Hospital in Ninh Thuan province for long-term cooperation in on-site training, as well as in India. After the pandemic, the consulate will invite other hospitals in the southern and central provinces, as well as in Ho Chi Minh City for future cooperation.

A joint working group on healthcare cooperation between the ministries of health of India and Vietnam was held virtually on August 27. The meeting provided a valuable opportunity for both sides to share best practices and exchange views in digital healthcare and pandemic management, as well as cooperation for medical devices and the promotion of traditional medicine and public health strategies.

By Thanh Van

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