Technology enables transformation of care in chronic and infectious diseases

December 28, 2021 | 08:00
As of March 2021, Vietnamese people living with diabetes could check their glucose level without having to make painful finger sticks, following Abbott Vietnam's launch of FreeStyle Libre system, the world’s leading glucose monitoring technology and the Prix Galien USA award winner in 2019 for Best Medical Technology, popularly considered as the equivalent of the Nobel Prize in biopharmaceutical research.

The system brought by Abbott, a global healthcare leader, is a first-of-its-kind wearable sensor-based technology that gave people with diabetes in Vietnam a better way to manage their condition.

The March 12 debut of its FreeStyle Libre has also become exceptionally effective in saving many around six weeks before Vietnam was hit by the next wave of COVID-19 outbreaks in late April.

By December 27, Vietnam has recorded more than 31,200 coronavirus-related deaths, a Ministry of Health report said, of whom many had suffered from non-communicable diseases, including cardiovascular diseases and diabetes. The report said an average 235 people died in the past seven days, compared with no death reported back in March 2021.

Abbott’s March launch of FreeStyle Libre system has added Vietnam to the list of more than 50 countries where the portfolio has revolutionised the way diabetes is managed globally, with 37 countries among those having full or partial reimbursement.

Technology enables transformation of care in chronic and infectious diseases
Abbott FreeStyle Libre helps diabetes patients manage glucose without pain or hassle

But it is not the first technology Abbott introduced in Vietnam as part of its efforts to find new answers to diabetes, one of the most challenging chronic health conditions. In 2020 and 2021, Abbott continuously launched new and enhanced reformulation of Glucerna, which was designed to further improve insulin sensitivity and achieve glycemic control in four weeks.

The International Diabetes Federation statistics show that 463 million adults aged 20-79, or one in 11 adults, lived with diabetes worldwide, but nearly half of them were undiagnosed. In Vietnam, the number of people living with diabetes is forecast to jump almost double by 2045, according to the World Diabetes Federation (IDF).

2020 World Changing Company of the Year

In honour of its innovative efforts to improve lives, Abbott was named by Fast Company as the 2020 World Changing Company of the Year. Fast Company is the world's leading progressive business media brand. World Changing Ideas is one of its major annual awards programmes that focuses on ideas and innovation that can lead to societal benefit.

For Abbott, the award showcases the impact of technology and programmes that have helped people around the world. Abbott's Amplatzer Piccolo Occluder, a device to treat premature babies and newborns with an opening in their heart, medically referred to as patent ductus arteriosus (PDA), was named a finalist for Health and Wellness.

Technology enables transformation of care in chronic and infectious diseases
With Abbott's Amplatzer Piccolo Occluder, Irie Felkner’ doctors were able to successfully close her patent ductus arteriosus (PDA)

PDA is a cardiovascular disease that is one of the four main types of non-communicable diseases (NCDs), along with diabetes, cancer, and chronic respiratory diseases.

Among every 100 deaths in Vietnam, NCDs are the cause for 77, with cardiovascular diseases accounting for 31 per cent, cancer for 19 per cent, and diabetes 4 per cent, according to the MoH.

Amplatzer Piccolo Occluder device was originally developed for adults. Abbott’s scientists and engineers have later worked to adapt this breakthrough technology to treat premature infants. Now, at no bigger than the size of a pea, this device closes holes in hearts of newborns, opening lifetimes of possibilities for the most vulnerable among us. Now this has been made available in Vietnam.

Vietnam's national strategy for the prevention of NCDs for the 2015-2025 period stated that the key solutions are to promote prevention, strengthening primary healthcare to reduce risk factors, increasing the rate of detection and treatment of NCDs. Abbott, which arrived in Vietnam in 1995, has been moving in line with the country's strategy in dealing with NCDs.

Sustainable shaping the future of healthcare

Acting along Vietnam's strategy for NCD prevention and continuously bringing in its latest innovations and technology are part of the longstanding commitment of the company established in 1888 to sustainability in health, with the purpose of helping people live fuller lives through better health.

The company has developed the 2030 Sustainability Plan with a focus on innovating for greater access to life-changing technologies and breaking down barriers to health equity to reach more than 3 billion people by 2030, from 2 billion now.

Last month, Abbott achieved the highest score out of 84 companies in its industry in the S&P Global Corporate Sustainability Assessment, also called the Dow Jones Sustainability Index (DJSI), marking the ninth consecutive year that it has secured the top score in the healthcare equipment and supplies sector.

Aimed at fighting non-adherence and reimagine care, Abbott has introduced a:care, a pioneering healthcare ecosystem that leverages digital tools and behavioural science to support both healthcare professionals (HCPs) and patients.

The programme has given doctors, pharmacists, caregivers, and patients online and offline assets, thus empowering and supporting patients to take small, manageable steps to drive better treatment adherence and build lasting change or better and healthier life.

Launched in Vietnam in 2019 and with the website opened shortly later, in 2020, a:care provides doctors and pharmacists access to tools and information to help patients better understand, manage, and monitor their conditions. To date, more than 55,000 HCPs globally and up to 5,000 HCPs from Vietnam have attended the a:care masterclasses educating in the latest behavioural science techniques on how to best help people on their health journey.

In dealing with infectious diseases, Abbott has been at the forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic, developed 12 coronavirus tests in 12 months, including Panbio rapid antigen tests, RT-PCR tests, and antibody serology tests.

Abbott is currently manufacturing more than 100 million COVID-19 rapid and PCR tests a month to meet the increased need for testing around the globe.

For people with HIV and hepatitis, the company has developed the DBS-dry blood spot test. DBS test helps ease the access to HCV testing and HIV viral load testing for Vietnamese people in remote areas as the procedure is simple and requires no refrigeration. It uses a few blood drops dried on a filter paper before being shipped to a laboratory for analysis. This innovative testing method proves efficient especially in this tough time of fighting the pandemic.

Dealing with future pandemic threats

A sustainable future starts with health. As a leader in blood screening and infectious disease testing, Abbott created its Global Viral Surveillance Program almost three decades ago to monitor HIV and hepatitis viruses and identify mutations, which helps ensure the company's diagnostic tests stay up to date and enable researchers to proactively evaluate and solve infectious disease challenges.

In preparation for the future, Abbott formed in March the Abbott Pandemic Defense Coalition, a first-of-its-kind global scientific and public health partnership dedicated to the early detection of, and rapid response to, future pandemic threats. The surveillance programme will now be a part of the Abbott Pandemic Defense Coalition.

By connecting global centres of excellence in laboratory testing, genetic sequencing, and public health research, the programme will identify new pathogens, analyse potential risk level, rapidly develop, and deploy new diagnostic testing and assess public health impact in real time.

As Abbott's innovations continue to help communities around the world, the company will continue to innovate across its businesses to create technologies that make a real difference in lives everywhere.

By Mai Dang

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