US health behemoths cater to fresh demand

October 21, 2021 | 08:00
US giants like General Electric, GSK, Merck, and Johnson & Johnson are eyeing new projects in Vietnam’s health sector to tap into local growing healthcare spending, signaling heated competition ahead in the lucrative market.
US health behemoths cater to fresh demand
J&J is expanding in Vietnam, including in hospital management. Photo: Le Toan

Member companies of the US-ASEAN Business Council at a meeting with Deputy Minister of Health Truong Quoc Cuong on October 12 proposed seven new projects in the healthcare sector.

Tech company 3M is to cooperate with departments under the Ministry of Health (MoH) to update local guidance on bacterial contamination control, wound care, and practices in surgery rooms, expected to support the MoH in implementation and improvement of new guidances.

Meanwhile, Amazon Web Services proposed building and organising educational workshops to help health staff and policymakers of the MoH improve their knowledge about cloud computing services.

Crowell & Morning International discussed a venture on regulations of medical devices through a public-private partnership between the US Agency for International Development, the American National Standards Institute, and the Advanced Medical Technology Association.

The group also proposed accelerating the implementation of cancer control programmes in APEC economies via innovations and partnerships. The project includes a series of discussions about cancer prevention; early detection; equitable access to services and treatment methods; and implementation, administration, and assessment of cancer control programmes.

Seeing the local potential, Edwards Lifesciences proposed using a health technology assessment for cost-effectiveness of transcatheter aortic valve implantation compared with surgical aortic valve replacement; while Johnson & Johnson is looking to improve the skills and capacity of health professionals in the implementation of drug addiction schemes in Vietnam.

Meanwhile, SAP is to organise workshops to improve capacity and exchange of knowledge about how the government and medical service suppliers can tap into technology to enable patients to experience improved services.

Deputy Minister Cuong welcomed the support of member companies of the council. He said, “The MoH will assign relevant departments and agencies to continue the implementation of the projects and programmes. The Vietnamese government and the MoH will create favourable conditions for businesses to carry out these activities.”

In 2015 the MoH and the US-ASEAN Business Council signed an MoU formalising a partnership to strengthen healthcare in Vietnam. It paved the way for stronger cooperation between the US business community and the government of Vietnam and is wide in scope, covering capacity building of healthcare facilities, communications, organisational management, the insurance system, pharmaceuticals and medical devices, nutrition improvement, food safety, and cosmetics.

This cooperation was ramped up further last year in the wake of the ongoing pandemic. Two projects were completed in 2020 among others, including one nutrition-focused quality improvement programme set up in hospitals in Vietnam by Abbott Laboratories, and a hospital management scheme initiated by Johnson & Johnson (J&J).

Members of the council’s Health & Life Sciences Committee led by GE, Jhpiego, GSK, Merck, and J&J span industries ranging from medical devices and diagnostics, pharmaceuticals, and consumer health to IT systems, nutrition, and logistics.

Vietnam, which faces mounting challenges over non-communicable diseases and rises in healthcare demand, is attractive to not only US investors, but also other multinational corporations. Novartis, AstraZeneca, GSK, and Roche among others, have been deploying similar programmes.

Novartis is active in the innovative life sciences sector. For instance, “Hope In Sight” is one of its diverse ongoing commitments to raise the community’s awareness of eye health. Novartis Vietnam has been collaborating with Ho Chi Minh City University Medical Centre to implement an online medical training programme for nursing staff on heart failure management since May, and has worked with several provinces in Vietnam to kick off a project to strengthen primary healthcare.

Likewise, Roche Vietnam is teaming up with the Vietnam Medical Association and hospitals to carry out programmes on improving access to innovative therapies for breast cancer patients.

By Tung Anh

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