NHG and Tanoto Foundation partner for diabetes reversal in Singapore

The National Healthcare Group (NHG) is working together with Tanoto Foundation (Tanoto) to combat diabetes amongst the populace through a “Diabetes Reversal Programme.” This programme aims to control blood sugar levels in diabetes patients through behavioural changes, without the need for medication or surgery.

Contributions from both the NHG and Tanoto Funds, at S$1 million (approx. U$D0.73 million) and S$2.6 million (approx. U$D1.88 million), respectively, are also expected to boost diabetes research in primary care and in the community.

In Singapore, obese individuals with early diabetes are commonly prescribed glucose-lowering medications, or recommended to undergo bariatric surgery, to regain control over their increasing blood sugar levels.

However, diabetes control and reversal can be achieved and maintained more thoroughly through positive health behaviours instead of medication and surgery, as suggested by the researchers from NHG – they seek to study the barriers and facilitators related to such behaviour.

The researchers will also conduct a clinical trial for an intensive weight management regime in reversing early diabetes in obese patients. The trial will entail a close partnership between diabetic patients, doctors, and dietitians, to create custom, low-calorie meal plans.

Senior Minister of State for Health, Dr. Janil Puthucheary graced the official launch of the much-anticipated Diabetes Reversal Programme at Kallang Polyclinic recently, in addition to a host of senior representatives from NHG and Tanato and primary care physicians.

Associate Professor Chong Phui-Nah, CEO of National Healthcare Group Polyclinics (NHGP) and Primary Care, said health education, patient engagement, and empowerment of diabetes patients are of “paramount importance” to successful modification of self-care behaviours and lifestyle, and to manage diet and level of physical activity.

“Our aim is to better understand the challenges that patients face in their social environment and how we can better support them to take greater ownership of their health outcomes through research. The Diabetes Reversal Programme is one such study that proposes a new model of care to help patients reverse diabetes and manage their condition well,” said Assoc. Prof. Chong.

Professor Benjamin Seet, Deputy Group CEO (Education and Research) of NHG, added, “At NHG, we do things differently by putting the patient first, and focusing on real world research that directly leads to better health outcomes and quality of life. A good example would be the programme we are launching today – this partnership, where a philanthropic organisation like the Tanoto works closely with primary care doctors, dieticians, and patients, right within the community, can only bring about impactful change.”

Meanwhile, Bey Soo Khiang, Executive Advisor at Tanoto, disclosed that the collaborative programme between NHG and Tanoto will be conducted in the local primary care setting, to better study and address how the Singaporean diet, environment, and culture can affect health and disease patterns.


Japan’s first case of monkeypox confirmed in Tokyo

Japan confirmed its first case of monkeypox on Monday with a man in his 30s in Tokyo testing positive, Kyodo news agency quoted the Tokyo metropolitan government.

The patient travelled to a European country from late June to mid-July where he had close contact with a person infected with monkeypox, it said.

The man, who is currently hospitalised, started to feel unwell on July 15, the Tokyo government said. His symptoms include a fever, a headache and a rash, it added.

Earlier in the day, government officials held a meeting to discuss measures needed to respond to a possible outbreak of monkeypox in the country after the World Health Organisation (WHO) on Saturday declared the outbreak of the infectious disease a global health emergency.

Infections have been reported since May outside Central and West Africa, where the disease is endemic.

Symptoms of the disease, spread through close physical contact, include fever, extensive rashes, skin lesions and swollen lymph nodes following an incubation period of five to 21 days. – Bernama


Nurses facing burnout, psychological and emotional distress post-COVID, study finds

A cross-country survey of nurses and midwives in the UK has found deep repercussions due to the COVID-19 pandemic: many nurses and midwives report feeling unaccustomed to redeployment, which involved caring for high numbers of critically ill patients and witnessing a high number of patient deaths. Researchers at the University of Surrey, who conducted the survey, have called for a national COVID-19 nursing workforce recovery strategy to tackle the issue and help restore nurses’ psychological well-being.

Despite the distress and trauma faced by frontline nursing staff, it was revealed that the stigma that arose prevented them from accessing counseling services during the first wave of the pandemic. Some participants referred to the notion that nurses seeking counseling would be viewed as a “sign of weakness.”

Those who did seek out counseling often did so through anonymous sources such as charities or Trade Unions suggesting a lack of trust in the confidentiality of resources offered by employers.

The survey also identified a lack of trust between existing and redeployed nurses – many were forced to carry out tasks that they felt insufficiently trained to do, and were justly concerned that their professional registration may be endangered.

“Nurses and midwives put their own health and psychological well-being on the line for the public during the pandemic and many unfortunately lost their lives; others experienced burnout, high levels of moral distress and PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder),” said Dr. Jill Maben, Professor of Health Services Research and Nursing at the University of Surrey.

To prevent a mass exodus of the nursing and midwifery workforce, Dr. Maben suggests a new national strategy to acknowledge and address their harrowing experience.

Some of the nurses and midwives interviewed for the study – part of the ongoing Impact of COVID on Nurses (ICON) longitudinal interview study – suggested the researchers provided some therapeutic space and comfort just by listening to their grievances.

“We have a duty as a society to take care of frontline staff who experienced such extreme psychological and emotional distress during this pandemic. The support currently offered is a good start in improving well-being, however, more needs to be done at organisational levels (not just letting the responsibility rest with the individual nurse or midwife) as a one-size-fits all approach does not work.”


No need to reopen mega PPVs, say health experts

Two health experts have advised against the reopening of mega vaccination centres (PPVs) despite the increase in Covid-19 cases and the emergence of a new variant Omicron BA.5, which is more infectious.

Malaysian Medical Association president Dr Koh Kar Chai said Putrajaya did not need to reopen mega PPVs as many private general practitioners were still operating at low capacity.

“Therefore, they are still able to handle the increasing number of Covid-19 cases,” he told FMT.

Koh noted the importance of booster doses in the fight against Covid-19, saying Malaysia had achieved almost complete coverage of the first booster dose, especially among adults. However, he said, many were still hesitant to take the second booster dose

Monash University Malaysia’s public health researcher Mark Cheong said there was no need to reopen the PPVs as it would involve high costs and cause crowds.

“If mega PPVs are reopened, the public will be more vulnerable to the risk of infection,” he told FMT.

“The government should work with community primary healthcare providers so that booster doses are easily available in community clinics and pharmacies.”

Cheong said the government needed to display all information clearly and consistently on where booster shots were available, the fees involved and the type of vaccines, especially through social networking platforms.

Previously, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said seven million people had yet to take their booster dose and advised them to do so immediately.

“If mega PPVs are reopened, the public will be more vulnerable to the risk of infection,” he told FMT.

“The government should work with community primary healthcare providers so that booster doses are easily available in community clinics and pharmacies.”

Cheong said the government needed to display all information clearly and consistently on where booster shots were available, the fees involved and the type of vaccines, especially through social networking platforms.

Previously, Prime Minister Ismail Sabri Yaakob said seven million people had yet to take their booster dose and advised them to do so immediately.

Asked if there was a plan to reopen PPVs, he said it was up to the health ministry. FMT


Latest research shows three doses of Sinovac vaccine effective against Omicron

New research data recently published by Sinovac Biotech Ltd shows that three doses of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine produced higher neutralising antibodies in 95 per cent of recipients compared with 3.3 per cent by the second dose against Variants of Concern (VOC), including Omicron.

Sinovac Biotech Ltd spokesperson Pearson Liu, through a statement issued by Pharmaniaga Berhad today, said the research provides reassurance that inactivated vaccines, one of the most widely used vaccines globally, remain effective in the fight against COVID-19.

“As the world continues to combat the emergence of new COVID-19 variants, the results support a three-dose immunisation regimen to ensure greater protection against COVID-19, a finding which aligns with the advice of the World Health Organisation and local health authorities around the world for all types of COVID-19 vaccines,” he said.

The statement stated that out of these 323 antibodies, more than 300 antibodies exhibited adequate killing activity against most VOCs and Variants of Interest (VOI), and the research also showed that the majority of those antibodies have the ability to react with the Omicron Receptor Binding Domains (RBD).

It added that about a dozen of the antibodies show a direct and highly potent neutralisation effect for the Omicron variant whereby those antibodies executed their neutralisation by directly blocking the interactions between the virus and its human cells.

“Thus proving that the booster dose of Sinovac COVID-19 vaccine will activate T cells against the Omicron variant, in a similar way to the original strain,” the statement read.

Pharmaniaga Berhad is the leading pharmaceutical company of Boustead Holdings Berhad group of companies, and together with Lembaga Tabung Angkatan Tentera, are the major shareholders of the company. – Bernama


COVID-19: 41% of Malaysia’s adult population received booster dose

A total of 237,703 individuals of the adult population in the country received the COVID-19 booster dose yesterday (Jan 17), bringing the cumulative number of booster doses administered to 9,609,454 or 41 per cent of the group as at 11.59 last night.

According to the Ministry of Health (MOH)’s COVIDNOW portal, a total of 22,906,072 or 97.8 per cent of the adult population were fully vaccinated while 23,185,749 individuals or 99 per cent of the group received at least one dose of COVID-19 vaccine injection.

For adolescents, aged 12 to 17, a total of 2,775,059 individuals or 88.2 per cent have completed their vaccination while 2,862,198 individuals or 91 per cent have received at least one dose of the vaccine.

Meanwhile, daily statistics showed that 242,705 doses of vaccine were administered yesterday, with 1,912 as the first dose, 3,090 as the second dose, bringing the cumulative number of vaccines administered under the National COVID-19 Immunisation Programme (PICK) to 61,135,763.

Meanwhile, according to the MOH’s GitHub portal, 16 COVID-19 deaths were reported yesterday with Selangor recording the highest number of deaths with five cases, followed by Terengganu with three cases and Negeri Sembilan and Penang each recording two cases. – Bernama