healthcare

On Thursday, the publication “Vaccine” publishes a study that shows the mass vaccination in Africa does not require constant refrigeration in specific cases. To be precise, 155,000 people in Benin got a vaccination against meningitis, with a vaccine kept in temperatures of up to 39°C.

To a layman that may not sound like game-changing news in the fight against preventable diseases. But actually, it may be. “It’s a breakthrough, because it breaks a dogma,” Michel Zafran, the WHO coordinator on the project, told beyondbrics. 

Forget the smartphone, the sports car, the gold jewellery. In the India of tomorrow, health will be the new wealth. “Tell me which gym you go to and I’ll tell you who you are: that could be true for India,” says Norbert Hueltenschmidt, health care specialist of consulting firm Bain & Company. 

Investors have given a thumbs up to Fortis Healthcare, the Indian hospitals chain, after it announced plans on Monday to sell its private clinic network in Hong Kong to Bupa.

Shares in Fortis rallied 6.5 per cent on Tuesday morning before moderating to close up 0.7 per cent at Rs105.25. 

By Harjit Gill of Philips

In southeast Asia today, most countries face a difficult dilemma: should limited resources be used to combat the rapid growth of non-communicable diseases (NCDs) that take such a terrible toll on human life and economic development, or should those resources go toward expanded efforts to reduce the debilitating effects of poverty?

Some say it’s an either/or proposition but that’s a false choice. The truth is, you can’t achieve one without the other. Economic vitality helps create and support innovative and effective healthcare systems but no country can succeed economically without a healthy workforce. Health and wealth must go hand in hand. 

Last November, GlaxoSmithKline topped the Access to Medicine Index for the third year running, commended for its equitable pricing policy in emerging markets and a pro-access approach to licensing and patents.

You can be forgiven for feeling puzzled – the ranking marks a big turnaround for a company which little more than a decade ago was public enemy number one in Africa and elsewhere. How did that happen? 

By Ruud Dobber of AstraZeneca

The recent social unrest in Russia has been pervasive and well publicised, resurrecting the western typecast of Russia as a risky place to do business. Even veteran international investors, who should know better, have grown bearish about binding their profits to Russia. This would be a mistake.

The country still has enormous potential and is one of the few growing markets in what is a predominantly barren global economy. There is good cause for foreign businesses in Russia to be optimistic, not least in pharmaceuticals. 

Another Russian equity offering gets away smoothly in London – good for Russia and for the City.

Offered at $12, MD Medical Group’s global depositary receipts rose on Friday to trade around 2 per cent up on their first morning. The company’s $311m offer was a modest morsel for the market in comparison with the $5.1bn heavyweight share sale carried out last month by Sberbank, Russia’s biggest bank. But it shows that, with the right company at the right price, investors are ready to buy Russia. 

By Ben Aris of business new europe

Russia’s leading private healthcare company MD Medical Group is hoping to cash in on growing enthusiasm for Russian equity with an October IPO to raise more than $150m, which it will use to continue its rapid expansion.

MDMG plans a London listing in October in two parts. A $150m primary issue of 30 per cent of the company as global depositary receipts will be offered. There will also be a secondary issue of existing shares at the same time, the size of which has yet to be decided, but could be “significant,” according to a source close to the deal. 

Big pharma often waxes lyrical about why it makes sense to do more and more R&D in China: the size of the market; the need to be close to that market (and learn about the diseases that affect it particularly badly); and the local talent pool.

According to a study out this week from McKinsey, Healthcare in China, 80 per cent of global life science groups will be conducting R&D in China and other emerging markets by 2016. But it’s worth debunking a few of the myths about Chinese pharma R&D. 

This Ramadan, Gulf residents received text messages with fasting tips to caution against overeating. The problem of expanding waistlines, however, is far from seasonal.

Kuwait, Qatar, The United Arab Emirates and Bahrain all figure on the list of the world’s top ten most obese nations. Seventy-seven per cent of Kuwaitis are overweight and 34 per cent are obese, putting the tiny country just behind the US, according to the latest research based on UN and World Health Organization data.

But as the obesity epidemic spread across the Persian Gulf, so too has another American phenomenon – the rise of the weight loss cottage industry. 

Emerging markets will nearly double their spending on medicine over the next five years from $194bn in 2011 to $345-375bn in 2016, say healthcare analysts at IMS Health in a report on Thursday.

The Global use of Medicines: Outlook through 2016, says the expected rise comes from a combination of increasing income levels, the increased affordability of medicines and the roll-out of government healthcare programmes for poorer patients. 

The world’s shortest life expectancy, largely caused by communicable and parasitic diseases stamped out in the developed world; two thirds of the global burden of HIV/Aids; widespread lack of clean water, sanitation and nutrition; rising rates of chronic diseases such as diabetes, hypertension, obesity and cancer – any one of Africa’s healthcare challenges would be daunting in isolation. Together, they are all but overwhelming.

How to respond? The Economist Intelligence Unit has some suggestions. 

The rising costs of pensions and healthcare are challenges not limited to the developed world. As a report from Standard & Poor’s shows, the biggest likely increases in these budgets over the coming decades won’t come in the US, western Europe or Japan – but in Russia, Brazil and South Korea.

Policymakers have no easy answers – anywhere: emerging market governments probably have a bit more room for manoeuvre than their rich-world rivals but not a lot. 

While China gobbles up resources around the world, there’s one thing it can’t get enough of: plasma.

Last month Chen Zhu, Beijing’s minister of health, rang the alarm about a nationwide shortage of blood – which is no surprise to Chinese patients who often have to round up relatives and friends to donate for their operations. State television recently ran a story suggesting that patients should donate their own blood to mitigate problems getting the plasma they need for surgeries – though the state broadcaster admitted that hospitals would not be able to store the blood if they did so.  

Central Europeans are supposed to be the stalwart belt-tighteners of the European Union. Witness Latvia’s grim acceptance of tough economic times, which even saw the government re-elected after presiding over brutal cutbacks. But patience at last appears to be wearing thin, as can be seen by a doctors’ protest in Slovakia.