ASEAN medical professionals urged to set up common platform for cross-border collaboration

Abang Johari (fifth right) at the launch of the 2019 ASEAN Digital Mobile Health Summit.

by Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Nov 17: Chief Minister Datuk Patinggi Abang Johari Tun Openg has proposed that ASEAN medical professionals form a common platform through which to interact and compile patient data.

This could be considered as Sarawakians or Malaysians do visit Singapore, Vietnam or Thailand to seek medical treatment, he noted.

“A common platform will enable providers to interact with patients and compile data. This is just an idea. I hope the medical profession can work on it. The ASEAN economy is going to be integrated; therefore medical services can also be integrated within the framework,” Abang Johari suggested during his speech at the 2019 ASEAN Digital Mobile Health Summit here today.

He also noted that Thailand has a comparative advantage in terms of medical professional skills, and Sarawakians may go there especially for traditional and herbal medical treatment.


“Perhaps Thailand can even go beyond Western medicine. So it is an advantage to have a digital network on traditional medicine,” he said, adding that this is where doctors and scientists are welcome to explore Sarawak’s rich biodiversity where they can introduce the right material for the right medicine.

Since Sarawak’s health tourism services are getting more popular among its immediate neighbours particularly Kalimantan, Indonesia, Abang Johari believed that the present four private hospitals in Kuching will need to invest in digital technology to be able to tap into the mobile health industry.

The advancement in digital technology has made healthcare an increasing digital affair which one could access via digital devices in the palm of their hand.

Patients, Abang Johari said, are increasingly capable of accessing, monitoring and adding to their health care records via connected devices such as their mobile phones.

“By using recent innovations such as healthcare apps, patients can play a more active role in managing health conditions, sending information in real time to update professionals and receiving advice directly, without having to visit clinics.

“Of course, we need to have reliable infrastructure in order to be able to transmit and receive real-time signals from one place to another. That is why Sarawak is spending big capital expenditure to upgrade its digital infrastructure across the length and breadth of the state via fibre optics, satellite communication, transmission towers, undersea cables and international gateways,” Abang Johari said.

He further asserted that Sarawak has its own Digital Road Map 2018-2022 and is currently upgrading the infrastructure for 5G that will cover the whole state.

At the event, Abang Johari also launched the ‘ManaDr’ app, a mobile medicine and health platform which enables patients to see their provider from the comfort of their home.

Not only can patients chat or have video medical consultations with their trusted providers, they can also get their blood test results on their mobile phones.

If a follow up-consultation is required, patients may either use this app to book an appointment at the clinic, initiate chats or to arrange for house visits.

The summit saw the attendance of about 500 participants. Three ASEAN ambassadors Houdaophone Soukhaseum (Laos), Narong Sasitorn (Thailand) and Le Quy Quynh (Vietnam) presented their keynote addresses on digital health in their respective countries. — DayakDaily