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South East Asia Task Force

Task force leaders

James Yip, Singapore

Ju Le Tan, Singapore

Type of task force

Regional

The South East Asia Taskforce has been established as a section of the PVRI with the aim of exploring collaboration with doctors in Malaysia and Singapore who have an interest in pulmonary vascular disease.

2020 Annual Report

During the Covid-19 pandemic, the Task Force surveyed pulmonary hypertension centres across South East Asia from 1-31 October 2020 to evaluate how physicians and patients with pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) were coping with the crisis.

24 pulmonary hypertension specialists were surveyed from five countries. These included Thailand (4, 16.7%), Singapore (9, 37.5%), Malaysia (4, 16.7%), Indonesia (2, 8.3%), and Taiwan (5, 20.8%). 76% of these physicians were caring for more than 25 patients with PAH. Of note, only three PAH patients developed Covid-19. There were no deaths amongst these three attributable to Covid-19. 91.7% of surveyed doctors related no excess deaths in their patients when compared to the same time the previous year, however 8.3% related an increase in deaths.

The Task Force was interested to examine difficulties in delivering care during this period. 70.8% of respondents cited patients’ fear of coming to hospitals, 25.0% cited that diagnostic tests such as echocardiography and catheterisation labs were diverted to patients with other chronic diseases, 20.8% cited supply chain issues for PAH medications and routine vaccines, 16.7% cited prioritisation of care for Covid-19 patients over PAH patients. Only 4.2% of respondents said that lack of Covid-19 testing ability was an issue. None had issues with lack of personal protective equipment.

Regarding how PAH patients were coping, 72.0% of respondents said patients had issues with fear and anxiety, 60.0% reported issues with social isolation, 36.0% reported issues with travel restrictions for healthcare, 32.0% reported issues with depression, 28.0% reported difficulty procuring PAH medication, and 8.0% reported issues with procurement of masks for personal protection.

On a more reassuring note, when asked to rank how optimistic patients were for PAH treatment in the region (A score of 1 being least optimistic and 10 most optimistic) after the Covid-19 pandemic was over, they gave an average grade of 7.

 It is the opinion of the authors of this report that patients and centres caring for patients with PAH in South East Asia seem to have done well during the Covid-19 pandemic. The majority of the countries surveyed in this poll have had a low death rate from Covid-19 (Taiwan 0.3 cases/million population, Thailand 0.8/million population, Singapore 5/million population, Malaysia 8/million population, Indonesia 52/million population), and hence the better outcomes. In general, the incidence of PH patients developing Covid-19 remained unchanged in most studies (2.1 cases per 1000 in the United States of America). Some of centres in our survey have turned to telemedicine to improve access of care but supply chain issues and prioritisation of resources in favour of Covid-19 and other chronic diseases remain an issue. The long-term impact to our patients during this pandemic in terms of mental well-being cannot be understated but the optimism of our PH caregivers is encouraging.

 

2019 Annual Report

Improving the lives of PH patients in Asia Pacific – the right decisions at the right time. The APAC PH Forum was held in the Marriott Marquis Queen’s Park Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand, on 2–4 August 2019. The forum was attended by a total of 181 delegates from many countries around the world and was sponsored by Actelion.

Scientific Committee members consisted of:

• Kritvikrom Durongpisitkul (Thailand)
• Eli Gabbay (Australia)
• Gu Hong (Canada)
• Hsao-Hsun Hsu (Taiwan)
• Decho Jakrapanichakul (Thailand)
• Eli Gabbay (Australia)
• Geetha Kandavello (Malaysia)
• Andrea Low (Singapore)
• Annette Pidoux (Australia)
• Tan Ju-Le (Singapore)

The delegates and speakers attended from the following countries:

• Australia
• Hong Kong
• Japan
• Malaysia
• New Zealand
• Singapore
• Taiwan
• Thailand
• The Philippines
• Vietnam
• United Kingdom

The delegates had a variety of specialties, such as:

• Cardiology
• Cardiothoracic
• Imaging
• Nursing
• Pharmacy
• Respiratory medicine
• Rheumatology


The forum aimed to share information and best practice. It also encouraged collaboration and friendship amongst professionals in Asia to further improve the lives of our PH patients.
Forum objectives were to:

• Identify barriers to a timely diagnosis, reasons for missed diagnoses and misdiagnoses to enable early detection and management
• Share updates from international guidelines and WSPH 2018, and discuss pragmatic application in the APAC region setting, particularly around: – routine risk stratification and follow-up risk assessments
– early access to optimal treatment strategies
• Share current best practice and new innovative research in the region so that less well-developed services have a usable model to implement in their own setting
• Increase regional collaborations and foster research relationships, with a focus on establishing PH registries using contemporary tools.

 

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