Viet Nam News
Frederik Kier, the Senior Vice President of Novo Nordisk – a global healthcare company with headquarters in Denmark – is on a visit to Việt Nam to gain insight into the local fights against diabetes.
Kier is a Danish citizen and has been with Novo Nordisk A/S since 2002. Currently based in Dubai, United Arab Emirates, he is managing 110 countries across Africa, Asia, Middle East, and Oceania (AAMEO), including Việt Nam. Under his leadership are more than 4,700 engaged employees, who are committed to changing the lives of people living with diabetes and other chronic conditions. Their commitment is to enhance the quality of diabetes care and other chronic diseases in countries where Novo Nordisk has a presence. He speaks with Việt Nam News about Novo Nordisk’s commitments to providing better care for Vietnamese patients.
Tell us about the diabetes situation in Việt Nam and how it influences people’s heath?
Diabetes is one of the biggest health care concerns of the 21st century, which is slowing economic development and hindering the achievement of sustainable development goals, particularly in low and middle-income countries. Việt Nam is not an exception. The burden of diabetes in Việt Nam is rising.
According to the International Diabetes Federation, an estimated 3.5 million adults (aged 20-79) were living with diabetes in Việt Nam in 2017– 5.5% of the population. What’s most alarming is that only a small number of the patients are receiving treatment, and it’s estimated that close to 30,000 adults aged 20-79 died from diabetes-related causes in 2017. Health expenditure per person with diabetes in Việt Nam in 2017 was US$217. The Ministry of Health’s national survey on the risk factors of non-communicable diseases (STEPS) in 2015 showed that 69 per cent of people with high blood glucose levels were not diagnosed, and among those diagnosed, only 29 per cent of diabetes patients were recorded and treated in a healthcare facility.
Diabetes has become a leading cause of disability and early death, mainly via increased cardiovascular disease risks. In many countries, diabetes is the main cause of blindness, cardiovascular diseases, kidney failure and amputations. People with diabetes are two to three times more likely to have cardiovascular disease than people without diabetes. Early diagnosis and timely treatment can prevent blindness and reduce the consequences of diabetes, their families and society. Screening diabetic complications is an essential part of effective management of the disease that can ensure optimal healthcare for patients.
What is Novo Nordisk’s plan for diabetes care in Việt Nam?
Novo Nordisk has been in a long-term partnership with the Danish Embassy in Việt Nam to enhance diabetes care in the country. We are working on shorter and longer-term co-operation with the World Diabetes Foundation, the Embassy, local authorities and local partners to fight diabetes in your country.
Under the Việt Nam Diabetes Care Program (2013-2015), Novo Nordisk, in collaboration with the Ministry of Health, the Việt Nam Association of Diabetes and Endocrinology, leading hospitals has provided training for about 2,000 doctors. Through the programme, we have provided free screenings for nearly 30,000 people and reached one million people with media campaigns on disease awareness and offered free insulin for 20 children with type 1 diabetes. In the years to come, Novo aims to provide more support to enhance the capability of health care professionals.
On the raising awareness front, Novo Nordisk launched a website on diabetes in 2017 in collaboration with the Ministry of Health to enhance public understanding of this chronic disease. Novo Nordisk is also actively developing an online learning platform to improve the capacity of general practitioners in diabetes care and treatment in collaboration with the HCM City Medical Association.
We are also conducting a study to understand the burden of diabetes in Việt Nam.
Novo Nordisk was the first company to bring human insulin to Việt Nam in 1992. How did the achievement influence diabetes treatment?
Diabetes is a chronic, progressive disease, which has gone through various stages. Right treatment decisions at each stage helps people living with diabetes achieve better outcomes. Since 1992, besides human insulin, Novo Nordisk has brought to the country via our local distributors, other treatment choices including our latest innovative products. Our rich diabetes portfolio provides treatment options for doctors and patients at every stage of diabetes.
Beside diabetes, Novo Nordisk is also the leading pharmaceutical company for haemophilia. Do you plan to start any projects relating to haemophilia in Việt Nam?
Actually, Novo Nordisk is already involved in various projects in haemophilia in Việt Nam. Via the Novo Nordisk Haemophilia Foundation (NNHF), we have established 10 satellite haemophilia centres nationwide to enhance the capacity of healthcare staff.
Novo Nordisk in Việt Nam also provides an e-Continuous Medical Education platform to train haemophilia specialists nationwide, about 100 specialists. We also provide support on comprehensive care for haemophilia patients including training on joint care, rehabilitation and dental care.
As an ethical patient-focused company, Novo Nordisk can justify bringing an advanced insulin to market for example insulin analogue. However, majority of the population with diabetes may not afford the cost of treatment. What do you think about that fact?
The cost of medicine and treatment can be a significant barrier to better healthcare. Nordisk’s broad portfolio ensures the diversified treatment needs of doctors and patients with different economic situations at each stage of the disease. One thing we should keep in mind that the cost of medicine is only a small fraction of total treatment cost. In diabetes treatment, cost of treating complication is the key cost driver.
Could you share the purpose of your visit to Việt Nam?
Novo Nordisk’s commitment is to providing better care for the Vietnamese patients, so we would like to continue to increase our presence in Việt Nam.
My purpose is to come, meet with the people, and understand what else we can do to fight diabetes in collaboration with the local Government and partners.
Yesterday, I was pleased to witness the signing ceremony of a formal Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between the Danish Embassy and Việt Nam Social Security (VSS). The MOU will definitely open more collaboration opportunities for all Danish companies, including Novo Nordisk. — VNS