PhAMA Grants Prestigious Award to Spur Research and Accelerate Innovation in Malaysia’s Healthcare Sector
Universiti Sains Malaysia’s research submission clinched PhAMA’s Annual Minister of Health Innovation & Research Award for 2016

PETALING JAYA, 13 March 2017 – The Pharmaceutical Association of Malaysia (PhAMA) today presented the prestigious Minister of Health Innovation & Research Award (MIRA) 2016 to Universiti Sains Malaysia (USM) for its outstanding research submission that links poor hygiene practices in flood-affected areas, to the increased risk in communicable intestine infection in parts of Malaysia. The seven-member team, led by Professor Dr. Lee Yeong Yeh, focused their research on determining the association of small intestinal bacterial overgrowth (SIBO) in two flood-affected villages within Tumpat, Kelantan.

“It is a great honour to receive this prestigious award. I would like to thank my research team from Universiti Sains Malaysia and also my collaborator, Morinaga from Japan,” said Professor Lee Yeong Yeh, winner of MIRA 2016. “The award is testament to the importance of our research findings especially with regards to the role of gut microbiota in abdominal pain sufferers after major environmental disasters and how probiotics can help the sufferers,” he added.

Themed ‘Delivering Value with Innovation in the Healthcare Delivery System', MIRA 2016 by PhAMA is aimed at encouraging research among healthcare professionals, researchers as well as academia in Malaysia. The 2016 MIRA Awards winner was selected after extensive deliberation and scrutiny by a panel of judges and an independent audit firm. Initiated in 2014, MIRA rewards research projects by local Malaysian scientists and researchers who contribute significantly in terms of manpower, intellectual capital, financial investment, effort and commitment towards improving the standards of healthcare in Malaysia.

“The study of the gastrointestinal microbiome is relatively new and there is much that is not understood. However there are indications that changes in the gastrointestinal microbiome may be associated with many disorders including obesity, metabolic disorders, inflammatory bowel disease and infection,” said Professor Dr Victor Lim, one of the judges for MIRA 2016. “A better understanding of these associations may lead to novel interventions that will help to manage these conditions.”

“MIRA 2016 honors exemplary projects with demonstrable improvement in outcomes or recommendations that could be implemented to support the development of a value-based healthcare delivery system in Malaysia. We are proud to present this award to recognize and support the culture of research and development in Malaysia. This industry initiative is aligned with the strategic goals of the government under 11th Malaysia Plan (RMK 11) which is to intensify research and development and commercialization and innovation (R&D&C&I) in the healthcare sector,” said John McKendry, President of PhAMA. 

Against a backdrop of rising incidents of chronic infectious diseases coupled with changing global economic challenges, the future of Malaysia’s healthcare industry hinges on its capacity for continuous innovation and the ability to create a sustainable value-based delivery system moving forward. The ever changing demographic profile, prevalence of infectious diseases and increasing lifestyle-related, non-communicable diseases (NCD) continue to pose a major challenge to the healthcare system. According to National Health & Morbidity Survey 2015, 17.5 per cent of Malaysians aged 18 and above have diabetes, one in three (30 per cent) adults have hypertension; while 47.7 per cent of those surveyed have high blood cholesterol level.¹ The situation has led to even higher demand for quality, effective and most importantly, evidence-based medication. Evidence-based medication calls for a conscientious use of current best evidence in making decisions about the best treatment options for patients. However, proliferation of evidence-based approach which determines availability of treatment options for patients is crucially dependent on an effective value-based healthcare delivery system.

Few would deny that innovation is important to the prosperity and growth of the nation’s economy. Under healthcare, continuous innovation is a critical component to ensuring that Malaysia is in line with its aspiration to become an advance nation. Under The 11th Malaysian Plan, the Government recognizes that innovation is a vital pillar to thrusting the nation forward. From an economic viewpoint, it leads to new employment capacity, generates higher income and creates a higher skill force.

From a social aspect, the value of community’s access to new innovative medical breakthrough increases lifespan, reduces hospitalization, reduces number of medical leave days from work, improves quality of life – all contributing to stronger workforce productivity, a healthier population and greater economic prosperity. MIRA 2016 underscores PhAMA’s commitment in providing the latest innovative treatment options with significant improvement to the health and quality of life of patients. Through MIRA 2016, PhAMA aims to raise awareness of efforts underway across the country to strengthen value based decision-making in the delivery of high quality healthcare to patients in Malaysia.  Highlighting these efforts can encourage other complementary efforts which are good patients and the ongoing evolution of a high caliber healthcare system.

“Access for patients and appropriate use of the latest evidence based treatment options will lead to better patient outcomes, improved quality of life for patients which in turn reduces the social and economic burden of a disease. A healthy community builds a firm foundation for national economic prosperity,” he explained.

¹ National Health and Morbidity Survey 2015. Non-Communicable Diseases, Risk Factors & Other Health Problems Volume II (2015). Retrieved from website  on 23 February 2017