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AA Medical Products revs up COVID-19 response

AA Medical Products is one of Myanmar’s largest pharmaceutical products companies, supplying equipment and medications to over 18,000 hospitals, clinics and pharmacies across the country.

The company was established in 1996, and has branches and subsidiaries in Singapore and the United States. AA Medical Products has been active during the COVID-19 crisis, not only supplying medications for millions of ordinary Myanmar people, but also helping out with donations to hospitals and other healthcare facilities.

The Myanmar Times sat down with AA’s managing director Dr Saw Nay New, to talk about the crisis and the company’s response.

Can you tell me what AA Medical Products Company donated to the government during COVID-19 outbreak, and how this will help?

AA Medical Products Ltd donated a Swiss-made Cobra Analyser 6000 to the Ministry of Health and Sports. These diagnostic tools can test more than 380 people over 8 hours, and up to 1,300 people over a 24-hour time period.

The government has made funds of K85.2 million available to renovate the national virology lab, including lab fixtures and fittings. The Reagent Analyser is a US-made model, and that will also be made available alongside our Cobras. This will be used in the No (1) Military Hospital, which has a capacity of 1000 beds, alongside the No (2) Military Hospital in Nay Pyi Taw. We have also pledged over K42 million worth of Computer Software to the government, to help with the diagnostics; as well as K50million to the Central Committee for the Prevention, Control and Treatment of COVID-19.

AA Medical Products Ltd is also a medicine importer and distributor. Have you seen a demand for particular products over the past month?

A lot of our customers have been buying protective equipment, such as masks, PPE gowns, gloves and aprons. We have also seen an increase in sales of our infrared thermometers and ventilators. And of course, many people have been buying vitamin C tablets to improve their immune systems, and antibiotics and cough medications in case they get sick. Sales for all of our other medicinal products has been normal during this time.

With high demand for medicines during the crisis, has the market seen any increase in prices?

Depending on the quality of different medications and equipment, such as masks and certain vitamins, many prices have risen quite sharply. There was much less demand for other products, such as ventilators, before the crisis, as these were only bought by healthcare professionals and used in hospitals. Now many countries have banned exports of materials that can help with COVID-19, whether that’s materials for gloves and masks or the medications themselves. Factories are also closing down, which further drives down the supply. Even China and India, who are major suppliers of medications and medical supplies, are facing domestic shortages. So, prices in these countries rise too.

What difficulties do you face in the medical products sector in Myanmar?

The pharmaceutical sector of the market is composed of about 90 percent imports, whilst almost 100 percent of the medical device sector comes from overseas. Myanmar still can’t produce its own medical equipment. Though we do produce our own pharmaceuticals, the production sector is very underdeveloped and virtually non-existent for devices and technology. This makes it hard to source equipment during a global pandemic, when other countries also have an unprecedented demand.

How does AA Medical manage nationwide distribution of its products during the COVID-19 crisis? Do you face any difficulties?

Most transportation companies are experiencing delays, including those that supply pharmaceuticals and medical devices. We’ve seen this with consumer products and food in certain parts of the country. It’s a logistics problem that we have to deal with too. We are still distributing as much as we can, trying to supply our 14 branches across the country – in the main cities of Yangon and Mandalay, but also in places like Myitkyina, Lashio, Taunggyi, Kalay, Magwe and Mawlamyine. There are also the sub-dealers that we need to take care of, in smaller towns like Bogalay, Mogok and Sittwe.

The biggest difficulty in servicing these places is the high prices for transport. Train and bus ticket prices have doubled, and most guest houses are closed – so we have to pay higher prices to the ones which are open. That adds extra costs to our distribution chain.

What is AA Medical Company’s cashflow like during the pandemic?

Most business across the country are experiencing very low sales at the moment, so their cashflow is limited. They most also follow health warnings, like wearing masks, gloves, face shields and aprons, as well as washing hands. This also adds to the cost of doing business.

The buses and trains have stopped running, and we have to pay double or triple prices if we travel. So, the prices become a huge burden for people. Therefore, if every business has to operate with reduced cashflow they have change their forecasts. As AA Medical Products provides essential medicines and equipment, we are not impacted as much as businesses in other sectors – like hotels, travel agents and ordinary retailors – during the pandemic.

To see the original article click link here

Source : Myanmar Times

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