Korea’s Chun-Ang University Hospital inked a partnership memorandum of understanding for collaboration with Hyundae General Hospital and Astana Medical University in Kazakhstan. The three institutions will cooperate and collaborate on central efforts involving patient care, research and education. The two Korean hospitals seek to expand their patient services in not only Kazakhstan but also neighboring Russia. The deal affords opportunity for clinical research in Kazakhstan.
Korea Providers Expand in Kazakhstan
A geographically large transcontinental nation of just under 19 million, Kazakhstan strategically exists both in Central Asia and Eastern Europe. A republic with an authoritarian rule, the country’s population represents a fascinating diverse mixture of people.
Deepening Ties Between South Korea & Kazakhstan
Both countries have witnessed a deepening of ties and the medical collaboration is just an ongoing evidence of this unfolding dynamic. For example, Korean businesses have invested more than $2 billion in Kazakhstan—Korean investors have assets in more than 300 Kazakhstan companies. One of South Korea’s largest banks, Kookmin Bank, acquired a 30% stake in Kazakhstan’s CenterCredit Bank for $634 million just in 2018. The energy sector is seeing considerable Korean investment into the Central Asian republic as further evidence of growing economic interdependence.
Health Care System
Traditionally operated based on the Soviet model with an emphasis on early transition to specialized care. Over the past decade, the Kazakhstani health system has undergone a material reorganization and transformation to bolster primary care via investments into primary care activities as well as the development of more general practitioners.
With six medical schools, the nation recently established Nazarbayev University School of Medicine based on a U.S model that happens to also be taught in English. In 2017, Advanced Clinical Trials reported that the nation had 877 hospitals and about 100,000 beds—much like elsewhere there has been a trend toward reduction in hospital stays and greater emphasis on outpatient and preventative care. An estimated 75,000 physicians operate in the nation.
Although there is universal health care access, the actual service is quite basic, which has led to a resurgence in the private health, a small but rapidly growing sector.
Of the approximately 19 million people, the most common diseases include respiratory infections, cardiovascular disorders, tuberculosis (TB) and diabetes. A number of public research initiatives have been employed by medical professionals there to better understand genetic and phenotypic makeup of the Kazakhstani population and the assortment of genes responsible for Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism and Excretion (ADME) of targeted therapeutics identified for local ethnic groups.
Applied Clinical Trials reported that on March 31, 2010, the Kazakhstani Ministry of Healthcare (MoH) issued order #222 which listed medical sites that would be permitted to conduct clinical trials. As of the 2017 writing, only large medical and scientific centers in primary cities were included as nationally permitted clinical investigational sties.
The country didn’t start participating in industry-focused clinical trials until 2009. But this last decade has seen exponential growth in interest in conducting clinical trials in Kazakhstan. By 2017, there were over 20 late-stage clinical trials active in the countries with industry sponsors such as AbbVie, Bayer, Merck, St. Jude, Terumo Europe NV, and Thoratec.
Astana Medical University has sponsored at least a few clinical trials. A review of Clinicaltrials.gov shows that the institution sponsored an observational study focusing on atopic dermatitis and psoriasis. They are currently actively recurring for an interventional trial focusing on a respiratory failure clinical trial.
Chun-Ang University Hospital has led the charge into Kazakhstan along with Hyundae Hospital. Established in 1918, Chun-Ang University is a private comprehensive research university in South Korea. Known for its research, Chun-Ang has dozens of prominent institutes that undoubtedly will be leveraged for the Astana Medical University collaboration. Hyundae Hospital is the largest hospital in Nam yangiu providing medical care in affiliation with other large Korean hospitals including Asan Medical Center, Kyunghee University Medical Center and Chung-Ang University Medical Center.
Kazakhstan’s Astana Medical University was founded in 1994 and includes a medical school. On the smaller end of the spectrum (between 3,000 to 3,999 students), it is located in the medium-sized city of Nur-Sultan (1 million population). As mentioned previously, the Kazakhstani university is actively participating in clinical trials.
Kim Seong-deok, Hospital President, Chung-Ang University Hospital
Kim Boo-seop, General Hospital Director, Hyundae General Hospital
Dainius Pavalkis, Rector, Astana Medical University
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