Cardiac Transplant in Southeast Asia: Challenges and Opportunities

Cardiac Transplant in Southeast Asia: Challenges and Opportunities
Sulague, N. Cruz, R. Ricardo, P. Alfonso, D. Vervoort
The Journal of Heart and Lung Transplantation, April 2023; 42(4)
Among the 18.6 million cardiovascular deaths worldwide, 33.5% occurred in Southeast Asia, where cardiovascular diseases constitute 40.2% of all causes of mortality and injury. There is higher prevalence of symptomatic heart failure in Southeast Asian countries compared with the rest of the world. While advances improved cardiac transplantation, challenges remain to make it widely available. The study aims to discuss its challenges and opportunities in Southeast Asia.
A review of related literature was conducted on PubMed using combinations of variations of key terms such as cardiac transplant, heart transplant, Southeast Asia, and countries within the region. Ministries of health websites in the region were reviewed for cardiac transplant-related policies. The global burden of disease of heart failure-associated conditions from 2000 to 2019 in disability-adjusted life-years were assessed in the Southeast Asian region and other select geographical region using the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation Global Burden of Disease Results Tool.
Southeast Asia’s burden of disease is comparable to Western Europe but does not have the same high volume of cardiac centers, health workforce, and robust network of organ donors. Substantial financial risk protection remains limited for most of the countries. Main barriers to organ donation include knowledge gaps, sociocultural and religious restrictions, and lack of infrastructure. At present, all countries follow an opting-in system based on informed consent, except Singapore which follows an opting-out system based on presumed consent. Association of Southeast Asian Nations may be optimized to promote cooperation, physician mobility, improved training, and policymaking.
Southeast Asian countries may benefit from considering opting-out scheme for donation, implementing a national system for organ donation, forming a centralized body directing all transplant activities, and improving public health education on transplantation.

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