Han Thu San: To start with, for people who don’t know, what is Common Health all about?
Matthew Guilford: Glad you asked! We created Common Health with the mission of helping people with chronic conditions save money and live healthier, longer lives. In Southeast Asia today, 99 million people have diabetes or pre-diabetes and 116 million have hypertension. Many of the people with these conditions are struggling to manage them. For example, only 12% of people in ASEAN with hypertension have their condition under control. And that exposes them to serious complications that are not only expensive, but potentially life-threatening.
HTS: That sounds like a big challenge.
MG: It is, but the good news is that there are solutions. We know from decades of medical research that three things can have a big impact on chronic diseases: keeping up with our medications, adjusting our diet and lifestyle, and regularly engaging with a healthcare provider. I’m not going to say that all this is easy, but it’s definitely worth it. People who manage their conditions well live much longer, and live better. They’re not defined by their disease.
HTS: That’s great to hear! How does Common Health help?
MG: Well, when I said before that it’s not always easy to manage these conditions, that’s where we come in. We know that living with diabetes or hypertension can be expensive, time-consuming, and maybe even a little bit scary. Our goal is to make things more affordable, convenient, and empowering.
The first step relates to medications. We’re working together with manufacturers, distributors, and pharmacies to lower the prices that our customers have to pay for prescription drugs. We also deliver orders to customers’ doorsteps, making it hassle-free for people to get the medications they need.
We also believe that anyone looking to make a big change can use a bit of support, and that’s why we match each of our customers with a family medicine doctor and a health advisor who are responsible for answering questions and providing advice on things like diet and exercise. And because health issues don’t only happen between 9:00 AM and 5:00 PM, we have a 24-hour on-call service where customers can immediately speak to a medical professional.
HTS: And why Myanmar?
MG: We believe that we can have a positive impact here. Like so many places in the world, chronic conditions are a big challenge in Myanmar: 9.7 million people have hypertension and 5.4 million people are diabetic or prediabetic. So there’s a big need.
At the same time, Myanmar has incredible capabilities. Mobile phones reach every corner of the country. There are some excellent clinics, pharmacies, diagnostics centers and hospitals. And so many smart people – particularly young people like you – are committed to improving the lives of others. Our job at Common Health is just to help put the pieces together.
When we incorporated Common Health Myanmar Limited in 2019, we weren’t looking at the next month or the next year. We knew we were making a commitment for a generation. We’re here to stay.
Han Thu San is Common Health's assistant manager for fulfillment, responsible for ensuring that essential medications for chronic diseases get to families when they need them.