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NUS President receives inaugural Dr John Yu Medal

18 October 2012

Prof Tan delivering the John Yu AC Oration

Prof Tan receiving the Dr John Yu Medal from Dr Yu

Photos: The George Institute for Global Health

Asia's rapid economy and social development presents both challenges as well as opportunities on the healthcare front. Being greatly heterogeneous in political systems and governance, stages of development, health priorities and needs, as well as capacity to deliver good healthcare, a "one-size-fits-all" approach will not work for the region.

NUS President Professor Tan Chorh Chuan highlighted these points when he delivered the inaugural John Yu AC Oration at the George Institute for Global Health in Sydney, Australia on 17 October. As the first invited speaker and recipient of the Dr John Yu Medal, Prof Tan said it was a special privilege to make this presentation in honour of Dr Yu, who has made numerous remarkable contributions to healthcare to Australia and the world.

More than 200 guests from the academic, business and government sectors that engage with Asia attended the event.

The John Yu AC Oration and Medal recognise Dr Yu's contributions to the George Institute and his life-long commitment to building links with Asia. The accolade is presented annually to an individual who embodies Dr Yu's commitment to regional development, prosperity and harmony.

A distinguished paediatrician, Dr Yu strongly supports community affairs and has served on many management boards and charitable organisations. He was appointed a Member of the Order of Australia in 1989 for services to medicine and named Australian of the Year in 1996. In 2001 he received the Centenary Medal and was made a Companion of the Order of Australia. The previous Chair of the George Institute has been promoting cultural, educational and scientific relationships between Australia and Asia over many decades.

In his talk on "Shaping Asia's health and wealth in the 21st century", Prof Tan noted that the fast demographic, nutritional and epidemiological transitions, in addition to healthcare financing and access, represent some of the forces that will drive demand for healthcare. Cost pressures and low labour productivity gains are also key areas for concern.

He examined strategies in addressing the complex issues, and the opportunities to "leap-frog" in areas of health delivery and systems development. He suggested three approaches for Asia: to give high priority to health promotion and disease prevention, with focus on behaviour change; to test out new delivery models that emphasise human capital innovation and technology to lower the intensity of specialist requirements; and to increase research to develop more treatments customised for health and disease in Asian populations.

Prof Tan concluded that if countries in Asia, in particular, could work synergistically together towards these goals, there will be collective opportunity to effectively shape the health and wealth of Asia for the 21st century.

Click here to listen to the oration and here to watch the full video.