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Inaugural NIHA forum examines challenges and policy issues on health in Asia

30 November 2010

TOWARDS BETTER HEALTHCARE: Some 85 high-level participants attended the inaugural NIHA forum

MEDIA SESSION: NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan (left) and NUS Global Asia Institute Director Prof Seetharam Kallidaikurichi E. sharing about the main issues discussed with Singapore Health Minister Mr Khaw Boon Wan
Asia is a diverse region. Therefore, the contexts and important health problems that we are trying to address will be very different. At the same time, there are commonalities amongst the challenges that we all face such as the severity of chronic diseases and the persistent threat of infectious diseases. NUS President Prof Tan Chorh Chuan was sharing these thoughts and other main points from a dialogue session on Healthcare Policy Issues in Asia with Singapore Health Minister Mr Khaw Boon Wan at the inaugural NUS Initiative to improve Health in Asia (NIHA) forum on 29 November 2010.

Prof Tan noted that ageing is another common issue which countries such as China, Japan and Singapore are facing. Among ageing populations, the occurrence of non-communicable diseases poses even greater problems. Some of these diseases still need acute hospital care. There is also a shift towards ambulatory care. Recognising the shift in healthcare needs, the Singapore Ministry of Health has made some of these diseases coverable by Medishield and Medisave.

Other key issues discussed during the dialogue session with Mr Khaw included the very important challenge of delivering good healthcare to large populations in countries such as India and China. The role of technology in improving health outcomes was also raised.

The two-day NIHA forum kicked off with the dialogue session with Mr Khaw, following which there was a series of plenary sessions featuring prominent healthcare experts. Some 85 high-level participants, including Directors of health in the region, healthcare policy academics, Non-Governmental Organisations, and a panel of international healthcare policy experts, were in attendance.

Discussions at the forum, which aims to foster consensus building and partnerships among key policy makers in Asian governments and industry, will help shape key health challenges to be studied and the core research to be undertaken.

The establishment of NIHA was announced on 21 July 2010 at the East Asia Healthcare Policy Dialogue by Mr Khaw. Focusing on multidisciplinary research, high-level policy forums and leadership programmes, NIHA is coordinated by the NUS-GAI, in collaboration with the Lee Kuan Yew School of Public Policy, Yong Loo Lin School of Medicine and the NUS Business School. The Initiative is supported by a funding of $17 million over 10-year period. In conjunction with the NIHA Inaugural Forum, the NUS-GAI also celebrated its 1st Anniversary at a dinner on 29 November 2010.