Speakers Outlined Health Systems in the Region as Demand Grows 

Singapore—September 6, 2016—The International Society for Pharmacoeconomics and Outcomes Research (ISPOR) third plenary session for the Society’s 7th Asia-Pacific ConferenceThe Affordable Dream in ASEAN: Experiences and Lessons Learned—was held this morning in Singapore.

Ahmad Fuad Afdhal, PhD, Director, Center for Socio-Economic Studies in Pharmacy, Jakarta, Indonesia moderated the session. Speakers included:

  • Netnapis Suchonwanich, Former Deputy Secretary General, National Health Security Office (NHSO), Bangkok, Thailand
  • Syed Aljunid, MD, PhD, Professor, Health Economics and Public Health Medicine and Head, International Centre for Casemix and Clinical Coding, Faculty of Medicine, National University of Malaysia, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
  • Kun Zhao, MD, PhD, MHSc, Professor and Director, Division of Health Policy Evaluation and Technology Assessment, China National Health Development Research Center, National Health and Family Planning Commission (NHFPC), Beijing, China
  • Graham Harrison, PhD, World Health Organization Representative to Malaysia, Brunei Darussalam and Singapore, World Health Organization (WHO), Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia

In this plenary, speakers outlined the highly divergent statuses between health systems across countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) as demand is growing in the region. The speakers highlighted the disparate approaches in the region due to the diversity in these countries’ historical, socio-economic, cultural, and political spheres, noting that a number of countries in ASEAN are moving toward universal health coverage, while Singapore and Thailand have already achieved this goal. 

Netnapis Suchonwanich reviewed the growth of health coverage in Thailand, with the achievement of universal health coverage in 2001. The country’s current focus includes efforts to cover non-Thais, improvement in provision of medicines such as vaccines and antivenin, and management of the overall health benefit package. Syed Aljunid, MD, PhD compared health spending in Malaysia to other countries in the region and described the country’s progress in achieving universal health coverage. Current health care considerations in Malaysia include decentralization of health services to local governments and use of voluntary health insurance programs. Kun Zhao, MD, PhD, MHSc discussed the many challenges involved in expanding universal health coverage across ASEAN, including the use of health technology assessment (HTA) to support affordable universal health coverage. Dr. Zhao also outlined China’s goals for the country’s Healthy China 2030 initiative. Graham Harrison, PhD examined universal health coverage within the context of the World Health Organization’s Sustainable Development Goals. Acknowledging the complex interactions of health with social, economic, and environmental issues, Dr. Harrison emphasized the importance of measurable and meaningful indicators of health in monitoring the success of universal health coverage.

Plenary moderator Ahmad Fuad Afdhal, PhD summarized the session by noting, “To be appropriate, priority setting must reflect the objective of universal health coverage. In this regard, there are two primary goals. First, is to improve the overall health of the population. Second, is to bring about a more equitable distribution of health care within the population.”

Additional information on the ISPOR 7th Asia-Pacific Conference can be found here. Interested parties can follow news and developments from the conference on social media using the hashtag #ISPORsingapore.


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