The World Health Summit Regional Meeting – Asia (WHSRMA) 2013 approached these topics with four different tracks, present in each day's program structure:

  • The Impact of Health on Asian Economies
  • Innovations in Health in Asia
  • Financing Health Care in Asia
  • Emerging Health Threats in Asia

1. The Impact of Health on Asian Economies

Asia is experiencing the rapid changes of globalization and modernization. Consequently, health and disease patterns also change over time in Asia’s societies. Asian societies are undergoing a “life cycle” in which infectious diseases and nutritional deficiencies dominate rural societies, whereas in the ‘grown-up’ and ‘urbanized’ societies, non-communicable diseases have become more prevalent. Health and health care considerations need to be part of all government policies, but how can this be achieved? How do we develop and prioritize sustainable strategies to promote health in response to this rapid pace of change?

Modernization has also resulted in migration of workers, thus perpetuating and exacerbating inequity in health care systems. How do we urge governments and international organizations to develop policies in ameliorating brain drain? How will these policies ensure a sustainable health workforce?

A relatively new form of medical tourism, where patients travel out of their home country to private facilities catering to international patients, is growing quickly. Because of lower costs and availability of good quality care, medical tourism has the potential of generating economic benefits for some nations in Asia. The range of social and economic consequences and benefits of medical tourism in Asia have to be carefully considered and will be discussed at this Summit.

2. Innovations in Health in Asia

Advances in life sciences as well as in information and communication technologies have significant impact on the way people live, work, think and behave in Asia. Clinicians should be encouraged to actively incorporate genomics, epigenomics, bioinformatics and point of care diagnostics into their practice. Just as importantly, health care providers and policy makers should leverage on these technologies to share information and streamline processes, so that patients can receive the best possible access to health care.

In tandem with rapid advances in life sciences, health care costs are rising in Asia. In addition, sometimes poor regulatory frameworks for drugs and medical devices, as well as lack of harmonization, are inhibiting rapid development of needed medicines and devices in Asia. Taking these into consideration, presentations will be made at this Summit to discuss how (business) innovations should be made affordable, accessible and focus on disadvantaged and vulnerable groups.

Also at the Summit, we will discuss how to promote and encourage out-of-the-box frugal innovations, social entrepreneurship, and innovative philanthropy to make health care available to everyone. Strategies to urge governments to improve national regulatory capacity and work towards regional harmonization of regulatory processes will also be covered.

3. Financing Health Care in Asia

Systems of health care coverage are quite diverse in Asia. For instance, Japan, Korea, and Thailand provide health care coverage for the entire population. However, in other countries, individuals from low-income groups face great barriers to health care. Often, those who are financially well-off have greater access to medical care, whereas the poor cannot afford to pay and even give up treatment. How do we make health care accessible to everyone?

Given the potential destabilizing effect of weak health systems to the region, how do we advocate wealthier nations in the region to utilize their external development aid to help poorer countries strengthen their health care delivery systems? While market failures continue to exist in both availability and access to needed medicines, how can we urge the private and public sectors in both developed and developing countries to work together to make medicines more affordable and accessible to those in greatest need and with the least power to pay?

4. Emerging Health Threats in Asia

Non-communicable diseases (NCDs) are on the rise in Asia. Malnutrition and infection in early life can increase the risk of such NCDs in adulthood. Maternal and early childhood health and nutrition are intricately linked to the long term health of individuals. Investment in maternal and early child health should be undertaken with the view of improving the long term well-being of nations. NCDs are also exacerbated by changing lifestyles secondary to globalization and urbanization, as well as tobacco use and sedentary lifestyles. The aging population cannot be ignored. What are the challenges to combat NCDs in Asia? Can we encourage a whole government-whole population approach to fight NCDs in Asia?

Rapid urbanization can result in socio-economic changes that will make mental health issues more pressing. Mental disorders increase the risk for NCDs and injuries, whereas many health conditions increase the risk for mental disorders. How can we urge governments to be proactive in responding to these and other health threats?

The risks of new diseases such as SARS, bird flu and swine flu are increased by globalization and by creating “hot spots” in the environment that bring humans, livestock and wildlife into contact. There is also the continued threat of emerging infectious diseases caused by deforestation and the resulting increased contact between humans and wild animals. What can the government and society do to combat these to ensure continued biosecurity?

M8 Alliance Declaration 2013

Welcome Message

Dear Friends and Colleagues,

Singapore is hosting the first World Health Summit (WHS), Regional Meeting – Asia, Singapore 2013 (WHSRMA) from April 8th – 10th, where a select audience will discuss health care issues and their impact on sustainable development in the region. The event will be opened by Singapore’s Prime Minister, Mr. Lee Hsien Loong.

Health is intrinsically linked to the well-being of societies, and maintaining a healthy Asia will be beneficial to all in the region and the world. Yet, today’s Asia faces challenges such as rapidly aging populations, climate change, increasing incidence of chronic non-communicable diseases and the recurring threat of global pandemics. Asia’s need for affordable and accessible health care also encompasses many challenges that coalesce around the question of financing. Against this backdrop, an Asian meeting of the WHS in 2013 will be an excellent opportunity for reaching out to Health Ministers and senior government officials from the region as well as many global health care leaders who will be attending this landmark meeting, thereby allowing us to develop innovative solutions to Asia’s current and future health care problems.

The theme of the WHSRMA is "Health for Sustainable Development in Asia", with four sub-themes:

  • The Impact of Health on Asian Economies
  • Financing Health Care in Asia
  • Innovations in Health in Asia
  • Emerging Health Threats in Asia

Located at the crossroads of Asia, Singapore is a cosmopolitan city easily accessible from anywhere in the world.  From many Asian capital cities, the distance to Singapore falls within a seven-hour flying radius. Singapore has been the venue for several international meetings, including the recently concluded 15th World Conference on Tobacco or Health and the World Cities Summit, as well as other notable meetings such as the International Monetary Fund-World Bank Group Annual Meeting in 2006. We are honoured to be an appropriate focal point to share best practices on issues relevant to the region and the world.

We warmly invite you to participate in the WHSRMA to help shape the health care landscape for many years to come.

With warmest regards,

Professor John Eu-Li Wong
President, World Health Summit 2013
Co-chairman, WHSRMA 2013 Organizing Committee
Vice Provost (Academic Medicine), National University of Singapore