Singapore – Royal Philips Electronics (NYSE: PHG, AEX: PHIA) highlights its support to find sustainable, long-term answers and solutions to the challenges non-communicable diseases (NCDs) bring across the Southeast Asia (SEA) region today. The company, a global leader in healthcare technology, today launced a new program called ASEAN Healthcare Consultation 2012: Addressing Non-Communicable Diseases in Southeast Asia.The inaugural program saw close to 80 key industry practitioners participate in the discussions across the region.
This program, an industry first, aims to bring together policymakers, patient groups, academics and healthcare providers in seven countries across the region to collaborate and find answers to key modern-day healthcare challenges in an aligned, international and sustained approach. Philips aims to bring together a broad group of experts to take a holistic view of the challenges posed by NCDs and considered the diverse drivers of their continued growth in the region and the challenges this growth poses to national health systems.
Access to healthcare for NCD patients is an increasingly important but seemingly intractable issue across SEA, and was also a core point of discussion at the recent 11th ASEAN Health Ministers meeting in July 2012.
The precursor to this year’s Consultation, the ASEAN Access to Healthcare Symposium had a broad, regional focus. While retaining a regional theme, this year’s shift towards greater localization of issues and an effort to combat national concerns signals Philips’ determination to effect real and positive change on the ground. Experts participating in the seven roundtables in Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Singapore, Vietnam, Thailand, and the Philippines all recognised the need for proactive and sustained thought leadership combined with effectively targeted local advocacy would be required to achieve this. Supported by Philips, it is hoped that constructive debate and knowledge sharing among this ASEAN-wide network of experts may culminate in practical, innovative policy solutions that may help ease the growing burden of NCDs on national health systems.
“Philips recognizes the scale of the challenge, as Southeast Asia prepares to meet the new reality of a rapidly increasing number of NCD patients. We are in the midst of an unprecedented epidemiologic transition, and the region needs to come together and consider new and innovative solutions to control and prevent NCDs,” said Wayne Spittle, Senior Vice President and Commercial Leader of Philips Healthcare Asia Pacific. “The inaugural ASEAN Healthcare Consultation has sparked some ideas that may be further developed into actionable policies and initiatives to help ease the burden of NCDs on national health systems.”
“NCDs are a growing concern in Southeast Asia, causing more than 2.5 million deaths in the region every year. While significant improvements in healthcare infrastructure have been made over the years, more will be required and we need to act quickly to implement sustainable methods of controlling and preventing NCDs. Among the many ideas that were discussed today, we identified that a pressing need is to first form an advisory body of specialists from a spectrum of backgrounds and expertise to support governments and healthcare providers across the region on NCDs. The NCD challenge is a multi-discovery one and solutions must be holistic. Key challenges include an aging society, providing healthcare to rural communities, a shortage of healthcare professionals and rising healthcare costs,” said Dr Jeremy Lim, moderator of the ASEAN Healthcare Consultation 2012 in Singapore, and CEO of Fortis Colorectal Hospital.
NCDs, A Growing Healthcare Issue
According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), NCDs are the biggest cause of death worldwide – causing more than 36 million deaths in 2008. In effect, two of every three deaths in the world are on account of NCDs – rightly described by the WHO Director-General as “a slow motion disaster”. SEA also faces an NCD epidemic, which causes 2.5 million deaths annually and is responsible for 60 percent of deaths in the region. As the impact of NCDs increases, coupled with an aging population, annual NCD deaths are projected to continue to rise worldwide.
NCDs largely affect low- and middle-income countries, which account for nearly 80 percent of NCD deaths globally, and the greatest increase of NCD cases is expected to be seen in low- and middle-income regions¹. The rapid growth of NCDs is expected to hinder poverty reduction initiatives in low-income countries, by increasing household costs associated with healthcare.
Projected to be the leading cause of disability throughout the world by 2020, NCDs, if not successfully prevented and managed, will become the most expensive problem faced by health systems². Losses in global economic output due to NCDs will total $47 trillion, or 5 percent of GDP, by 2030.
Addressing NCDs in SEA
With respect to addressing and managing NCDs, the overwhelming priorities in Asia appear to be preventive education and support services, to lower the incidence of common and preventable diseases.
NCDs can be reduced through high impact essential interventions that can be delivered through a primary healthcare approach to strengthen early detection and timely treatment. Evidence shows that such interventions are excellent economic investments because, if applied to patients early, it reduces the need for more expensive treatment later on.
To lessen the impact of NCDs on individuals and society, a comprehensive approach is needed – requiring all sectors, including health, finance, foreign affairs, education, agriculture, planning and others, to work together to reduce the risks associated with NCDs, as well as promote the interventions to prevent and control them.
The consultations took place in Vietnam on November 17, in Myanmar on November 18, and in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand on November 20. The ASEAN Healthcare Consultation replaces Philips’ annual ASEAN Access to Healthcare Symposium.
¹ Global status report on non-communicable diseases, World Health Organization. Published study April 2011, http://www.who.int/nmh/publications/ncd_report2010/en/index.html
² World Health Organisation 200