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7 roundtables address Asean healthcare needs

Noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) pose a big challenge to healthcare across Southeast Asia today.

In line with this, Royal Philips Electronics, a leader in global healthcare technology, launched Thursday the Asean Healthcare Consultation 2012: Addressing Non-Communicable Diseases in Southeast Asia.

The program brings together policymakers, patient groups, academics and healthcare providers in seven countries across the region to look for answers to modern-day healthcare challenges in an aligned international approach.

Access to health care for NCD patients was a core point of discussion at the 11th Asean Health Ministers meeting held in July.

The precursor to this year’s consultation, the ministers’ symposium had a broad, regional focus, shifting toward greater localization of issues and efforts to combat national concerns.

Experts are participating in the seven roundtables being held in the Philippines, Indonesia, Malaysia, Burma (Myanmar), Singapore, Vietnam and Thailand.

Philips said it hoped constructive debate and knowledge sharing among this Asean-wide network of experts would culminate in practical, innovative policy solutions that would ease the burden of NCDs on national health systems.

“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,” said Dr. Joel Beltran, general manager of Philips Healthcare Philippines.

“NCDs are a growing concern in Southeast Asia, causing more than 2.5 million deaths 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,” he said.

For Dr. Alberto G. Romualdez Jr., moderator of the Asean Healthcare Consultation in the Philippines and president of Culion Foundation, “The NCD challenge is a multi-discovery one and solutions must be holistic. Key challenges include an aging society, providing health care to rural communities, a shortage of healthcare professionals and rising healthcare costs – all in the context of a society with a wide and growing gap in health access between a rich minority and the poor majority of the population.”

In the Philippines, the top four NCDs are cancer, chronic respiratory disease, cardiovascular disease and diabetes, according to a 2010 World Health Organization study.

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