S'pore to host World Health Summit

Photo above: Professor John Wong, vice-provost (academic medicine) at NUS and incoming President of the World Health Summit 2013.

SINGAPORE - It will be the first time that the World Health Summit is holding an offshoot of its annual Berlin event.

The summit, which counts German Chancellor Angela Merkel and French President Francois Hollande as patrons, was initiated four years ago by a group of academic health centres and medical universities called the M8 Alliance.

It brings together leading figures from science, politics, economics and civil society committed to improving global health.

"The World Health Summit is one of the few platforms that can bring people from all the different facets of health together and allows incredible access of both knowledge and interaction," said Professor Detlev Ganten, the summit's founding president.

"Singapore is worldwide a shining example of a knowledge-based society in which medicine and health enjoy a big priority in research, education and the private sector. We are very happy about this invitation and look forward to learning more about the development in the Asian region."

The theme for the three-day event next April is Health for Sustainable Development in Asia. It will be hosted by the National University of Singapore (NUS) and MOH Holdings - the holding company for public health-care assets.

Among the speakers will be Professor K. Srinath Reddy, president of India's Public Health Foundation, and Dr Suwit Wibulpolprasert, senior adviser for disease control at Thailand's Ministry of Public Health.

About 500 to 600 participants are expected, and the topics discussed will include the impact of health on Asian economies, medical and health-care innovations, financing health care and emerging threats.

Asia is home to over half the world's population.

Professor John Wong, vice-provost (academic medicine) at NUS, said that Asia's health threats would arise from rapid urbanisation, food security, access to insufficient clean water, climate change, infectious diseases, environmental degradation, the widening income gap, an epidemic of chronic non-communicable diseases, and the impact of ageing populations.

"Without a healthy population, Asia's impressive economic gains would not be sustainable. It is time to take stock of what challenges lie ahead and outline strategies to counter these threats," he said.

Prof Wong has been chosen as the summit's president next year.

He said Singapore could serve as a platform for people in the region to share ideas and perspectives.

"We're entering a world where the problems are very complex, and evolution is very painful. We have a chance to take a distillate from people with great depth of knowledge, and form networks of experts who can brainstorm, to think through the problems," he said. "This is a tremendous opportunity."

ailien@sph.com.sg


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