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Sparking Regional Synergy to Achieve Predictive Healthcare in Southeast Asia

Program Insights
This article was written by Andy Fernanda Probotrianto
Home to 679,36 million people, roughly 8% of the world population, the Southeast Asian region has seen rapid growth and changes in recent years. However, these rapid increases in population, industrialisation, and changing lifestyles carry risk to the regional welfare and well-being.

The healthcare system of Southeast Asia is currently combating a series of pressing issues. For instance, the threat of noncommunicable diseases (NCDs) such as cardiovascular diseases, cancer, diabetes and chronic respiratory diseases — which account for 62% cause of death in the region. More concerning, much of these mortalities are proportionately premature, with most passing before 70 years of age.

Recently, the already stretched-out regional healthcare system must endure with the unprecedented challenge brought about by the COVID-19 pandemic. The Southeast Asian communities have been hit hard by this global pandemic. As of 2022, as much as 35,910,444 people in the region were infected and 367,339 of them are dead.
Role of ASEAN and the Future of Southeast Asia’s Healthcare
Realising these circumstances, the time has come to collectively improve the quality of care in Southeast Asia, with particular emphasis on predictive capacity and precision treatment. This message was clearly pointed out during the Site Visit of Global Future Fellows 2023: “Advancing Southeast Asia’s Predictive Healthcare” to the Secretariat of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in Jakarta, on 3 October 2023.

A delegation of 40 fellows — consisting of healthcare practitioners, regulators, academia, and catalysts from six ASEAN nations — had the privilege to exclusively converse with the regional institutions in discussing the status quo of the regional healthcare system, actions that have been taken to tackle health challenges, and a possible avenue to filling the gap with meaningful collaborations.
Image 1. Senior Officer (SO) of the Health Division at the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Department, Ms. Jennifer dela Rosa, Speaking in front of Global Future Fellows during the Site Visit Session to ASEAN Secretariat (Photo by Pijar Foundation)
As the nerve centre of its 10 member states, the ASEAN Secretariat plays a pivotal role in ensuring the improvement of healthcare equity to the whole community. Hence, revamping the health sector is seen as one of the determining pillars in achieving the ASEAN Community Vision 2025 — the region’s strategic development guideline. As noted by the Senior Officer (SO) of the Health Division at the ASEAN Socio-Cultural Community Department, Ms. Jennifer dela Rosa, ASEAN is concentrating efforts on creating a regional health cooperation that enables us to achieve a healthy, sustainable, and productive region.

A common perception has been set in the region with alignments made in the ASEAN Post-2015 Health Development Agenda. This framework embodies ASEAN’s Health Clusters and Health Priorities, as well as strategies, governance, and implementation to address areas deemed most urgent to be addressed by all member–states to elevate the quality of well-being in the region.

Nonetheless, Mr. Amri Bukhairi Bakhtiar, Assistant Director/Head of the Enterprise and Stakeholder Engagement Division (ESED), ASEAN Economic Community Department, stresses that more focus is still needed to ensure the proliferation of concerted actions. Therefore, synergy among different initiatives from every ASEAN member-state is necessary to fill in the gap, which at the end would bring about a closer health integration.

This also resonates well when it comes to realising predictive healthcare. Each country has their own set of unique health data. At the same time, obtaining and utilising the information has not been proportionate, with different capabilities and technological expertise across the region. Therefore, regional healthcare equity can be achieved through a comprehensive linkage, which enables seamless data exchange and knowledge sharing essential to jointly navigate future health trends.
Opportunities Beyond Ideas
The engagement with the ASEAN secretariat has given the delegation new hope in understanding the landscape. Armed with new knowledge in the regional healthcare landscape and ASEAN Secretariat’s role on the issue, the delegation realised the opportunity in realising a more predictive, effective, and resilient Southeast Asian healthcare system.
Image 2. Fellows of Global Future Fellows 2023: Advancing Southeast Asia’s Predictive Healthcare at the ASEAN Secretariat (Photo by Pijar Foundation)
Furthermore, the site enlightens the fellows to concretely map out potential engagement areas and sectors where collective action is needed the most to be done. This is particularly substantial for the fellows’ making of joint Collaborative Action Plan (CAP) — a proposed grand design and real synergy for the future of regional predictive healthcare

The 2023 Global Future Fellow (GFF) with the theme “Advancing Southeast Asia’s Predictive Healthcare” is a collaboration with the Unilab Foundation (ULF) and the ASEAN Business Advisory Council (ASEAN-BAC). Pijar Foundation extends its greatest appreciation to all collaborators, fellows, and supporters for contributing to the success of this site visit.
This article is written by Maria M. Wijaya and Andy F. Probotrianto,

Edited by Cazadira F. Tamzil & Anthony M. Dermawan
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